CAPPS EYES HIS FIRST FUNNY CAR CROWN, AS SEASON ENDS THIS WEEKEND POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 1, 2005) - No one can deny that this season's NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car championship chase has been a doozy. It's the title no one's wanted...
CAPPS EYES HIS FIRST FUNNY CAR CROWN, AS SEASON ENDS THIS WEEKEND
POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 1, 2005) - No one can deny that this season's NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car championship chase has been a doozy. It's the title no one's wanted to win, it seemed.
One person who did want to win it, but kept quietly in the background until he came on like gangbusters in the last half of the season, is Ron Capps, driving the Brut Dodge Stratus R/T in his first season with Don Schumacher Racing.
The California native, whose team is led by legendary Ed "Ace" McCulloch, was in seventh place in the rankings just before mid-season, yet to win an event. Then the gates burst open as he reached the final round in six of the next 12 races, winning three of them and qualifying No. 1 once.
He also bettered his teammate Gary Scelzi, famous for his string of elapsed-time track records, by establishing a career-best ET of 4.694 seconds (in Dallas) to Scelzi's 4.697, and has earned more second-half points than either Scelzi or John Force.
Looking for his first Funny Car crown, Capps now finds himself in second place behind Scelzi, just two points down, 26 points ahead of third-place Force and in the middle of a worthy media frenzy, as the title chase comes down to this one last race, at this weekend's Automobile Club of America of Southern California NHRA Finals at Pomona Raceway.
"I'm hoping this weekend that I can show up and can do the same job I've been doing all year long, because I know that Ace and the Brut Dodge guys have got their game faces on and they're going to give me the same hot rod that's earned the most points the second half of the season," said Capps. "We've been just unbelievable and Ace is really hitting his stride as of late, performance-wise."
With the team's steady improvement this season, Capps believes earning an extra 20 points for a national elapsed-time record is not out of the question. "Rolling into to Pomona, it's going to be whether the weather conditions could handle it or not, but if we keep it at this pace, there's a chance that we can run near the national record for that extra 20 points," he said.
"And I know Force has been very vocal about trying to gain those extra 20 points, because he is more than a round behind Gary and me. So they are very, very upfront about shooting for the record. And we're not.
"We're going to try to keep doing what we're doing. But, if we keep running like we have been, I think the Brut Dodge has a shot at the record itself. If our afternoon sessions on Thursday and Friday get pushed back a little bit, then you could very well see a national record.
"It's Pomona, it's a home track for me. I'm going to have a thousand friends and family here. It's everything you always wanted, and it's a lot of stress, and at times you think, Man, I don't know if I really want this much stress in my life. But it's what I've always dreamt about."
Capps has one win here in Pomona, in 1998, and one No. 1 qualifier, in 1999. In this year's first race here, he lost in the first round to his teammate Whit Bazemore, after qualifying No. 9.