JIM EPLER, in the "Big Red Machine" WWF RACING CAMARO Z28, qualified No. 1 for the second time this season, the third time in his career, with a track record elapsed time and career-best of 4.877 seconds and a track record top speed of 313.44 mph.
JIM EPLER, in the "Big Red Machine" WWF RACING CAMARO Z28, qualified No. 1 for the second time this season, the third time in his career, with a track record elapsed time and career-best of 4.877 seconds and a track record top speed of 313.44 mph. Epler posted this time in the first session today, the second of the weekend, after a rainstorm canceled the second run on Friday night. His teammate JERRY TOLIVER, who switches between a Firebird and Camaro Z28 body, qualified No. 2 in the Pontiac (4.898/308.64), but made the final qualifying pass in the Camaro (6.03/152.42). Toliver's rival for the championship, John Force, went to the final session before qualifying, in the15th spot.
EPLER: "We improved. What's important is that we have our crew chief John Stewart working closer with Dale Armstrong (Toliver's crew chief). The cars run the same. We run a Pontiac and a Camaro (on the WWF Racing team). There's hardly a difference between the two cars. Having a two-car team worked to its fullest advantage. In the first run (today) it was pretty much flawless, so we decided to hop it up because it shook yesterday. I'd rather have it hopped up than shake the tires again. This is a career-best for me. I think lane choice is going to be important. I really like having lane choice. It's usually my job to take out John Force; unfortunately tomorrow Jerry has the job (in the first round).
TOLIVER: ON THE RIVALRY WITH JOHN FORCE: "That's the good thing. It's exciting for NHRA drag racing for the 1-2 in points to run each other in the first round. Hopefully we will come out the winner. It's not about the rivalry, it's about us winning the championship. We want to win races and win the championship, If there's a rivalry, that's fun. It's exciting for the fans. But it doesn't matter who is in the other lane."
ON THE RACE TOMORROW: "It's a big race tomorrow, especially for us. We're behind two rounds (in points). We want to make rounds. It's a great opportunity to make up some points. He (Force) barely got in; we're looking real good."
IS HE VULNERABLE? "You never count that guy out. When he came up to the line (in the final session) I said 'watch out, he'll get low e.t.' He's too good. I see a good race in the first round. I'm sure they learned a lot in that last round."
WHY DID YOU SWITCH TO THE CAMARO FOR THE LAST SESSION? "We have been playing with the wing on the Firebird and we felt in the second round that the Pontiac really slowed us down. We felt the Camaro would be looser to give us better e.t. and top speed. We will probably be back in the Pontiac tomorrow morning. We don't want to take any chances. We're fortunate that we have both a Pontiac and Chevrolet to run and switch back and forth with. It's helped us in different situations."
RON CAPPS, U.S. TOBACCO CO. CAMARO Z28, is No. 3 qualifier, 4.911/303.57, clocked in the second qualifying session, the first of two today. Ron is third in Winston Championship points, behind John Force and Jerry Toliver. In the final session Ron slowed to a 5.03/292.14 pass.
CAPPS: "We're very happy, especially the way the pairings are for tomorrow. With Toliver racing Force in the first round -- they're the two guys in front of us in points -- this will be to our advantage. If we do our jobs tomorrow and win our rounds, we are going to gain some points on one of those two guys. That's a major plus. We did expect to run better that last session, but the Camaro moved around a bit out there. I didn't think it did what Ace (crew chief Ed McCulloch) wanted it to do. We expected to run a 4.85 or .84. But the car is going down the track and that's important. The good thing is that even when the car slows down it only slows down to a low 5.0."
WHIT BAZEMORE, KENDALL OIL/MATCO TOOLS CAMARO Z28, qualified fourth, with the 4.950-second elapsed time at 299.06 mph he recorded in the final qualifying session.
SCOTTY CANNON, is No. 6 in his Camaro Z28, 4.987/292.46; TODD PATON, in the NITRO-FISH CAMARO Z28, is No. 11, 5.051/300.80; and BOB GILBERTSON is not qualified.