Ron Capps, driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Funny Car in the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series, is excited to begin the Countdown to 1 playoffs at the NHRA Carolina Nationals this weekend at zMAX Dragway in Concord, N.C.

He begins the chase to his first Funny Car championship from second in the point standings and as the elapsed-time national record holder racing to 1000 feet. He did not earn the 20 bonus points for this record that had been available during the quarter-mile era, as NHRA announced it would begin awarding bonus points for 1000-foot racing during the final six-race playoffs. He, and all the other Funny Car drivers, will have to better his 4.023-second pass from Phoenix this year and back it up by one percent during the weekend to earn those bonus points.

Also, NHRA announced that it would award bonus points for qualifying (in addition to the regular qualifying points earned) in the top three in each qualifying session (3, 2, 1 points) during each event of the playoffs.

"I think (track owner) Bruton Smith and the people at zMAX have earned the right to be the opening race of the Countdown," said Capps, who has scored a class-best five victories this season. "I said it last year. I had more media requests and more media attention prior to last year's first race at zMAX than I did at the U.S Nationals in Indianapolis, and that's considered NHRA's biggest race.

"That amazed me, along with the number of awesome fans and the sell-out crowds. That really makes you feel great about going to a new track. Of course, it does not surprise me that zMAX was awarded a second race on the 2010 NHRA schedule.

"We didn't run that great there last year," added Capps, who qualified 10th in 2008 in Concord and advanced only to the second round.

"We started the Countdown not even in the top five in 2008, but we have a whole new attitude this year. We had led the points through many of the races this season and won the most races. The NAPA team is so driven and we are ready to race hard. But we're also having a lot of fun, and we're all excited about going to Charlotte.

"We know the conditions might warrant record-type runs if it cools off and clouds come in. But, it could also be warm and tricky, and that brings out the best in the crew chiefs.

"On top of that, we have a new points system in qualifying where you can gain three, two points or one point depending on where you are in every session of qualifying. You're going to have all the teams trying their hardest to be the quickest car each session. I applaud the NHRA for what it has done."

* No. 2 in 2009 Funny Car points after winning class-best five in seven final rounds of the first 17 races of the season (Pomona, Calif., Phoenix, Las Vegas, Topeka, Denver)
* Begins Countdown to 1 playoffs in second, 30 points behind leader Tony Pedregon
* Round win-loss record in 2009 is 32-13
* Currently holds the national record racing to 1000 feet of 4.203 seconds (Phoenix 2009)
* Qualified No. 10 in 2008 Concord, lost second round to Robert Hight
* 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: 57
* 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 (racing to 1320 feet)
* His career-best speed is 331.61 mph (Pomona 1, '07) - racing to 1320 feet
* Capps' career round win-loss record is 365-268
* 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

Pro qualifying will run at 2:30 and 6 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 18, and will continue at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 19. Final professional eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 20.

ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise two hours of qualifying coverage at 11:30 p.m. (ET) on Saturday, Sept. 19. On Sunday, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will feature NHRA Race Day, a 30-minute pre-race show, at 11 a.m. (ET), and three hours of eliminations coverage at 7 p.m. (ET).

FUNNY CAR POINT STANDINGS, entering the Countdown to 1 playoffs:
1. Tony Pedregon, 2110
2. Ron Capps, 2080
3. Ashley Force Hood, 2070
4. Bob Tasca, 2060
5. Jack Beckman, 2050
6. Tim Wilkerson, 2040
7. John Force, 2030
8. Del Worsham, 2020
9. Mike Neff, 2010
10. Robert Hight, 2000