Brainerd: Epler moves on; Capps, Bazemore out

ELIMINATIONS: CAPPS OUT IN SECOND ROUND; BAZEMORE GONE IN FIRST No. 1 qualifier RON CAPPS, U.S. TOBACCO CO. CAMARO Z28, advanced to the second round after defeating Gary Densham in a single run in the first. Densham's car broke at the line and...

ELIMINATIONS: CAPPS OUT IN SECOND ROUND; BAZEMORE GONE IN FIRST

No. 1 qualifier RON CAPPS, U.S. TOBACCO CO. CAMARO Z28, advanced to the second round after defeating Gary Densham in a single run in the first. Densham's car broke at the line and was pushed out of contention. Capps smoked the tires for the first time all weekend and slowed to a 9.961/81.58 pass. The second round was a repeat performance when Capps faced JIM EPLER, WWF RACING 'BIG RED MACHINE' CAMARO Z28. Once again he smoked the tires, and so did Epler. It was a tire-smoking, fire-belching, pedaling match to the finish line, with Epler taking the win with a 6.394/215.75 pass to Capps. 7.015/146.04.

CAPPS: THAT WAS UGLY: "It sure was. It was a disappointing end to a great weekend. I set the track record and we ran so good. Something changed in the car in the first round. I had to shut it down because it smoked the tires. Had the same thing happen in the second round; it smoked the tires at about a second (into the run). It broke the tires loose and at that point you are at the mercy of trying to get the tires to hook up again. What made it harder was that I could see Epler out my side window and he was having the same problem. His car went a little further before it smoked the tires so he had more momentum going. I grabbed the brake a few times to stop the tires from spinning. The Camaro was completely sideways heading for the centerline. I had to wait an instant for the car to straighten out. I had to grab the brake again and steer it away from the centerline. I was starting to gain momentum on him because it started to hook up, but then the motor gave up. I hit the fire bottles and it lit up around my feet for a little while, and then it went away. We seem to have a little damage on the right front fender of the Camaro body. It cracked the body. We have a week and a half to work on it and have it ready, so it shouldn't be a problem."

No. 6 qualifier WHIT BAZEMORE, KENDALL OIL/MATCO TOOLS CAMARO Z28, was eliminated in the first round by No. 11 qualifier BOB GILBERTSON, TRICK TANK CAMARO Z28: 6.752/131.05 for Whit, 4.973/302.69 for Bob. Gilbertson was then ousted in the second round by John Force.

BAZEMORE: "It shook the tires and I pedaled it. It recovered for a moment, and then it blew them off again. It's really frustrating because the situation is that the window of tunability is really kind of small now. We have got to make the car very forgiving. It is not forgiving. If we are off on the tune-up just a little bit either way we don't go down the track. It's an all-or-nothing situation. When we have it right the Camaro is a rocket; the rest of the time it smokes the tires and doesn't go down the track. Hopefully we will get to the point where we can have some performance with some consistency. Maybe once we have the consistency we can work it back to a higher level of performance. We're going to Indy to test tomorrow and this will be Terry's (Manzer, crew chief) first opportunity to test with this team. I'm looking forward to that. We should learn a lot about this Camaro in a no-pressure situation and hopefully we can make some inroads, so that we can be competitive at the U.S. Nationals. I really want to win Indy. I started thinking about Indy a couple of races ago. You go to bed at night and you are thinking about Indy. There are a lot of guys that have won Indy once. To win it again would be really special, especially this year in light of all the problems we've had." Note: Whit won the U.S. Nationals in 1997.

UPDATE: JIM EPLER continued to advance. He defeated Dean Skuza in the semifinals and will face John Force in the final round for the fifth time in his career. Epler's record against John Force is 3-16. He's been beaten by Force 12 straight times.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Dean Skuza , John Force , Gary Densham