CARLSBAD, Calif. (Mar. 10, 2009) -Riding the wave of being undefeated so far in the Funny Car class of the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series, Ron Capps is ready to keep on rolling at this weekend's NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville (Fla.) Raceway.
But the Funny Car veteran, who drives the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Funny Car for Don Schumacher Racing, is well aware that this sport can be fickle at times. He's been there before. In 2007 he led the point standings by as much as 154 markers through the first 14 events before the new Countdown kicked in. His points margin was then reset for the playoffs and he ended the season fourth in the standings.
Which makes his and crew chief Ed "Ace" McCulloch's determination to win their first Funny Car championship even stronger. They are not sitting back and enjoying their recent successes. Instead, they're focusing harder on winning every round.
"In our sport, any time you can have a streak it's amazing considering the competition," said Capps, who leads the field by 97 points after only two events. "If you had asked me after Pomona (season opener) if we had a chance to go two in a row, I'd have said I don't know but I certainly felt confident that we had a car that could do it.
"That's the great thing about NHRA drag racing. You never know what's going to happen, so when somebody does go on a roll it makes it that more impressive.
"It's kind of neat to approach this year with such single-mindedness," added Capps. "When I say that I mean approaching every run literally like it's the last run we're going to make. That, so far, has really paid off.
"Ace is a great leader. It's a different mindset for us to go into each race like that, but obviously it's worked. I think that it's definitely put me a little more at ease as a driver not having to worry about so many different things down the road that a driver can worry about and just focus on each run."
Capps was the Funny Car runner-up at the Gatornationals in 2000. He also won the event in 2006 and 2007 and went on to win the following event in Houston both years.
"When we won the Gators and went back to back and then won Houston I never would have thought that could have happened," he said. "So, anything is possible. What happens when you start running well is it puts pressure on other teams that race against you. And I've been in the other position where guys are hot and when it's your time to race them you definitely know it. So, you approach the race a little bit differently. You know you have to get after it, you know they're going to go down the track.
"I've been on both sides of the fence and I definitely like being on this side. It's great exposure for NAPA because that's what we should have done last year: given them at least a couple of wins. (Capps was winless in 2008, the first year NAPA AUTO PARTS came on board.) We feel like we're making up for lost ground and we are where we should be.
"One thing I've learned having won in Gainesville is that you take nothing for granted, especially the weather. More than likely, the conditions are not going to be mineshaft conditions unless you have a storm come in with cool weather because we're at the part of March where we have some sunshine, some humidity. If you look back at the elapsed times that won rounds when we won those two races there, they weren't stellar. We took what the track would give us and that's what I really love about racing with Ace. He knows when to race the race track and not your opponent."
RON CAPPS QUICK FACTS:
FRIDAY, March 13 - PROFESSIONAL QUALIFYING SESSIONS at 11:30 a.m. & 2:30 p.m.
SATURDAY, March 14 - PROFESSIONAL QUALIFYING SESSIONS at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
SUNDAY, March 15 - Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m. FINAL ELIMINATIONS begin at 11 a.m.
Sunday, March 15, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise two hours of qualifying highlights at 2 a.m. (ET).
Sunday, March 15, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will re-air 90 minutes of qualifying highlights at 10 a.m. (ET).
Sunday, March 15, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise NHRA Race Day, a 30-minute news magazine show, at 11:30 a.m. (ET)
Sunday, March 15, ESPN and ESPN HD will televise three hours of coverage starting at 3 p.m. (ET).
Friday, March 13, 9 - 9:30 p.m. (ET), AMC 15 / Transponder 8K (11860 MHz, horizontal)
Saturday, March 14, 7:30 - 8 p.m. (ET), AMC 15 / Transponder 7K (11840 MHz, vertical)
Sunday, March 15, 6:30 - 7 p.m. (ET), AMC 15 / Transponder 7K (11840 MHz, vertical)
Video news release contains race action highlights each day and winners'
interviews on Sunday.