CAPPS PUTS FOCUS ON POINTS RACE INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 30, 2005) - Ron Capps is looking at this weekend's prestigious U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park as just another race in the 23-event 2005 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. He has to,...
CAPPS PUTS FOCUS ON POINTS RACE
INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 30, 2005) - Ron Capps is looking at this weekend's prestigious U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park as just another race in the 23-event 2005 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. He has to, he says, in order to keep his and the Brut Dodge Stratus Funny Car team's focus on the bigger picture: his and the Brut team's first Funny Car championship.
Capps is in second place, just 30 points behind leader Robert Hight, five ahead of teammate Gary Scelzi and 17 in front of John Force in probably the most exciting Funny Car title battle in NHRA's history. The California native has quietly moved within striking distance of his first crown in the last seven races by winning in St. Louis, taking runner-up in Englishtown, Sonoma and Memphis (where he leapfrogged over Force and Scelzi from fourth into second) and by steadily racking up points with the team's consistent performance.
If he continues on this path, he may well find himself in the points lead after Labor Day weekend is over.
"I think that you can't get overly-excited about the U.S. Nationals," he says. "Yes, it's got history and it is our biggest race, no doubt. But, I think a lot of teams in the past, and I've been in that position before, have really tried to put too much emphasis on the Indy race itself changing your season.
"We're not going to let that happen this year. The Brut team is going to approach it as any other race," he adds of the event he has not yet won in his 15 career victories. "And if we do well and we happen to win, then after the weekend is over on Tuesday, we'll reflect on how neat it was to put Indy down as a race that we've won in our career.
"That being said, you earn the same amount of points at this event as in every other race. We do get an extra qualifying run, but the race is still run during the day on Monday, when it will probably be hot and humid. So, as far as looking at the race itself, I'm very confident because of what Ace (crew chief Ed McCulloch) has done along with Ronnie (Thompson, assistant crew chief) and the whole Brut team in these conditions in the past.
"You have to approach this as any other race. The track is not any better than some of the other race surfaces that we go to. It's not like it's some kind of super-track. The weather is going to be questionable, and then when you throw the two night qualifying runs in, it will provide a very tricky situation for the crew chiefs, especially with the extra-added night session."
But what about the championship chase? "It's hard not to think about it," he says. "You can't say we're not thinking about it. The funny thing is, I probably should be losing a little bit of sleep over it, but I'm not. I've had some pretty neat, nice yet strange dreams lately of our success. Dreams of us rolling into Vegas and Pomona in a good position. It's been kind of a carefree situation for us and it's a nice change.
"I was in this position in 1998 and 2000 and actually led the points in '98 and with the amount of pressure that I felt, I wasn't quite sure I was ready for it. It's a whole different situation now. I'm excited to be in it, but we're also very cautious not to get too excited, too confident.
"Obviously to win the U.S. Nationals would be a great accomplishment in one's career. Looking at the trophy case I have, I'd like to have an Indy trophy in it, but let's talk about that on Tuesday. We need to not try too hard."