CAPPS MISSES THE FIELD FOR FIRST TIME SINCE 2004 IN TOPEKA TOPEKA, Kan. (June 2, 2007) - NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car points leader Ron Capps failed to qualify in the top 16 at the O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals for the first time...
CAPPS MISSES THE FIELD FOR FIRST TIME SINCE 2004 IN TOPEKA
TOPEKA, Kan. (June 2, 2007) - NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car points leader Ron Capps failed to qualify in the top 16 at the O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals for the first time since the second Chicago event of 2004.
Driving the Special Edition BRUT "Test Drive" Dodge Charger R/T, Capps also snapped the longest active qualifying streak in the Funny Car class at 55 races.
Qualifying was shortened to three sessions this weekend because of rain, and Capps and crew chief Ed "Ace" McCulloch struggled to get the Brut Dodge to hook up in any of the runs. Capps was not entirely disappointed, however, as he knew coming in that the team, enjoying a 121-point lead and the Countdown to the Championship resetting to 10-point increments after 17 events for the top eight, would take this opportunity to test modifications to the car in preparation for the upcoming six-event swing.
Unfortunately, the lack of four qualifying passes bit them, and Capps is on the sidelines.
After experiencing tire shake and loss of traction in the single run on Friday and today's first pass, producing a 9.738/82.20 and a 5.461/247.97, his final attempt was no improvement, resulting in another tire-smoking 11.090/85.33.
"You can have a weekend with much worse results," said Capps. "You know, John Force's team and Robert Hight, who is second in points coming in here, missed a race. And some of the biggest names in the sport have not qualified this year, including THE biggest name in the sport (John Force).
"So, yeah, it felt like somebody hit you with a baseball bat. It's the worst feeling to smoke them that early and coast down there knowing you're not in the show," he said of the final pass. "But, honest to God, from the heart, it does not knock any of the confidence I have in our team.
"We made a decision to front-half our car prior to this race because of the Bristol postponement and the upcoming grueling six-race swing. We've run this car for some time, we've gone to a lot of final rounds, and put a lot of runs on it. And Ace has a plan for everything he does. We're behind him no matter what he does. We chose to put a new car together for this race, and part of this Countdown, whether you want to call it the good side or the bad side, is that it's going to basically reset all the points. And, if you're one of the top eight, resetting the points by 10 is nothing in our sport. We will most likely leave here with the points lead. And that's OK.
"And, to be honest with you, you wonder how those Nextel Cup guys can get out of the car and just be OK with an OK car or top-five finish and I know how they feel right now. It's OK. It's not the end of the world .
"I tell you, we have the best sponsors in the world. They were the first ones over here patting us on the butt, telling us, 'No problem,' and they mean that from the bottom of their hearts.
"Unfortunately, we're not going to gain those points. It just reiterates how tough our sport is having to qualify every race and not have owners or drivers points to get you in with a provisional."
As for the reason for the problems, "The conditions changed, which limited our runs down the track," he said. "And that doesn't help when you have a new car. We expected to get four runs to sort out what this car likes. Every car is different and you have to find out what that new car likes and doesn't like. Obviously, this one is a tad bit different from the last one. I can't think of a better crew chief to have to figure out a car in the least amount of runs and that's Ed McCulloch. So, I have no problem knowing that we're going to go to Chicago and be just fine. I told the Brut guys I really believe we're going to have the points lead going into Indy. I just feel like we're going to do well through the whole swing. This is just a bump in the road.
"I'm not just saying that. I really mean that from the heart."