CARLSBAD, Calif. (Aug. 19, 2009) –With just two national events remaining in the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series before the Countdown to 1 playoffs begin for the final six races, Ron Capps is continuing his quest to regain the Funny Car class points lead which he enjoyed during the majority of the 17 races contested so far. He's just 28 points behind leader Tony Pedregon. A high qualifying position and a victory at this weekend's 25th annual NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway could place him back on top and earn him the 20 bonus points he so covets, which the leader entering the playoffs will earn.
The driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Funny Car heads the class in victories this season, with five wins so far, and 30 in his career, but he's never won at Maple Grove Raceway, located just outside of Reading, Pa. He's hoping this weekend will see a change in that statistic.
"We're still digging," he said of his goal. "We tested during qualifying during the Western Swing (Denver, Seattle, Sonoma, Calif.) and fell back in the standings, so it's fun right now to have two races left and have a shot at finishing the regular season on top. It was great getting to the final round in Brainerd (against Tony Pedregon), but we obviously wanted to win the race and get the points lead back.
"Reading is such a pivotal race right now, being prior to the U.S. Nationals, which is everybody's last chance. Maple Grove has created a lot of excitement over the years, and I have never been able to win the race and I would like to get the trophy there. And I know Ace (crew chief Ed McCulloch) and the NAPA guys are very focused on doing well there.
"We're done testing things," Capps added, referring to the team's decision to test during qualifying runs because of the four-test limit imposed by NHRA this year. "Ace is very excited about the car that we have and how comfortable he is with it. Because of the at-event testing we’ve done we were able to create so much horsepower that he's having a hard time pulling the motor back to get it down the track.
"That's what he fought in Brainerd, which is a good thing. To have that available power that the NAPA car has now is going to be great when we get to cool conditions. And Maple Grove is a track that can surely hold those kinds of runs when the conditions allow it.
"It's going to be a fun race."
Capps has two Funny Car runner-up finishes in Reading, in 1999 and 2000.
RON CAPPS QUICK FACTS:
* No. 2 in 2009 Funny Car points after winning class-best five in seven final rounds of the first 16 races of the season (Pomona, Calif., Phoenix, Las Vegas, Topeka, Denver)
* Round win-loss record in 2009 is 32-11
* Qualified No. 12 in 2008 Readiing, lost first round to John Force
* Has never won in Reading; runner-up twice in 1999 and 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: 55
* 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 61 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 365-266
* Capps' career record against 14-time champion Force is 21-41 in round wins. He's won 13 of the last 18 meetings against Force, and has won five of the last seven first-round match-ups over Force
* Age 44 (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. 21 - PROFESSIONAL QUALIFYING SESSIONS at 3 and 6 p.m.
SATURDAY, Aug. 22 - PROFESSIONAL QUALIFYING SESSIONS at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
SUNDAY, Aug. 23 - Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m. FINAL ELIMINATIONS begin at 11 a.m.
Sunday, Aug. 23, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise two hours of qualifying coverage at 1 a.m. (ET).
Sunday, Aug. 23, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will telecast NHRA Race Day at 11:30 a.m. (ET).
Sunday, Aug. 23, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise three hours of final round eliminations at 10 p.m. (ET).
SATELLITE (Analog feed):
Friday, Aug. 21, 8:30 - 9 p.m. (ET), AMC 15 / Transponder 6K (11820 MHz, horizontal)
Saturday, Aug. 22, 6:30 - 7 p.m. (ET), AMC 15 / Transponder 6K (11820 MHz, horizontal)
Sunday, Aug. 23, 6:30 - 7 p.m. (ET), AMC 15 / Transponder 6K (11820 MHz, horizontal)
Video news release contains race action highlights each day and winners’ interviews on Sunday.