BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 15, 2009) - Under welcome cool conditions, Ron Capps grabbed the pole position in today's third qualifying session for the 28th annual NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway with a 4.169-second pass at 292.01 mph. Then, following a three-hour rain delay, he relinquished it to Mike Neff, who was the last remaining driver to make a qualifying attempt in that round before the rains hit.

The fourth and final qualifying session was cancelled due to continuing rain showers. Driving the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Funny Car, Capps will begin Sunday's eliminations rounds from second place.

His two other passes produced a 4.710/229.74 (No. 6) and 4.285/277.83 (No. 6). Before Neff's low-qualifying run, Capps would have met up with his teammate and No. 16 qualifier Jack Beckman. Instead, he will face Tim Wilkerson in the opening round.

"Obviously, the conditions came to pretty much all the racers today," said Capps. "Friday was tricky. It was a pretty trying day for the crew chiefs and the crew members. It was so hot and so humid out. They've done such a great job of with this track. Every year we come back here and find the track owners have done something new and it's nice that the conditions cooled off to where we could really show how good the track surface is.

"We were actually trying to run a 4.15. We saw Ashley Force run her 4.17 in front of us. Before that we weren't quite so sure the .15 was going to hold, but once we saw that run we figured we'd leave the car alone and Ace (crew chief Ed McCulloch) did a great job; he made a great call."

Having out-qualified points leader Tony Pedregon today, No. 2-in-points Capps is now just eight markers shy of regaining first place, where he wants to be when the Countdown to 1 playoffs begin after the U.S. Nationals on Labor Day. Earning those 20 bonus points as the class leader entering the Countdown is his goal. "The way the points are at this stage of the season, with three races left before the Coutndown kicks in, every single point counts and so those are valuable points," he said.

-credit: dsr