Commentary

Roller-coaster season comes to screeching halt at Pomona

Ron Capps can't win the NHRA POWERade Funny Car title, but he can gain some much-needed momentum for next season by winning Sunday at Pomona Raceway, he writes in his diary.

Updated: November 13, 2008, 5:30 PM ET
By Ron Capps | Special to ESPN.com

This weekend's event at Pomona Raceway in Southern California will end the 2008 NHRA season, and it's going to be an exciting down-to-the-wire run for the Funny Car championship. It's between Cruz Pedregon, Tim Wilkerson, Robert Hight, Tony Pedregon and my Don Schumacher Racing teammate Jack Beckman. Anything can happen. Qualifying high is definitely going to play into the results. Every point is extremely valuable right now.

For the NAPA Auto Parts team, since we're out of the championship chase, we're just looking to finish strong. Obviously we want to move up in the POWERade points, and pass John Force, but more than anything we want to have a good solid weekend. And winning would accomplish that.

With the ban on testing for the teams this year, we're seeing a lot of teams that are using these last two races of the season, especially Pomona, to try some things for 2009.

And I guess the unfortunate luxury, if you will, of not being one of the few cars fighting for a championship, which is something we've gotten used to, is that we're able to try and test some things for next year and not have the pressure of trying to win a championship at the last race.

We're going to use that to our advantage, and that's kind of how we're approaching Pomona. But don't get me wrong, we still want to win our first race for NAPA Auto Parts.

Every year we say the competition level has raised itself to a point where just qualifying for a race seems to be part of winning a race. And you look at last year and you couldn't imagine the competition level could be any higher than it was. Lo and behold, here we are again this year, and the competition level has been even higher.

We've had some interesting curves thrown into the game, and that was having to change chassis midway through the season and the increase of 100 pounds of weight in the Funny Car class. I think that kind of set the tone for the season. With the addition of that weight, there were a lot of teams who were already at that weight, and teams that may have struggled the last couple of years that all of a sudden seemed to find their groove. And then teams that had great success the last few years were having to search for new combinations. With that being said, we've really seen the competition level higher, but at the same time, the NHRA implementing some of the new rules and changes in the class really made the competition even tougher.

We're excited about having Matt Hagan join our team for 2009. I watched what he did at the U.S. Nationals in Indy, and watched on the computer when we weren't racing what he did at the IHRA races. Nothing but good things are being said about him. I just sent him a text message the other day welcoming him to the team. He wrote back saying he couldn't wait to get started.

This will be a whole new fun experience, bringing in somebody new and being able to build on everything, especially with Tommy DeLago moving over from Jack Beckman's team as crew chief. He works very well with Ed "Ace" McCulloch, my crew chief. He worked for Ace for a number of years. I'm excited about that as well, because I think all of our teams are going to help each other even more to raise the success level of all the DSR teams.

It's going to be tough to get used to Gary Scelzi not being around -- he's stepping away from the sport for an undetermined time to take care of business and family. He's been a fun teammate to be around and we've grown pretty close and gotten to do a lot of fun stuff together, and competing with him has been awesome. I don't see him sitting out racing in NHRA for long, but I know the situation he is in with his brothers and his work at Scelzi Enterprises. I see him showing up and racing at a few races, for sure. It's just a hunch, but it would be a lot of fun to have him show up and spend the weekend racing with us again.

Ron Capps drives the NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series and is providing a diary for ESPN.com during the 2008 season.

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