No. 6 qualifier KURT JOHNSON, ACDELCO CAMARO Z28, won his second straight title, ending the 2000 NHRA season with six wins and second in the Winston Championship. Just as he did in last week's race in Dallas, Kurt defeated newly-crowned Jeg Coughlin in the final and set a track record-breaking 6.854-second pass at 200.59 mph to Coughlin's 6.887/199.55. Kurt maintains a perfect 4-0 record against Coughlin in final round wins and has 21 national event wins to his credit. After defeating Arturo Delgado, Richie Stevens and Bruce Allen, Kurt ended up in the less-favorable right lane to face Coughlin.
Kurt switches to a Chevrolet Cavalier Z24 for 2001.
Camaros have won seven of the 23 Pro Stock events of the 2000 NHRA season.
KURT: "Unbelievable! At about 1000 feet I could see the shadow of Jeg's front end and it looked like his car was ahead of mine. A split second later the win light came on in my land and I said, 'Damn, I won the race!'"
ON HAVING TO RUN THE RIGHT LANE: "The lane really didn't bother me. Jeg was running quicker than me, so we had to make some changes for the final round. The car really responded and made a perfect run."
ON SWITCHING TO CAVALIER: "What a way to retire the Camaro! It's been a great car the last three years and a tremendous race car the last three months. I credit my success to the race car and the people working on it. My hat's off to my ACDelco crew."
* No. 7 qualifier RICKIE SMITH, BUCKS COUNTY KAWASAKI CAMARO Z28, defeated Darrell Alderman in the first round, then lost to Bruce Allen in the second: 7.146/164.97/.512 R/T to 6.945/197.16/.457 R/T.
SMITH: "One lane is not quite as good as the other one. I lost lane choice and was in the wrong lane, He was out on me when I got loose, so I just shut it off. When you're behind already there's no use doubling your problems by wrecking the car."
ON NEXT SEASON: "We are going to change to the new Cavalier body style. The only problem is that we won't have the new car until about the third race of the season, around Gainesville. Then we'll have to shake down the new chassis and do some testing. Engines will still be supplied by Frank Iaconio Racing Engines. We'll do a lot of testing on the dyno during the off-season."
FINAL POINT STANDINGS:
1. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Olds Cutlass (10) 2054 2. Kurt Johnson, Chevy Camaro (6) 1604 3. Warren Johnson, Pontiac Firebird (2) 1481 4. Ron Krisher, Pontiac Firebird (2) 1392 5. Mark Pawuk, Pontiac Firebird (1) 1214
RON CAPPS, U.S. TOBACCO CO. CAMARO Z28, was defeated by John Force in the semifinals after eliminating PHIL BURKART, TEAM GERONIMO CAMARO Z28, and Tony Pedregon: 4.911/280.14/.529 R/T to 9.772/80.22/.503 R/T. Capps clinched second in the championship when Jerry Toliver was ousted in the first round by Bruce Sarver.
CAPPS: "It's great. I've said it before: "No matter how bad your year has gone you want to finish the year on a good note here in Pomona. Because you have all winter to figure out what you could have done to finish better. We had an OK year. We're disappointed we didn't win the championship, but at the same time we accomplished a couple of goals. Ace wanted to bring out that new Murf car. If we had to sacrifice a spot in points to Toliver, so be it. But we were going to learn about that car. So it's nice that we were able to accomplish both goals, to finish second and then also get used to this car before the season ends. It's very exciting to be able to do both of those."
ON THE RUN AGAINST FORCE: "We put ourselves in a hole losing lane choice. We saw him run that .85 in front of us. We were really apprehensive about what that right lane would take. We figured we had to go after it. He was running a .90 flat or better, we did what we could do in that lane. It was not going to take what we could do in that lane, which was a .90 flat or a little better."
WHAT WERE YOU THINKING WHEN YOU SAW TOLIVER LOSE IN THE FIRST ROUND? "In that first round I was more nervous than I had been in a long time. The guys told me that Toliver lost and so I was up there staging the car and my right hand was shaking on the brake, which never happens. I had to take my hand off the brake and shake my arm out. It was just another round in one way but in another it was second place for the whole year. If we had lost that round he would have beat us by a measly two points. I was a nervous puppy."
ON THE RUN AGAINST BURKART: "He was right there. We ran a .95. We were trying to run pretty good, but we were not trying to give anything away on that run. First rounds are bad enough, but how about a first round for second in the championship for the whole year? It's a little different."
HOW DID YOU FEEL WHEN YOU WON THAT ROUND? "It was such a huge sigh of relief. My legs were shaking, my hands were shaking. I didn't get excited about winning that round as much as it was a relief to get the round win and take second place. It's going to be very exciting to stand up there on Monday night (at the awards ceremony) next to Force."
WHIT BAZEMORE, KENDALL OIL/MATCO TOOLS CAMARO Z28, ended his term with Chuck Etchells' Racing Team by having to face 10-time Winston Champion John Force in the first round. That was the bad news. There really wasn't any good news, as No. 16 qualifier, Whit did not have lane choice. The cars launched together, with a .532 reaction time for Whit, .518 for Force. They were side-by-side until Whit's Camaro lost traction, ending his 2000 season with a 6.117/193.60 lap to Force's 4.928/301.40.
BAZEMORE: "That was certainly not the way I wanted to end the year or my time with Chuck Etchells Racing. It's disappointing, but we struggled with this car all weekend, and you can't make a mistake against Force, because they certainly don't make any. Today, we did and we got beat. the right lane was certainly a little trickier, not only for us, but lots of people. But we're not going to make any excuses. We struggled with our consistency and qualified on the bump, which put us up against Force in the first round. I know this Etchells crew is going to work hard over the winter to straighten this car out, and I expect them to be tough next year." ON LEAVING THE TEAM: "When I came to this team in 1998, it was the first time in a long while that I had a real job, having been a team owner for so long. I learned a lot from Chuck, especially about the business side of our sport and how to keep it separate from the driving side, which I found interesting. I also think this relationship benefited both sides. it gave me a little more credibility, which opened some new opportunities for me, and Chuck was able to grow his business, which I hope I contributed to. We had fun, and I'm grateful for the opportunity he gave me. It was exciting to be a part of the growth of this team."
FINAL POINT STANDINGS:
1. John Force, Mustang (11) 1992 2. Ron Capps, Camaro (1) 1551 3. Jerry Toliver, Firebird (1)/Camaro (2) 1513 4. Tony Pedregon, Mustang (2) 1444 5. Jim Epler, Camaro (2) 1242 6. Scotty Cannon, Camaro 1114 7. Whit Bazemore, Camaro (1) 1088