Madison: Midseason teleconference, part 3

Continued from part 2 Q: You said you lived up there. You lived in Cupertino. CAPPS: Yes. My wife, I met her, she lived there. I lived in Mountain View, Palo Alto, a couple different spots when I lived up there. MODERATOR: Ron,...

Continued from part 2

Q: You said you lived up there. You lived in Cupertino.

CAPPS: Yes. My wife, I met her, she lived there. I lived in Mountain View, Palo Alto, a couple different spots when I lived up there.

MODERATOR: Ron, thanks for your time. You are all set.

CAPPS: All right, man, thanks.

MODERATOR: Greg Anderson, winner of the last three Pro Stock World Championships. He's back in first place again. He's in first place by two points as we reach the halfway in the season over teammate Jason Line.

You won the first event this year. You've led the series wire to wire. Can you talk about Pro Stock this year. It's been crazy. Eight different winners to start the season. You have six drivers right now within six rounds of first place. Seems like you throw a dart every week. Can you shed some light on that class, why it's been so close this year?

GREG ANDERSON: It is pretty incredible. The best way I can describe it, there's been a lot of teams really, really step up their program in the last year. It's funny. We as racers, usually we can get a feel by the time we get to Sunday morning who has the best chance of winning the race. We can't do it any more. There's so many good cars right now. You don't know who is going to qualify No. 1. It's a crapshoot who makes the best run of the dozen cars that are capable of it. The same thing on race day. If you qualify on race day, you absolutely have got a great shot of winning. There are so many great cars right now.

It's kind of been tough on us. Everybody is so even, we don't have the advantage we had over the last couple years. We're pressing harder, trying to make that perfect run every time, which we didn't necessarily have to do before. Usually when you do that, you make a few mistakes. Everybody is pressing hard in this class right now. Everybody is running well, but at the same time making mistakes along the way because the competition is so tough. You're pressed to make that perfect run every time out there or you're going to get beat.

It's really, really interesting right now for the fans, for the media. It's also creative for us as drivers and as a team, and especially me coming up the last couple three years where we had kind of a cushion on the field. We don't have that cushion any more. Now it's down to we have to execute perfectly. Bottom line is we haven't executed perfectly since Pomona. We're lucky to still have that point lead to be honest with you. Too many first- and second-round losses where either I didn't do a good job driving or the car didn't perform like it should have. Any time you're going to make a mistake in this class right now, you're going to get beat. It would be easy to say everybody is screwing up and nobody wants to take the points lead. It's not necessarily that. Really a lot of guys are doing a great job, so many guys doing a great job, everybody is able to beat anybody any more. It's just wild right now. I guess that's what everybody wanted. They want parity. We have parity in this class right now. It should be very exciting for everybody, except for us the drivers.

MODERATOR: Greg, talk about the Western Swing. Very favorable to you in the past. Talk about your mindset going into these next three events.

ANDERSON: It's been very good to me. Really, we've passed the halfway point in the season. Got 12 races down, 11 to go. Before you realize it, you're past halfway. You come into the Western Swing which is very, very tough on everybody. Three really very different racetracks. Denver, which is completely a one-off deal. By the way, I'm up here in Denver right now testing. I think there's about a dozen Pro Stock cars up here right now. We're all testing for the race here because it's so different, it's so tricky to figure this place out. Through the western swing, you have three completely different races. You come here, it's a one-off deal. Then you go back to sea level at Seattle, cool temperatures. Then you go to Sonoma where you have sea level conditions, a lot of times 90 degrees. Just completely different scenario every time.

It really comes down to crunch time now. It's too late to wait any longer to make your run. It's the time to make your run. If the guy can come out of the Western Swing with a points lead, if you look at stats from years past, he's probably going to be the guy with the best chance of winning the championship.

Two years ago we swept the Swing. I think we won only one of the three races last year. Still we started running good on the Swing last year and really that was what propelled us to perform well the rest of the year. Very, very important. That's why we're at Denver right now testing. I think the swing will make or break a lot of people's seasons.

MODERATOR: We'll take questions.

Q: You went from a dominant (three) year (stretch) to looking over your shoulder. Did all these guys catch up or have you slowed down? What do you attribute the parity to this year?

ANDERSON: In reality I guess if I look at it, we've been trying to figure that out all year, too. Basically the rest of them have caught up. It's so tough in this class to keep your technology to yourself. We probably broke through to a few things that other people hadn't in the last couple years. We were able to hang on to those secrets, those breakthroughs for a while.

It just seems like you can't keep it to yourself forever. Things leak out. The more things leak out, I lost a key engine shop guy, my head engine builder I lost in the middle of last season, went across town to (Erica Enders') Victor Cagnazzi team; he brought a lot of technology, secrets with him that we had. Now you have those things to another team. Things leak from that team to other teams. That's how things happen. You just have to be able -- if you look at Pro Stock cars, people laugh at why we always cover things up. We cover our engines up all the time. We cover the backs of our cars up, our suspensions up all the time. We have covers over our intake manifolds. People think, 'What are you crazy, why do you have to do that?' It's so tough and so dog-eat-dog, you have to be careful with all your stuff. Any breakthrough you make, any secret you find, you have to hang on as long as you can before it filtrates through the class. Really we've had a lot of that filtration in the last six months and it shows. Everybody stepped up to basically the same level performance-wise, power-wise, and now it comes down to executing on the racetrack. They've also raised their game. They've paid a lot of attention to our team, how our team operates. I think I have a very professional team with a lot of great guys working on it, a couple of great crew chiefs. People can kind of sit back and watch the formula and see how it works out, a lot of them have copied that formula. A lot of people have bolstered their teams with key people, they have learned how to work together as teams. That's kind of what we showed them. I guess we created our own worst enemy. We showed everybody how to do it, now they're doing it. It's really up to us to find a way to make that breakthrough again and get back ahead of the pack. Right now we're a little bit stagnant it seems. They've caught us. It's up to us to find another way to put some ground on them.

