Denver: Engine breaks, Capps loses

DENVER, July 16, 2000 - A rare engine explosion and fire in the first round Sunday knocked Ron Capps and the U.S. Tobacco Co. Camaro Funny Car out of the Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway. Capps, whose great reaction time of .477 to...

DENVER, July 16, 2000 - A rare engine explosion and fire in the first round Sunday knocked Ron Capps and the U.S. Tobacco Co. Camaro Funny Car out of the Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway.

Capps, whose great reaction time of .477 to Hofmann's .521 put him in the early lead, thus fell to Al Hofmann's 5.153 at 295.27 mph. Capps coasted across the finish line with the engine on fire at 7.018 at 129.52.

"A rod broke eight-tenths of a second into the run," said crew chief Ed "Ace" McCulloch. "That was weird."

Capps, meanwhile, had his hands full, not only with the fire swirling around him, but with trying to keep the car off the guardrail and getting it stopped.

"The car started shaking real early and I gave it a quick pedal," he said. "It didn't react real well to that - usually when it does, it just takes off. Then the next thing I knew there was a big explosion and I had fire all over. I got the car stopped and got out and got the Camaro body up so the (NHRA) Safety Safari guys could get all the fire out. I wanted to keep the damage to the body minimal.

"Unfortunately we lost in the first round and lost an opportunity to gain ground on John Force in the standings," he continued. "We'd watched him lose just ahead of us. Well, we'll just get back to sea level and get our momentum back."

Capps fell to fourth place in the standings with 787 points, five behind Tony Pedregon.

The next NHRA event is the Northwest Nationals, July 28-30, at Seattle.

Qualified: No. 9, 5.174 seconds at 282.36 mph.

First round: Al Hofmann def. Capps

Next Event: Northwest Nationals, Seattle, July 28-30

TV Schedule: ESPN2, Qualifying, July 29, 10:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. (ET); Eliminations, July 30, 7-9 p.m. (ET)

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Series NHRA
Drivers Al Hofmann , Ron Capps , John Force