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Keeping Pace

Capps in need of maximum points day at Las Vegas Nationals

Ron Capps, driver of the NAPA Auto Parts Dodge NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car, jets down the strip. (Photo courtesy of NHRA) (The Spokesman-Review)
Ron Capps, driver of the NAPA Auto Parts Dodge NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car, jets down the strip. (Photo courtesy of NHRA) (The Spokesman-Review)

Ron Capps trails first place Robert Hight by 43 points heading into this weekend's event in Las Vegas with just two national events to go in the 2009 chase for the NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car championship.

Courtesy: NHRA Media Relations

Las Vegas, NV-Only two races remain in the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series before a Funny Car champion is named. For Ron Capps, driver of the NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Funny Car, every point earned at this weekend's NHRA Las Vegas Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway will be vital if he's to have a chance at claiming his first Funny Car crown.

Just 63 points out of first place (Robert Hight), fourth-place Capps and the NAPA team are ready for the challenge at this weekend's penultimate season event as the winners of the spring race at The Strip earlier this year.

"I'm not sure it gives us an edge," said Capps, class-best five-time national event titlist this year, "but you always feel comfortable going to a place you've done well at. Right now, more than anything, we have to focus on just doing the best we can, and try to collect every point we can."

Points are awarded to the top three in each of the four qualifying sessions in a weekend (three, two, one points, respectively), in addition to the regular qualifying points earned. Twenty points are available for each eliminations round-win, and added to the Countdown to 1 playoffs this year is the opportunity to garner an additional 20 points for setting a national elapsed-time record racing to 1,000 feet (with a one-percent backup). Capps holds the existing record of 4.023 seconds.

"We've always done well in Vegas," added Capps, who has two wins and two runner-ups at The Strip. "Last year, with two races left at the end of the year, we didn't do so well there, but we did go to the final round in Pomona. This year, we won the first race in Vegas.

"Having to do well at these last two races raises everybody's attention to detail, including the crew members, crew chiefs, and drivers. The biggest thing that we're hoping for, and it's ironic because we're going to Vegas, is that the odds of somebody dismissing the people in front of us in eliminations and our taking advantage of it will work in our favor. Going to the final round and facing somebody who is not in front of us in points is how we're going to gain ground.

"We could focus on all the points and get excited, but the bottom line is, if we don't go to the final round ourselves, we’re not going to have a chance in Pomona. So, we have to do the best we can in situations that are in our control and hope that the odds are in our favor that somebody is able to beat either Robert [Hight], Ashley [Force Hood], or Tony [Pedregon] in front of us."

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Keeping Pace

Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.