COMMERCE, Ga., May 15, 2011 – Following the completion of today's 31st annual NHRA Southern Nationals, Ron Capps kept focusing on the signs of overall improvement exhibited by the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car team throughout their weekend at Atlanta Dragway.
The Don Schumacher Racing driver was disappointed about losing in the first round today, but cited a renewed spirit within the team which was running its first event under the direction of crew chief Tim Richards, who was also tuning the NAPA team's fifth new car in this, the sixth race of the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season.
"This was the first weekend where everybody just jelled," said the Southern Californian. "Tim has come in and taken charge, shown great leadership and the entire NAPA team has responded in a positive fashion.
"I know what our results were, but he is the kind of crew chief who makes you feel like you cannot lose when you go to the starting line. You just want to go into battle behind a "General" like Tim - I like this kind of crew chief!"
A dropped cylinder just as Capps staged his Funny Car contributed to the initial-round run of 4.262 seconds, at 291.95 miles per hour, not enough to overcome the hot (winner of the last race) Jeff Arend's 4.188 at 285.99 effort.
Capps came out of the 10th-starting position on the strength of Saturday's 4.166 at 303.91 mph third-qualifying round.
"We battled back all through the weekend," said Capps. "We fought to make it into today's race after not getting into the show Friday and then had the same dropped cylinder issue as we staged the car for yesterday's fourth qualifying run.
"But I am confident that Tim and the NAPA guys will display their "NAPA Know How" again, finding the problem and fixing it before we race next weekend."
The winner of 31 national events heads to that race, the 23rd annual NHRA Summer Nationals May 20-22 at Heartland Park Topeka (Kan.), holding the ninth position in the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car championship standings.
"We want to win every race, but the most important thing is getting consistently good by the time the Countdown to 1 begins," Capps said, discussing the playoffs, which includes the top-10 drivers at the conclusion of the 16-race "regular season." "We wanted to do better here for our great supporters from NAPA, since it was their home race, but I still think they had fun, even if the results were not the best.
"I can't say enough about how supportive and positive they have been throughout their relationship with me and Don Schumacher Racing; everywhere we race, they come and cheer us on."
UNOFFICIAL FUNNY CAR POINT STANDINGS after the fifth of 16 races in the "regular" season:
1 Winner today