CAPPS IS SIXTH IN FIRST NASCAR LATE MODEL RACE IN ROSEVILLE ROSEVILLE, Calif. (Oct. 26, 2008) - Ron Capps impressed team owner Bill McAnally, his fellow Late Model competitors, and even himself by finishing sixth in the 100-lap NASCAR Whelen All...
CAPPS IS SIXTH IN FIRST NASCAR LATE MODEL RACE IN ROSEVILLE
ROSEVILLE, Calif. (Oct. 26, 2008) - Ron Capps impressed team owner Bill McAnally, his fellow Late Model competitors, and even himself by finishing sixth in the 100-lap NASCAR Whelen All American Series race, a companion event to the NASCAR Camping World Series championship finale at All American Speedway Saturday night.
Usually behind the wheel of the Don Schumacher Racing NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, Capps started 15th in a field of 25 cars in his first stint in a NASCAR-sanctioned event. He maneuvered his way through the pack, avoided several incidents and brought home the NAPA-sponsored Late Model with just one tire "doughnut" on the sheet metal.
"It was incredible," said Capps, who is more accustomed to driving a 7000-hp Funny Car to over 300 mph in under five seconds than circling a one-third-mile oval in 14 seconds for 100 laps. "Obviously, finally getting out with some of the other cars in traffic and having a spotter talking to you at the same time was something I had to really get used to.
"On Saturday, practice was pretty much all day, and the race was at night, so we knew the conditions were going to be different. The guys on Bill McAnally's team were first class. They knew what to do with the car, and they were taking what I was telling them and making changes to the car, and we were right there with everybody else.
"I knew by starting 15th (following Friday's qualifying run) it was going to be a matter of just staying clean and trying to bring the car back in one piece. We just kept moving up the ladder and passing cars, missing wrecks. It wasn't until a couple of laps were left that crew chief Chris Nelle told me I was in sixth place.
"It was such a steep learning curve, but there were a lot of things that were comparable to what we do in NHRA racing, as far as how we approach qualifying and the actual race.
"I really didn't get to practice at night, so racing at night was another experience.
"I've got to tell you, everybody welcomed me with open arms and people were coming over to me telling me how much I surprised them and how clean that I raced.
"I had a good race with the No. 11 car (Mackena Bell). We went side by side for two or three laps with me on the outside and I hadn't done that all weekend. So I was telling my spotter (Late Model racer Bennie Moon) that there was somebody on my inside. He told me race hard and get my position back, which I did. It felt like all weekend I was reaching different milestones in this type of series. I kept reaching the next level, the next level, the next level. It was fun.
"Everybody was great. I think at first they thought they were maybe going to have to baby me, but a lot of them saw that I was OK out there and that I was actually running competitive times, so they were racing me pretty hard.
"It was just such a thrill. There were times during the race during cautions that I was on the radio with my spotter telling him I couldn't believe how much fun I was having. You watch NASCAR on TV and you see how they're fighting and digging and the spotter is talking to them and they're side by side and literally inches from punting another car. That's what it was like for me for 100 laps. I can't wait to do it again."
Will he do it again? "I hope so," said Capps. "Bill McAnally has left that door open. I'd love to race on a little bit bigger track with a bigger groove, like Irwindale Speedway.
"The NASCAR officials came up and told me what big fans they were of NHRA and how they follow our sport. I think we gained even more fans."
Team owner McAnally also fielded the winning Late Model car for Bobby Grewohl, and his driver Eric Holmes sewed up the NASCAR Camping World Series West championship Saturday night.
"Ron is a very smart race-car driver," he said of NASCAR rookie Capps. "He did a great job. He was smart, used his head, he was patient in the race car, he was aggressive when he needed to be aggressive. For his first time in a NASCAR stock car he did a fantastic job.
"This was a big open show, so we had track champions here from Altamont, Madera, Roseville. We had the best of the best shooting it out for some big money. He stayed out of trouble on a tight, third-mile bullring and didn't have a scratch on the car."
We're guessing that "doughnuts" are just par for the course.
"And, no, I am not jumping ship from NHRA to NASCAR," declared Capps. "I am very happy where I'm at. I really do believe every time I do different forms of racing it helps me in the seat of my NAPA Funny Car. There are many things you can take with you from one form of racing to another. And I think that's why you see the better race car drivers in the world racing in different series. I think it really helps them."