NORWALK, OHIO, June 26, 2011 – Ron Capps, in his best performance of the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season, drove the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car into the final round of today's Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals here at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park.
Capps, who lost to Mike Neff in one of the few clean races during final eliminations, used the runner up finish to power past Bob Tasca III, John Force and Jeff Arend in the Funny Car standings, moving from ninth to sixth place (three race rounds out of fifth).
The Don Schumacher Racing driver was first off the starting line in his round against Neff, but the Funny Car points leader drove past him on the way to a .021-second victory (including reaction time). Capps posted a 4.259-second lap at 279.09 miles per hour compared to Neff's 4.211 at 289.84.
En route to meeting Neff, Capps scored round wins against Melanie Troxel, DSR teammate Jack Beckman and John Force in the early rounds. Disappointed because he did not take home a Wally, Capps still found a lot of positive results in his Norwalk performance.
"It's not often you see a smile on the face of a driver who lost a race," said the Southern California native. "Considering we started the weekend losing the first two rounds of qualifying to rain, we had an uphill battle on our hands. Tim Richards (crew chief) is still learning this car and needs every round he can get to continue his progress.
"Everyone saw his tenacity as he tuned the NAPA car right into the second-qualifying spot in yesterday's first session and then dealt with the quirky, difficult track conditions under today's sunny skies to put us into the finals."
Capps used a 4.095 pass at 299.26 to grab the second-starting position and a first-round match today with 15th-qualifier Troxel. A clean run of 4.118 at 284.99 put him into a quarterfinal contest with Beckman, who stands second in the standings.
The second-round outcome was close, as Capps held on through a pedalfest with a 4.559-at-213.81 lap to Beckman's run of 4.607 at 258.47. Beckman spun his tires first, recovered and almost caught Capps as the NAPA Funny Car swerved and scrubbed off speed after losing traction.
Traction was again an issue for both drivers in the semifinals, with Capps securing a victory over Force. Here Capps posted a 4.818 at 228.58 run to Force's 13.283 at 51.12, setting up the final round encounter with Neff.
"This NAPA team has come a long ways since Tim took over five races ago," said Capps. "And it's more than the improved performance on the track; it's the increase confidence in everyone here. My NAPA guys and I are doing the same thing we've always done; the difference is Tim and Kim (Richards, Tim's wife and now a member of the NAPA crew).
"This is all due to his leadership and it shows he deserves the nickname Joe Amato gave him - "The General" - for all the good reasons. I'm always anxious to get back into the car and go racing again; that feeling is even stronger now with Tim and Kim's presence in the NAPA camp.
"I'm really excited about going to Chicago."
Route 66 Raceway in Joliet is the next stop on the schedule for the July 7-10 Route 66 NHRA Nationals, 11th-race of the regular season, which ends with the U.S. Nationals Labor Day weekend in Indianapolis. The following race commences the six-race Countdown to 1playoffs for the top-10 Funny Car drivers.
UNOFFICIAL FUNNY CAR POINT STANDINGS after the tenth of 16 races in the "regular" season: