CAPPS CLAIMS 60TH CAREER NATIONAL EVENT WIN WITH SEATTLE TITLE
This season there have been plenty near-miss race wins for Ron Capps.
The driver of the Pennzoil Synthetics/NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger for Don Schumacher Racing had three runner-up finishes in 2018 and just one win at Bristol, Tenn., June 17.
Capps returned to Victory Lane Sunday at the 31st annual CatSpot NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways near Seattle.
Capps clocked a 4.033-second lap at 314.90 mph to defeat Courtney Force’s 4.115-second run at 255.63 mph.
“We’ve been doing this,” said Capps, who qualified No. 9. “We talk about the five-disc (clutch) and going back and I like I was over talking about it. I don’t think people understood what it meant. With a field full of six-disc cars and for us to get back to what we did in 2016 when we won the championship to make the change and really not be happy. My crew chief Rahn Tobler just didn’t feel like the car responded to what he wanted. You have to remember we ran the six-disc in our Funny Car at DSR before any other crew chief. Fast-forward, a couple of races later qualified top three and win a race and then final round, final round, and final round. It has been fun, and he really feels good about how the car reacts to what he is doing.
On top of that, he threw a clutch disc into the pack that we four years ago was not one that he liked, and he put it aside and put back in the rotation at DSR. He put that in Saturday morning not knowing it used to be a very aggressive disc we thought. He put in and we got two points on Saturday during one of those qualifying runs. I’m sure a lot of crew chiefs would have the confidence to do. You work somebody, you don’t want to make a wrong move in the middle of qualifying. That’s just what he does and I’m in awe. It is such a great team, he and I and the entire team how we work together.”
This is Capps’ 60th career national event win – 59 in Funny Car and one in Top Fuel. The Top Fuel victory was the first of his career and it came at Seattle in 1995. With Tobler as his wrench boss since 2012, Capps has won 24 national events and the world title in 2016.
“I love down times and moments like this with him (Tobler),” Capps said. “It’s a lot of fun and I think we are going to have a lot of success the rest of the year. It’s perfect timing.”
Capps now has four career wins in Seattle – three in Funny Car 1998, 2016 and this year. He has been a four-time runner-up at Pacific Raceways 2001, 2006, 2008, and 2010.
Capps’ victory parade consisted of wins over Jonnie Linberg, Matt Hagan, Tim Wilkerson and then Courtney Force. The run against Lindberg, who drives for Jim Head, had plenty of drama before the run.
“I’m not going to say anything bad about Jim Head, but what he did was wrong,” Capps said. “I’m not sure he will ever admit he’s wrong about anything. I love the guy and I have been around him a long time but what he came and talked to me about when he talked to me about it was wrong. I have a lot of respect for Jim Head and I still do, but there’s no way he didn’t do that, I think for a reason. It was just a bizarre conversation that didn’t need to happen. I’ve been here all weekend long and to do it right before I’m getting in my car to race against his car, it was inappropriate no matter what. This is my livelihood. This is all I do. He has other stuff he does, and we talked about it and I’ve always had great conversations with him, but it was wrong for that conversation to come up right when it did in the staging lanes. My team was upset about, more than I was.
I’m an emotional guy. I race emotionally, and I compete emotionally, and I always have. I hope the fans would respect me more for saying what’s on mind rather than not and being vanilla and letting things go. It did get in my head a little bit, but I feel like I race better when I’m mad. I went up there and Tobler said let it go. Obviously, they don’t understand that when you get emotionally upset about something, I see the best lights ever and the best driving out of you. We will talk about it with Jim Head later. I’m not going to say a bad thing about the guy, it was just a very bizarre moment.”
Capps acknowledged Courtney Force’s team is the team to beat in Funny Car right now.
“They have a target on their back,” Capps said. “There’s the reason they are the points leader, obviously, and Brian Corradi and what he has done with that team and Courtney’s driving. I told her at the other end and her team, you guys bring out the best in us. That’s a big amount of respect we have for them. We are trying to make ground up on them and you can’t do that if she is next to me in the final round. You gain 20 points and we’re just shooting to be as high as we can in the regular season as far as points and they’re going to be tough.”
When Capps went up to compete against Courtney Force in the final round, his main thought was blocking John Force Racing from a West Coast Swing. John Force won Denver and Robert Hight was the champ in Sonoma, Calif., and both beat Capps in the finals.
“I’m in the water box, there is Don Schumacher, my teammate (Matt) Hagan walked up there before we fired the car up and all I was thinking they are going to try and sweep the Swing,” Capps said. “More than anything, I wanted to end that for Don because he was tired of hearing about it and reading about it, and we put a stop to that.”
During his winner’s interview, Capps took a moment to reflect from his first NHRA national win in Seattle in 1995 to No. 60 on Sunday.
“Some of you were here that day, that Tuesday I won in ’95,” Capps said. “I was (in) an unsponsored car and Pennzoil was on my fire suit, I borrowed money from my parents for that and my mom sewed it on my suit. That was a big moment. I have been here (Seattle) many times and I have won in Funny Car again, but that day was a faithful day. Don Prudhomme told me that was the day he started watching me on and off the track and the way I carried myself and the way I drove. That was a big moment in my career. That probably propelled me to the next of getting a phone call from Don “The Snake” Prudhomme which was an unbelievable moment and then getting to drive for the legendary Don Schumacher. It is neat to be full circle.”