Autoweek NHRA Insider Ron Capps' blog: 'Don't drink your own bathwater'

Autoweek NHRA Insider Ron Capps' blog: 'Don't drink your own bathwater'


Ron Capps is fifth in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Funny Car standings.

Editor’s note: This is the 15th in a series of exclusive Autoweek blogs by 2016 NHRA Funny Car champion Ron Capps. Capps continued his 2019 season this past weekend at Sonoma Raceway in California, where he qualified ninth before falling to Blake Alexander in the opening round of eliminations. Capps slipped to fifth place in the Funny Car season standings, where he is two points back of teammate Jack Beckman. The NHRA continues its Western Swing Aug. 2-4 at Pacific Raceways in Kent, Washington.

When I drove for Don “The Snake” Prudhomme, one of his favorite sayings was, “Don’t drink your own bathwater.”

Meaning, you don’t want to read your own press clippings.

A lot of times, when a driver or team is going to a place they’ve had great success at, they kind of assume the race week will go in their favor. Well, this past week, at Sonoma, we were up against a team that is part time — but still a very good team — and we lost in the first round. We created sort of a target on our back, years ago, when crew chief Rahn Tobler and I got together. It’s self-inflicted to a point. When we go down the track, we’re tough to race, and it’s a huge compliment coming from any competitor to tell us that.

Crew chief Rahn Tobler

We just didn’t qualify well, and to be honest, we were going for everything — for the pole, for the track record. We were going to throw down a number, and we just didn’t make it. That’s OK. There’s time where you shake your head and you’re bummed out about how you ran, but I love it when my crew chief and the team rolls out there with the attitude that we’re going to go for the pole, for that No. 1 spot. We really wanted to go for it at Sonoma for a couple of reasons. One, you want to really put the pressure on your opponents. Second, there was a 15-car field, and the first qualifier was going to get a bye run the first round, and that was important.

It is what it is, though.

We’ve got Seattle this weekend and then Brainerd coming up. If we can get up into second or third place in the standings, we’re going to be right there in position to make a run in our Countdown to the Championship. There’s also this other race coming up called the U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis. It’s one of our biggest races, and I’ve never gotten a chance to win in it on Monday. That’s front and center on our goals right now. We want to move up in position, but if we could get that Indy win it would be such a huge accomplishment.

We’ve always used Brainerd, especially when we won the championship, as a catapult to Indy and to get ready for the playoffs. Brainerd will have a little bit of the humidity that we will see in Indianapolis in early September.

Seattle, we’re going to see unbelievable conditions, close to sea level. The track is in a setting where it’s surrounded by huge evergreen trees. It’s like a forest, so you get a lot of good oxygen — some of the best air conditions we see for these race cars.

Ron Capps will be back in action this weekend at Pacific Raceways, near Seattle.

But Brainerd is the one where you’ve got to have everything together, and you’ve got to be set for what you’re tuneup is because there’s not going to be a whole lot that will be changing after that.

There’s teams fighting to get into the top 10 and qualify for the standings. Brainerd is always a track where you look at all the drama that is going on. There are some really good teams fighting for eighth, ninth, 10th, 11th. As a fan, you’re watching the drama unfold.

While we’re in a good position to move up, Brainerd is a lot of pressure for a lot of teams for a lot of different reasons. For me, it’s been another great place we’ve been to. We’ve won there five times. There’s a lot of fun stuff that NAPA does there for use. We go fishing, make a few more appearances there than we do anywhere else.

The Canadians who come down there seem to love me. We’ve developed a fan base in Brainerd that’s pretty crazy. And the campground that they call “The Zoo” there is pretty crazy — it’s almost legendary. There’s about 100,000 people camped out in The Zoo, and we’ll go out there Saturday night after qualifying. It’s just something you’ve got to do. It’s good for the mojo.

It’s good for us to get out there with the fans, and then when we win on Sunday, you get those same fans — although some of them probably don’t remember much about it – to come out to the winner’s circle with us.

2016 NHRA Mello Yello Series Funny Car champion Ron Capps, 54, drives the NAPA Brakes Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car for Don Schumacher Racing. He has 63 career NHRA victories, including 62 in the Funny Car class.

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