POMONA, Calif., Jan. 31, 2002 - Ron Capps won't be scouring the late-night TV channels looking for an infomercial by a motivational speaker anymore. As the driver of Don "The Snake" Prudhomme's Green Skoal Racing Funny Car, Capps gets his ...
POMONA, Calif., Jan. 31, 2002 - Ron Capps won't be scouring the late-night TV channels looking for an infomercial by a motivational speaker anymore.
As the driver of Don "The Snake" Prudhomme's Green Skoal Racing Funny Car, Capps gets his inspiration simply by reporting to work. And the approaching season brings a smile to his face.
The K&N Filters Winternationals kicks off the NHRA's 23-race 2002 Powerade Drag Racing Series, Feb. 7-10, at Pomona Raceway, and is the perfect remedy for Capps, who is motivated by the competition.
"I thrive on it," Capps says. "That's what's so neat about racing for Snake and Ace (crew chief Ed "The Ace" McCulloch). They are as competitive as can be."
Capps could be talking about the Funny Car category, because it is the toughest of NHRA's two fuel (nitromethane) classes.
"The class right now is unbelievable," Capps added. "Every year it's gotten more exciting, with more drivers and sponsors getting involved. There's (11-time champion) Force, (Whit) Bazemore, (Del) Worsham, (Tony) Pedregon, and my teammate, Tommy Johnson Jr., just to name a few. Then you have to add (Gary) Scelzi to the mix. He won three Top Fuel championships in the last five years.
"I know that on any Sunday, if we've won a race, we'll have done absolutely everything right because you have to beat tough teams to get to the winner's circle."
Capps loves the challenge, the intensity, everything that goes with the series.
"Just being able to compete makes it all worthwhile," he said. "Competing is so awesome. I've said that I am very competitive, even if I'm playing a game of checkers. My dad, my brother (Jon) and I are all very competitive even when we play games when we all get together at Christmas.
"I believe that's what keeps me going. I don't know what I'd do if I couldn't compete in something."
Capps and Johnson, driver of the Blue Skoal Racing Camaro, tested at Firebird Raceway in Chandler, Ariz., to prepare for the traditional opener. While Capps' elapsed times were not as low as he preferred during the six days he made runs, the Carlsbad, Calif., resident is very optimistic about the car's performance.
"You have to gauge the season by how preseason testing went," commented Capps. "You go by how you feel and how the crew chief feels. Ace was very confident that we were going to be very good in Pomona when we left Phoenix. When he's confident, that gives me a lot of confidence." The Green Camaro's top two elapsed times were 4.84 and 4.88 seconds.
"We came out with a new combination, doing things a lot different from what we'd previously done," Capps said. "There are so many variables when you're dealing with the engine and clutch combinations. It took longer than usual for Ace to get comfortable with them."
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Tough Workouts Bring More Muscle
Capps wasn't a 150-pound weakling when the 2001 season ended, but he wanted to improve the strength in his arms, shoulders and neck. Capps worked out with a trainer during the break between seasons. The result: eight pounds of muscle.
"I noticed the difference right away when the engine put a couple cylinders out," Capps noted. "I was able to steer the car pretty good with one hand on the wheel (while the other hand hit the parachute lever).
"Usually during testing your body gets back into being thrown around with all the g-forces, positive and negative, when you hit the 'chutes," he continued. "I noticed I wasn't nearly as sore as I usually am after the first few days of testing. It's already paying dividends and the season hasn't started yet."