CHANDLER, Ariz., October 10, 2011 – Ron Capps brings his NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car to Firebird International Raceway here for this weekend's 27th-annual NHRA Arizona Nationals looking for renewed success under the Arizona sun and to mount a charge during the Countdown to the Championship.
Two wins in five final rounds, including a 2009 winner's-circle visit, along with a "new" car, helps fuel the Don Schumacher Racing driver's optimism.
"We're going to a place where we've had success in the past and hope to see it continue," said the native Californian. "And we're going with a new chassis, a new front half, which we think will really make a difference for the NAPA hot rod."
"I'm excited about what Tim Richards (crew chief) can do with this car - I think we'll see a return to the top three in qualifying and look forward to this race and the last two of the year."
Despite past successes, Capps is quick to point out there are a number of factors making this Firebird race different from past ones.
"It's a different time of the year (normally a winter event) and part of the Countdown," he said. "In addition, it's supposed to be very hot this weekend, which is a challenge for all crew chiefs. I'm lucky to have someone with the experience of Tim, which I think makes a real difference on a hot track."
"Several of the cars in front of us in the Countdown are very good in cool conditions; Tim has shown we are good in the heat, so I am looking forward to the race."
"We are also racing on a track completely redone since the last event. Again, Tim's experience should help us tremendously."
Capps sits sixth in the standings, 90 points behind Countdown DSR teammate Matt Hagan.
"We can't approach this race like its 'do or die,'" he remarked. "Tim knows how to approach each run, knowing we need to pick up a couple of rounds at each race on the guys in front of us. We need a weekend like Dallas (where, despite the challenging heat, Capps picked up 50 points on the then leader, Mike Neff).
"And I hear we'll have heat like Dallas which seems to warrant a crew chief able to get a car down a tricky track and I have one in Tim Richards."
FRIDAY, October 14 - Full Throttle nitro qualifying 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. EDT
SATURDAY, October 15 - Full Throttle nitro qualifying 9 and 11:30 a.m. EDT
SUNDAY, October 16 - Pre-race ceremonies 7 a.m. ET; Full Throttle Series eliminations begin at 8 a.m. ET
Saturday, October 15 -- ESPN2/ESPN2HD will televise one-and-a-half hours of qualifying highlights 10:30 - midnight EDT
Sunday, October 16 -- ESPN2/ESPN2HD will televise three hours of final-eliminations coverage 7 - 10 p.m. EDT
Thursday, October 20 -- ESPN/ESPN2HD will re-air an hour and a half of eliminations highlights 3 - 4:30 a.m. EDT
Funny Car standings following 19 of 22 races; three of six in the Countdown to the Championship: