CARLSBAD, Calif. (Oct. 27, 2009) – Only two races remain in the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series before a Funny Car champion is named. For Ron Capps, driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Funny Car, every point earned at this weekend's NHRA Las Vegas Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway will be vital if he's to have a chance at claiming his first Funny Car crown.
Just 63 points out of first place (Robert Hight), fourth-place Capps and the NAPA team are ready for the challenge at this weekend's penultimate season event as the winners of the spring race at The Strip earlier this year.
"I'm not sure it gives us an edge," said Capps, class-best five-time national-event titlist this year, "but you always feel comfortable going to a place you've done well at. Right now, more than anything, we have to focus on just doing the best we can, and try to collect every point we can."
Points are awarded to the top three in each of the four qualifying sessions in a weekend (three, two, one points, respectively), in addition to the regular qualifying points earned. Twenty points are available for each eliminations round win and, added to the Countdown to 1 playoffs this year is the opportunity to garner an additional 20 points for setting a national elapsed-time record racing to 1000 feet (with a one-percent backup). Capps holds the existing record of 4.023 seconds.
"We've always done well in Vegas," added Capps, who has two wins and two runner-ups at The Strip. "Last year, with two races left at the end of the year, we didn't do so well there, but we did go to the final round in Pomona. This year, we won the first race in Vegas.
"Having to do well at these last two races raises everybody's attention to detail, including the crew members, crew chiefs and drivers. The biggest thing that we're hoping for, and it's ironic because we're going to Vegas, is that the odds of somebody dismissing the people in front of us in eliminations and our taking advantage of it will work in our favor. Going to the final round and facing somebody who is not in front of us in points is how we're going to gain ground.
"We could focus on all the points and get excited, but the bottom line is, if we don't go to the final round ourselves, we’re not going to have a chance in Pomona (the final race). So, we have to do the best we can in situations that are in our control and hope that the odds are in our favor that somebody is able to beat either Robert (Hight), Ashley (Force Hood) or Tony (Pedregon) in front of us."
RON CAPPS QUICK FACTS:
* No. 4 in Countdown to 1 playoffs, following four events of six
* Is 63 points out of first place
* No. 2 in 2009 Funny Car "regular season" after winning class-best five in seven final rounds of the first 18 races of the season (Pomona, Calif., Phoenix, Las Vegas, Topeka, Denver)
* Round win-loss record in 2009 is 36-17
* Currently holds the national record racing to 1000 feet of 4.023 seconds (Phoenix 2009)
* Las Vegas 2 winner in 2001 and 2005; Las Vegas 1 runner-up in 2006 and 2007
* Qualified No. 13 in 2008 Las Vegas 2, lost first round to Ashley Force Hood
* 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: 61
* 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 369-271
* 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, Oct. 30 - PROFESSIONAL QUALIFYING SESSIONS at 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m.
SATURDAY, Oct. 31 - PROFESSIONAL QUALIFYING SESSIONS at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
SUNDAY, Nov. 1 - Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m. FINAL ELIMINATIONS begin at 11 a.m.
Saturday, Oct. 31, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise two hours of qualifying highlights at 11:30 p.m. (ET).
Sunday, Nov 1, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will air NHRA Race Day, at 2:30 p.m. (ET).
Sunday, Nov. 1, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise three hours of final eliminations at 7:30 p.m. (ET).
SATELLITE (Analog feed):
Friday, Oct. 30, 9:30 - 10 p.m. (ET) - AMC 16 / Transponder 14K (11980 MHz, horizontal)
Saturday, Oct. 31, 9:30 - 10 p.m. (ET) - AMC 16 / Transponder 14K (11980 MHz, horizontal)
Sunday, Nov. 1, 11 - 11:30 p.m. (ET) - AMC 16 / Transponder 14K (11980 MHz, horizontal)
Video news release contains race action highlights each day and winners’ interviews on Sunday.