- Ron Capps
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This weekend will be the second of the first back-to-back races we'll have this year. We're heading to Gateway International Raceway, which is in Madison, Ill., but it's usually listed as St. Louis because it is just over the Mississippi River from that Missouri city.
This is going to be the first time in a long time in St. Louis that we won't be racing in the same conditions we've had the last few years. It won't be a night race, and it's over a month earlier than last year. They say the temperatures will be in the 70s and 80s.
You know how excited I get when a track gets tough and hot. We usually do pretty well. It should still be warm and tricky at Gateway -- despite the earlier time of the year -- so it'll be interesting.
I won the inaugural race there in 1997 against Cruz Pedregon, which is pretty special, so going back there is always a great feeling. It was when the NHRA races were covered by network TV. It was an ABC race and Gary Gerould was there working, and I was a big fan of his. It was huge to win one of those events when only three or four were covered on networks.
NASCAR drivers Rusty Wallace, Kenny Wallace and Mike Wallace were all there, because they're from that area. Kenny Schrader was there and they all hung out afterwards.
It was a lot of fun, and it was my first win with my former crew chief Roland Leong and that whole gang.
We're looking forward to going back. We also won there with the Brut car for the first time in 2005. Crew chief Ed "Ace" McCulloch was in the hospital for his first surgery, so we took the trophy back to him and that was pretty special. There are good memories there.
Things are good right now. We're leading the points, and we know it's going to be a whole new season in Indy for the U.S. Nationals when the Countdown to the Championship gets started. We just want to get into the Countdown and still keep chugging along. And The Brut people are happy. We have some surprises coming up from them in a couple of races. It's going to be a lot of fun, and the fans will love that.
It's going to be an exciting season.
St. Louis is a big race. It's close to Indianapolis, so we have a lot of crew guys, a lot of people that are in our shop, coming to this event.
And the Eldora Speedway Prelude to the Dream event on June 6 is happening again for me, and it was just announced that HBO and Pay Per View will cover it. They added Jeff Gordon and Juan Pablo Montoya, and it's the first time in history they're going to do a live PPV. It will be a lot of fun.
I'm glad Smoke (Tony Stewart) called me to invite me back. It's the third year. The first year I finished ninth, last year I was fourth, and if I can just keep going there and not hurt myself and not wreck -- which is my goal always -- it will be a good weekend. But to be a part of history, especially with what Tony's done with that track, is awesome. To me that place is the Holy Grail of dirt tracks and it's a pleasure to race there. And it's great to hang out with some of the biggest guys in Nextel Cup, and Red Farmer!
It's all cool stuff.
Wish me luck.
Ron Capps drives the Brut Revolution Dodge Funny Car in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series and will provide a diary for ESPN.com during the 2007 season.
There are many fond memories of Gateway International Raceway for Ron Capps. The current NHRA Funny car leader writes in his diary he also can't wait for an upcoming dirt race at Eldora Speedway.