Pomona: Capps eyes second place

POMONA, Calif. - If you can't finish first, then the next-best position would be second. That's the way Ron Capps looks at the 2000 NHRA Funny Car standings. Now that the 23-race season is about to run its course - the Auto Club Finals...

POMONA, Calif. - If you can't finish first, then the next-best position would be second. That's the way Ron Capps looks at the 2000 NHRA Funny Car standings. Now that the 23-race season is about to run its course - the Auto Club Finals are scheduled Thursday through Sunday at the L.A. County Fairplex - Capps and his U.S. Tobacco Co. teammates are close to realizing that goal. The only person standing in their way is Jerry Toliver, who pushed Capps back to third place Saturday with a runner-up finish at the rain-delayed Fall Nationals at Ennis, Texas, near Dallas. Capps, meanwhile, suffered engine problems while losing to Scotty Cannon in the quarterfinals. Only four points separate Capps and Toliver, 1481-1477, which means No. 2 goes to the one who wins more rounds on Sunday. "When we brought out our new Murf McKinney chassis and Camaro body a few races ago we said it was important for us to test this car to get a start on the 2001 season," said Capps. "Finishing second is also important to us. We'll be disappointed if we're not second. "Our car is running good. More importantly, we achieved our goal of learning about this car. The only goal we don't have yet is finishing second." Ironically, Capps would be close to locking up the runner-up spot behind John Force if not for NHRA's oil down rule that debuted at this year's Winternationals. Drivers are fined $500 each time they oil the track during qualifying runs. On race day, the fine increases to $1000, plus 10 Winston Series points are deducted from the driver's total. Due to an assortment of circumstances, Capps had five race-day oil downs, plus four more in qualifying. Team owner Don "The Snake" Prudhomme has paid $7000 in fines and, to the disappointment of Prudhomme, Capps and crew chief Ed "Ace" McCulloch, 50 points have been erased from Capps' total. "It's unfortunate because right now we are on top of the Funny Car fines list, and that's not a place we're very proud to be," said Capps. "But let me tell you, Snake, Ace, myself and the crew are very concerned about parts breakage and especially oiling the track," he continued. "That's the last thing you want to do. It's nothing that was ever done on purpose. At different times we've had parts malfunction or parts failure. "As a driver, on Sunday I have to do what I can to get the car down the track. Sometimes I have to pedal (the throttle), and when you do things like that, parts can fail. We're trying to win the round. That's what I get paid to do, so the last thing I'm worried about (during the run) is points being deducted." McCulloch added, "A driver's job on Sunday is to get the race car to the other end ahead of the guy in the other lane, regardless of what it takes. I don't care if it's backwards, forward, on fire or what ever, do what you have to do to win the round. "We had some (mechanical) trouble this year that contributed to the oil downs. We had a rod bolt problem that we weren't aware of and some problems with engine blocks we were using," said McCulloch. "We've changed to forged blocks, which are much stronger, and I'm going to use titanium oil pans, too. They are expensive, but I had Snake's blessing to make the changes that we needed. We'll fix it. "One thing I will never do is send Ron and this race car down the track if I don't think it will make it to the other end. I'll shut it off." McCulloch hasn't had to shut off his newest U.S. Tobacco Co. entry. In eight runs - six at Houston, two at Dallas - Capps' best performances have been 4.858 seconds at 310.20 at Houston, 4.870 at 305.56 at Dallas "We're looking forward to racing at Pomona," said Capps, who has one win in seven final rounds this year. "It's our home track. We won the Winternationals there in 1998 with our (Top Fuel) teammate Larry Dixon, and we want to be No. 2. I enjoy this kind of pressure. It gets down to who goes farther in eliminations. "This is the end of the year and we definitely want to end it on a good note. We'd love to win this race because we'd have two months to relish it while we're getting ready for 2001."

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Ron Capps , John Force , Scotty Cannon , Jerry Toliver