SONOMA, CALIF., July 26, 2011 – Ron Capps could not be more eager to drive the NAPA AUTO PARTS PlatinumNAPAFilters Dodge Charger R/T onto the grid Friday for the first qualifying session of the 24th-annual NHRA Nationals here at Infineon Raceway and pick up the chase for his first win of the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season.
"This has always been a place where I've done well," said the native Californian. "I'll also have the benefit of a lot of family with me, including bringing Shelley (wife), Caden (son) and Taylor (daughter) up in the coach. I used to live in the area, so there will be a lot of friends as well; and I expect, thanks to the great work of Tim Richards (crew chief) and my entire NAPA "Know How" guys, we'll perform like we've done in the past."
Last year the Don Schumacher Racing driver grabbed his second Infineon Wally and last event win, topping DSR teammate Jack Beckman in a tight final round, where the margin of victory was a scant .017 seconds. Capps's first Sonoma victory came in 1997, with two additional final-round appearances in 2002 and 2005.
"I just love this track," said Capps. "They treat us so well. We do a lot of charity work with its Speedway Children's Charities, including participating in their annual kart race; they just do such a great job on everything.
"And, obviously, it's a great place to run, especially for me."
Capps rolls to the starting line for Friday's initial qualifying round (the nitro category is scheduled for 4 p.m. PT) holding eighth place in the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car standings with four races to solidify his position before the Countdown to 1 playoffs kick off. He sits 25 points behind John Force, winner of the last race in Denver, and 33 (less than two race-round wins) behind Jeff Arend in sixth.
"Denver was tough for us and most of the teams," he said about his quarterfinals departure last Sunday, a .006-second loss to DSR teammate and eventual-runner-up Matt Hagan, in the thin, hot air of Bandimere Speedway. "Generally, the Denver race stands alone due to the unique conditions, but Tim said he thinks he found something we can use to help us for the remainder of the year - and that has me really excited!
"I keep telling everyone how great it's been since Tim and Kim (Richards, Tim's wife who also joined the NAPA crew from the Atlanta race forward) came aboard and I know we will keep seeing the positive results."
FRIDAY, July 29 - Full Throttle Series nitro qualifying 7 and 10 p.m. ET.
SATURDAY, July 30 - Full Throttle Series nitro qualifying 2:45 and 5:15 p.m. ET.
SUNDAY, July 31 - Pre-race ceremonies 1 p.m. ET; Full Throttle Series eliminations begin at 2 p.m. ET.
Saturday, July 30 -- ESPN2/ESPN2HD will televise one and a half hours of qualifying highlights 5:30 - 7 p.m. ET.
Sunday, July 31 -- ESPN2/ESPN2HD will televise two and a half hours of eliminations coverage 11 p.m. - 1:30 a.m. ET.
Funny Car standings following 11 of 16 regular-season races: