KENT, Wash., August 7, 2011 – Ron Capps's mid-season resurgence continued this weekend as he drove the NAPA AUTO PARTS PlatinumNAPAFilters Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car into the quarterfinals of today's 24th-annual NHRA Northwest Nationals here at Pacific Raceways.
Coming out of the 11th-qualifying position which meant no lane choice, thought to be critical at this venue, the California native defeated Don Schumacher Racing teammate Johnny Gray in the first round of final eliminations. Capps ran the second-quickest lap of the round, blasting down the 1,000-foot track in 4.146 seconds at 305.77 miles per hour.
Holding lane choice for his second-round run against another DSR driver, Matt Hagan, Capps gained a slight edge at the starting line, but the NAPA car was nosed out by .018 seconds.
"That was a great run in the first round," recapped Capps. "That 4.14 we ran in the left lane showed the kind of grit and determination Tim Richards (crew chief) has instilled in this team. Not having lane choice for the first round was a big challenge for this team, but I had all the confidence in the world in Tim and the 'NAPA Know-How' guys to get the job done.
"Unfortunately, we were a little shy on data for a right-lane run for the second round, maybe one full run shy, and Matt just made a great run."
The two DSR hot rods were side by side, with Capps running 4.193 at 296.44 mph and Hagan 4.166 at 294.24 mph; with the NAPA driver .009-seconds quicker at the start.
Qualifying was a mixed bag, as difficult track conditions Friday limited nitro passes, with just a couple of cars getting down the left lane. Overnight repairs and track preparation brought about better results during Saturday's two sessions where Capps posted runs of 4.260 and 4.201 seconds to secure the 11th-starting position.
"You have to give the NHRA a lot of credit; they did a heck of a job getting the track better for Saturday and race day," he said. "We have great fans up here in the Northwest and it was great to give them side-by-side racing today." Tim Wilkerson won the race defeating Capps's DSR teammate Jack Beckman in the final round.
The 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series heads next to Brainerd (Minn.) for the 30th-annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals August 18-21, with Capps holding sixth place in the Funny Car standings. He made the jump from eighth to sixth during the three-race Western Swing (Denver, Sonoma and here), with a win and two quarterfinal finishes.
"We are really hitting our stride," said the winner of last week's race. "We're coming on just in time to get ready for the Countdown. There are two races left and I feel great about this car in the playoffs.
"We'll go to Brainerd, another place I enjoy racing, which is a track that can go either way depending on the conditions, including humidity. It's the kind of weather we might see in the Countdown (the six-race championship competition amongst the top-10 drivers as determined after the 16th race), so that race could prove to be a great rehearsal for our championship run."
Unofficial Full Throttle Funny Car standings after the 14th of 16 regular-season races: