CONCORD, N.C., September 18, 2011 – A left-lane issue contributed to an early exit today for Ron Capps in his NAPA AUTO PARTS "Great Breaks on Great Brakes" Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car from the NHRA Nationals here at zMAX Dragway.
"We didn't know how important lane choice would be in this race until today," explained the Don Schumacher Racing driver who lost a first-round race to Jeff Arend when he smoked the tires. "We had to try and get through a bald spot in the track, but it didn't work out. Even if we had tuned it for the track issues, we wouldn't have had enough to beat Jeff.
"But we put ourselves in this position by not getting lane choice for the opening round."
DSR teammate Matt Hagan was the eventual race winner, defeating points leader Mike Neff in today's final round.
The native Californian was disappointed by today's outcome, but remains optimistic about the next five races in the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship. Today's performance may have dropped him one place, to sixth in the standings, but with the points being so tight, changes can happen quickly.
"You can take a Mulligan in the Countdown," he explained. "But, then it all depends on who you run and what cars race each other. For example, if you take on and defeat playoff cars, you can make up positions quickly.
"The best thing is we're going right to Dallas (next weekend for the 26th-annual AAA Texas NHRA Nationals, second race in the Countdown). I feel we can make up ground in Texas - after all, it's a track where we've won before."
According to Capps, his optimism for next week is reinforced because the gremlins which affected the car during qualifying for this race have been solved.
"Tim (Richards, crew chief) and the guys showed their best NAPA Know How figuring out what was wrong Friday and got the NAPA Funny Car into the field," he said. "We had struggled, but we got through it and will continue to be a factor in this competition."
Unofficial Full Throttle Funny Car standings after the 17th of 22 regular-season races: