As the 2001 NHRA season begins to fade like a week-old tan, there still are some things Capps and the Green Skoal Racing crew hope to accomplish before the final race Nov. 11. "Working with Don Prudhomme and (crew chief) Ed "The Ace" McCulloch I...
As the 2001 NHRA season begins to fade like a week-old tan, there still are some things Capps and the Green Skoal Racing crew hope to accomplish before the final race Nov. 11.
"Working with Don Prudhomme and (crew chief) Ed "The Ace" McCulloch I learned to set goals pretty high and see what we can get," Capps commented. "Since we won't be able to catch John Force, we wanted to at least be No. 2. Right now we are very close to third-place Del Worsham (1237-1235) with four races to go so third is reachable.
"Tony Pedregon is fifth and he's moved to within 31 points of us, but Whit Bazemore has really stepped it up and is second (1437 points). It's not out of the question that we could catch him, but we'd definitely have our work cut out for us.
Capps wants to begin cutting into the margin during the Pep Boys Nationals (the Keystone Nationals when the event was postponed following the terrorist attacks). He has been runner-up at Maple Grove the last two years.
"I look back on the last two years when we got to the finals, but I still don't think we've done that good," he said. "We already know how to get to the finals there, now we need to go one step better.
"People don't realize how difficult the Maple Grove track is on a driver. The atmospheric conditions are like a mineshaft. They are awesome. It's hard for the crew chiefs to contain the power because the cars want to run real good. But the track has a narrow groove and it's tough to keep the car in the middle of the groove."
Capps lost to Tommy Johnson Jr., his current Skoal Racing teammate, two years ago and to Bruce Sarver last year.
Record Times Possible
"Both our Skoal Racing Funny Cars are capable of running in the 4.70s (seconds)," Capps added. "We are going to tracks like Maple Grove, the Motorplex near Dallas and Las Vegas, where the air will be cooler and conditions will be good.
"I wouldn't be surprised to see 4.70s this weekend. Some cars could run them, but I think you'll see a lot of low 4.80s. The Funny Car crew chiefs have really upped their programs."
The Maple Grove record is 4.836 seconds, set by Force last year.
Bazemore set the national record (4.750 seconds) last weekend at Joliet, Ill., running four 4.7 times while winning the race. Three other drivers also ran at least one 4.7.
"This is one track where we should be able to run as quick as the guys ran at Joliet," Capps said.
"Ace plans to try some new things (parts and pieces) at the remaining national events this year. We want to finish the year strong and win some races."
Wrong End the Record Book
His best run last weekend was 4.813 seconds, but it wasn't good enough to win his first-round match against Tony Pedregon. Pedregon's 4.773 got him to the finish line first and the elapsed times produced Funny Car's quickest side-by-side run. It isn't the kind of mark Capps wants to brag about.
Gremlins in Illinois
Problems in the clutch and fuel systems plagued Capps at Joliet. He lost two qualifying sessions Friday to clutch trouble and his two Saturday runs were slowed by a faulty fuel fitting. His best of 4.856 put him 14th overall.
McCulloch found, then fixed the fuel system glitch before the race. That accounted for Capps' improved first-round performance.