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Reading: Ron Capps preview

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Reading: Ron Capps preview
Aug 12, 2008, 2:35 AM

READING A PIVOTAL RACE FOR CAPPS MOHNTON, Pa. (Aug. 12, 2008) - This weekend's 24th annual NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway, outside of Reading, Pa., is the first of the final two NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series events before the Countdown ...

READING A PIVOTAL RACE FOR CAPPS

MOHNTON, Pa. (Aug. 12, 2008) - This weekend's 24th annual NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway, outside of Reading, Pa., is the first of the final two NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series events before the Countdown to 1 championship playoffs for the top 10 begin following the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis on Labor Day weekend.

For Ron Capps, who drives the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car for Don Schumacher Racing, it is a pivotal event. No. 8 in points, the California native is targeting a move up into the top five in order to enter the playoffs with a stronger margin. If he remains in eighth, he will start the playoffs 90 markers behind No. 1; if he moves into fifth place, he will be down only 60 points, once the totals are reset for the playoffs.

But, before the race weekend even begins at Maple Grove, two NHRA teams will play in the NHRA Softball Classic, slated for Aug. 14 at the Reading Phillies’ FirstEnergy Stadium. Capps was the first pick in a draft for players by his DSR teammate Gary Scelzi, the coach of Scelzi's Superchargers. The other team, led by coach Antron Brown, is the Burn Down Bombers.

Game day will begin with an autograph session from 5 to 6 p.m. and continue with the first pitch at 7 p.m. Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit DRAW (Drag Racing Association of Women), a group that in addition to providing emotional support has since 1985 given more than $3 million to injured drag racers.

"We're going to raise some money at the softball game for a very good cause, but it's kind of turned into another Prelude to the Dream (Tony Stewart's annual dirt-track charity event at Eldora Speedway)," said Capps. "It's all for raising money and it's all fun. But, I tell you, based on the practice we had in Brainerd and the scrimmage between the two teams, there are some serious players in this deal. Nobody wants to lose, so much in fact that our coach 'Wild Thing' - which is an appropriate nickname for him because of his pitching skills (said with a laugh) - called a second double-top-secret practice. I'm really excited about this game.

"I'm also excited about another back-to-back national event. I love them, especially if the previous weekend doesn’t go too well, like what happened in Brainerd (Minn.) last weekend. We did go a couple of rounds, but you want to get right back up on the horse. Reading is a very fast track. It's a wonderful track, very scenic, and it should have completely different atmospheric and weather conditions than we had in Brainerd.

"We're getting down close to the Countdown and Reading every year seems to be important, no matter how the season's going. It always seems to stand out, so you'd better have your act together going there, and I feel comfortable with my crew chief Ed “Ace” McCulloch and the NAPA Dodge guys right now."

Capps, of Carlsbad, Calif., in his 25 career triumphs, has never won a national event at Maple Grove. He was Funny Car runner-up twice: in 1999 (Tommy Johnson Jr.), and in 2000 (Bruce Sarver).

-credit: dsr

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