MOHNTON, Pa. (Aug. 23, 2009) –Ron Capps still clings to second place in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Funny Car point standings after exiting in the opening round of eliminations at the 25th annual NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway, outside of Reading Pa. Only one event remains in which Capps has a chance to regain the points lead and earn the 20 bonus points given to the leader going into the Countdown to 1 playoffs, which begin following the U.S. Nationals on Labor Day weekend for the final six events.
Without lane choice in the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Funny Car after qualifying 12th in only one solid run in just two qualifying rounds completed because of rain, he faced Bob Tasca III in the first stanza. They were neck-to-neck by the one-eighth-mile mark, but it was Tasca first across the finish line in 4.261 seconds at 281.48 mph, as Capps hazed the tires inches before the finish line, losing the contest with a 4.301/266.69 pass.
Ashley Force Hood was disqualified following her first-round win because she and her car came in underweight at the scales by NHRA's regulations, allowing some breathing space between Capps and third-place Force Hood. He is 91 markers ahead. Tony Pedregon won his opening-round match-up. (As of this writing, racing action has been halted because of water seeping through the track surface. A full points listing will be provided once the event is complete).
"With two races left before the playoffs, we were fighting to get that top spot back from Tony Pedregon to finish the regular season," said Capps, a class-best five-time winner this season. "We were very optimistic, even though we only got one run down the track in qualifying.
"On Friday and Saturday we had water seeping up through the track surface and we put ourselves in a position to not have lane choice by qualifying No. 12. Water was coming up at the transition then and there still was some moisture there today. The car was on a great run, it was planted firmly, and it went across the transition and it struck the tires instantly. It kind of threw the car sideways a little bit and smoked them pretty hard.
"It's unfortunate. It's been an exciting weekend for a lot of reasons. We're going to go to Indy and test on Wednesday and get ready for the U.S. Nationals. Worst case scenario is we're going to be second in points after the regular season, and we'll be down 30 points starting the Countdown.
"Our intention is to get my first win at the U.S. Nationals and concentrate on going to the next six Countdown races after that.
"It's neat to see the ability our NAPA team has to shake off any nervousness about jeopardizing the qualifying streak that we have (56 straight events) when we only had one good qualifying round this weekend. They put the NAPA car together flawlessly. Ace did a great job and we were able to get the car qualified.
"Even if it seems like we're down a little bit, we can bounce right back. I think that, more than anything, excites me going into the Countdown. But, right now, we're going to be focused on winning the U.S. Nationals. It would be great to put NAPA in the winner's circle at that prestigious event."
Next up is the 55th annual U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, Sept. 4-7, 2009.
UNOFFICIAL FUNNY CAR POINT STANDINGS, after 17 of 24 events:
1. Tony Pedregon, 1292
2. Ron Capps, 1219
3. Ashley Force Hood, 1128
4. Bob Tasca III, 1008 (winner today)
5. Jack Beckman, 996
6. Tim Wilkerson, 982
7. Del Worsham, 929
8. John Force, 919
9. Mike Neff, 872 (runner-up today)
10. Cruz Pedregon, 801
11. Matt Hagan, 770
12. Robert Hight, 763