RON CAPPS, U.S. TOBACCO CO. CAMARO Z28, defeated JIM EPLER'S and JERRY TOLIVER'S WWF RACING CAMAROs in the first and second rounds. Ron established a career-best elapsed time in the first round against Epler, a 4.811 at 310.13 mph. Capps faced...
RON CAPPS, U.S. TOBACCO CO. CAMARO Z28, defeated JIM EPLER'S and JERRY TOLIVER'S WWF RACING CAMAROs in the first and second rounds. Ron established a career-best elapsed time in the first round against Epler, a 4.811 at 310.13 mph. Capps faced John Force's Mustang in the semifinals, losing to the Winston champion by three hundredths of a second when the inside teeth of the blower belt sheared off. Ron's 4.942/297.71 couldn't beat Force's 4.915/316.67.
WHIT BAZEMORE, KENDALL OIL/MATCO TOOLS CAMARO Z28, No. 2 qualifier, lost to SCOTTY CANNON'S CAMARO Z28 in the first round, when Whit's car had a mechanical problem. Cannon took the victory (4.947/287.08 to Whit's 5.734/168.98), but his Camaro caught fire at the finish line, destroying the body and damaging the chassis. Cannon made it back in the second round with his other Camaro body and a repaired chassis to meet Frank Pedregon, but the car didn't hold up on the launch and Pedregon took the win. BOB GILBERTSON, in his new Camaro, lost to Tom Wilkerson in the first round.
Of the seven Camaros that qualified, only Capps' reached the semifinal round.
BAZEMORE: "We came here and forgot about the past. We are having a tough year, so I wanted to start over -- because you can't think 'well, this is the first round, or it's that round.' If you do, you will start to feel the pressure. It's the beginning of the year again and we are looking forward and not back. It's the key thing. The team did an outstanding job. We rin well, we were on our way to bettering our .87 on that lap and we just had a part break and we got beat. So, it's discouraging. It's less discouraging if you take it out of the context of the whole year." DID YOU JUMP OUT AT THE END TO HELP SCOTTY? "I didn't see him get out, there was a lot of smoke. So I went over there to see if I could help. As a driver you are wearing the same stuff (fireproof clothing like the Safety Safari), so it doesn't hurt to give them an extra guy. He had a pretty bad fire. it's kind of different for me to watch other people on fire. Earlier in my career they were watching me on fire all the time." WERE YOU ABLE TO HELP? "He was all right. I still didn't see him get out. I thought he was still in there. I was yelling 'we have to get him out.' Then they told me he was out. The Safety Safari does an excellent job, they were right there."
CAPPS: "It's a classic case of how Ace McCulloch (crew chief) likes to race. Obviously, we were fighting some major problems a lot of people don't know about. We have been fighting some things through qualifying to get a handle on the Camaro. The best part of what makes all this so gratifying is we had a problem, we fought through the problem, and then we were able to see the results come out like they did. The 4.81 in the first round shows the kind of true grit the guys have, and Ace is the same way. I'm just a student of the game, trying to learn everything I can from Ace. In that run with Force it left pretty hard. Mid-track the front end was up pretty high, higher than I have ever had it. I didn't even hear Force next to me. Then It sheared off the inside teeth of the blower belt and when that happened I saw Force's car out my window and right at the finish line. Even though we started to get in trouble I thought we still had him. That's the way it happens. It's a matter of thousandths of seconds to win or lose. The good thing is we gained 20 points on Jerry Toliver and worst case scenario is we are going to lose 20 points to Force. That's not a total loss. The guys can't hang their heads low because they worked their butts off today."
PRO STOCK: V. GAINES WINS FIRST RACE OF SEASON FOR CAMARO; NO 1. QUALIFIER KURT JOHNSON OUT IN FIRST ROUND
V. GAINES, WESTERN MOTORSPORTS CAMARO Z28, won his first Pro Stock race of his career today, and the first for the Camaro brand, when he defeated defending Winston champion Warren Johnson in the final round. Reaction time was the key ingredient in this victory, with V. thrashing Warren at the Christmas Tree with a .461 reaction time to Warren's .510. Warren had the quicker elapsed time, 7.016 seconds at 197.93 mph, but V.'s 7.041/196.93 took the win. V. is 51, lives in Lakewood, Colo. Sonoma in '98 was his last final-round appearance (also against Warren Johnson). Tom Martino built the engine that powered V.'s Camaro.
V. (which stands for Vieri): "I just went up there to do my job and didn't worry who was in the other lane. I raced Warren a couple of times before and I tried to race Warren instead of trying to race my own race. This time I raced my race and tried to cut the best light I could, and it worked out well for us." WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU HAD WON? "I've raced Warren too many times where I was ahead and he screamed around us at the finish. Not until we crossed the finish line did we know we had won." YOUR LAST FINAL ROUND WAS IN SONOMA IN '98: "It's been a long time coming to get the opportunity to race Warren in the finals. He's obviously the man to beat. He's got the experience and the equipment." IS THIS WIN EVERYTHING YOU DREAMED ABOUT? "It probably hasn't sunk in entirely. It was such an incredible feeling to get here the first time in our racing career, it will probably take a few days to sink in." JOHN FORCE WON HIS 85TH RACE TODAY, YOU WON YOUR FIRST, DID HE SAY ANYTHING TO YOU? "We rode in the golf cart coming back to the winner's circle with John Force. I said 'congratulations on your 85th. I've got to tell you, if No. 85 feels like No. 1 you should be jumping up and down.' He turned around and said, "this is your first one? That's the best one.'"
KURT JOHNSON, ACDELCO CAMARO Z28, was eliminated in the first round by Bruce Allen on a holeshot advantage. Allen's outstanding .408 reaction time (.400 is perfect) was no match for Kurt's .489. Kurt's elapsed time of 6.969 seconds at 197.80 mph was the second quickest of the round -- only his dad Warren bettered that time with a 6.965-second pass -- but it wasn't able to beat Allen's 7.022/197.02 with that much of an advantage at the Christmas Tree.
KURT: "The run was perfect, it ran a .96. The bottom line is we have a great race car right now, so that takes a big load off our shoulders. Bruce Allen's package with a .408 and 7.02 would have beat everybody out there who went to the second round. It's just one of those things. He came over and apologized and said the car was rolling and he guessed. He just let his foot off the clutch. What are you going to do? We know what we have to work on. I have had four lights within 15 thousandths (of a second). The problem is they were all .470s and .480s, so we have to get the reaction of the car up. We don't know if it's me or the clutch or whatever, but we're going to make a few changes. We know the car is good, and we're going to fix this problem. We only have one thing to fix right now, and that makes it a lot easier. The motors are fine, the Camaro is fine; it's going down the race track. All we have to do is tune-up our reaction time, and we'll put this thing in the winner's circle."