WINSTON SHOWDOWN: CAPPS, IN CAMARO FUNNY CAR, TAKES RUNNER-UP AGAINST TOP FUEL DRAGSTER
RON CAPPS, U.S. TOBACCO CAMARO Z28, carried the torch for the Funny Car contingent, as he advanced through four rounds of eliminations to reach the final round in an ideal match-up for the Winston Showdown concept -- Funny Car vs. Top Fuel Dragster.
Capps was snookered at the Christmas Tree when Cory McClenathan launched with a near-perfect .412 reaction time (.400 is perfect) to Capps' .456. When you add the .28 handicap put on the Dragsters, Cory's light was a .440. That, coupled with a 4.852-second pass at 291.32 mph, was all it took to win against Capps' 5.168/275.28.
Capps defeated Mike Dunn (TFD), Frank Pedregon (FC), Bob Vandergriff (TFD) and defending Winston Champion Tony Schumacher (TFD) to reach the final round. Capps vs. F. Pedregon in the second stanza was the only FC vs. FC match-up in that round. His 4.940/297.75/.486 R/T win gave him lane choice against Vandergriff in the third round. Capps won that duel by .052 of a second (5.065/286.13/.477 R/T for Capps; 4.865/295.08/.449 R/T for Vandergriff).
In the semifinal Capps benefited when Schumacher smoked the tires, allowing Capps to cruise to a 5.050/288.64/.482 R/T win over Schumacher's 7.165/112.75/.453 R/T.
CAPPS: "We didn't have lane choice. The left lane is a tad better. In the semifinals we spun the tires and put a couple of cylinders out, and we lost lane choice by a couple of thousandths (of a second) to Cory. It was an uphill battle there. It started spinning again. You're trying to focus on what you're doing and looking out the window for the other car. It started spinning even harder and then I saw his nose through the side window. I knew it was over. It's good for those guys to get a win. They struggled a lot. I know what it's like. It's nice to see these guys win." DOES THIS GIVE YOU MOMENTUM FOR NEXT WEEK'S RACE? "That's the key. We qualified No. 1, won $10,000 for low qualifier, $50,000 for runner-up; it's a good payday. We're trying to fight ourselves back into the Winston points chase. We're there. It's a good springboard for heading into Denver. The Camaro's running great; I couldn't be happier." ON THE EVENT: "I think Winston is doing a great job of making it as even as possible. I could have given them a better race. I think the Dragsters are going off our sound. Cory had a .412 light. They were having killer lights all day long. It's an advantage for them; maybe it's not enough." DID YOU HAVE FUN? "Yes, it was fun. Beating Tony Schumacher was cool. That's a great team. He's a great driver, obviously. He won the championship last year. I almost lost my voice at the other end celebrating that one."
JIM EPLER, WWF RACING 'BIG RED MACHINE' CAMARO Z28, was defeated in the second round by Gary Scelzi's Top Fuel Dragster, 7.578/112.77 for Epler, 4.714/300.53 for Scelzi. This was Jim's first appearance in the Winston Showdown.
EPLER: "We were doing a little bit of testing, but we're mainly looking at the points events. Of course, we want to win every race we can. We are working on the Denver setup here and we would like to leave here with something we know would work in Denver. Points are the big goal. We appreciate everything that Winston and Bruton (Smith, track owner) are doing, and we just look forward to continuing to lead the NHRA points (Jerry Toliver, Jim's WWF Racing teammate) and try to keep both of us in the top three. Jerry and I ran a match race at St. James Dragway in London, Ontario, Canada, last week. I want you to know that I won all three." WHERE IS TOLIVER'S WWF RACING CAMARO FUNNY CAR BODY (in which Jerry won two races this year)? "'The Rock' is at the WWF New York Restaurant in Times Square. It's on display, right above the bar. They're starting to do some live broadcasts from the restaurant in every show. I saw it on 'Raw' a couple of weeks ago. It's not just all the Times Square people who'll see the Camaro; it's also nice to have it in the background on the live broadcasts."
BOB GILBERTSON, TRICK TANK CAMARO Z28 FUNNY CAR, lost in the first round, but was reinstated as the quickest "loser" in the second round. He advanced to the third round by defeating Doug Herbert's Top Fuel Dragster, then was eliminated by Cory McClenathan's Dragster (5.346/227.08 for Bob, 4.702/301.13 for Cory). Bob has won only one Funny Car pro title in his career, in Houston this year.
GILBERTSON: "It feels cool. I don't know how to really explain it other than we are very happy to get back in (to the running). We're very happy to beat Doug Herbert. We had this 5-disc clutch in this Camaro this whole weekend, for the first time. This is not the track to put a lot of clutch to it. Obviously, that's where we screwed up." DID YOU EXPECT TO DO WELL HERE? "I didn't expect that we would do as well as we did. We had a little bit of luck when Doug smoked his tires. We smoked our tires also a little bit. We have never been down this track without smoking the tires this weekend." DID YOU ENJOY THE EXPERIENCE? "It was fun. I had a lot of people here, family, friends, because we are close to Charlotte. We had a good time. Everybody got to enjoy seeing us winning rounds and seeing what goes on between rounds. They've only gone to Atlanta and here. They missed out on Houston. They did have a party at the house listening to the race over the internet."
PRO STOCK: ALL CAMAROS OUT IN SECOND ROUND
KURT JOHNSON, ACDELCO CAMARO Z28, was eliminated in the first round by Jim Yates, 7.152/195.31 for Kurt, 7.130/192.77 for Yates.
V.GAINES, WESTERN MOTORSPORTS CAMARO Z28, lost to Ron Krisher; RICKIE SMITH, BUCKS COUNTY KAWASAKI CAMARO Z28, was defeated by Troy Coughlin, and KENNY KORETSKY, in the Other Bucks County Camaro, was dismissed by Mark Pawuk.
KURT: "My car was acting strange; stranger than normal. We changed some suspension stuff this morning and we should have been really close, but it just shook in second gear and ran a 7.15 and was beat by a 7.13." WERE YOU TESTING HERE? "We took it seriously, but we were also testing stuff that needed to be tested at a national event, with no points involved. We had a different setup that we brought here; nothing really out of left field, just something that was really close that we felt the Camaro would like. We qualified third, we were not doing too bad. It didn't like going down the right lane, so we decided to put the setup back the way it runs good. But it was over-clutched. It spun, shook. We knew it wold be over-clutched a little bit, but it should have gone down the track, but obviously it was borderline, but we were on the wrong side of the borderline." DID YOU LEARN ANYTHING? "Definitely. We are going to run probably tomorrow or Tuesday in Atlanta before Denver. We'll put a few runs in and get back to the basics. We know what this car likes and we'll put it back that way. We were trying to run faster. (Ron) Krisher is the fastest; we are the second fastest. We'll try to catch up. Testing in the middle of the season is hard to do. You don't go faster if you don't test."