Capps Aims For Rebound at Site of One of His Most Memorable Victories TOPEKA, Kan. (May 26, 2004) - There are certain race tracks that drivers enjoy competing at more than others for a variety of reasons, be it past success at the facility,...
Capps Aims For Rebound at Site of One of His Most Memorable Victories
TOPEKA, Kan. (May 26, 2004) - There are certain race tracks that drivers enjoy competing at more than others for a variety of reasons, be it past success at the facility, it could be their home track or possibly for the activities away from the race track in that particular city. Even though Ron Capps and his Skoal Racing crew have only visited the winner's circle at Heartland Park Topeka once in his career, that one victory might be the most memorable of Capps 14 NHRA triumphs.
Any time you're challenging for a championship, the wins are a little more special. Six years ago, Capps gave 12-time NHRA Funny Car champion John Force one of his toughest fights for the crown and the highlight of Capps' 1998 season may have been his victory at the rain-delayed Topeka race.
"I have great memories of Heartland Park," Capps said. "I was runner-up there a few years back, but in 1998 we were battling (John) Force down to the wire for the championship and the Topeka race was rained out and we had to go back. When we returned to Topeka, there was more weather and we didn't get to run the final round until after midnight. It was like a dream round. We're running at night, my Camaro blew up at the finish line and we got the win light. It was a heck of an evening."
Capps hopes to experience a little more late-round magic, when the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series makes its annual stop in Kansas for the 16th running of the O'Reilly Summer Nationals, May 27-30, at Heartland Park Topeka.
Since hosting its first NHRA national event in 1989, Heartland Park has been known as one of the quickest and fastest drag strips in the country. H.P.T. was home to the first four second and 300-mph Funny Car passes in 1993, along with numerous NHRA marks set at the Kansas facility the past 16 years.
"Last weekend, we raced at Chicago, which has developed the reputation as a track where records are set," Capps said. "People forget that Topeka was one of the first super tracks where speed and E.T. marks were set each year. It's always a great event and I'm sure we'll see track records set this weekend. The race is run on Memorial Day weekend, so it ranks up there with Brainerd and Indy where people hang out and camp near the track. Saturday night after qualifying, I'll make a run out to the campground and say hello to the fans and have some barbeque. It's a place I look forward to going each year."
In the midst of six races in seven weeks, drivers look for any way to kick back and get their minds off the rigors of drag racing for a few hours. So, Capps and the staff at Heartland Park came up with the idea of hosting an annual golf tournament prior to the race. Along with Capps, Brandon Bernstein, Force, Tony Schumacher and Gary Scelzi are among the NHRA stars scheduled to tee it up Thursday afternoon at the Topeka Country Club.
"The guys at Topeka, Ray Irwin, Bill Griffin and I, came up with the idea to have a golf tournament so the fans could have the opportunity to play with drivers," Capps said. "We worked on doing something with the mayor and governor of Kansas and they opened the Topeka Country Club for a day, which has never been done before. Some of the NHRA's best drivers will be compete in the tournament. It'll be a day to just relax. These back-to-back races are so tough that it's nice for the drivers to be able to get out and relax for a few hours."