Houston: Capps reaches quarter finals

BAYTOWN, Texas, Oct. 29, 2000 - Ron Capps had his streak of three straight final round appearances snapped by Bob Gilbertson in the quarterfinals of the Matco Tools SuperNationals at Raceway Park Sunday, but the U.S. Tobacco Co. Funny Car team...

BAYTOWN, Texas, Oct. 29, 2000 - Ron Capps had his streak of three straight final round appearances snapped by Bob Gilbertson in the quarterfinals of the Matco Tools SuperNationals at Raceway Park Sunday, but the U.S. Tobacco Co. Funny Car team was nonetheless quite pleased with the performance of its new Camaro.

Of equal importance was Capps increasing his lead over third-place Jerry Toliver during Sunday's competition.

The crew worked long hours to prepare the new Murf McKinney chassis for this event, beginning in Dallas last weekend when the Fall Nationals was postponed by rain. Capps and Company tested at the Texas Motorplex Monday and Tuesday then came here where they completed the worked Thursday and Friday.

They encountered a problem when the car's data gathering computer didn't work on three of the four qualifying runs while Capps qualified 14th (5.007 seconds at 275 mph). McCulloch resorted to tuning the old-fashioned way - sound, spark plug wear and Capps' feel of the car on the run - going into yesterday's eliminations.

McCulloch's tune-up was right on in the first round against Jim Epler. Capps ran the second quickest time of the round, 4.858 seconds at 310.20 mph to beat Epler's 4.973 at 279.90. Against Gilbertson, Capps was on another 4.80-second run when the car smoked the tires. Gilbertson won with a 4.997 at 305.49 to Capps' 5.456 at 214.89.

"It was actually running as good or better than our .85 in the first round," said Capps. "I think it just overpowered the track. Our goal is still to finish second but at the same time we wanted to bring out the new car."

Capps has 1421 points to Toliver's 1385. John Force, who clinched his 10th championship Sunday, leads with 1756.

Capps will be driving the new car Friday and Saturday at the Motorplex to complete the O'Reilly Fall Nationals. Qualifying Friday is scheduled for 10 a.m., 2 and 6 p.m.

Qualified: No. 14, 5.007 at 275.00 mph. First round: Capps, 4.858 at 310.20 def. Jim Epler; Quarterfinals: Bob Gilbertson def. Capps.

Pro Winners: Top Fuel - Cory McClenathan, Funny Car - Tony Pedregon, Pro Stock - Warren Johnson.

Next event: O'Reilly Fall Nationals, Nov. 3-4, at Dallas.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Warren Johnson , Bob Gilbertson , Jim Epler , Tony Pedregon , Ron Capps , John Force , Cory McClenathan