BRAINERD, Minn., August 21, 2011 – Behind the wheel of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car, Ron Capps blasted into his second final round of the last three races before coming up just shy in a tight contest with Don Schumacher Racing teammate Johnny Gray today at the 30th-annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals here at Brainerd International Raceway.
The close side-by-side race with Gray was part of the first all-DSR-nitro-final rounds in the 13-year history of the multi-car team (Antron Brown defeated DSR stable-mate Tony Schumacher in the Top Fuel final). Capps posted a 4.134-second lap with an event-high 307.37 miles per hour top speed, which was not enough to run down Gray's 4.113 at 307.02.
"All-and-all, it was a great day for our NAPA team and for DSR," said the California native. "You hate to lose, but what we do with NAPA and what Service Central does with NAPA, it doesn't hurt as much to lose to Johnny and that team."
Capps qualified the NAPA Funny Car fourth, on a Saturday run of 4.149 at 294.24, following an uneven series of runs.
"We fought to make the motor happy even though we did get six bonus points in qualifying," he explained. "It showed with that 4.11 in the first round and that continued all day long for four rounds. It was a good day.
"I can't say enough about the great job Tim Richards has done since taking over (at the Atlanta race) as crew chief. He fights for every point, wants to win every round, and still keeps the big picture - getting things ready to run for the championship - in focus."
He won his first-round race today by going 4.115 to Jim Head's 4.171. Points-leader Mike Neff was dispatched on a "hole-shot" win in the second round, with Capps's .032-reaction-time advantage negating Neff's 4.195-elapsed-time advantage over Capps's 4.215.
Next up was DSR teammate Matt Hagan, whom Capps is chasing in the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car standings. The NAPA pilot used a 4.137 pass against Hagan's 4.145-second effort and moved to within three points (less than one race-round win) of Hagan and fifth place in the standings.
"We've tightened up the points and we're just behind Hagan for another spot in the Countdown," he said about the playoffs which begin following the next race (Labor Day weekend in Indianapolis). "A good showing in the Indy race and we could catch Matt and even Cruz (Pedregon who holds fourth) before the Countdown begins."
The top-10 drivers at the conclusion of the U.S. Nationals Indianapolis will have their points reset in qualifying for the Countdown. The five in front of Capps are Neff, Robert Hight, DSR teammate Jack Beckman, Pedregon and Hagan.
"I'm tickled for the Countdown to begin at Charlotte" he said. "It's just great coming to the race track, knowing how great the NAPA Dodge is running - and I don't expect it to change any time soon!"
Unofficial Full Throttle Funny Car standings after the 15th of 16 regular-season races: