No. 6 qualifier Ron Capps was upset by No. 11 Bob Tasca III in the opening round of Funny Car eliminations at the NHRA Carolina Nationals, the first of six races in the Countdown to 1 playoffs which will decide the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series champions.

Driving the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Funny Car, Capps took off at the starting lights with a nearly identical reaction time to Tasca's, but struck the tires early and slowed to a 4.950-second run at 173.72 mph, while Tasca scored the victory with a 4.160/300.46.

With a new points system in place for the playoffs, Capps slipped from his starting position of second to fourth by the end of the day, when Ashley Force Hood reached the semifinals and Robert Hight won the event and moved into third.

"We felt really confident after running the 4.10 (-second elapsed time) yesterday in qualifying in the right lane. We came back after that pass and looked at the computer with Ace (crew chief Ed McCulloch) and it was exactly on line with our 4.10 yesterday.

"We did consider switching lanes after hearing back in the staging lanes about some of the upsets in front us. The thing is, Robert Hight ran the 4.10 right in front of us so we said, OK, we know how this lane is, we know it should be good. It was lined up exactly where it was last night but it struck the tires.

"There were a lot of upsets in the first round (including Tony Pedregon and John Force), and the points have re-arranged dramatically in the Countdown, so it will continue to be a very exciting playoffs for the fans."

Only four of the Countdown contenders made it out of the first round today: Jack Beckman, Ashley Force Hood, Robert Hight and Bob Tasca III.

Next up is the NHRA Fall Nationals at Texas Motorplex in Dallas, Sept. 25-27.

UNOFFICIAL FUNNY CAR POINT STANDINGS after one of six events in the Countdown to 1 playoffs (including qualifying bonus points):
1. Tony Pedregon, 2148
2. Ashley Force Hood, 2147
3. Robert Hight, 2120 (winner today)
4. Ron Capps, 2115
5. Bob Tasca III, 2112
6. Jack Beckman, 2103
7. Tim Wilkerson, 2076
8. John Force, 2070
9. Del Worsham, 2053
10. Mike Neff, 2045