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September 7, 2016

Ron Capps

Glendora, California

SCOTT SMITH: Ron, thank you for your time in joining us today.

Ron Capps is the driver of the NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger RT. He has earned the number one berth on the strength of five wins and three runner-up finishes. He's also had four number one qualifying positions. This is the third time in his career he has started the Countdown as the number one seed.

Ron, your five wins ties you in the season for the amount of wins you've got. Gaze into your crystal ball. How many more wins is it going to take out of those six to hoist the championship trophy Sunday night in Pomona?

RON CAPPS: Man, I don't know. I can tell you you're going to need probably semifinals, at least, throughout the Countdown. You might be able to have a hiccup here and a hiccup there, maybe have a second round. But as we've seen in the past, there have been teams that have gone from fifth and higher that have just come alive and won races in the Countdown, gone on to have big wins near the end of the Countdown. That's sort of what we're trying to do, keep going.

We had a pretty good streak going with the wins. Then the final rounds up through Brainerd, lost a close one, didn't get in the final. Sonoma we didn't feel we were that good, got to the final. We won the Seattle makeup race.

Those wins are great. But it's the ones we let get away that will hurt you at the end of the year when you look back. We're going to just try to keep winning rounds.

SCOTT SMITH: You talk about winning rounds. I think you only have one first-round loss this year. It sounds simplistic. But is that the key to this, you have to win the first round because you have to go rounds?

RON CAPPS: Well, I was just told by Jeff Wolf, my publicist, we had the most bonus points during the Indy race. Not that I'm acting surprised, but throughout the weird weekend we had, having to go to a backup car, wrecking that car in the first round of the shootout, that was the biggest thing I was thinking about until I thought, I'm going to get hurt here entering at this speed. I'm pulling on the brake thinking, This car has been so good, I don't want to ruin it.

Man, I don't know. Looking back at the weekend, finding out we had the most qualifying points, that is what has cost us the championship in the past. We've lost those little points and we've lost the championship by less than a round. I know I have for sure a few of those times I finished second. I know Tobler worked real hard on being aggressive in qualifying. Look what happened, track records, number one qualifying, taking those little small points.

Those little points are going to win the championship, there's no doubt about it. If you can do that three or four times out of qualifying, that's going to add up to half a round here, half a round there. By the end of the year, if you sit back and total it, it's going to be several rounds of just those little points.

SCOTT SMITH: Might be still a little bit too early. I know your crew is working now. Do you have any idea what car you're going to run in Charlotte? Will it be the one that you end up the finishing the event with, or are the front halving the one that went in the sand? Do you know where that stands?

RON CAPPS: That's what is great about Ron Tobler. I bragged about it. He had that car ready to run. We brought it out, first full run it went mid 90. First pass, I shut it off early, it was going to run a high 380. We're going to continue running that car. That is the car that won us Pomona, the Winter Nationals, this year. We parked it after Vegas.

We went back to the shop, like you said. I know John was filming. They were going to front half the car we wrecked. They cut the front half off. Tobler called me this morning, I got this from him. They cut it off and found out it was damaged much worse than they thought.

We're pulling out a 2013 car. It was a pretty darn good car. We ran it 2012, 2013. They front halved it. It's going to be the backup to our backup. It's going to go upstairs. That won a lot of races with Tobler and me. We'll run the car we started Monday at the Nationals with and continue that on at Charlotte.

SCOTT SMITH: We'll start with questions for Ron.

Q. You're in the middle of the week off after the U.S. Nationals before you go into this championship run. I'm sure that your crew members love to have the week off to get everything prepared. How do you as a driver like the week off or do you kind of wish you were going straight away into a race?
RON CAPPS: Good question. Throughout this year, we went East Coast swing, won those races. I didn't want a break at all. I wanted to keep going.

As we've all talked about, everybody here on this call, everybody is sort of tidied up their tune-ups. While we knew a few months ago it seemed like there were only a few good Funny Cars, as we all thought obviously, there are 16 really good cars and there's legitimately 10 of them that could jump up and win the championship.

Everybody's got their stuff together. It's going to be a much-needed break this weekend off I think for our team, I know, and I think a lot of them. They're embracing this weekend off. It's all-out war starting in Charlotte. You have to go on offense. You can't think about one second of going defense. It goes back to what Scott just said. Those little points I talked about, you have to stay aggressive on offense and you have to show up there.

Many of the races we won, I feel like Tobler and our team won it before we even did the burnouts. The intimidation, you sometimes force another team to push harder than they want to will force them into mistakes. So I think that weekend off is going to be nice. I know it will be good for me. I'm a little sore. I think just kind of taking it easy and getting ready to come out strong and fresh next week, it will be good for everybody.

Q. While I was in Indy for the U.S. Nationals, I spent some time talking with Goodyear. They seem to say that all the drivers felt a lot more comfortable with the tires this year. How do you feel about the tires?
RON CAPPS: Well, it's kind of like anytime Tobler asks me about the tires we run on the car, how they felt each run or warmup. If I don't say anything to him, I don't even notice anything. If there's a slight vibration, I may mention it to him. That's within us balancing our tires.

I have the utmost confidence in any situation. I didn't even think about the tire change till you just mentioned it that they made. I don't think Goodyear gets enough credit. The teams in nitro, what we do to these tires, I don't even like watching the slow-mo, watching that tire. It's unbelievable to see what it does. We for the most part don't have any issues.

So I'll tell you, it's a lot of trust that any Top Fuel or Funny Car driver has when we don't even bat an eye, jump in these things and go 330 plus and not even worry about these Goodyears underneath.

I see no problem. I know Tobler has had no issues, nor has any of our team, any of our Funny Car or Top Fuel teams.

Q. Fans see every track being identical. Of the remaining six races, which one do you think will be the most challenging for the Funny Car driver?
RON CAPPS: Oh, man, that's a good question. Most challenging? If you get weather and you get some sunshine, St. Louis could possibly be a little more challenging because you get the humidity there. Maple Grove is just all-out brute horsepower, strap your belts as tight as you can and hang on. You're going to have the front end light. There's going to be guys and girls that are going to lose rounds when they've run the quickest they've ever run. That's the type of track that is.

Gosh. Yeah, I'd have to say probably St. Louis out of all of them might be a little more challenging if you get the heat and sun out.

Q. You have the title now that nobody wants to have. You're the greatest guy who has never won a championship. How does that weigh on you, the winningest driver that never won a championship? You've been there so many times.
RON CAPPS: It doesn't weigh on me. I'm sure the guy that's the third in line as the winningest driver...

That gets mentioned, I automatically think of Doug Kalitta. I think he's one of the most talented drivers we have in the sport. I know it doesn't weigh on him either.

I know the time is going to come. But for me I'm okay with it because I wake up in the morning and I started in this sport as a crew guy and worked my way up. I'm the American dream, if you will. I wanted to drive someday, but had to start from the very bottom wiping tires. I had people let me hang around their cars and learn and worked my way into a driver job.

I've done it for a living. I have a house, a family, that this sport of NHRA has given me. But since the very beginning, I've done it for the love of just racing, driving a racecar.

The championships, I never sat down as a kid, and I can't give you some story as a five-year-old I said someday I'm going to be a world champion. I never thought about being a Mello Yello champion. I just wanted to be a racecar driver and I wanted to drive a Funny Car.

It will come, I'm sure. We got a great team. But, no, to answer your question, it doesn't weigh on me. I know this Countdown has changed things, the way things are looked at a little bit. But I'm pumped. I have one track I never won on personally, it's the Maple Grove track. I've never won there. Come close. I think this could be the year.

SCOTT SMITH: Ron, thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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