Capps talks attitude, testing limits, economy as new season begins
Pomona, pre-race: Ron Capps will arrive at this weekend's NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, Calif., for the opening of the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series with a winning attitude as he contests for his first Funny Car championship driving the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Funny Car.
With a short off-season, a dramatic shift in the country's economy, and the NHRA's announcement limiting testing, it's going to be an interesting and challenging season, no question.
"This season for our NAPA team is kind of status quo," said Capps, who finished No. 8 in points last year, "because we have pretty much the same paint scheme and we did not have to worry about replacing crew members and painting cars, which takes a lot of time during the winter. So, our crew chief Ed McCulloch was able to concentrate on making the NAPA car better for 2009.
"We worked on getting the new cars built and we were ready for testing in West Palm Beach and Phoenix. The guys were actually ready a week ahead of time and that's something a lot of teams can't say.
"Personally, for me, I feel refreshed. It was a great off-season. I spent four days shooting four new NAPA commercials in Charlotte that are going to be a big hit with the fans, both on the NASCAR side and NHRA side.
"And, getting ready for the season with the test sessions, you never know what to expect. We've been the quickest at test sessions and not won a championship and we've had trouble getting down the track and then ran for a championship at the end of the year.
"You never know until you roll through the gates in Pomona what's going to happen. And it's a very exciting race because of all the new paint schemes, the new teams, the new drivers, new crew chiefs. We know our goal this season and it's to try to win as many races as we can for NAPA."
As for the economy and how it affects NHRA drag racing, "It's depressing to watch the news every day," said Capps, "but I have to tell you how invigorating it is to get some of the news about how strong our sport is right now. We have more teams entered for the pro classes in Pomona than we did last year, which is amazing. And I truly believe people are going to spend their entertainment dollar more wisely. And anybody who has been to an NHRA race knows that you get so much more for what you pay for at the gate. You get closer to the drivers, you get closer to the action, and you get a very exciting day when you pay the money to go to an NHRA drag race.
"NHRA announced that we can only test four times once the season starts," added Capps. "That's pretty limited. But I think it's a great call considering all the factors with the economy and, with the Countdown starting in September, I think it's going to change the way people race. I think you're going to see a lot of teams trying things during qualifying they would normally try during a test session.
"And I also believe that if teams feel they might need to test, they may consider waiting until September, because once the Countdown starts you just have to be one of the top 10 teams to get into the Countdown. Those are the races that are important for winning a championship. If teams need to test, they may need all four of those days once the Countdown starts.
"The preseason testing was time consuming and it was hard on the NAPA crew, because we made a lot of runs for a lot of days,” said Capps, “but I think that is really going to benefit us starting out the season in Pomona."
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