CARLSBAD, Calif. (Aug. 11, 2009) – Ron Capps is bent on regaining the Funny Car points lead he's held throughout the majority of this year's regular NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season. After 2007, the year in which Capps entered the inaugural Countdown to 1 playoffs as the points leader without an earned advantage, NHRA began awarding 20 bonus markers to the leader going into the Countdown, and Capps wants those points this time.
Three national events remain before this year's Countdown begins for the final six races, and this weekend's NHRA Nationals at Brainerd (Minn.) International Raceway is key towards Capps achieving that goal. The driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Funny Car is just 11 markers behind leader Tony Pedregon and a third victory for him at this facility would return him to the top of the roster.
"Those 20 points are equivalent to one round win," said Capps, "and on top of that there's increments of 10 points for every driver behind the leader in the points. So, if you can add 20 points before you even go to Charlotte for the first race of the Countdown, that's huge. We lost the championship in 2005 by eight points, so we know how important the points are.
"Having the points lead going into the Countdown also gives you a little more confidence and more media coverage for the sponsors. So, there are other advantages to leading the standings besides just the 20 points.
"Coming into Brainerd this weekend, everybody's got their batteries recharged after two weeks off following the Western Swing (three events in a row in Denver, Seattle and Sonoma, Calif.)," added the two-time Brainerd Funny Car champion, who also leads the class with five victories this season. "It's a grueling part of our tour. It's always nice to get a couple of weeks off and then go to Brainerd. It's a fun race.
"It's also turned into a very pivotal race the last few years, especially with the Countdown. It follows the Western Swing where points have been shuffled so much. The drivers have had two weeks off to relax and now they have to start thinking about where they're at, where they want to be, when the next three races will be over, and about racing in Brainerd.
"Brainerd could be hot and humid and over the years the new owners have done a great job of making improvements to the facility. We've seen clouds come in like last year and cool down the temperature of the track. If that happens again, we could see record-breaking conditions.
"Anything can happen in Brainerd. I've been lucky enough to win there more than once, so it's a special place for me as a driver. On top of that my wife Shelley's whole family is from that area. So we have a lot of good friends and family coming to watch."
RON CAPPS QUICK FACTS:
* No. 2 in 2009 Funny Car points after winning class-best five in six final rounds of the first 14 races of the season (Pomona, Calif., Phoenix, Las Vegas, Topeka, Denver)
* Round win-loss record in 2009 is 29-10
* Qualified No. 16 in 2008 Brainerd, lost second round to Jack Beckman
* Brainerd winner in 1998, 2001; runner-up in 1997
* No. 1 qualifier in Brainerd in 2000
* No. 8 in 2008 Funny Car points; two runner-up, five semifinal, four
quarterfinal finishes, 13 first-rounds
* 2008 round win-loss record was 20-24
* Is tied with Tony Pedregon with longest qualifying streak among active
Funny Car drivers: 54
* No. 4 in 2007 Funny Car point standings
* Led 2007 Funny Car point standings by as much as 154 points through 14 of the first 17 races of the season
* NAPA AUTO PARTS is primary sponsor for second straight season
* Joined Don Schumacher Racing in 2005
* Has three U.S. Smokeless Showdown titles: 1998, 1999 and 2002
* Third in 2006 final point standings
* Had class-best five wins in 2006
* Had three wins, four runner-up finishes in 2005 (St. Louis was his first win for DSR in '05)
* 2005 Funny Car championship runner-up, eight points short of title
* Qualified No. 1 once in 2005, in Dallas; first time since Brainerd 2000
* Has nine career No. 1 qualifiers, none in 2006, '07 or '08. Three in 2009 so far (Phoenix, St. Louis, Denver)
* A perennial fan favorite, Capps has driven and won in both Top Fuel and
Funny Cars since he began his pro NHRA career in 1995
* His best season points finishes were seconds in Funny Car in 1998, 2000 and 2005
* He has 30 event wins in 59 final rounds to his credit (29 national event wins in Funny Car, one in Top Fuel)
* His career-best elapsed time (established during an event) is 4.694
seconds, set in 2005 in Dallas
* His career-best speed is 331.61 mph (Pomona 1, '07)
* Capps' career round win-loss record is 362-265
* Capps' career record against 14-time champion Force is 20-41 in round wins. He's won 12 of the last 17 meetings against Force, and has won five of the last seven first-round match-ups over Force
* Age 43 (June 20, 1965); born and raised in San Luis Obispo, Calif.
* Lives in Carlsbad, Calif., with wife Shelley and daughter Taylor (7/25/96)
and son Caden (7/1/01)
* Has tested for IROC Series and competed in Skip Barber Formula Ford, Dirt Late Models, Mini-Sprints and Go-Karts
FRIDAY, Aug. 14 - PROFESSIONAL QUALIFYING SESSIONS at 2:45 and 5:30 p.m.
SATURDAY, Aug. 15 - PROFESSIONAL QUALIFYING SESSIONS at 11:15 a.m. and 2:15 p.m.
SUNDAY, Aug. 16 - Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m. FINAL ELIMINATIONS begin at 11 a.m.
Saturday, Aug. 15, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise one hour of qualifying highlights at 6 p.m. (ET).
Sunday, Aug. 16, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise NHRA Race Day at 11 a.m. (ET).
Sunday, Aug. 16, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise three hours of eliminations at 10 p.m. (ET).
SATELLITE (Analog feed):
Friday, Aug. 14, 8:30 - 9 p.m. (ET), AMC 15 / Transponder 17K (12040 MHz, vertical)
Saturday, Aug. 15, 7:30 - 8.m. (ET), AMC 15 / Transponder 17K (12040 MHz, vertical)
Sunday, Aug. 16, 7:30 - 8 p.m. (ET), AMC 15 / Transponder 17K (12040 MHz, vertical)
Video news release contains race action highlights each day and winners’ interviews on Sunday.