The odds are long for Ron Capps, sitting in sixth place and four rounds behind the leader, but the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car driver just wants the chance to contest for the title during final eliminations here Sunday of the 47th-annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals.
“It’s not over yet, despite what it looks like,” explained Capps who trails leader and Don Schumacher teammate Matt Hagan by 71 points, with DSR driver Jack Beckman, Cruz Pedregon, Mike Neff and Robert Hight also in front of him. “We’ve all seen and heard stories about guys coming back to win on the last day, like Tony Schumacher’s “run” in 2006 (had to win the race, set a national record and get some help to overcome a major points deficit). I’ve been on the wrong side in situations like these three times.”
According to the California native, trailing in the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship standings greatly reduces the pressure for this final race of the 2011 season at the historic Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
“Pressure is incredible on the leaders; they can’t afford to make any mistakes,” he said. “You’ll see guys make mistakes during the Countdown, lose on red lights for example, who never do things like that at other times. I don’t feel any pressure because we’re coming from behind and nobody expects anything from us.
“We’ll start on Thursday (first qualifying session) trying to gather as many of the small (qualifying) points as we can to be in the best position for Sunday (race day).”
A wire-to-wire winner at the last race (qualifying first and winning the event) in Las Vegas, Capps sees the season winding down on a bittersweet note.
“I knew when Tim Richards (crew chief added in midyear) came on board, good things would happen,” explained the veteran driver with two wins under Richards’s direction. “I can’t praise his talent enough. He’s the kind of crew chief you want to go into battle with each Sunday. He is not afraid to go after it and, if the conditions are right, take a swing at a record run.
“That last round in Vegas, a 4.10, was Tim Richards’s style. Not only won’t we beat ourselves, the other guys are going to have to beat us.
“So I’m heading into Pomona very ‘up,’ probably more so than I’ve been in a long time. We still have a chance. Like Tim says, we’ll concentrate round by round, not looking beyond what is in front of us.”
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