BROWNSBURG, Ind. (May 15, 2012) – There was a time when race cars couldn't be painted green and the easiest way to get tossed out of a pit area or garage was to be eating shelled peanuts.
Superstitions are still around, but it isn't easy to find racers to admit they have any.
But the NAPA AUTO PARTS Funny Car team at Don Schumacher Racing is proud of how a fluffy lucky charm has paid off and are eager to see if "brakes" can continue to fall their way.
First, crew chief Rahn Tobler adopted a giant, powder-blue stuffed dog that the team named "Blue." It's not the dark NAPA blue used to cover Ron Capps Funny Car but a NAPA decal covers Blue's chest to make it the team's official mascot. The NAPA AUTO PARTS crew has not missed advancing to the championship round of the last three NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series events since Blue joined the crew at the Four-Wide Nationals near Charlotte, N.C., last month.
To improve on that streak, Capps started another by cracking into the winner's circle at the last event on May 6 near Atlanta giving NAPA a hometown win for the first time.
It was the 34th NHRA title in Capps' career and the first for him at Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Ga.
It then was decided that what was to have been a one-race special paint scheme saluting NAPA Brakes would continue on the Dodge Charger R/T body though this weekend's Dollar General NHRA SummerNationals at Heartland Park Topeka in Kansas.
"Why change anything if we're winning?" Capps said.
"It was huge for me to get that first win at Atlanta especially with our NAPA headquarters being right down the road.
"You can go all the way to the final round, but if you lose then it's just an OK day. When you win, it's a great day. It's about getting to the winner's circle ... you have to close the deal.
"It was a confidence booster for me and for the team. I feel like we'll make a good run for the championship. It's a lot of fun right now showing up at the racetrack on Friday."
The excitement of the Atlanta win was visible during Capps' live appearance via satellite Sunday night on SPEED's "Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain" program.
Now Capps hopes to start a winning streak when the NAPA Brakes Dodge competes in the May 18-20 Dollar General NHRA SummerNationals at Heartland Park Topeka where Capps has won titles three times.
"It's always been a track where we've done well," he said, noting another forecast for sunny skies with highs in the mid-80s.
"The last couple times we won there it was very hot. When it's hot it's tough on everybody on the crew. The crew chief has to figure out how to negotiate 8,000-horsepower down a 140-degree track.
"It's a track where you always want to win because the conditions and heat really make you feel like you've accomplished something extra when you do."
What provided added luster to the Atlanta victory was that Capps and Tobler became the first duo to win a Funny Car title through seven events this season other than members of John Force Racing.
At the previous race near Houston, Capps ended JFR driver Robert Hight's four-event, 18-round winning streak.
"Stopping Robert's winning streak and then stopping John Force Racing after they won the first six titles showed that we could challenge them, that we could run with them.
"We believe we'll be in the championship hunt until the last race."
(Through six of 23 events; DSR drivers capitalized)