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NHRA: Capps Hopes to Find Drafting Partner in Four-Wide Funny Car Race

21 October 1998

ENNIS, Texas -- Way back in March, when the 1998 NHRA Winston Drag Racing season was barely three races old, Ron Capps was atop the Funny Car standings. Even then he knew the road to Winston championship glory would be long and filled with challenges.

Back then, the San Diego driver felt by season's end there could be as many as four drivers in position to cash in on an opportunity of a lifetime. He boldly predicted a late season scramble that may resemble a four-wide stock car battle at the high-banked Daytona Speedway.

Capps must have been looking into a crystal ball. With three races remaining on the NHRA calendar, there's four Funny Cars rounding turn four, belching a fiery nitro mist all the way to the checkered flag. Capps is tucked behind Force, and Cruz Pedregon and Chuck Etchells are closing fast.

"This is definitely the last lap and we need to pull out of line and hammer down," said Capps, who sits second in the Winston standings, 47 points behind leader Force. "The only thing we need to find is a drafting partner. Force has got a partner with Tony Pedregon. We just need to find someone to pull out with us and head to the front. We want to catch the draft and ride it all the way into Pomona."

Capps will look to make a slingshot pass at the 13th annual Revell Nationals presented by HiLo/O'Reilly Auto Parts, Oct. 22-25 at the state-of-the-art Texas Motorplex. The $1.7-million race is the 20th of 22 events in the $30-million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.

Capps, who drives Don 'The Snake' Prudhomme's Copenhagen Chevrolet Camaro, hopes to continue his good fortune at the ultra-fast Motorplex, where he was a winner earlier this season, ironically beating Force in the final round.

This time around, he'd like to get the opportunity to face the seven-time champ a little earlier in eliminations on Sunday.

"We've got to be able to take care of John Force in an early round if we can," Capps said. "Even though I won at Dallas earlier, I don't feel like I have any advantages because we're talking about John Force. Every track is a home track to him because he's won about every race.

"We've had some really good runs at Dallas in the past. That's going to be a key race for us because it's a track where we feel good about and can possibly make up some ground in the points chase because Force has pulled away a little here in the last few races. At least this year we have shown that we can run with him. Dallas is going to be a race where we have to step up and show what we're all about or settle for second. We're not about to settle for second."

Capps, who has been the Funny Car points leader at two different times during the season, has experienced somewhat of a slump during the last few races. At the Pioneer Keystone Nationals and Pennzoil Nationals in Memphis he suffered first round losses.

"It's unfortunate what has happened to us in the last couple of races, especially at Memphis," said Capps, a five time winner this season, including back-to-back races in Seattle and Brainerd, Minn. and most recently at the rain-delayed Parts America Nationals in Topeka, Kan. "At Reading the engine dropped a cylinder, moving the car to the left and out of the groove. At Memphis we had a tough weekend with the wheelstand in qualifying that forced us to go to our backup chassis. Those races showed us you can't expect to get lucky. John Force is not only lucky, but good.

"This was just a big hiccup. There's still a lot of racing left. In the beginning of the year you know things like this are going to happen, everything is not going to go your way. But that kind of stuff just makes you tough. When we win this championship, we can look back and say we really earned it.

This team has really worked hard all year. We have to hold our heads high and go on to Dallas and win the race."