BRISTOL, Tenn., June 14, 2011 – When Ron Capps talks about driving the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car in this weekend's 11th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals here at Bristol Dragway his words are bolstered by confidence.
Always optimistic about the possibility of success for the NAPA team, the Don Schumacher Racing driver speaks with more conviction, conviction coming from success following a change in crew chief three races ago.
"It's neat to see the evolution of our team during the last few races since Tim Richards took over," said the life-long Southern Californian. "There has been a definite change in attitude; a change in our mojo. I'm definitely getting more and more confident as a driver each time I go out in the NAPA car, both during qualifying and eliminations.
"It's making runs to the finish line which is going to make you improve as a driver and a crew chief. Tim has provided a race car for me to make run after run, to gain confidence."
Capps enters the weekend winless and in eighth place of the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car standings, both situations he expects to change shortly, possibly this weekend at a race he has won twice (2001 and 2006).
"Points are not that crucial at this point in the season, but, having said that, we are not that far from being a top-five car (less than four rounds)," explained the driver who jumped two spots after reaching the semifinals in the last race (Englishtown, N.J.). "I feel a win is coming soon; I feel our car is quite capable of winning.
"Earlier in the year, we had the tools to win, but I felt we were fishing for performance. "Our qualifying has improved in the last two races and our semifinal finish in Englishtown was the first since the first race of the season. I'm just very excited about going racing and can't wait to get to Bristol."
Two nitro qualifying rounds are scheduled for Friday, beginning at 6:30 p.m., with two additional ones Saturday afternoon prior to Sunday's final eliminations. According to Capps, the potential for warm weather during the day sessions can put pressure on crew chiefs to turn up the performance Friday evening.
"Tim is the kind of crew chief who can negotiate these changing, difficult conditions," Capps said. "He will be ready for the heat, but if the conditions allow, like on a cool Friday evening, he can go for it and put us in the top of the pack."
FRIDAY, June 17 - Full Throttle Series nitro qualifying 6:30 and 9 p.m. ET.
SATURDAY, June 18 - Full Throttle Series nitro qualifying 1 and 3:30 p.m. ET.
SUNDAY, June 19 - Pre-race ceremonies noon; Full Throttle Series eliminations begin at 1 p.m. ET.
Saturday, June 18 -- ESPN2/ESPN2HD will televise two hours of qualifying highlights 7-9 p.m. ET.
Sunday, June 19 -- ESPN2/ESPN2HD will televise two and a half hours of eliminations coverage 4:30-7 p.m. ET.
UNOFFICIAL FUNNY CAR POINT STANDINGS after the eighth of 16 races in the "regular" season: