Ron Capps hopes his holiday in Northern California's Napa Valley continues Sunday, and he gets to repeat a celebratory scene in winner's circle at the raceway in Sonoma for the third straight year.
The week has been filled with family vacation time and a party for his daughter Taylor's 16th birthday.
Qualifying third in the NHRA Sonoma Nationals in his NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car was enhanced by clinching a spot Saturday in the Countdown to the Championship in the 14th event of the 23-race NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series schedule.
The Countdown is conducted over the last six events of the season, but it's comforting to know that the No. 2-ranked team in the series already has that wrapped up.
Now, it's just about winning races for Don Schumacher Racing.
And winning in front of family and friends from where he grew up in Northern California almost had Capps giddy after producing the second quickest time of Saturday's final qualifying session with a run of 4.135 seconds at 304.40 mph in the heat of the afternoon.
It wasn't close to his 4.046-second run on Friday, but conditions for today's championship eliminations will be closer to what the NAPA team and crew chief Rahn Tobler encountered Saturday.
"Rahn probably isn't that pleased with our runs Saturday," Capps said. "I think he wanted to run a little quicker, especially in the heat. We tested the track in Saturday's first session but it pulled the tires loose. That gave us a good indication of what we will need to do tomorrow.
"Overall we made good runs, and it's been a consistent car like it always has been. Rahn continually shows the NAPA know-how that he has for years. He's been going down these tricky tracks for a long time," he continued. "It was just nice to go out there on the last qualifying run and lay down a run like that. The key will be to try to pull power back, but still be able to run high speeds. Rahn can make big power for big speed, but it's a tricky situation."
Tobler showed that Friday when he tuned Capps to a track-record speed of 317.57 mph.
"People have to remember that we are at sea level and these engines want to make so much power; it's not like last week when we were in thinner air at mile-high altitude.
"This track has been good to me in the past, but you have to show up with your A-game on Sunday because the track is going to be hot.
"It will be fun tomorrow ... a lot of fun."
Source: Don Schumacher Racing