NHRA Funny Car driver Ron Capps has finished runner-up in the points chase four times in his career, including last year’s two-point loss to his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Jack Beckman. In spite of his fast start to the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season, Capps thinks it’s much too early to be looking at a championship run.
“It's way too early I think,” said Capps in a recent NHRA teleconference. “Heck, last year I was getting told before the St. Louis race we were going to run away with the championship. Lo and behold my teammate, Beckman and that team, came alive, won that race. We went out second round. We know what happened after that. We battled down to the end. I finished runner-up four times and been in the hunt before going into Pomona several times beyond that. I don't start getting excited till Sunday morning at Pomona. Even though it looked like we could run away with it, I know what could happen, and it did happen.”
“Last year, when (crew chief Rahn) Tobler took over after the Vegas race, we went from ninth in points, Tobler took our team to first place where we got the bonus points going into the Countdown, and we took over that from Robert Hight's team with one race to go when we left Brainerd, Minnesota,” continued Capps. “That was a fun ride to go from ninth to first. We had a chance to get the 20-point bonus by leading the regular season. That's the kind of motivation we look at. But to be honest, we don't start counting any of that stuff yet.”
The next race on the schedule, the historic NHRA Gatornationals at Auto Plus Raceway at Gainesville, Florida, March 14th through 17th, is a race where Capps has two previous wins – wins that are an accomplishment in any drag racing career.
“It was always considered one of the big four that NHRA had,” remembered Capps. “I never got to go there as a kid growing up in California. I went to Irwindale, Orange County, Pomona, Bakersfield. I only read about this place. I went there in Top Fuel my rookie year and got to race and really experience what Gainesville is all about. For me I started pointing at the Winternationals of the East Coast because it's where a lot of the big sponsors, suits, come out to the races if they're on the East Coast. With that being said, I went along in my career not winning it until Ace (Ed McCulloch) and I won it that first time. I realized what a big deal it was. Then we got to win it again. Now it's one of those trophies I look at on my mantel, it's like, man, I got to win the Gatornationals. For us to drive in Friday morning, get that feeling, everybody's there, they made it a destination, a vacation trip. It's such a huge crowd. It's one of the most prestigious races we go to. It's a demanding track. It can be humid and hot. It's one of those racetracks where if you win, at the end of the day you really feel like you accomplished something.”
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Quotes in this piece provided by the NHRA.
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