Memphis Ron Capps Wild Ride

CAPPS LOOKING TO PUT BRAKES ON WILD RIDE IN 1999 MILLINGTON, Tenn. - Last season at the Memphis Motorsports Park, Ron Capps took one of the wildest rides of his Funny Car career. During a qualifying run, his Copenhagen Chevrolet Camaro did a ...

CAPPS LOOKING TO PUT BRAKES ON WILD RIDE IN 1999 MILLINGTON, Tenn. - Last season at the Memphis Motorsports Park, Ron Capps took one of the wildest rides of his Funny Car career. During a qualifying run, his Copenhagen Chevrolet Camaro did a wheelstand, which ultimately provided a thrust to lift all four wheels of his machine completely off the racing surface. Once the San Diego driver got the car under control, he stopped it, climbed from the roof's escape hatch onto the top of his racer and gave the standing-room-only crowd two thumbs-up. Perhaps that wicked burst down track last fall in Tennessee gave Capps the stamina to hang on for a similar out of control experience: the 1999 season. By the end of the year, he hopes to be standing tall with a smile on his face, thumbs pointed high in the air once again. Capps, who chased John Force to the last race for the NHRA Winston Championship in 1998, has found himself in last place for much of the 1999 season, battling just to qualify for races where he faced final round pressure the year before. With several significant team changes throughout the season, the Don Prudhomme-owned team seems to be finding their way back on track late in the season. A runner-up effort at the recent national event in Reading, Pa., gave the team a much-needed injection of momentum for the final stretch. Capps and his teammates hope to turn their newfound momentum into a victory at the 12th annual AutoZone Nationals presented by Pennzoil, Oct. 7-10 at Memphis Motorsports Park. The $1.7 million race is the 19th of 22 events in the $40 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series. With a win at Memphis, Capps could move one step closer to a top five points finish, which has become the rallying cry for the team. "To finish in the top five would be unbelievable after the year we've had," said Capps, currently ninth in the Winston standings. "We've only got past the first round a few times. Now, we're only about a round out of seventh. That just shows how tight the field is bunched up. Other than Force, we're all pretty close. If we do well at the remaining races, we might be able to fight our way into sixth or fifth. If we could finish in the top five my first three seasons out, it would be pretty amazing and really does a lot to tell you what kind of team we have." Capps' nightmare year has included 11 first round losses, including six during the first seven races. He posted two dreaded DNQs (did not qualify) as well. The tide started to turn at Brainerd, when he advanced to the semifinals. At the U.S. Nationals, he qualified No. 3 with a season-best elapsed time of 4.902 seconds and won the $100,000 Big Bud Shootout. "Before Brainerd I was saying a top 10 finish would have been like a championship," said Capps, who finished No. 2 in 1998 and No. 5 in 1997. "After last season I would have never saw this season coming with the amount of talent that's on this team and the amount of brainpower we have in our camp. It just goes to show you how hard this deal really is." So hard, in fact, that current points leader and eight-time season winner John Force has also fell on rough times in recent events. The eight-time Winston champ posted back-to-back first round losses for the first time since 1989. Capps thinks the resourceful team could be planning for the future. "I believe they're trying things over there and testing because they have such a big lead," Capps said. "I think because of that some teams have had some success lately. The rest of the class, including us, have stepped up to the plate. We need to keep taking advantage of that and keep putting the pressure on that team."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Ron Capps , John Force , Don Prudhomme