READING, Pa., Sept. 17, 2000 - Ron Capps overcame fire and smoke, Ed "Ace" McCulloch found a gremlin and Don "The Snake" Prudhomme's U.S. Tobacco Co. Camaro Funny Car team went home with another runner-up finish at the NHRA Keystone Nationals...
READING, Pa., Sept. 17, 2000 - Ron Capps overcame fire and smoke, Ed "Ace" McCulloch found a gremlin and Don "The Snake" Prudhomme's U.S. Tobacco Co. Camaro Funny Car team went home with another runner-up finish at the NHRA Keystone Nationals Sunday.
Even though they didn't win, Capps and Company were pleased with the showing because they were able to strengthen their hold on third place, pull within 79 points of second-place Jerry Toliver in the Winston Series standings (1247-1168) and move 56 points ahead of fourth-place Tony Pedregon (1112).
While Capps didn't dominate the eliminations, he put his driving skills on display in beating Jim Epler (5.715 seconds at 230.45 mph to 6.870 at 116.42) in a tire-smoking duel; Frank Pedregon by five-thousandths of a second (5.050 to 5.057), and Tony Pedregon in a virtual dead heat (5.025 to 5.015, with Capps holding a .010 starting line advantage).
In the finale, Bruce Sarver won his first NHRA national-event title with a 4.993 at 303.03 to Capps' 5.063 at 293.73.
"This was one of those days where the racing was very, very tough. Every one of our rounds was tough," said Capps, who has finished second five times this year. "The win against Frank Pedregon was almost a dead heat and to be at three-quarter track and hear his engine out my window and know the race is that close and pull off the win was a great feeling.
"And to win on a hole shot against Tony Pedregon . . . that's something you dream about."
Against Sarver, "we thought he'd run 4.95 to 5-flat (seconds)," commented Capps, who left the line first with a .495 reaction to a .516. "We thought we had our car tuned to run about the same but we didn't have enough."
Capps began the weekend with an engine explosion and fire in his first qualifying run, sending McCulloch and the U.S. Tobacco Co. crew searching for the gremlin that caused three consecutive engine fires (including two at Englishtown, N.J., last Saturday).
"Ace found the problem but we were two qualifying runs behind and we qualified 10th (5.002 seconds). He said we needed to get our confidence back because we hadn't been to the finish line under power all weekend," Capps said. "It was an exciting day. Beating Epler in the first round and Tony in the semifinals were big wins for us. We did ourselves a lot of good in the point chase. We've set our goal to finish second this year."
The quest continues at Topeka, Kan., site of the Advance Auto Parts Nationals, Sept. 29-Oct. 1.
<pre> Qualified: No. 10, 5.002 at 282.36 mph.
First round: Capps, 5.715 at 230.45 def. Jim Epler; Quarterfinals: Capps, 5.050 at 290.13 def. Frank Pedregon; Semifinals: Capps, 5.025 at 293.09 def. Tony Pedregon; Finals: Bruce Sarver def. Capps.
Top Fuel - Joe Amato
Funny Car - Bruce Sarver
Pro Stock - Kurt Johnson
Next event: Advance Auto Parts Nationals, Topeka, Kan., Sept. 29-Oct. 1
TV Times: The Nashville Network (TNN), Sunday, Oct. 1, 4:40-6 p.m. (ET)