Nationals put things in perspective

Originally Published: August 18, 2005
By Ron Capps | Special to

Ron Capps

With this weekend's prestigious U.S. Nationals on the NHRA schedule, we will have six races left in the season and it has really become an exciting battle for the Funny Car championship. With the excellent work of the Brut Dodge Funny Car team, my crew chief Ed "Ace" McCulloch and all the Brut guys, I find myself second in the points chase, just 30 points behind Robert Hight.

At Memphis we leapfrogged over John Force and my teammate Gary Scelzi with our runner-up finish. We were disappointed not to win the event, but we are not disappointed with the fact that we are very much in the hunt for my first Funny Car championship.

It's funny. Indy (the U.S. Nationals) is Indy and it's obviously our biggest race, but this year it's kind of strange. A lot of times you roll into Indy, all the hoopla starts and people talk about having to win Indy some time in your career, it's THE one race to win. You hear every cliche about the U.S. Nationals.

A lot of times you go into Indy a little too hyped up, I think. The truth is, the points are the same as at any other race. There are no more points that you can earn for this, the NHRA's biggest race.

I wish there were more points. You always sit down at the beginning of the year and you plot where you want to be at a certain point in the season. Around Indy time you want to be in the points hunt and that's exactly where we are right now.

The way the season is broken up there are going to be three races in a row after Indy -- Reading, Pa., Dallas and Chicago. And things are going to happen fast as far as the points are concerned.

At Indy we have an extra qualifying run, the race is run on Monday, and it's usually hot and humid. We get two night sessions this year. It's changed things up quite a bit for this race. The two night qualifying runs are obviously going to be the most important runs we're going to make all weekend to set up our qualifying order.

The way the points have been lately, qualifying has been crucial to put yourself into position to either race someone (in contention) really early or not to see them until later rounds, and that's the way it's been.

When you're in the hunt like this you're concentrating on every single round. More than anything, it's really nice to be able to see the confidence that has grown within this brand-new team.

There are a lot of things going on in the Brut camp. It's a new team, and we have Ace fighting health problems, which had kind of put everything else on the backburner and made us realize how unimportant points are when you're dealing with somebody's health. And yet we've gone out and tried to have a good time. And look where it's gotten us. It's gotten us right up into No. 2 in points.

We're going to try to continue on the same path. We're not going to overemphasize just how important Indy is. We're going to concentrate on each race. But, at the same time, our motto has been to kind of raise the fun meter a little bit and let things fall where they may. It's made it a unique situation every time we show up at the track with this team. It's a lot of fun right now.

The Brut team is approaching the U.S. Nationals like any other race. And if we do well and we happen to win Indy, then after the weekend is over on Tuesday, we'll reflect on how neat it was to put Indy down as a race that we've won in our career.

Ron Capps drives a Funny Car in the NHRA for Don Schumacher Racing. He is providing a diary to throughout the 2005 season.