Commentary

Capps returns to track where he notched his first pro win in Top Fuel

Ron Capps writes in his diary about the lack of oxygen in Denver, the fondness he has for Seattle, and racing on a 1,000-foot drag strip.

Updated: July 16, 2008, 5:30 PM ET
By Ron Capps | Special to ESPN.com

Ron Capps
Capps

This weekend we'll be in the Seattle area (Kent, Wash.) racing in the second NHRA event of the three-race Western Swing (Denver, Seattle and Sonoma, Calif.).

Seattle is a place that's close to my heart because my first win as a pro in Top Fuel was there, and then to be able to win there again in Funny Car is awesome. It's just always been a great track. Ace -- my crew chief Ed McCulloch -- and I working together have always done well there, and I believe we'll be racing again to 1,000 feet.

I think we really learned something on Saturday in Denver. We were able to put on the NAPA Auto Parts Dodge some parts that Ace designed and were built in-house at the DSR shop.

What we learned came from one of the bigger things we've been able to try at a race, and it worked well. And to build the stuff in-house is terrific. So I'm excited to see how it's going to work when we get down to these tracks that are close to sea level. The NAPA Dodge is just a whole new animal, and it's a whole lot of fun to drive right now.

I'm also excited for going to a track like Seattle because you always strap your belts a little tighter at Pacific Raceways. With all the trees and oxygen helping to provide extra power, it should be a lot of fun driving this car there.

We just came from Denver, and it's a mile high there at Bandimere Speedway. Larry Dixon put it best when he said, "It's like trying to run a marathon breathing through a straw." That's what it is like up on the mountain.

So, when you leave there and you go down to Seattle, it's the most adverse condition change that we have all year long. Now you're going to Seattle, which is absolutely close to sea level, and you're surrounded by trees with a lot of oxygen. These engines are much like your lungs are. If you go out to run a marathon or go out and work out, the better the oxygen, the better the cool air is, the better you're going to run. And that's how these engines are. Up on the mountain, everybody was struggling trying to make power. Then you come down to Seattle and the power is there. You're struggling to manage the power of these engines instead.

Following Seattle we go to Sonoma, which is also close to sea level, and I'm not sure what the NHRA has in mind as far as to what length we will race, but Sonoma has a long shut-down area. I don't know if we're going to see 1,000-foot racing the rest of the year, but we're behind NHRA whatever it decides to do.

NHRA exec Peter Clifford came by, and we talked a little bit about what's going on. I applauded NHRA on everything they have done. The past couple of weeks have been phenomenal: making the decision to go to 1,000 feet in Denver, taking away the oil-down monetary penalty, and the announcement of the 2009 schedule. It's got to be the first time the next year's schedule has been announced this early, and it gives teams a chance to get with their sponsors and it helps those people looking for a sponsor.

I told Peter I was proud of what they have done in the past week or so. NHRA has taken a lot of flak, but I think everybody is working together. At Scott Kalitta's service, Jon and Jim Oberhofer pleaded with everybody to work together to get through this. And that's what we're doing. The NHRA, the drivers, the crew chiefs and owners are all in agreement, and we all have the same goal. And I think that's the best part of what's going on with NHRA racing right now.

I'm so proud to be sponsored by NAPA through all this because NAPA knows everything there is about motorsports and they're one of the best sponsors I've ever worked with. I think we all have a common goal. A lot of people were skeptical about how racing to 1,000 feet would go, and what they saw I think surprised a lot of them. It was very good racing.

I watched the TV show, and I was pleasantly surprised at how good it was. And if those who watched on TV also were here in person, they would have been at one of the most pleasant races ever and would have been impressed with how quickly the sessions went and with the lack of oil-downs and parts carnage. I think overall it's been a great couple of weeks.

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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