BAYTOWN, Tex. (March 29, 2009) – Driving the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Funny Car, Ron Capps was ousted in the opening round of eliminations at the NHRA Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway Park today. Despite that, he held on to the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Funny Car points lead and is now 29 markers ahead of Del Worsham.
Following a 45-minute delay because of a spectacular blow-up in the first round of Top Fuel eliminations, the Funny Cars lined up for their match-ups. Facing No. 3 qualifier Ashley Force Hood after qualifying No. 14 in the fourth event of the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series, Capps had the edge over Force Hood at the starting lights by .028 of a second, but struck the tires early. Two seconds later Force Hood also lost traction. While Capps recovered, there was not enough race track left for him to pass her, and Force Hood took the victory with a 4.640-second elapsed time at 201.82 mph to Capps' 5.148/188.91.
"It was surprising," said Capps, "because when it comes to race day, no matter where we qualify, Ace (crew chief Ed McCulloch) and the NAPA crew always have a solid car. And listening to the Top Fuel runs before us we knew that both lanes were getting pretty tricky.
"Once again we were at a track where we were fighting the conditions like the small bumps that they had out there. Cars in both lanes were having trouble.
"The NAPA Dodge was actually running pretty good, and when the tires pulled loose, I looked over at the other lane and she was in trouble. I was trying to get mine going and it wasn't straight enough to get back on the gas and hers obviously was and she got back on the gas and ran it down to the finish line. I just couldn't catch her.
"The crew chiefs had their hands full today and as the day wore on it got warmer. The track surface imperfections showed up more and more.
"We've got a great race car and Ashley had one of the best cars this weekend. She went down the track every time and was very fast, but she was in trouble as well.
"With the delay in Top Fuel I saw all the crew chiefs running back to their trailers and getting back on the computers to figure out their tune-ups, because the conditions definitely changed a lot. There were a lot of crew members in a frenzy in the staging lanes changing stuff on almost every car.
"The driver gets all the credit when things are good, but you have to really tip your hats to these crew chiefs and crew members because it's conditions like these that will drive them batty."
Next up is the NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway next weekend, April 3-5.
"The great thing about having Vegas next weekend is just that," added Capps. "We are able to get back on the horse and get to race again. You always want to race right away when you have a bad weekend."
UNOFFICIAL FUNNY CAR POINT STANDINGS, AFTER FOUR EVENTS:
1. Ron Capps, 294
2. Del Worsham, 265
3. Ashley Force Hood, 261 (winner today)
4. Bob Tasca, 257
5. Tony Pedregon, 232
6. Jack Beckman, 231 (runner-up today)
7. Matt Hagan, 210
8. John Force, 200
9. Robert Hight, 196
10. Mike Neff, 196