Ron Capps Looks to Continue Closing Points Gap at This Weekend's NHRA Nationals

NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car driver Ron Capps continues his quest for the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle championship here during this weekend's 27th-annual NHRA Nationals, the half-way point in the Countdown to the Championship.

Last week the Don Schumacher Racing driver shaved 50 points off his deficit to Countdown leader Mike Neff by reaching the final round of the Dallas race. He comes to Maple Grove Raceway outside Reading in fifth place, 67 points - less than four rounds - behind Neff and 35 behind DSR teammate Jack Beckman (for fourth) in the tightening struggle for the title.

"It was great reaching the finals in Dallas," said Capps. "But I think you'll have to win one (of the six) Countdown races to win the championship. The NAPA car is certainly capable of that, as we showed in Sonoma and in reaching the finals in Dallas.

"We learned a lot of things about the NAPA car last week and we should be in very good shape for this weekend's race, one which could be quite exciting. If we get the cool weather predicted, you could see some amazing runs, maybe comparable to Charlotte (where DSR teammate Matt Hagan set the elapsed-time record and recorded the fastest speed for a Funny Car at 1,000 feet). So, we'll have to pull our belts a bit tighter and hang on!

"The potential is there for another E.T. record and that 20-point carrot is out there for everyone. A lot of these cars can do it."

Racing is just one appeal for Capps this weekend.

"This is an unbelievable place, God's country, with the track set in the mountains in Amish country," said the California native. "It's really a beautiful setting.

"It's also the area in which Tim Richards (crew chief) grew up, which just adds to the overall experience."

Weekend Schedule:

FRIDAY, September 30 - Nitro qualifying scheduled for 2:45 and 5:30 p.m. EDT
SATURDAY, October 1 - Nitro qualifying scheduled for noon and 2:45 p.m. EDT
SUNDAY, October 23 - Pre-race ceremonies 10 a.m. ET; Full Throttle Series eliminations begin at 11 a.m. ET

Sunday, October 2 -- ESPN2/ESPN2HD will televise one-and-a-half hours of qualifying highlights 12:30 - 2 a.m. EDT
Sunday, October 2 -- ESPN2/ESPN2HD will televise three hours of final-eliminations coverage 7 - 10 p.m. ET
Wednesday, October 5 -- ESPN/ESPN2HD will re-air an hour and a half of eliminations highlights 4 - 5:30 a.m.

Race Facts

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

  1. Mike Neff, 2245
  2. Matt Hagan, 2241
  3. Cruz Pedregon, 2238
  4. Jack Beckman, 2213
  5. Ron Capps, 2178
  6. Robert Hight, 2138
  7. Bob Tasca III, 2107
  8. Jeff Arend, 2096
  9. John Force, 2096
  10. Tim Wilkerson, 2085