Ron Capps Sees This Week's AAA Texas NHRA Nationals As Crucial Race In Championship Hunt

NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car driver Ron Capps heads into this weekend's 26th-annual AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals here at the Texas Motorplex philosophical about the race and the ongoing 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship playoffs.

"It seems this race has always been a pivotal one in the championship picture," reflected the Don Schumacher Racing driver sitting sixth in the standings after the first of six Countdown races. "And this year, I look for it to be pivotal for our NAPA team.

"We didn't do as well as we expected last week in Charlotte (a first-round loss), but, as I've said, you can take a Mulligan in the Countdown if you then go out and start beating the other cars in the playoffs.

"Last week wasn't the start we wanted, for sure as it put us a little bit more behind in the points. If we can't win two or three of the six races in the playoffs, then we don't deserve to be 2011 Full Throttle Champions - I sincerely feel like we can win at least that many - and it would be great to start in Texas."

The California native's optimism is bolstered by recent successes and the performance of the team under the leadership of crew chief Tim Richards.

"We had some gremlins rear their heads in Charlotte, but Tim found them and my NAPA crew did a great job to get the car qualified and into the show," Capps said. "Our struggles in qualifying cost us lane choice for the first round and that turned out to be crucial as the track conditions had changed from qualifying to race day.

"And like zMAX (Dragway outside Charlotte), you don't know what you are going to get at this track. It can be hot, which the forecast calls for now, or it can be cool - we won't know till we go racing. Either way, I'm thrilled I've got an experienced crew chief like Tim, one who can read a track and make the right kind of adjustments to get the job done."

Weekend Schedule:

FRIDAY, September 23 - Nitro qualifying scheduled for 4 and 7 p.m. EDT
SATURDAY, September 24 - Nitro qualifying scheduled for 12:45 and 3:15 p.m. EDT
SUNDAY, September 25 - Pre-race ceremonies 11 a.m. ET; Full Throttle Series eliminations begin at noon ET

Sunday, September 25 -- ESPN2/ESPN2HD will televise one-and-a-quarter hours of qualifying highlights 1:15 - 2:30 a.m. EDT
Sunday, September 25 -- ESPN2/ESPN2HD will televise a one-hour re-broadcast of qualifying highlights 2 - 3 p.m. EDT
Sunday, September 25 -- ESPN2/ESPN2HD will televise three hours of final-eliminations coverage 7 - 10 p.m. ET

Race Facts

Funny Car standings as of the conclusion of the 17-race regular season:

  1. Mike Neff, 2209
  2. Matt Hagan, 2187
  3. Jack Beckman, 2156
  4. Cruz Pedregon, 2113
  5. Robert Hight, 2103
  6. Ron Capps, 2082
  7. Jeff Arend, 2064
  8. John Force, 2063
  9. Bob Tasca III, 2055
  10. Tim Wilkerson, 2052