Cope Racing Denver Preview

CAPPS, COPE RACING CAMARO TEAM READY FOR SECOND HALF OF SEASON DENVER - There's a new attitude in the Copenhagen Racing Funny Car camp as the second half of the NHRA drag racing season gets under way. There's no looking back;...

CAPPS, COPE RACING CAMARO TEAM READY FOR SECOND HALF OF SEASON

DENVER - There's a new attitude in the Copenhagen Racing Funny Car camp as the second half of the NHRA drag racing season gets under way. There's no looking back; there isn't much to see. It's what's ahead that counts, starting with the Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals, July16-18, at Bandimere Speedway, the first of 11 races remaining. And one of the goals shared by driver Ron Capps, crew chief Todd Okuhara and team owner Don "The Snake" Prudhomme is to improve upon last year's Mile-High finish. Capps came within six-thousandths of a second of beating Tony Pedregon in the 1998 title round. "That was a very close race," Capps recalled. "We'd like to be in a position to win this year's race." The Cope Racing team has been mired in a slump. "We've had a lot of different things go wrong," said Capps. "We have to face reality, go out there and try to win as many rounds and as many races as we can. We need to make the best of what remains this year and get ready for next year in the process." Capps will be driving the same chassis he used here last year. Okuhara made the call to change the chassis, returning to the model that carried Capps to five wins and second place in the final NHRA Winston Series standings. And he and Prudhomme brought back former crew chief Roland Leong to serve as an advisor. "We'd changed everything else. What did we have to lose?" said Okuhara about shelving the '99 chassis. "When we switched from the five-disc to the four-disc clutch, we knew what kind of baseline we should have, but we still had trouble, and thought it came from the chassis." Okuhara liked the way the old chassis responded to tune-up changes during the non-points Winston Showdown (at Bristol, Tenn., July 11). The car's qualifying performance was consistent. Capps posted times of 5.087 seconds at 301.13 mph, good for eighth place, 5.101 and 5.188 seconds. Okuhara had what he felt was a competitive tune-up ready for the unique eliminations that paired Funny Cars against Top Fuel dragsters, but a steady Saturday rain postponed completion of the race until Sunday. Under different racing conditions, the Cope Racing Camaro smoked the tires early in the run against Kenny Bernstein, slowing to an 8.340 at 101.61 mph to Bernstein's 4.886 at 285.83. "We made some progress last weekend that should help us in Denver," said Capps. "Bringing out the other chassis was a big step, and having Roland back was a plus. We went to Bristol to test some things because there weren't any points involved in the race. We needed to see if the old chassis ran better the new one, and it did. I really like that car." "The Bristol weekend was a good one," Okuhara added. "The outcome wasn't quite like what we wanted, but, all-in-all, I'm happy." The Mile-High Nationals could be the last race on the '98 chassis. Okuhara said plans call for the team to debut its new 1999 Camaro body and Victory-built chassis at Seattle, July 30. "The crew will leave Denver and go to our shop in Vista (Calif.) to get the new chassis and body ready for Seattle," Okuhara said. "Right now, it doesn't look like we'll have any problems getting it ready to race." The Denver race also marks the beginning of the NHRA's western swing, which used to be three races in three weeks. This time around, it is three in four weeks, with the Seattle stop scheduled July 30-Aug. 1 and the Sonoma, Calif., stop Aug. 6-8. "I really like racing at the Denver track," Capps commented. "Hopefully we'll be able to use Denver as a stepping stone. We've done well at Seattle and Sonoma, too. We won at Seattle last year and were No. 1 qualifier there in 1997. We won at Sonoma in '97 and were No. 1 qualifier there last year. "All of us are definitely ready to win some races." Mile-High qualifying will be at 4 and 8 p.m. Friday, noon and 4 p.m. Saturday, followed by Sunday's eliminations at 11 a.m.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Kenny Bernstein , Ron Capps