FIVE-TIME SEASON WINNER CAPPS SAVORS SEATTLE MEMORIES KENT, Wash. (July 15, 2009) - Ron Capps is back to winning form after collecting his fifth Funny Car national-event victory of the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series last Sunday in ...
FIVE-TIME SEASON WINNER CAPPS SAVORS SEATTLE MEMORIES
KENT, Wash. (July 15, 2009) - Ron Capps is back to winning form after collecting his fifth Funny Car national-event victory of the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series last Sunday in Denver in the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge. He returns this weekend to Pacific Raceways and the NHRA Northwest Nationals, where he won his first professional drag race in a Top Fuel dragster as a rookie in 1995 over his now-teammate Cory McClenathan.
"It was a long, dragged-out experience because of rain," recalls Capps, who is tied in the series points lead with Ashley Force Hood. "It was a Tuesday when we ran the final round. My wife Shelley had to go back home on Sunday night to go to work and I remember waking up on Monday and being able to run one or two rounds that day until it rained again and we had to stay over until Tuesday.
"Back then I was teaching racquetball at a health club so I had a job also to go back to. I was driving for a privateer team run by Roger Primm out of his pocket and we were winning rounds and even made it into the final round. The thing that stood out the most for me was that people showed up at the track on that Tuesday to watch the finals.
"Yeah, it was a small crowd, but it was amazing that anybody came out on a Tuesday. It looked gloomy in the morning and it looked like we would be there another day, but we were able to run the race. I'll never forget coming around the corner and (the late) Al Hofmann had won Funny car right in front of me and he was doing his interview. And I remember him coming over and giving me a hug, which is something that he didn't usually do, but he knew it was my first win. It was cool.
"I didn't know Cory well at the time," Capps continued. "He was considered a veteran and I had actually gone to him to get advice. So, I was racing a guy that I had gone to for advice on how to drive a Top Fuel car and here I was racing him. I felt a little badly that I beat him; it was definitely a David-and-Goliath scenario.
"Cory was driving the McDonald's Joe Gibbs-owned team, had the biggest budget probably on the grounds, and I was driving a car that was funded out of the owner's wallet. It was a neat feeling. I went from simply being happy to be in the final, not thinking we were going to win, to seeing my win light go on as a rookie on a Tuesday.
"Back then I worked on the car and helped drive the truck with the crew chief. It was a fun winner's circle, but we had to pack up and I had to jump in the truck and help drive it back to Reno and then get myself back to my day job. There wasn't a whole lot of time to savor the win."
Fast forward 14 years and Capps is now a veteran with 30 national-event wins, including two in Seattle, three runner-up finishes at Pacific Raceways, and aiming for his first Funny Car series championship this season. He's got a killer car under him tuned by Ed "Ace" McCulloch and he's ready to take over as sole leader in the class.
"We had our new car put together in Norwalk (two races ago) and Ace has always been thinking far ahead. And, after winning Denver last weekend I feel like we're back at the beginning of the season again with the new car." Capps was undefeated in the first two events of 2009, in Pomona, Calif., and Phoenix. "We're looking to have another good weekend in Seattle and throughout this run to the Countdown to 1 playoffs.
"Right now, coming off a win in Denver, where I'd never won before, I'm looking forward to the next two races in Seattle and Sonoma (Calif., which follows the Seattle event), where I have won before."