Resurgent Ron Capps Excited about Western Swing Beginning at the MOPAR Mile-High Nationals

Ron Capps approaches the upcoming part of the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series schedule different from most of the drivers; the pilot of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car looks forward to the grueling Western Swing which begins this weekend with the 32nd-annual MOPAR Mile-High NHRA Nationals here at Bandimere Speedway.

For the Don Schumacher Racing driver, the Western Swing - three races in three-consecutive weeks at three very different tracks (here, in Sonoma, Calif. and outside Seattle) - historically has been a positive portion of the season, during which he has accumulated five wins in 13 final rounds, as well as two number-one qualifiers.

"For me, these are home tracks," Capps said. "It was huge winning here in Denver a couple of years ago (2009); this is a very demanding track.

"A driver has to be mentally and physically in shape and ready. It's a combination of the altitude and heat that really takes a toll on the drivers. It's not just one run or two, but over the course of a Sunday, between driving, sitting in the car in lanes and going through everything race day demands, there is more of a mental and physical toll put on the drivers than they realize."

In addition to the 2009 win here at Bandimere Speedway, Capps has picked up two runner-up finishes, 1998 and 2007, and set the track's elapsed-time record, 4.121 seconds, also in 2009.

According to Capps, achieving success here is highly dependent on the crew chief, "and when I see it is Tim Richards making the final adjustment on my car, it just reinforces my confidence. He has the experience and success to know how to handle the track up here on the hill.

"There is a swagger, an added sense of confidence among my NAPA guys since Tim and (wife) Kim came to the team (beginning with the Atlanta race). I just feel we are at the point where we are actually putting a little pressure on our opponents on Sunday. They know they are going to have a tough race, which means they may push themselves and maybe they'll beat themselves. I think we can now count on being that kind of competitor each race."

The NAPA driver comes to Denver occupying seventh in the Funny Car standings, less than three-race wins out of fifth. Including this weekend, there are five races left before the Countdown to 1 playoffs begin where the top 10-regular-season drivers compete for the championship.

"Denver sets the tone. If you can get out of there with a good result and if you are in good shape as a driver, you are on the way," added Capps. And last year, he showed his ability going from a quarterfinal finish here to a runner-up one in Seattle and a victory at Infineon in Sonoma.

Weekend Schedule:

FRIDAY, July 22 - Full Throttle Series nitro qualifying 7:30 and 10 p.m. ET.
SATURDAY, July 23 - Full Throttle Series nitro qualifying 4:30 and 7 p.m. ET.
SUNDAY, July 24 - Pre-race ceremonies 10 a.m.; Full Throttle Series eliminations begin at noon ET.

Saturday, July 23 -- ESPN2/ESPN2HD will televise one and a half hours of qualifying highlights 7 - 9 p.m. ET.
Sunday, July 24 -- ESPN2/ESPN2HD will televise three hours of eliminations coverage 7 - 10 p.m. ET.

Race Facts

Funny Car standings following 11 of 16 regular-season races:

  1. Mike Neff, 1005
  2. Jack Beckman, 833
  3. Robert Hight, 786
  4. Cruz Pedregon, 742
  5. Matt Hagan, 642
  6. Jeff Arend, 612
  7. Ron Capps, 599
  8. John Force, 564
  9. Bob Tasca III, 548
  10. Johnny Gray, 451