Don Prudhomme Racing Report
Las Vegas - Even though Ron Capps and the U.S. Tobacco Co. Funny Car team didn't find much luck at the inaugural SummitRacing.com Nationals at the new Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend, they still managed to leave here with a good grip on fourth place and a chance to move up this week at Baytown, Texas.
The good things coming from this fourth of 23 NHRA Winston Series events were:
-- Capps experienced his first fire this year without any damage to the car's Camaro body;
-- He qualified sixth with a 5.005-second run, shutting off the engine before the finish line;
-- Pedaled the throttle en route to a first-round win over Bruce Sarver.
In his second-round match against Dean Skuza, however, the "motor just quit after I pedaled it and Skuza passed me," Capps said.
The results send Capps into the O'Reilly Nationals Friday with 271 points, 16 behind third-place John Force and 36 behind second-place Tony Pedregon. He trails leader Jerry Toliver by 87 points.
"We were a little out of sync on our Friday (qualifying) runs," said Capps, "and that's never a good thing to do. You have to dig yourself out of a hole when that happens."
Capps was on a good qualifying run Friday when the engine broke and the engine's oil caught fire. He brought the car to a stop, then got out and lifted the body so the NHRA safety safari could douse the remaining flames.
"We fought through a lot of adversity all weekend but my guys did a great job," said Capps. "They put the car back together after the fire and we ran the 5.005 on the next run, but we just didn't have a good weekend. We'll be ready to go by the time we get to Houston."
Qualified: Sixth, 5.005 seconds at 288.83 mph.
First round: Capps, 5.506 at 277.43 mph def. Bruce Sarver; Quarterfinals: Dean Skuza, 5.053 at 294.69 def. Capps.
Pro winners: Kenny Bernstein, Top Fuel; Jim Epler, Funny Car; Jeg Coughlin Jr., Pro Stock
Next Event: O'Reilly Nationals, Baytown Texas, April 14-16.
TV Schedule: The Nashville Network, 4:30-6 p.m. (ET and PT)