CHEVROLET NOTES AND QUOTES National Time Trials (NHRA drag-racing) Firebird International Raceway Sunday, Jan. 16, 2000 The final pairing of Funny Cars after three days of testing saw Chevrolet Camaro Z28s side-by-side as Ron Capps and Whit ...
CHEVROLET NOTES AND QUOTES National Time Trials (NHRA drag-racing) Firebird International Raceway Sunday, Jan. 16, 2000
The final pairing of Funny Cars after three days of testing saw Chevrolet Camaro Z28s side-by-side as Ron Capps and Whit Bazemore went head to head as the sun set over the distant mountains in the Valley of the Sun. Bazemore's Kendall Oil/Superwinch Camaro hazed the tires at the finish line, slowing him to a 5.295-second lap at 211.79 mph, while Capps posted the weekend's quickest and fastest run of 5.017 seconds at 292.96 mph in his U.S. Tobacco Co. Camaro.
Bazemore, in the previous session on Sunday, made it down the track with a 5.13-second lap at 251.20 mph, for his best, although not the straightest, attempt of the weekend.
Teams struggled to get down the track most of the weekend, with Scotty Cannon, in his Camaro-bodied Funny Car, the only car making consistent laps early on. His elapsed times were mainly in the 5.2s with one 5.12-second lap to his credit. Jerry Toliver also showed up in a Camaro-bodied Funny Car, posting a 5.48-second lap.
RON CAPPS: "It's been tough because of course you have the new nitro rules and the new Goodyear tires that they came up with. We had two variables that we were trying to work through. After the weekend we had in Pomona in '99, being the No. 1 qualifier, I feel great. Working with "Ace" (Ed McCulloch) at the last race I knew watching him that weekend how he operated and I knew we were going to have a great year in 2000. And he's been real calm about the fact that 98% of the cars trying to get down the track here were shaking the tires in the same spot. It has been a major accomplishment just to get through that spot where it had been shaking. It's like winning a race just getting past that point. The run before that it blew a blower belt and took an oil line with it and put oil on the track. We missed a good run. We went back up there and Ace told me it was getting dark and if the Camaro gets through that spot where it had been shaking and it feels good that I should take it to the finish line. It was getting dark here and I couldn't see the finish line. I could kind of see where it was but I didn't want to run past it and hurt any parts on the car, so I clicked it off early. It would have been a 4-second run at 300 mph, but we were happy with what we had. It's nice to put the Camaro on the top of the list for best e.t. of the weekend. We are going to stay a couple of days and get in what we need to. We have another 2000 Camaro that's being painted right now. We need to build up our arsenal for the season to start, instead of spending too much time here and getting the guys too tired. I couldn¹t wait for the new season to start at the end of '99. Everything now starts from zero."
WERE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT THE NEW RULES? "No, not at all -- because everybody has to race with the same rules. If anything it would help everybody else catch up with (John) Force and his team. Force has had a stronghold on the class for so long this will kind of help everyone catch up a little bit. The way I look at it is we have three great guys in our camp. When you have rules changes like that and you have guys like Dick LaHaie and Ed McCulloch -- who are not only good crew chiefs but two of the best drivers that have raced in drag racing -- as well as Don Prudhomme, and you have to kind of start over, I feel we have an advantage over most of the other teams."
WHIT BAZEMORE: "We made three runs. We were slow to start. Tim (Richards, co-crew chief with Kim Richards) is very particular and an absolute perfectionist. Our Kendall Oil Camaro has a lot of new technology. We weren't ready to run right away. When we were ready we ran. That's one reason this team is successful is because it's prepared. So our second run was a good run and our third run was still a good run but we did smoke the tires. But, it's testing and we have a lot fewer runs than a lot of our competitors, so I think the Camaro is going to be very competitive. We feel very good about where we are and where we are going. And the fact is we plan to do a lot of testing. I'm sure before Pomona we will have made 20 runs, maybe 30 as many as it takes for the team to feel like we can go to the first race and be instantly competitive."
ON THE NEW CHASSIS: "It's identical to the chassis we ran last year or almost identical. Nothing is really new there, but there is some new technology on the Camaro as far as the management systems are concerned; the computer is different. Because of the new rules there are a lot of new things that are going to be different from last year, so we are not starting off where we were. We are starting off with a clean sheet of paper. For that reason it takes more time to get knowledgeable about the car, and to know what the car wants and what it doesn't want."
WERE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT THE NEW RULES?: "I was concerned about the 90% nitromethane rule because I was very concerned that the cars may slow down to the point that they would not be exciting to drive. I didn't really believe that the cars needed to be slowed down from a safety standpoint. There's nothing quite like the thrill of running a mid- or low 4.80 elapsed time. It's probably one of the most intense and exciting things you can do. Once you have done that it's hard to go backwards and get the same satisfaction going 4.90 or 5.0. Obviously the challenge of competition is still there, but the other part, the adrenaline from going quicker and faster than you have ever gone, doesn't exist anymore. After having made a few runs I think the Camaro will still be plenty exciting to drive and challenging to drive. As long as the rules are going to be enforced equally and accurately than I don't have a problem with it."
Capps and Bazemore will continue testing at Firebird this week. Bazemore and the Kendall Oil/Superwinch/Matco Tools Camaro team will move on to Tucson for NHRA's spring training this weekend.