Memphis; Capps eyes Second

CAPPS, U.S. TOBACCO CO. FUNNY CAR TEAM TAKE QUEST FOR SECOND PLACE IN POINTS, FIRST WIN OF SEASON TO MEMPHIS MEMPHIS, Oct. 3, 2000 - In 19 races this year, Ron Capps has tripled his number of round wins he had in all of 1999. He's been to six...

CAPPS, U.S. TOBACCO CO. FUNNY CAR TEAM TAKE QUEST FOR SECOND PLACE IN POINTS, FIRST WIN OF SEASON TO MEMPHIS

MEMPHIS, Oct. 3, 2000 - In 19 races this year, Ron Capps has tripled his number of round wins he had in all of 1999.

He's been to six final rounds and registered Funny Car's quickest time of this first 90-percent nitromethane campaign (4.811 seconds). About the only thing he hasn't done is win one of those final rounds.

If you thought Capps and the U.S. Tobacco Co. Camaro Funny Car team were upset or ashamed of the fact they're 0-6 this year, you'd be wrong.

"This has been an exciting year," says Capps. "This was supposed to be a building year for us. Snake (team owner Don "The Snake" Prudhomme) hired Ace (Ed "Ace" McCulloch) as the crew chief and this is his first year tuning a Funny Car. We are pleased to be doing as well as we are."

That does not mean this team is ambivalent about winning. They want to end a winless streak that stretches to October 1998. And they'll be working hard to do so during the AutoZone Nationals, Friday through Sunday at Memphis Motorsports Park.

"It's very frustrating to be in as many final rounds and not be able to win," Capps said. "You have to realize that being in the final round is a pretty big achievement with the talent we have in Funny Car right now. If we keep getting to the finals, sooner or later we're going to win one."

There is one area, however, where Capps and Company will accept second place - the final NHRA Winston Series standings. The 33 round wins Capps already has in Y2K are 22 more than he earned in all 23 races in 1999 and they have him challenging Jerry Toliver for the No. 2 position behind John Force. Capps has 1264 points to 1319 for Toliver.

"We've set a goal to try and finish second. It's exciting to be able to finish the year as strong as we are," added Capps, who has been runner-up at the last two events (Reading, Pa., Sept. 17 and Topeka, Oct. 1).

"We feel good about it.  Our car is running good and our U.S. Tobacco Co.  crew has been
working hard.  The guys have worked harder than they did last year, but it's worth it to be
able to go rounds like we have been.  We hope that continues at Memphis."

With McCulloch fine-tuning the car, Capps qualified third (4.905 seconds) at Topeka and followed with three straight 4.90-second runs to advance to the final round, where he met Force.

As things turned out, Capps needed to run quicker than his 4.938 time in the semifinal win over Del Worsham because Force ran 4.923 in beating Toliver and had lane choice for the title round.

Capps had been in the left lane all day and the right lane was not the lane of choice. Capps' car smoked the tires against Force, sending him to his fourth 2000 final-round loss to the nine-time Funny Car champion.

In three outings at Memphis Motorsports Park, Capps' best effort is a semifinal finish in 1997. He may be best remembered for his huge wheelstand during qualifying in 1998. The Camaro was almost perpendicular to the track before in came crashing down on its front wheels.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Del Worsham , Ron Capps , John Force , Jerry Toliver