Autoweek NHRA insider Ron Capps’ blog: It’s not like we need to throw a Hail Mary
NHRA heads to Las Vegas for second-to-last stop of the season
Editor’s note: This is the 22nd in a series of exclusive Autoweek blogs by 2016 NHRA Funny Car champion Ron Capps. Last time out, Capps qualified fifth before falling in the first round of eliminations to Don Schumacher Racing teammate Jack Beckman at Dallas. Capps heads to Las Vegas this weekend for the fifth race weekend in the six-race NHRA Mello Yello Series Countdown to the Championship. Capps sits sixth in the standings, 135 points back of leader Robert Hight of John Force Racing.
We’re a little bummed out after going out in the first round at Dallas, but we’ll get over it.
After a tough week during the season, you always just feel like there’s this hope that you’re going to climb right back into the thick of things. But we’re getting real close to the end of the season. It’s a dejected Monday when you wake up and realize it wasn’t a dream. We really did go out first round and we really did give up a bunch of points.
You work all season long, and it comes down to this. You feel like you’re almost wasting a complete season if you’re not in the battle for the championship. We haven’t given up yet, but it was definitely a weird feeling what happened in Texas, sort of a reality check.
We know what we have to do. The good thing is we have a great race car. I never feel like we’re ever out of it. We’re always one run away from setting a track record like we did at Maple Grove. We’re always one run away from putting ourselves back in the winner’s circle. That’s the good thing.
It’s not like we’re going to go out, throw a Hail Mary, only to find out we have three terrible receivers and a quarterback who can’t throw very well. We’ve got a very, very good team. That part excites me.
There’s just two races left. That’s eight rounds of competition at 20 points a round, 30 for the four rounds at Pomona. The saving grace is the points and a half for the last race at Pomona, but we definitely didn’t help ourselves in Texas. We kind of had an ideal situation where when qualifying was over, we ended up matched up against our teammate Jack Beckman, who was just ahead of us in points. That was an ideal situation that we could have and should have taken advantage of.
We were fighting some clutch issues on Saturday, and we had to make a change on the car. Having to make changes before the eliminations is not a good thing on the third to last race of the Countdown.
Now, we’re off to Las Vegas. Greg Anderson, who is a multi-time Pro Stock champion, said if you’re 130 points or less going into Pomona, you’ve still got a great chance.
Strange things happen at this Las Vegas race. You can only sort of hope that these cars in front of us stumble a little bit. And we need the right ones to stumble at the right time for us, so that we’re able to make a move. We’re just going to try and win Vegas. And if we win, that means someone in front of us in points didn’t win, and that means we at least gained a little bit.
We just have to hope that we’ve got a little luck on our side.
Ron Capps, 54, drives the NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car for Don Schumacher Racing. He has 64 career NHRA victories, including 63 in the Funny Car class. He is the second-winningest Funny Car driver in NHRA history.