MILLINGTON, Tenn. (Aug. 16, 2004) - The one race on the NHRA schedule that tends to get overshadowed is the event that precedes the prestigious U.S. Nationals, held each Labor Day-weekend in Indianapolis. For years the race with that dubious ...
MILLINGTON, Tenn. (Aug. 16, 2004) - The one race on the NHRA schedule that tends to get overshadowed is the event that precedes the prestigious U.S. Nationals, held each Labor Day-weekend in Indianapolis. For years the race with that dubious distinction was the Brainerd, Minn. event, but this year, the Memphis race will pave the way for the NHRA tour heading to Indy for the U.S. Nationals.
One driver who will not look past the Memphis race is 14-time NHRA winner Ron Capps, driver of Don Prudhomme's green Skoal RacingSM Chevy and the 2000 winner of the Memphis race. Capps and company will look to become a two-time winner near the birthplace of Elvis when the NHRA POWERade Series makes its annual visit to Memphis Motorsports Park, Aug. 20-22, for the 17th annual O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals.
"Anytime you get close to Indy, a lot of drivers make the mistake of looking forward to Indy and skipping over the race before the U.S. Nationals," Capps said. "I learned along time ago from the veterans that I'm surrounded with that you have to keep the concentration at every event. Without sounding cliche, you have to focus on every race you compete at and now, the green Skoal Racing crew is set on winning Memphis."
Winning at Memphis will present a stiff challenge to Capps and the entire Funny Car field because the race has been moved from its usual September date to mid-August. With weather predictions calling for temperatures in the 90s, the Memphis Motorsports Park quarter mile will be a tricky track to tame for crew chief Roland Leong and his tuning colleagues.
"The Memphis race has been moved on the schedule, so it's going to present another obstacle for the crew chiefs," Capps said. "The conditions will be different. The heat and humidity will be intense. It's weird to have another race in between Brainerd (Minn.) and Indy, but with the way the car is running, I'm confident that Roland (Leong) and the guys will do a solid job."
Another hurdle the race crews will face is that the majority of qualifying will take place under the lights, while final eliminations will kick off at mid-afternoon with the sun at its peak before the event winds down at dusk. However, the popular veteran driver would like nothing more than seeing additional night races on the NHRA schedule.
"I wish we had more night races," Capps said. "I think it showcases what NHRA has to offer with the nitromethane-powered cars and the header flames and the sensation of the sport. I really believe that we're going to see more night races in the future like we see with NASCAR having special night races. Drag racing was born and bred on night racing; the glory days with the Snake (Don Prudhomme) and Mongoose (Tom McEwen). Going to Lions Dragstrip and watching 64 Funny Cars on a Saturday night was the best show you could ever see. I get pretty excited about night racing."