: It's kind of neat to be the lone tuner/driver out there. That's kind of a cool banner to carry.

CP: It is. It has its accolades. I embrace it. I enjoy the challenge of it. But like I said, it has its moments. I'm not going to lie to you. We went to the final [at Topeka and Englishtown] and I remember getting in that car and I was physically fatigued. A lot of people go, 'Ah, it's drag racing. You only go four seconds.' The drain of the day, the emotions up and down, the challenges, it's quite taxing on the mind and the body. I chuckled – in a Funny Car, you have to physically twist and lift yourself into the car. I could physically feel myself get heavier.

: Gravity's a bitch.

CP: Yeah! I laughed in my helmet. I'm 50 now, but I feel like I'm 30. But the thought does come to me, 'Man, I'm getting too old for this.' I never said that out loud.

: You did – you said that at Englishtown, and it was a bit of a surprise.

CP: I thought about it and thought, 'Maybe this is what all these elderly people are talking about!' I laugh about it. I feel like I'm a driver. No matter what people say . . . because I drove for so long . . . I drove for car owners, drove for the typical team: owner who’s a wealthy guy looking for a return on his investment, hired crew chief who's always under the gun. That never leaves you.

A famous college coach was asked one time by an interviewer, 'Do you ever miss your playing days?' He looked at him and said, 'I never close my eyes at night and dream about coaching.' And that was so telling to me. This guy was a longtime coach and the interviewer was saying, 'Hey, a lot of people don’t know you played, but you played for many, many years.' And I thought, 'Wow, that's kind of the boat I'm in.' I never went to bed and thought, 'Man, I want to be a crew chief.' However, they get paid the most, more than drivers. They are the most sought-after, if you’re good. And they can turn a program into a winning program singlehandedly.

In drag racing, that is not the case with drivers; that is not the case with crewmembers; that is not the case with owners; and that is certainly not the case with sponsors. So in another lifetime, to heck with it -- I'm going to come back as a crew chief. I'm going to make a heck of a lot more money.

: Talk to Mike Neff. I don’t think his burning desire was to be a driver. And Warren Johnson wasn't all that keen on driving. They had things they liked more than driving.

CP: I have a man-crush on Neff. I admire his ability and his style. And he's a good friend of mine. I consider him one of my best friends. I just have so much respect for him. I just think he's the coolest guy, you know? And he's very good at what he does. I have a lot of respect, as I do for a lot of those guys. But Neff, he's one I look out for, that's for sure.

: He's a really versatile guy, especially for as young as he is.

CP: He's been around. He just has 'The Right Stuff.' And that's what you have to have. This is not an easy job. I don’t know what he has, but he has the right stuff.

: If you could change one thing in nitro racing to make it better, more affordable, or more entertaining, what would that be?

CP: I would go back to how we ran these cars, equipment-wise. If you were to retrace your steps, I would retrace a time – I would say 15, 20 years ago – I would use the set-ups we ran: the essentials . . . the fuel volume, the supercharger technology. It's better now, don’t get me wrong. But I would go back 15 or 20 years and I would set those parameters.

The other thing I would do is make these Funny Car bodies similar to Nationwide stock cars, how the cars actually look like the real cars. I would make the cars not as aero-friendly but aesthetically pleasing to the people so that we have cars that look like the actual cars you drive. I can't speak on behalf of dragsters, because my car of choice is Funny Car.

And I would run the show more like they did at Orange County International Raceway in Southern California in the '70s. I would have in-between-rounds entertainment, not just a bunch of cars going down the track. I would have a band playing every Saturday night.