All month long, our racing guru David Scoggan is blogging LIVE from Lucas Oil Raceway! Check back here regularly for a dose of Dave’s wit and whimsy.
Lloyd Ruby, Michael Andretti, Ted Horn, Dan Gurney, Roberto Guerrero, any member of the Bettenhausen family.
The list of worthy, talented drivers who fell short of winning the Indianapolis 500 is long and storied. There is a similar-length roster of NHRA U.S. Nationals non-winners (Doug Kalitta and Tommy Johnson, Jr. to name two), but the active driver considered the most-overdue has to be Ron Capps.
A hard-rocking 54-year-old resident of Carlsbad, California, Capps has competed at Indy every year since he became a full-time competitor in 1997. After partial Top Fuel seasons in 1995 and ’96 (and claiming a surprise ’95 win in Seattle), Capps joined Don “The Snake” Prudhomme’s Skoal-sponsored Funny Car team and racked up 13 wins before jumping to Don Schumacher Racing for the 2005 campaign, where he remains to this day.
Capps has 63 total NHRA event wins — all but the first one in Funny Car — and took his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge to the 2016 Mello Yello FC World Championship. He won 8 races in 2017, however, he not only lost the Indy final in a squeaker to J.R. Todd, but fell just short to WC Robert Hight in a frantic Countdown conclusion. NAPA crew chief Rahn Tobler, who led Capps to back-to-back victories in Atlanta and Richmond this season, does have his own USN “Wally”, tuning Shirley Muldowney to her lone Indy win in 1982.
Now, truth be told, Capps isn’t completely cursed at LOR/IRP during Labor Day weekend, tasting victory multiple times in the “Shootout” specialty event; much like a NASCAR Cup driver winning the “Clash” during Speedweeks — it’s a great win and payday, but it ain’t the Daytona 500! Maybe this is the year that Mr. Capps uses his “NAPA Know-How” to find a way into the Indy winner’s circle — finally.