Madison: Ron Capps preview

Capps returns to site of his first Funny Car win in St. Louis MADISON, Ill. (June 21, 2005) - Only Ron Capps can boast winning the inaugural NHRA Funny Car race at Gateway International Raceway, which opened its doors in 1997 on the site of the...

Capps returns to site of his first Funny Car win in St. Louis

MADISON, Ill. (June 21, 2005) - Only Ron Capps can boast winning the inaugural NHRA Funny Car race at Gateway International Raceway, which opened its doors in 1997 on the site of the original St. Louis Int'l Raceway, an eighth-mile strip that had hosted drag-racing since 1967.

Capps defeated Cruz Pedregon in that final round in his first full season in the Funny Car class and would like to add a second win at the national event this weekend in the Brut Dodge Stratus Funny Car he drives for Don Schumacher Racing.

"The win at the inaugural race was cool," said Capps, who is fifth in the 2005 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car point standings. "It was a big deal when they built Gateway because years ago guys like Don Schumacher and Tom McEwen all raced on the old St. Louis track, so to win the inaugural race on the new quarter-mile track was pretty special. It was just a big race for me to win, especially since it was also my first Funny Car win."

Capps is running strong this year. He's been to six semifinals and two final rounds and finds himself deep in a battle for his first Funny Car championship. While first place is further out of reach (he's 167 points behind), second place is within striking distance. A good result here this weekend could move him up dramatically in the rankings.

The Carlsbad, Calif., resident is just 105 points behind his teammate Gary Scelzi in second and just 80 points out of third.

"Any time you talk about a race where you've had success in the past you always feel like you have some type of karma going there," Capps said. "Even though sometimes the car might not perform its best in qualifying, you just know you're going to do good on Sunday. And that's how I feel about this place.

"The real key at this part of the season is to be in the hunt. We call the two weekends we have off after St. Louis our summer break. We'll have some time to recharge our batteries. And there's nothing better than coming off of that last race of the three-race swing in St. Louis every year after having a good race and being in the points hunt. There's a lot of time at home and there's nothing worse than having to look at the points over and over and being aggravated by how you're doing.

"We feel real good. Actually, all three Don Schumacher Racing Funny Cars are looking really good. And, we're excited about the night race. For me it's kind of old school. As a kid growing up I went to watch Funny Cars race at night. I love it. I wish we had more of them.

"Ace will be here this weekend, and it will be good for him to have a break after St. Louis," said Capps of his crew chief Ed McCulloch, who made an unplanned day trip to the hospital in Englishtown last week.

"The whole Don Schumacher Racing team is just that. It's a team right now. It was pretty exciting after we lost in the final (in Englishtown) to come back in the trailer and see Ace in there along with (Tony Schumacher's crew chief) Alan Johnson, (Scelzi's tuner) Mike Neff, Dan Olson and Todd Okuhara (Whit Bazemore's crew chiefs) and they're all talking about what their plans are for the next few races. It's cool. We're fighting each other for points, but we want each other to win if we're not going to win."

SCHEDULE:   On Friday, June 24, professional qualifying sessions are at 5 and 8 p.m. On Saturday, June 25, pro qualifying continues at 5 and 8 p.m. On Sunday, June 26, final pro eliminations begin at 4:30 p.m.

TELEVISION:       On Saturday, June 25, ESPN2 will televise one hour of qualifying highlights at midnight (ET). On Sunday, June 26, ESPN2 will televise three hours of elimination highlights beginning at 9 p.m. (ET).

RON CAPPS QUICK FACTS:
* Fifth in 2005 Funny Car point standings, after 11 events, 167 points out of the lead

* Has two runner-up finishes in 2005, has reached semis six times

* At the 2004 NHRA Nationals at Gateway, Capps qualified 10th, lost semis to John Force

* Funny Car winner here in inaugural event in 1997

* A perennial fan favorite, Capps has driven and won in both Top Fuel and Funny Cars since he began his pro NHRA career in 1995

* His best season points finishes were seconds in Funny Car in 1998 and 2000

* He has 14 event wins in 32 final rounds to his credit

* In 2003 he finished in the top 10 in the Funny Car class for the seventh consecutive season.

* His career best elapsed time (established during an event) is 4.753 seconds, set in 2003 at Chicago 1

* His career best speed (established during an event) is 324.75 mph (Las Vegas 1 '04)

* Lives in Carlsbad, Calif., with wife Shelley and daughter Taylor (8) and son Caden (3)

* Daughter Taylor competes in NHRA's Junior Dragster class

* Is the subject, along with son Caden and the Brut racing crew, of a number of Brut ads appearing this year in mainstream magazines, such as People, Sports Illustrated, etc.

* New to Don Schumacher Racing this year after eight years with Don Prudhomme.

-dsr-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Whit Bazemore , Ron Capps , John Force , Gary Scelzi , Cruz Pedregon , Don Schumacher , Mike Neff