Camaro Wins, Makes History in Phoenix

CHEVROLET NOTES AND QUOTES ATSCO NATIONALS NHRA WINSTON DRAG RACING SERIES FIREBIRD INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY SUNDAY, FEB. 22, 1998 History was made today as two Chevy Camaro Z28 Funny Cars made it into the finals for the first time in...


History was made today as two Chevy Camaro Z28 Funny Cars made it into the finals for the first time in the NHRA Funny Car category -- driven by Chuck Etchells and Ron Capps. Etchells, in his Kendall/MaMa Rosa's Pizza/Superwinch Camaro Z28, became the second Camaro Z28 Funny Car driver in two races of the 1998 Winston Drag Racing Series to win the Funny Car title. Ron Capps, in the Copenhagen Camaro Z28, won the season opener in Pomona, Calif. That's two for two for Camaro in 1998! Camaros have now won four titles since returning to NHRA drag racing in 1997.

Note: These are the only Camaros Z28s in Funny Car competition.

Note 2: This is the first Funny Car win for the '98 Camaro Z28 body.

Capps launched off the line five hundredths of a second quicker than Etchells (.479/.529). Capps' Camaro then lost traction at the 300-ft. mark. Capps pedaled it, but was unable to keep the power down, reaching the finish line in 8.63 seconds, at 92.40 mph. Etchells set track records today at Firebird International Raceway, in e.t. (4.944) and top speed (312.82 mph) on his way to his first win in a Camaro, his 11th of his career. Capps' e.t. was 8.630, top speed 92.40 mph.

Capps continues to hold the points lead, with 209 points.  Etchells moves
into second, with 171.  Camaros lead the point standings 1-2! 

ETCHELLS: "This is the best race car we have ever had -- the chassis, the balance, the Camaro body." ON THE RECORD 4.94 RUN: "I was pretty impressed." ON WINNING FOR CHEVROLET: "It feels damn good. I think everybody at Chevy knows how excited I was to get the opportunity to go over there. I told them I'llI be privileged to fly a red bow tie, and I meant it. This is more than a sponsorship deal...I made a lot of good friends at Chevrolet, there are a lot of wonderful people over there. I feel proud to do them good for a change." TELL US ABOUT YOUR PASSES: "Funny Car is probably the most difficult fuel category. The competition is real tough. We got by the first round, the second round we blew the thing up, it had four holes in the motor, and it blew the valve cover off. We were lucky we didn't have a fire. The general and the wife did a great job (referring to crew chiefs Tim and Kim Richards.)" HOW DID YOU FEEL GOING AGAINST RON CAPPS? "Ron is an excellent driver. They have a great car over there. I felt that Ron would leave with a better reaction time. I was praying the general would step up and find some horsepower and he did it." ON DOING SO WELL IN THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR: "We have never been worth anything in the West Coast and the beginning of a season...we have run well in the heat of the year, ran good in Denver. It's an exciting thing to come out of here second in points. We're encouraged about that." ON LOSING THE ENGINE IN THE SECOND ROUND AGAINST WHIT BAZEMORE: "We were in serious trouble at about 900 feet on the track. I felt it burnt a piston. When it's running that good and you lose one-eighth of the engine it stops accelerating real hard. I looked out the window and I didn't see Whit (Bazemore). That car runs big speed too. I said I'd better keep my foot in it and it layed over, with oil all over the windshield...I said to myself we're here to win, just keep on going. I don't know how it didn't catch fire and blow the body off of it." Etchells held on to win with a 4.982/299.40 to Bazemore's 5.225/297.91. ON THE REST OF THE SEASON: "It's too early in the year to give a definitive answer (as to how we will do for the rest of the season), but the Camaro body is a great body, that's for certain. And Tim and Kim (Richards) managed to take 30 pounds out of it and I lost five pounds. That's huge. I know the aerodynamics of that Camaro are excellent. I saw that just watching the '97 Camaro that Ron (Capps) was running last year. It's not been in the wind tunnel yet, we're going in March. We should learn a lot there and we are going to look for constant improvements all year. All the teams do that.

CAPPS: ""Unfortunately, we didn't win, but we had a great weekend, considering how much we struggled. Roland (Leong, crew chief) was fighting the tune-up all weekend. The only run we were pleased with was the 4.97 we ran in the first round (a win over Dale Creasy Jr.), and even that one didn't have any speed."

"We fought through the problems and got by three rounds. Sometimes you have to be a little lucky. And we came out of the race with the points lead."

"The final round was exciting. I talked with Chuck (Etchells) before the run and we said 'whatever happens, happens.' I'm very happy and am having a good time out here. I'm also happy for Chevy."

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Ron Capps , Chuck Etchells , Dale Creasy Jr.