Capps Gets Old Tune-up for Route 66 Race

CAPPS, COPE RACING CAMARO GET OLD TUNE-UP IN TIME FOR ROUTE 66 RACE JOLIET, Ill. - The experiment has ended. After eight races and countless test runs, Copenhagen Racing Camaro Funny Car owner Don "The Snake" Prudhomme and...

CAPPS, COPE RACING CAMARO GET OLD TUNE-UP IN TIME FOR ROUTE 66 RACE

JOLIET, Ill. - The experiment has ended. After eight races and countless test runs, Copenhagen Racing Camaro Funny Car owner Don "The Snake" Prudhomme and crew chief Roland Leong decided to replace the cylinder heads and five-disc clutch that have been on the car since the beginning of the 1999 NHRA drag racing season. "We had a great test session (at Indianapolis, May 26-27) after we basically put our 1998 combination back in the car," said driver Ron Capps. "The car went down the track eight straight times, and Roland was able to find out what he wanted to know." Gone is the combination that, while showing promise, never revealed any consistency. In its place is a tune-up that won five races and kept Capps in title contention during all of 1998. "It was time we went back to basics," said Prudhomme, who watched uncomfortably as his team struggled virtually all season. "We need to get the car running consistently. Our plan going into the year was to run the new stuff and try to step up the car's performance, but it didn't work." Capps' record in those eight races provides the reason Prudhomme and Leong made the change. Capps has won one round of racing in seven events and didn't qualify at one race. He goes into the Fram Route 66 Nationals, June 4-6, at Route 66 Raceway, 14th in points with 261. He is only 51 points behind 10th-place Gary Densham. "We tried some things on the four-disc clutch that we learned with the five-disc, so trying the new clutch wasn't for naught," added Capps. "Roland and (assistant crew chief) Todd (Okuhara) believe there are other things that will help us, too. "This situation reminds me of two years ago when Roland took over after seven races. We'd struggled until that time but, from my standpoint, I learned a lot as a driver. Roland's tune-up made the Cope Racing Camaro easier for me to drive. It's the same thing now with Roland and Todd. They've learned some things that will adapt to the four-disc clutch. "It will be exciting to go to Chicago now," he continued. "The track is smooth and I don't think it will take long for us to get back into winning rounds and races." "The car is starting to act like it did last year," Prudhomme said. "Roland and Todd are working to get our hot rod running good again." Capps didn't get his first round win of 1999 until the Mopar Nationals at Englishtown, N.J. (May 23). He qualified seventh - just the third time he'd been in the top eight this season - with a 4.997-second, 293.335 mph run and met Scott Weis in the first round of eliminations. Weis fouled away his chances at the starting line, giving Capps the easy win in 5.122 seconds at 289.51 mph. His winning ways ended in the next round against John Force, who went on to take the race win, his sixth of the year. "Force was there for the taking if we'd run better," Capps said following the run. Force's numbers were a 4.952 at 297.29 mph while the Cope Racing Camaro's rear tires smoked almost immediately. "Roland didn't want to get too aggressive in the first round, but he knew we had to make a big move against Force. Roland made the big tune-up move and unfortunately the engine had too much power and the car smoked the tires right away. All I could do was watch Force's car drive away." Capps will put the car's new/old tune-up on the track for 4 and 8 p.m. qualifying Friday and again at noon and 4 p.m. Saturday at Route 66 Raceway to get ready for Sunday's 11 a.m. eliminations. Ron Capps Facts:

Age: 33 Hometown: La Costa, Calif.

Final-round record: 8/12 (7/10 Funny Car, 1/2 Top Fuel); Last win: Topeka, Kan., 10/17/98;

Quickest time: 4.864 seconds; Fastest speed: 315.45 mph

At Joliet: Capps advanced to the quarterfinals before losing last year.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Scott Weis , Ron Capps , John Force , Gary Densham