CAPPS KEEPS SKILLS SHARP WITH ONLINE RACING
Ron Capps has been racing NHRA nitro Funny Cars full-times since 1997 – winning the 2016 world championship in his Don Schumacher Racing NAPA Dodge in 2016.
Capps has established himself as one of NHRA’s elite Funny Car drivers, yet he never rests on his accomplishments, he’s always trying to get better.
During the offseason downtime in December, Capps keeps his racing skills sharp by competing in races on iRacing.com, which dubs itself as the premier motorsports racing simulation.
This past weekend and into this week, Capps was competing in virtual racing against stars in other forms of motorsports.
“I was racing against Dale Earnhardt Jr., Rico Abreu, Christopher Bell, Alex Bowman, and Formula 1 drivers,” Capps said. “iRacing is this huge thing that has all different kinds of racing and they added dirt cars about six months ago, so Tony Stewart and all these guys are jumping on and we were all racing (Dec. 26). I race against these guys online with a simulator I have had forever in my garage and I was one of the original beta testers for iRacing. My brother (Jon Capps) was visiting so we were on almost the entire day switching back and forth. We were racing the Eldora track, Knoxville and some famous dirt tracks across the country where we were racing sprint cars and midgets and Late Models. We race against each other or we invite some fans to come in and race and it will go until it fills up with people and then cuts off. You have full practice sessions, heat races and qualify and then have a big main event.”
Capps said he’s trying to get the crew at iRacing.com to add drag racing tracks to the menu.
“The online racing is as real as it gets,” Capps said. “These NASCAR drivers are using it to practice for the upcoming track and the Formula 1 drivers use it to practice before they get to a race, so it is the most realistic thing in the world. The biggest part of it is the hand-eye coordination. I’ve always played video games even when they first started out with the original racing games and I always felt like the hand-eye coordination definitely helped me for what I do in my race car.”
Although Capps has been the mainstay drag racer in the iRacing events, he did say fellow NHRA racers and crew chiefs are joining the fray.
“(Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion) Matt Smith was in racing and (crew chief) Tommy DeLago also was racing,” Capps said.
On the real track, Capps won a career-best eight races in 2017, but came up short in winning back-to-back world championships as he came in second place in the points to Robert Hight.
Up next for Capps and his DSR team will be testing at Wild Horse Motorsports Park in Phoenix, Ariz. Testing is scheduled to take place for nitro Funny Cars and dragsters Jan. 31-Feb. 3, with Feb. 3 being only day open to the public.
“I’m excited to get going again,” Capps said. “This is the first year we have had more changes than I’m used to. I’ve been blessed throughout the years that I have not had a whole lot of turnover as far as crew guys on the cars that I’ve driven. This year we lost Eric Lane, who will be tuning Bob Tasca’s car, and now Dustin (Heim), who has been our car chief will be the assistant crew chief and he has been with Tobler forever. So, I’m looking forward to getting back on the track.”
The season-opening Lucas Oil Winternationals are Feb. 8-11 in Pomona, Calif.