INDIANAPOLIS, September 5, 2011 – Ron Capps, driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car, combined qualifying points and a third-round appearance today at the 57th-annual U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil here to gain the fifth seed for the upcoming Countdown to the Championship playoffs.
The native Californian came to Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis sixth in the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car standings last Friday trailing his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Matt Hagan by three points for the fifth spot.
"We came here to win the race, to win Indy," explained a disappointed Capps at the end of the premier event on the schedule. "We had some small goals for the weekend - like catching our teammate Matt and then catching Cruz (Pedregon for fourth) - and if we accomplished them, we thought we would be there with a chance to win the race.
"Well we went around Matt, but came up short at the other goals. Not winning Indy - this one hurt. I felt we had the car to beat."
Coming from the third-qualifying position on the strength of 4.069-second pass at a (then) track-record 314.31 miles per hour, set up a final-eliminations first-round match with Jim Head. Capps topped Head with a 4.118-second lap at 309.20 mph and followed up with a 4.095-second run at 309.91 mph to defeat Daniel Wilkerson in the quarterfinals.
The third-round brought Bob Tasca III in the other lane, but a mechanical issue at the start ended Capps's day.
"We lost a cylinder at the hit and it pulled me right up to the wall," explained Capps. "I stayed on the gas because this was Indy and I didn't see where Bob was - I wasn't getting off the throttle until I crossed the finish line (in case Tasca had also had problems). I never saw Bob the whole way down the track.
"We're not sure why we dropped the hole, because the car had been flawless. My NAPA Know How crew keeps giving me a perfectly setup race car - a really bad hot rod. We'll find out what happened and we'll be ready for Charlotte."
Capps will head to zMax Dragway for the September 15-18 fourth-annual NHRA Nationals and the start of the Countdown. Fifth seed translates into a 60-point (three- round) deficit from points-leader Mike Neff, who won today's race.
"The way I feel about this car and how Tim Richards (crew chief) is working, I can't wait to get to Charlotte - I wish we were going there tomorrow," he said. "I've always wished I had a car like this. The confidence is there - we can't wait to get the Countdown started!"
Unofficial Full Throttle Funny Car standings after the 15th of 16 regular-season races: