Drivers looking forward to 25th Annual Northwest Nationals this weekend at Pacific Raceways | Drag Racing

Ron Capps has plenty of fond memories of Pacific Raceways.

Capps, who drives the Napa Auto Parts funny car for Don Schumacher Racing, won his first national event title in a top fuel dragster in 1995 at the track which is just minutes from Covington, Auburn and Kent.

"It was a Tuesday," Capps said of his first win. "There were about 100 people left in the grandstands. I remember it like it was yesterday. It's been a magical place since I drove top fuel my rookie year."

This weekend he is here for the 25th Annual O'Reilly Auto Parts Northwest Nationals hoping to improve his position in the funny car class point standings and add another trophy, also known as a Wally, to his collection of 35.

Coming into the National Hot Rod Association's 15th event on the Full Throttle Drag Racing Series, Capps is in second place behind Robert Hight of John Force Racing.

Not only does Capps have fond memories of racing, he also had praise for the fans of the region, with the race drawing close to 100,000 spectators over three days from all over the Pacific Northwest.

"It's been a place where every year we come back and we get excited about the improvements they've made," Capps said. "And the fans are incredible. You show up on Friday morning and you can tell they've been waiting all year for you. You can tell they eat, sleep and drink it like we do."

Speaking of improvements, Pacific Raceways president Jason Fiorito mentioned during a press conference at the Space Needle Thursday that crews spent the past few months replacing 370 feet of concrete on the drag strip in order to address issues that came up during the early rounds of qualifying in 2011.

Meanwhile, Steve Torrence, who put his race team together at the end of last season and has burst onto the scene this year with two event wins in four final rounds, echoed statements he made to the Reporter for this week's print edition that he was pleased with where his team is at now — in fourth place in top fuel.

"I've think we've surpassed any expectations I had a long time ago," Torrence said. "It's really pretty cool. I'm honored and privileged to come out and race in the NHRA."

For Canadian Todd Lesenko, who is driving a funny car for Jim Dunn Racing, he is looking forward to racing a bit closer to home."This is the closest track to Edmonton, Alberta, so we have a lot of friends and family and sponsors and potential sponsors out here at this race," Lesenko said.

Rookie Alexis Dejoria, driver of the Tequila Patron funny car, is hoping to get her first win in a fuel car after winning at Pacific Raceways a year ago before she moved into the pro class.

"Coming in I have a lot of confidence having that win last year in top alcohol funny car," Dejoria said. "It's been a great track to myself but not so much to the Kalitta clan so I hope I can change that. I'm just trying to give my team and my crew chief the best runs that I can."

Meanwhile, Spencer Massey is trying to find a way to keep DSR teammate Antron Brown from creating any separation as the two are tied atop the top fuel points standings coming into this race.Massey, who lost to Del Worsham by just a few thousandths of a second and two points in the top fuel points race in 2011, said the team came out strong to start the season in February at the Winternationals in Pomona, Calif.

He pointed to the fact that DSR, which is a seven car operation, is a great team to race for because almost everything from chassis to parts are put together in-house.

"That's why we're 1-2-3 in the points right now," Massey said.

With the Northwest Nationals capping off a three-race set known as the Western Swing which started in Denver, Colo., with a stop in Sonoma, Calif., before coming to Pacific Raceways, there's a month until the NHRA's Countdown to the Championship begins.

This weekend is a time when all of the drivers are jockeying for position in their classes.

Sunday in eliminations maybe Capps will make some new memories in the winner's circle.

Qualifying begins at 2 p.m. Friday for pro classes and noon Saturday with those rounds being broadcast at 7:30 p.m. Saturday on ESPN2 while final elimination rounds will be broadcast at 6 p.m. Sunday.



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