Ron Capps Reaches Quarterfinals in NHRA Spring Nationals

On the day he raced in his 700th NHRA professional elimination round, Ron Capps drove the NAPA AUTO PARTS Ultimate Tune-Up Big Event Funny Car into the second round of the 24th annual NHRA Spring Nationals here at Royal Purple Raceway.

Capps secured a quarterfinal appearance by defeating Bob Tasca III in the opening round. The Southern California native ran a 4.211-second, 303.09-mile-per-hour pass against Tasca's 6.250/110.57.

Unfortunately, a mechanical issue cropped up during his quarterfinal run, resulting in a 4.438/281.77-mph pass against Bob Bode, who won the round with a 4.295/295.14-mph lap.

"Obviously, I hate to lose anytime, but considering everything this NAPA team went through in the past week just to get ready for this race, it was a good weekend," said the Don Schumacher Racing driver. "We changed crew chiefs after the last race and then brought out a different car. My guys really worked hard to put it together, including giving up some of their Easter weekend.

"I can't say enough about the contribution that Tommy DeLago and his guys as well as Rahn Tobler and his guys made to help us right through today."

In reviewing his weekend in Baytown, Capps related how the experience he has gathered racing in different forms of motorsports had helped him throughout the event. He also admitted that, the final outcome notwithstanding, he had fun at this race and is really looking forward to the rest of the season.

"This is the type of weekend which makes my driving all those other types of race cars so important," he explained. "The car we used this weekend had been Matt Hagan's car last year. As Matt is a lot bigger than me, I had to quickly adapt to this car, just as I do each time I compete in things like dirt-track, Super Late Model events or nostalgia races. This kind of driving challenge is fun for me."

Capps heads to the next race, the May 13-15 31st annual NHRA Southern Nationals in Commerce, Ga., in ninth place in the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car standings. Mike Neff took over the points lead after finishing runner up to today's race winner Jeff Arend.

"We'll have an all-new car for Atlanta and a new crew chief, Tim Richards, calling the shots," he said. "I'm super excited about working with Tim and (his wife) Kim. I remember as a kid, watching on TV as Joe Amato won all those races with Tim, dreaming about driving for a guy like him, so this is a dream come true."

The Atlanta-area event will include visits to the NAPA AUTO PARTS headquarters and several other special programs for Capps.

"If we could win there, it would be such a boost for this team and for NAPA, and they deserve it; they're such a great sponsor," he said.

Race Facts

UNOFFICIAL FUNNY CAR POINT STANDINGS after the fifth of 16 races in the "regular" season:

  1. Mike Neff, 399
  2. Robert Hight, 381
  3. Jack Beckman, 363
  4. Cruz Pedregon, 322
  5. Jeff Arend, 299
  6. Matt Hagan, 296
  7. John Force, 281
  8. Bob Tasca III, 247
  9. Ron Capps, 244
  10. Johnny Gray, 234