ENGLISHTOWN, N.J., June 5, 2011 – Ron Capps concluded a solid weekend by driving the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car into the semifinals today against eventual-race-winner Mike Neff in the 42nd annual NHRA SuperNationals here at historic Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.
The Don Schumacher Racing driver leapfrogged into the eighth position of the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car standings with Sunday's semifinal appearance.
"I haven't worried about points yet, because from here on out, this car is going to go rounds," he said. "I feel my NAPA crew guys are really jelling under the leadership of Tim Richards (who took over the tuning responsibilities two races ago as crew chief).
"This is the perfect time to peak, though, and build up a head of steam as we get closer to the (Countdown to 1) playoffs. We want to be in the best possible position, running well, when they begin (after the 16th race of the season)."
In today's third round, Capps left the starting line ahead of Neff, who leads the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car standings, and was on a quick run when he dropped a cylinder and, as a result, the third-round race. The NAPA car ran a 4.185-second lap at 288.70 miles per hour, falling shy of catching Neff, who went 4.067 (quickest of the round) at 313.00.
"The way the car felt, we were set to run a 4.06/07," said Capps. "But I put a cylinder out, the car pulled to the right and I kept pedaling it, just in case Mike had any problems.
"Tim did a great job all weekend and we made great strides from where we'd been earlier this season. He really turned it on beginning with Saturday's two qualifying sessions and then three solid runs today."
The Southern Californian reached the third round on the strength of a first-round victory over Jim Head and a quarterfinals victory against Tim Wilkerson, important wins as these two drivers were right behind Capps in the standings.
Capps was not in the 16-car field after Friday's first two qualifying rounds, but turned it around with a 4.115-second third round and an even better 4.108 fourth to earn the number-six starting spot for the race.
"To make solid runs like we did Saturday and then three good ones today just pumps us up," Capps explained. "Tim is getting more and more comfortable with the car and the team - and it shows in our success.
"And confidence breeds confidence!"
Capps looks forward to the upcoming races in Bristol, Tenn., June 17-19, and in Norwalk, Ohio, June 23-26, respectively.
"I love racing on these tracks at this time of the year," he said. "It's a real challenge and I love to dig down deep and win at these places, and so does Tim."
UNOFFICIAL FUNNY CAR POINT STANDINGS after the eighth of 16 races in the "regular" season: