Houston: New car for Capps

BAYTOWN, Texas, Oct. 24, 2000 - Fridays and Saturday at NHRA races are busy times for race teams . . . when it's dry. When it rains and rains, like it did last weekend at the Texas Motorplex in Ennis boredom sets in. Ron Capps and...

BAYTOWN, Texas, Oct. 24, 2000 - Fridays and Saturday at NHRA races are busy times for race teams . . . when it's dry. When it rains and rains, like it did last weekend at the Texas Motorplex in Ennis boredom sets in. Ron Capps and his U.S. Tobacco Co. Funny Car teammates resorted to playing computer games - including one featuring drag racing - during the delays. "It kept the days going," said Capps, who expects to return to the reality of racing this weekend during the Matco Tools SuperNationals at Houston Raceway Park. The weekend rain, meanwhile, forced postponement of the O'Reilly Nationals at the Motorplex until Nov. 3-4, thus preventing Capps from increasing his lead over Jerry Toliver in the battle for second place. It also forces all the competitors to wind up the 2000 campaign with three successive races in as many weeks. The last event, the Auto Club Finals, takes place at Pomona, Calif., Nov. 9-12. Capps and the crew did use a few dry days at the beginning of the week to make some test runs with their new Murf McKinney chassis. "We want to be comfortable with the new car because our goal is to finish second in the points," said Capps. "We made several good runs in it." Crew chief Ed "Ace" McCulloch liked what he saw during the trial runs and plans to have Capps in the new Camaro when qualifying begins Friday afternoon. "The car looked awful good," McCulloch said after the test sessions. "It had real good (incremental) numbers and I liked what I saw. It went straight and smooth. Ron said it drives nice. We still have quite a bit of work to, but it should be ready to go." Capps, who won the last completed NHRA Winston Series event at Memphis (Oct. 8), used that victory - which came 46 races and almost two years from the date of his last one - to take a 13-point lead over Toliver (1369 to 1353). Neither driver has a chance of catching pacesetting John Force, who could clinch his 10th championship this weekend. Capps has actually done quite well in the about-to-be-retired chassis, which has three finals, one win and a semifinal finish in four outings. He comes to Houston with a streak of three straight final-round appearances. He was second at Reading, Pa., and Topeka, Kan., before winning at Memphis in his seventh title round of the year. "I don't care how well that car did," said McCulloch, "the new one is going to be better." Capps, from Carlsbad, Calif., says Houston Raceway Park is one track he doesn't look forward to visiting. "There are some tracks where drivers don't seem to do well, and Houston has been one of them for me," he commented. "We have done some good things, like being the first Funny Car driver to exceed 315 mph (315.45) in 1997 and getting to the semifinals in 1998 and the first time we were here this year. But there have been a few times when I didn't qualify." His record shows why this track doesn't number among his favorites. Capps hasn't qualified four times in nine races, including once when he drove in Top Fuel (1996), and he didn't make the 16-car fields in either 1999 event. "Actually I am looking forward to this weekend," Capps concluded. "This is a good track that has produced a lot of low elapsed times. We believe our new U.S. Tobacco Co. Camaro can run good there." <pre> Ron Capps Statistics:

Age: 35 Hometown: Carlsbad, Calif.

Final-round record: 9-for-20 (8-for-18 Funny Car, 1-for-2 Top Fuel)

Last Final: Memphis, 10/8/00; Last win: Memphis, 10/8/00

Quickest time: 4.811 seconds, 5/28/00, Ennis, Texas; Fastest speed: 315.45 mph, 10/24/97, Baytown, Texas

Standing after 20 races: Second, 1369 points

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Series NHRA
Drivers Ron Capps , John Force , Jerry Toliver