Commentary

Big weekend in Texas crucial for Countdown contenders

The NHRA's Countdown to the Championship tackles Texas this weekend, and Funny Car driver Ron Capps writes in his diary that the pressure is mounting.

Updated: September 20, 2007, 3:07 PM ET
By Ron Capps | Special to ESPN.com

Ron Capps
Capps

This weekend's race in Ennis, Texas, at the Texas Motorplex is very important. It's the third of the four races that will determine the final four drivers who will compete to the Countdown to One in the last two NHRA Powerade races of the season.

The last couple of years Dallas has become important in the points chase. Two years ago, and even last year, it became a pivotal part of the season. And it is again this year. After Sunday's Memphis race, the points got so bunched up. We're in third, my teammate Gary Scelzi is in fourth, just two points back after winning Memphis. And Tony Pedregon is in fifth, just nine points behind us. My other teammate, Jack Beckman, shot up into the No. 2 spot with his runner-up finish to Scelzi in Memphis.

There's so many guys now trying to lock into one of the top four spots, and we're very lucky to have all three Don Schumacher Racing cars in the top four right now.

Dallas is very crucial. You don't want to go to Richmond, Va., two weeks after Dallas and have to have a great weekend just to make the top four. You really need to go in there with a little bit of breathing room. That's why I think I can echo all of the Funny Car drivers by saying that Dallas is really important.

You see John Force back in seventh. He needs to have a big weekend. And Gary Scelzi, who's only two points behind us, needs to have a great weekend. And we, the Brut Revolution Dodge team, need to have a great weekend.

It's a tough scenario, because the Countdown has kind of changed everyone's mentality. Yeah, we have three Funny Cars at Don Schumacher Racing, but when we roll into the starting line we're not teammates. You have to go up there and race because it could be the difference between being in and not being in the Countdown to Two.

Looking at the weather in the Dallas area, it's calling for a pretty warm weekend and possibly cooling off on Sunday.

The Brut Revolution Dodge has always done well in the heat at that race. I've gotten a chance to win there in the past, in 1998 against John Force. This year we have the Brut Brigade, and the fans have really shown the support by signing up and basically helping to make it a sellout.

There is going to be so much pressure there. If a driver is telling you that there isn't that much more pressure, and it's a driver who's in the Countdown, he's lying, because you do not want to go to Richmond and have even more pressure.

We felt like in Memphis, when we went out in the second round, we could have made up more ground. It was a big win for us to beat Tony Pedregon in the first round and move around him in the points. But you can't take one second to even take a deep breath and reflect on what's happened because you've got to be ready for Dallas.

We stayed in the heat on Monday after the race in Memphis and I can't say enough about my team and the guts that these guys have. We tested all day Monday and made runs in the heat just preparing ourselves for the heat that's coming up in Dallas, and we're looking forward to it.

It was hot. We found out it was going to be hotter on Monday, so Ace (crew chief Ed McCulloch) decided to stay and test and wait until the middle part of the day when it was the hottest. There were other teams testing and some were out there at 9 or 10 in the morning making laps while it was still cool out. We had a game plan, and that was to find the hottest part of the day and try to test a couple of things we wanted to test. And I think Ace found some things. So I'm excited about it.

You know, Force is not that far out of the top four. Let's be realistic. We've seen what John Force can do when he and his team needed to. We need to not worry about him as much. He's only two rounds out of fourth right now. We don't want to have to look behind us and see who can pass us. It's hard not to look at the Countdown points. I don't know a day that's gone by already that I haven't looked at the points over and over. I know they're not going to change; it's just something that's in the back of your mind at all times. That Friday night session could become a very important qualifying session to get qualified in the field.

There's going to be a lot of pressure at this race.

Ron Capps drives the Brut Revolution Dodge Funny Car in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series and is providing a diary for ESPN.com during the 2007 season.

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