ENNIS, TEXAS, September 25, 2011 – Ron Capps drove the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car into the final round of today's 26th-annual AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals here at the Texas Motorplex and closed the gap in his pursuit of the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle championship.
The final-round appearance brought the Don Schumacher Racing driver to within 67 points - less than four rounds - of the leader in the Countdown to the Championship.
"It was a good weekend," recapped the California native who came into the event 117 behind leader Mike Neff. "We gained a lot of points and we are definitely in competition for the championship.
"I love my teammates from Monday through Friday morning, but from Friday afternoon until Sunday night, these are some of the guys we need to beat (as DSR teammates Jack Beckman and Matt Hagan, as well as today's winner, Cruz Pedregon, stand between Capps and the top driver in the standings).
Coming out of the seventh-qualifying spot, Capps defeated Tony Pedregon with a solid run, under the scorching Texas sun, of 4.178-seconds at 305.70 miles per hour. In round two, he took out DSR teammate Johnny Gray on a 4.228 run at 310.20 mph to set up a historic semifinal - the first eliminations race against younger brother Jon.
"It was a lot of fun running Jon, but I almost lost that one," he said about the "pedal fest" where he had to fight the car to keep it off the wall. "It was a wild race and I almost gave it away. Unfortunately, we lost lane choice for the finals against Cruz.
"In the finals, the track might have been a bit better than we figured, but it really didn't matter because Cruz had a great run and I don't think we could have beaten him (from the right lane).
"Tim (Richards, crew chief) and my NAPA Know How guys did a great job all weekend battling these tough conditions and figuring out how to get the job done."
Capps heads into next weekend's 27th annual NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway in rural Pennsylvania, third of six Countdown races, optimistic about his chances as well as about some great racing.
"Reading could be like Charlotte (last weekend's race which saw record speed and elapsed-time runs)," he said. "We're going to a great track in a great place. Tim Richards grew up in that area and I'm pretty pumped up going there with him; he's done such a great job with this NAPA car and team since coming on board about half way through the season."
Unofficial Full Throttle Funny Car standings after the 17th of 22 regular-season races: