Ron Capps wants another Funny Car victory at Seattle. He has done it from the No. 16 position before, and he's eager to try to win the O'Reilly Northwest Nationals from the No. 1 spot Sunday.
The NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger will have the privilege, after no one (not even he) could top his 4.119-second elapsed time from his 298.47-mph pass Friday on the Pacific Raceways 1,000-foot course.
He joined Spencer Massey atop the leaderboard Saturday to give Don Schumacher Racing a nitro-class coup.
While Capps has won twice here in his National Hot Rod Association career, including in Roger Primm's Top Fuel dragster in 1995, he also wants to win for crew chief Rahn Tobler and assistant crew chief John Collins.
To do that, he knows, it's always a terrific idea to let the crew chiefs get plenty of rest the night before eliminations. Tobler and Collins should get that, thanks to their cautious approach Saturday in an uncharacteristically nasty heat wave for normally moderate Seattle.
"Rahn experimented a little today," Capps said, "and it put out a cylinder in the first session." So they took the safe approach on the final run, and Capps said, "It's a bummer. We could have gone for low E.T. of the session [which would have come with more bonus points]. But he was trying to be sure it didn’t drop a cylinder again. And it did go down there nice and clean.
"Saturday, if you can go down the track, no matter what, on eight cylinders, it makes the crew chiefs sleep a little easier Saturday night," he said.
Capps said he'll need to have a fresh mind for eliminations, first because the track is tricky, and secondly, because the No. 16 qualifier can pull off an upset. He knows, because he did that here, too.
"This is a demanding track for drivers and crew chiefs," he said. "Down-track there's still a few small bumps. That's OK -- it gives the place a little bit of character. It demands that you be on your game as a driver. If you allow those bumps to move you out of the groove you're in trouble on a hot track."
He said he should be prepared for the heat, emphasizing that "It was by no means a cool night session Friday when he posted the 4.119-second E.T. that turned out to be quickest.
Capps will face Jeff Diehl in the opening round Sunday. And that is what he knows he needs to pay attention to, rather than the possibility of swiping the points lead form Robert Hight. It could happen if Hight loses his first match-up Sunday and Capps wins the race, gaining 100 points.
"I've learned you never look past your next opponent," Capps said. "That can be tempting, but when you do you are likely to stub your toe."
He didn't say he was looking past lower-qualified part-time racer Gary Densham last Sunday at Sonoma, but he did lose to Densham in the first round. And a repeat performance could put a serious dent in Capps' chance to move past Hight and grab 20 extra bonus points at the beginning of the Countdown.
Theories about the weather, the racetrack, the opponent, scenarios that could unfold all are distractions. Perhaps the best advice for Capps would be to give himself what he helped give his crew chiefs: a decent night's sleep.
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