The most vocal tweeter gets the attention.
It has turned out that way for Don Schumacher Racing's Ron Capps.
Capps got attention -- and, he indicated, maybe some criticism -- for reacting to the substandard condition of part of the racing surface
During last year's O'Reilly Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways at Kent, Wash., south of Seattle, the NAPA Dodge Charger complained via the social medium Twitter that the concrete was in shambles. The National Hot Rod Association fixed it overnight, and this year the sanctioning body and the Fiorito family that owns the facility have worked together to present the safest and nicest surface they could.
And Capps is one of the first to applaud the efforts after grabbing the tentative No. 1 qualifying position in the second session Friday with a 4.119-second elapsed time on the 1,000-foot course at 298.47 mph.
He said he thinks the old concrete might have produced E.T.s in the 4.19- or 4.20- second range on a day with warm, un-Seattle-like temperatures the racers saw Friday. He guessed the previous racing surface might have yielded a best time of 4.15 or 4.16.
"It was so sketchy . . . old -- and last year when I backed up, I tweeted the little pieces [of the track] were coming up on my tire. It got to be a question of performance, and then you started to wonder safety-wise if it was going to be OK," Capps said.
"What a great job the family did in putting that new concrete. We’ve been on them pretty hard to make improvements on the track, and I was pretty vocal last year with my Twitter. Got in a little bit of trouble [chuckle] but the track was peeling up," Capps said.
"Every year we come here and they try to make as many changes as they can. You can’t ask for more than what they did this year," he said. "We love coming here, and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t have a race here every year. Now, if the track cools off we will see those outstanding runs."
That isn’t likely, with weather forecasts calling for temperatures to rise near 90 degrees Saturday and Sunday.
"We're probably not going to see those temperatures. It’s probably going to stay pretty hot for the next two days which is OK by me," Capps said. "[Crew chief Rahn] Tobler has a pretty good handle on a hot track."
Still, Capps can hope, for he'd like the bonus points that would come with earning his second top-qualifying position of the season and 13th of his career.
"Talk about mojo . . . I didn’t expect to get low E.T. Cruz [early leader Pedregon] threw that 4.12 out in the first session," he said.
Again he praised the track-improvement efforts and credited that for his performance Friday.
"Heck of a job -- because that new concrete was the difference. You could tell by the runs the Funny Cars were making," Capps said. "Our (4).11, some .12s and a bunch of .15s and .16s . . . that’s outstanding. The track was 120-degrees-plus. Hat’s off to them for making improvements.
We’ll see what happens Sunday," Capps said. "I love coming here. It's been a good place since my rookie year."
Since and Tobler joined forces between the Las Vegas and Charlotte races this April and reeled off six consecutive final-round appearances, Capps has been cutting into points leader Robert Hight's margin. Now he's having some fun with it all, knowing he might be causing extra concern for his friend and on-track rival.
"Robert [Hight] and I are good friends, and it’s good to have goals," Capps said. "[ESPN2 reporter] Gary Gerould came over and [asked] 'Are you going to try and catch him?' He pointed out 12 rounds and 81 points, and it didn’t sound so good when he said it that way. I liked it better when they said three races left. It sounds like you have more time. If we can, we can. He’s going to have to struggle a little bit.
"It's not that big of a deal, except for the extra 20 points is important," he siad. "It’s not the end of the world if we don’t. It’s fun to have the carrot in front of you.
"I have all the respect in the world for Robert and Jimmy Prock. I get up to race those guys like no other. When I race them in qualifying like I did there, I like having them right alongside of me," Capps said. "I know Robert loves having me. We just do our deal, no games. It’s going to be fun. If they can hiccup and we do like we did the last few races, it’s going to be fun to get some press, at least."
And he can create his own with some more Twitter posts.
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