Q: What areas are you working in now that you feel can give you the advantage that you had last season?

ANDERSON: Well, obviously our generation three engine, we're still working on that. We still haven't debuted that. We still have high hopes for that. Haven't been able to spend enough time on it because of the way the season has gone. We haven't been able to abandon the current engines we have and just pay attention to the new ones because we're in such a tough points battle. We have to keep chiseling at that. If we get that up to speed, I think we can make some gains again. We're probably going to debut another new car when we come out here to Denver. I debuted a new car here last year at Denver. That's when things kind of took off for me last year. Hopefully we can make that jump in the next month or so, maybe even on this western swing, and never look back.

Q: As tight as it is, there's not much room for experimentation.

ANDERSON: There's not. That's the tough part. You can't abandon the things you've got that have gotten you this far. You can't slip up at all. You get in kind of safe mode, think we're going to have to execute better, do a better job of driving. We haven't done that so far. We have to change that, make better car runs with our race car, got to do a better job of driving, both (teammate) Jason (Line) and myself, chip away at that new engine. Hopefully in another month or so we'll have an edge back.

MODERATOR: I'll let you get back to testing. Sounds like you need every minute you can have out there.

ANDERSON: Pretty interesting. About a dozen of us up here. Like every national event, every doggone team is within 3/100ths.

MODERATOR: Good luck. We'll see you in Denver.


MODERATOR: Angelle Sampey, you currently have a 28-point lead over Andrew Hines, who is the current and defending series champion, obviously coming off of a critical victory over Andrew last week in St. Louis. Some notes on Angelle. She has won three of seven events this season. Angelle has won 40 career events, that's first among females in NHRA POWERade Series history, tied for eighth among all drivers in NHRA POWERade Series history. Angelle is currently second and five wins shy of catching Dave Schultz for Pro Stock wins in NHRA POWERade Series history. She's also won championships in 2001, '02 and '03.

Angelle, that's my question for you right there. How far do you allow yourself to look ahead this season? When will you start thinking about adding a fourth POWERade Series world championship?

ANGELLE SAMPEY: We came into the season thinking about that. It's been like the past couple of years, I wanted to get my fourth championship. But this is the first season that we actually start the season off the way we need to, to finish it off No. 1.

The last few years we've had a rough beginning, caught up somewhere in the middle, did really well at the end. By that time, it was just too late to get the points. I mean, we've lost the championship in the last couple of years by just a couple of rounds each time. We're trying really hard not to let that happen this time. Anything can happen. Lots can change from the middle to the end of the year. But at least being in the lead, you do have the advantage going into the second half of the season. We're hoping to hold on to it.

MODERATOR: Eight events left in Pro Stock Motorcycle Series. Where are we going to see the differences? What are kind of the things you should look for that are going to separate yourself from Andrew or Chip Ellis in the second half of the season?

SAMPEY: Well, first of all, in Denver, it's going to be really tough for us. That's just like Greg was saying, it's a tough tuner's race, even more so for our Suzukis. We still aren't running the fuel injection like we wish we would have been by this time of the year. We're not ready for it. That high altitude -- it's a lot easier for the Harleys with their fuel injections to get what they need to get done to win the race.

We're going to be struggling at that race, hopefully not as bad as we're expecting to be struggling. I'm sure we will be a little bit. We're going to try to race better like we have in the past couple of years. That's how we've won races, by racing better instead of having more performance or more of a horsepower advantage.

I think when we get to Sonoma, it's going to get back -- being back a little bit to a better of a level playing field for us. Our Suzukis should run really fast there. If the weather conditions are right, you should see quite a few sixes, both with the Harley and also the Suzukis. After that, it should be pretty cool, pretty normal for all of us. Reading, Pa., we always do well. That happens to be the best racetrack for me for some reason. I think I've won like six or seven out of the 10 years I've been there.

It's mainly just staying consistent, trying not to hurt any engines. It's really hard when you do break something, our crew chiefs have worked on them for so long, try to get them right. If we break something, have to start all over again. That's been important to us, not push too really hard, so we don't break anything, we can keep running for the rest of the year, just racing well. Of course, as you know, battling these red lights, trying to keep it green is going to be a good key in who is going to win this championship as well.

MODERATOR: Getting off to the fast start this year, three wins in seven events, what do you attribute that to? What has been the biggest reason for the turnaround this season?

SAMPEY: I think we actually came into the season a little bit more prepared than we have the last few years. That has a lot to do with my crew guys. They worked really hard this off-season getting the bikes ready. What they actually did was took both motorcycles and completely stripped them down to the bare frame and started all over again like they were building brand-new motorcycles. They came up with lots of wonderful ideas of how to avoid little stupid accidents, wiring problems, mechanical problems that are some little piece that breaks. They redesign lots of things, just put all new stuff on the bike, came up with ideas to make things easier for us to fix during a race if we're having a problem.

I think them going back to the basics is really what made the difference. Everybody's looking for that extra one horsepower every day. I don't think a lot of people go back and just -- back to the basics and rebuild.

We had lots of wiring problems last year that caused us to lose races. Little, bitty actually funny wiring problems. We went back and we saw that the body was pinching one of the wires, caused a short. We lost two races because of it. It was something so stupid and so minute. We never took the time to go back and look at all those little things that you don't think might be a factor in winning or losing. So we did that.

I'm riding an older motorcycle, but it's like a brand-new bike because of what they did to it.


Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Greg Anderson , Andrew Hines , Angelle Sampey