INDIANAPOLIS, August 29, 2011 – Ron Capps drives his NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car - one of the hottest on the circuit - onto the drag strip of Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis this weekend for the 57th-annual U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil looking to improve his position in the driver standings as the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series regular season winds down.
Two final-round appearances, including a win in Sonoma (Calif.), have propelled the Don Schumacher Racing driver into sixth place of the Funny Car rankings, three points out of fifth and 41 out of fourth.
In addition, the California native turned in the third-quickest time in last week's pre-race testing, 4.087 seconds at 306.74 miles per hour, all of which he believes indicates good things for the race.
"This year I'm approaching Indy with a little more incentive than in the past," explained Capps, who has been to four semifinals at the "Big Go." "We have some unfinished business for the regular season and we feel we can move up two spots before the Countdown to the Championship begins (at the season's next race in Charlotte, N.C.).
"In past years, I've gone to Indy with a car I thought could win and at times with one I doubted could qualify; this year I know, thanks to the changes in this NAPA team since Tim Richards came on board as crew chief (Atlanta, 10 races ago), we have a car which can close the deal. But Indy brings out the best in everyone, so it will be a tough battle.
"Our season started when Tim joined the team. We were hanging on in the top 10 by a thread. There are a lot of teams in top five which may have peaked - I've been there - with whatever made them so good in the first part of the season not working now. We're peaking at just the right time as the Countdown (which will include the top-10 drivers after this contest, with points reset, in a six-race playoff) is set to start."
Winning the U.S. Nationals, drag racing's premiere event which begins with a 7 p.m. nitro-qualifying session Friday, carries additional significance for Capps, a historian of the sport.
"I don't want my career as a driver to be complete without an Indy win," he said. "I'm so jealous of those who have won it. I've felt I've deserved it at times, which doesn't mean anything. Indy makes you work at it. All these years, I've come close, had a good car. I have won at Indy (in the all-star shoot out); just haven't brought home a Wally for my mantel.
"And I really think we have a good shot this year. We had a phenomenal test, putting up great numbers in the heat of the day. Tim didn't go for an ego shot in testing, but wanted to get ready for this race and for the next three or four. As usual, he just made some unbelievable decisions, like the ones which have gotten us this far and should take us even farther as the year goes on."
The top-10 drivers at the conclusion of the 16-race regular season qualify for the Countdown to 1, with the points reset for the playoffs. The number-one driver gets a 20-point cushion on number two, with each subsequent participant separated by 10 points.
FRIDAY, September 2 - Full Throttle series nitro qualifying 7 p.m. ET
SATURDAY, September 3 - Full Throttle series nitro qualifying 4 and 7 p.m. ET
SUNDAY, September 4 - Full Throttle series nitro qualifying noon and 3 p.m. ET
MONDAY, September 5 - Pre-race ceremonies 9:30 a.m. ET; Full Throttle Series eliminations begin at 11 a.m. ET
Sunday, September 4 -- ESPN2/ESPN2HD will televise three hours of qualifying highlights 11 a. m. - 2 p.m. ET
Sunday, September 4 -- ESPN2/ESPN2HD will televise two hours of qualifying highlights 5 - 7 p.m. ET
Monday, September 5 - ESPN2/ESPN2HD will televise six hours of final eliminations coverage noon - 6 p.m. ET
Full Throttle Funny Car standings after 13 of 16 regular-season races: