Back for more at Prelude race; looking for luck in Vegas
Funny Car driver Ron Capps figures he and crew chief Ed "Ace" McCulloch may just about have their car figured out heading into Vegas after struggling so far. Capps writes in his diary there's another race he's looking forward to as well.
Updated: April 10, 2008, 5:07 PM ETBy Ron Capps | Special to ESPN.com
This weekend we will be at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, probably one of the best drag strips in the country. It's a Bruton Smith-owned facility and it is terrific. Everyone looks forward to racing at The Strip.This track just might help us get back up in the point standings. We're 15th right now after losing first round in each of this season's first four races, and the NAPA Auto Parts Dodge crew and tuner Ed "Ace" McCulloch found something in the car at the last race in Houston which upped the performance tremendously on Sunday and we're expecting that the car will respond in Las Vegas as well.We need to get back on track more than anything else. We keep saying it's early in the season, but, even though we lost in Houston, I felt good about what Ace has done with the car. And the timing couldn't be better right now than to be going to Vegas.That place has always been good to us and Ace always runs well there, so it should be a good time for everybody involved -- our sponsors, our team and team owner Don Schumacher -- to get this car going and win some rounds.Right now it would be nice to just go past the first round. I thought I'd never say that again, but that's the kind of season it's been. It's been kind of a topsy-turvy, strange kind of year. Anything can happen at these races and we've seen that, so what we need to do is just get better. And I think the whole NAPA team has got that same focus.We've obviously had some issues at the last few tracks we've been to, especially in Houston. It's nice to go the track at Vegas where you don't have to worry about the condition of the surface, because these crew chiefs have to worry about so many things that have to be right for the car to run good that when you throw something into the mix like the track surface that they have to worry about, it puts undue pressure on everybody on the team.We're in the year 2008 and we should not be going to any track where we need to be worried about bumps and jumps. It was sort of embarrassing what went on in Houston. I'm glad it's over with and I know that they'll fix it for next year. But that's the good thing about going to a Bruton Smith track and that's why we have two races at Las Vegas. That's why we love Sonoma, we love Bristol, and we're looking forward to the new track in Charlotte. They're all Bruton Smith tracks.Any time we have a track on the schedule that is coming up like Vegas you can see a smile on the faces of the crew chiefs, you can see a smile on the drivers, because we know that the track will be good. And that kind of puts everything else in the drivers' hands and the crew chiefs' hands.The other news I have is that I've been invited by Tony Stewart for the fourth straight year to drive in the Prelude to the Dream on June 4 at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.It's very exciting to be invited again. It's kind of neat to watch this event grow. Being a fan of Eldora Speedway as a kid growing up and then going there for the first time in 2005 racing against a few of the biggest NASCAR drivers was awesome.Then the following year Tony added even more big names and of course last year he had the likes of Jeff Gordon, Juan Pablo Montoya and just pretty much every big-name NASCAR driver that you could imagine. And it was a live pay-per-view event, the first time something like that had ever been done, let alone on a Wednesday night. It was just a great event, and it's on pay-per-view again this year.All this is for Kyle Petty and the Victory Junction Gang Camp and raising money for those kids and for the Tony Stewart Foundation. That's how the event started and to see how it's grown into what looks like an IROC-type event to raise money for such great causes is heartwarming.It just keeps getting bigger and bigger. And the cool thing is that Tony invited me based on my being around him and his teaching me to race on dirt in sprint cars and midgets. So to be invited back is an honor.Last year the car I was driving broke the crankshaft on the first lap. The first year I was ninth, and then the second year I finished fourth, ahead of a lot of good NASCAR racers who race on dirt. That was a very fun event for me. It's a very intimidating track. It's a half-mile banked oval. If you asked any dirt track racer in the country what track probably scares them the most, I bet they'd say Eldora. It's a very, very fast place. The NASCAR guys pretty much have said that they don't want to finish behind a drag racer. We had fun with it last year. Kenny Wallace has raced on dirt a lot, and I was able to finish in front of him two years ago. We had a great battle. He made it known last year that he wasn't going to finish behind me. That type of friendly rivalry makes it fun for me.Tony makes it very relaxed for the drivers. He doesn't allow any media in the infield and no autograph signing in the infield, so it's very protective. The drivers come into the infield and they're there to have fun and race. And it's not something that a lot of drivers get to do very often. I think that's what has brought back some of the best drivers in the world. They're able to come in, have fun doing something they don't get to do very often, which is race in the dirt, and they don't have to worry about any media or any fans while they're trying to concentrate on racing. It's a very relaxed atmosphere.I'm off to Vegas.
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.