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Keeping Pace

Ron Capps prepared for emotional NHRA race

Team owner Don Schumacher announced on Sunday that John Medlen, who came on board at Don Schumacher Racing earlier this year to help tune the Funny Car driven by Matt Hagan, would now take over as crew chief on the NAPA car. Ron Capps’ longtime tuner Ed “Ace” McCulloch would become a consultant to all three DSR Funny Car teams. Capps and McCulloch both joined DSR in 2005.


Courtesy: NHRA Media Relations

Norwalk, Ohio-With the crew chief change announced this week on the NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger Funny Car team, Ron Capps is preparing himself for an emotional fourth annual NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio, this weekend.

Team owner Don Schumacher announced on Sunday that John Medlen, who came on board at Don Schumacher Racing earlier this year to help tune the Funny Car driven by Matt Hagan, would now take over as crew chief on the NAPA car. Capps’ longtime tuner Ed “Ace” McCulloch would become a consultant to all three DSR Funny Car teams. Capps and McCulloch both joined DSR in 2005.

“This is probably one of the bigger races in my career,” said Capps. “It’s not the first race of the Countdown or even the last race of the year, but it’s going to be so much different for me not having Ed McCulloch as my crew chief. John Medlen will now be the one pointing into the windshield before I make a run.

“It’s going to be an emotional race, but you have to put all that aside and focus on what’s going on right now in our 2010 season. We’ve slipped to seventh in the points and there are only five races left before the Countdown to 1 playoffs starts and that’s when reality starts to hit. We saw the drama unfold last year when in the last race of the regular season there were several teams trying to get into the 10th and final spot. Our NAPA team is way too good of a team to be focused on that part of it.

“When you go through a change like this, it can be emotional, and at times it feels a little personal. You have to put that aside and think about the business side of it. One great thing about being with DSR is that there is such a great support system in place, that having Ed McCulloch stay on board and work with all the Funny Car teams, including the NAPA team, can only make everybody better.

“We know that if we get into the Countdown, we as a team are as good and as capable as any other team out there, if not more capable than some. It all comes down to confidence. With the Countdown being six races you obviously have to peak at the right time but, when you’re in the middle of the summer months of racing, like we are going into Norwalk this weekend, there’s nothing better than having confidence in your team.

“When you have challenges thrown at you like this, you really learn a lot about yourself. You learn about the people around you and, to be honest with you, it’s going to be fun to work our way back to the top.

“I was very close to Eric Medlen (who lost his life in a testing accident in 2007) and I’ve gotten to know John Medlen pretty well, and even more so when he came to DSR. And, after all those years watching John point his finger at his son Eric before he made a run, I am now going to be the one John points at before we make a run. It’s going to be very unique.”


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Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.

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