CAPPS WILL BE DRIVING NEW COPE RACING CAMARO AT NORTHWEST NATIONALS SEATTLE - Ask Ron Capps about his NHRA success thus far in 1999 and he might compare it to a typical Seattle winter - overcast, rainy with a few rays of sunshine. ...
CAPPS WILL BE DRIVING NEW COPE RACING CAMARO AT NORTHWEST NATIONALS
SEATTLE - Ask Ron Capps about his NHRA success thus far in 1999 and he might compare it to a typical Seattle winter - overcast, rainy with a few rays of sunshine. Capps, you see, has spent much of the first 12 races looking for rainbows in a cloudy sky. Compared to the outstanding season he and the Copenhagen Racing team had in 1998, this year has been, well, a washout. Capps and team owner Don "The Snake" Prudhomme believe that will change during the Prolong Northwest Nationals, July 30-Aug. 1, at Seattle International Raceway. Capps will be driving a new Victory-built chassis featuring the 1999 Camaro body. "It's always nice to drive a new car," said Capps. "We'll make some laps in the car at Woodburn (Ore.) on Tuesday and Wednesday (July 27-28). At this point in the season, we're basically throwing out everything from the first half of the season and starting over fresh. "We now have a series of small goals we want to reach at each race. We want to qualify, then win rounds so we can get back into the top 10. We just haven't run well, but we've been trying as hard as we can." Capps has been very successful at SIR in the last four years. His first career victory came at the 1995 Northwest Nationals when he was driving a Top Fuel dragster and was rain-delayed from Sunday until Tuesday. He claimed his first No. 1 Funny Car qualifying position at SIR in 1997 and won the 1998 race, defeating eight-time NHRA champion John Force in the finals. "We've made a lot of strides recently in terms of performance," added Capps. "We feel we're at the stage where we do have a combination that will win a race. Our old car ran well at Denver (July 18). We went into that race feeling we could do well on race day." Capps, who qualified seventh (5.159 seconds at 286.13 mph) def. Cory Lee in the first round and was paired against Force - a seven-time winner already this year - in the second round. A broken air fitting in the fuel timers sabotaged what could've been a very competitive run, however. While Force drove away to the win with a 5.059 at 290.07, Capps coasted through with a 7.037 at 131.50. "We expected to run close to a 5.05 or 5.00," commented Capps. "The car left great and was going along great until it shook hard and broke the tires loose. I gave it a couple pedals, looked out the window and saw Force was pulling away from me." The new chassis is actually the third one the Cope Racing team has used this season. The '98 chassis, which won five times - the most in the category last year - ran at Bristol, Tenn. (in the Winston Showdown) and at Denver. During those outings, Capps' qualifying times were as consistent as they've been all year. "That chassis felt good and the car ran good," said Capps, "but we believe our new car will be even better. We know if we string some round wins and race wins together, we can get back into the top 10." Capps enters the Northwest Nationals in 16th position with 390 points. "But we're only 55 points out of 10th place," he said. "I'm excited. Roland (Leong, former crew chief) is back as an advisor to crew chief Todd Okuhara and they are working well together. Plus we're going to a track where we've always run well." Qualifying unfolds Friday at 2:30 and 6:30 p.m. and Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Eliminations begin Sunday at 11 a.m.
Ron Capps Facts:
Age: 34 Hometown: La Costa, Calif.
Final-round record: 8/12 (7/10 Funny Car, 1/2 Top Fuel); Last win: Topeka, Kan., 10/17/98;
Quickest time: 4.864 seconds; Fastest speed: 315.45 mph
At Seattle International Raceway: Capps earned his first career win in 1995, driving a Top Fuel dragster, and won last year's race driving a Funny Car.
1999 Winston Series Standing: 16th, 390 points