Weather a Factor as Ron Capps Drops First-Round Race in 27th-Annual NHRA Nationals

Fighting a combination of the coldest weather conditions encountered during the entire 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season and the quickest driver in the session, NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Ron Capps lost a first-round contest Sunday in the 27th-annual NHRA Nationals here at Maple Grove Raceway.

Coming out of the number-six starting spot, the Don Schumacher Racing driver ran a solid 4.115-second lap at 313.22 miles per hour, but it was not enough to reel in unlikely 11th-qualifier Robert Hight, who went 4.041 at 317.42 mph, and was the eventual race winner.

"You don't increase your chances of victory, regardless of qualifying position, when you take on Jimmy Prock (Hight's crew chief) in the first round," explained a disappointed Capps. "On top of the match up, we were faced with very tricky track and weather conditions. This was unchartered waters for Tim (Richards, crew chief) having to tune a Funny Car for weather this cold (air and track temperatures in the low 60s). We had no relevant data for conditions like that here or anywhere.

"But I'd take Tim's experience for my guidance every time!"

The loss allowed Hight to pass Capps in the Countdown to the Championship standings. The NAPA pilot is now in sixth place, 90 points off the leader, DSR teammate Matt Hagan, with three races left in the season.

"It was an intriguing race," said the Californian. "We missed an opportunity to make a move in the points. We'll just have to go out and win some races - maybe three."

Capps heads West for the 27th-annual Arizona NHRA Nationals October 14-16 at Firebird International Raceway outside Phoenix with heightened optimism fueled by a new NAPA Funny Car.

"I'm really excited about seeing what Tim can do with a new car," he said. "We don't know what to expect at the track - it could be warm, it could be cool - and we'll have a new car, which is why I love having an experienced crew chief like Tim Richards."

Race Facts

Unofficial Full Throttle Funny Car standings after the 19th of 22 regular-season races:

  1. Mike Neff, 2303
  2. Matt Hagan, 2301
  3. Cruz Pedregon, 2271
  4. Jack Beckman, 2248
  5. Robert Hight, 2231
  6. Ron Capps, 2213
  7. Bob Tasca III, 2179
  8. Jeff Arend, 2168
  9. John Force, 2136
  10. Tim Wilkerson, 2122