Gateway Capps, Cope Racing Team Preview

CAPPS, COPE RACING TEAM LOOK FORWARD TO IMPROVED TIMES ST. LOUIS - Bring on the heat. Bring on the humidity. Ron Capps is ready for some night drag racing, NHRA style. The Sears Craftsman Nationals, June 24-26, go under the ...

CAPPS, COPE RACING TEAM LOOK FORWARD TO IMPROVED TIMES

ST. LOUIS - Bring on the heat. Bring on the humidity. Ron Capps is ready for some night drag racing, NHRA style. The Sears Craftsman Nationals, June 24-26, go under the lights for the first time at Gateway International Raceway at Madison, Ill., just across the Mississippi River. "I like to race there," said Capps, driver of Don "The Snake" Prudhomme's Copenhagen Racing Camaro Funny Car. "I won for the first time in the Funny Car at Gateway (1997)." And he most certainly could use another win. "It's just a matter of time before we find the winner's circle," Capps said. "Hopefully we can do it at St. Louis. That would be special. The race will be very exciting this year because it is at night. There's nothing better than watching Funny Cars run at night, seeing the six-foot flames coming out of the headers." Capps and Prudhomme were pleased with the car's most recent performance at Columbus, Ohio (June 13). It was Todd Okuhara's first race as crew chief after taking over when Roland Leong was replaced. Okuhara had been the assistant crew chief. "The car went down the track on each run and the times kept improving," said Prudhomme. Capps' best run during the sultry weekend as 5.124 seconds at 288.77 mph, placing him sixth on the qualifying ladder. He also had runs of 5.326, 5.249 and 5.253 seconds on slippery National Trail Raceway. In the first round, the engine dropped a cylinder, then shot a spark plug out the kevlar Camaro body and Capps lost to Frank Pedregon. "The engine dropped the cylinder, then picked it back up," Capps recalled. "Then the spark plug went out, the engine nosed over and Pedregon went by me." Pedregon won with a 5.197 at 290.44 to Capps' 5.229 at 271.62. "We went down the track every run under power without shaking the tires. I didn't have to pedal it one time during that weekend. That sure takes the pressure off the driver. "It was a difficult week (preparing for the Columbus race after Leong left) and I'm proud of my teammates and the way they handled themselves. It was a gut check. "Todd is going to be a very capable crew chief," continued Capps. "He's been like a sponge, learning so much from Roland and Dale Armstrong (crew chief on Prudhomme's Top Fuel dragster)." Qualifying takes place Thursday and Friday at 4 and 8 p.m. Saturday's eliminations begin at 4 p.m.

Ron Capps Facts:

Age: 34 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 Gateway Raceway: Capps defeated Cruz Pedregon to win the inaugural race here in 1997 and lost to Frank Pedregon in the semifinals last year.

1999 Winston Series Standing: 15th, 327 points

**NOTE - Ron Capps will be signing autographs at Incahoots, Earth City, Mo., Wednesday, June 23, from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Frank Pedregon , Ron Capps , Cruz Pedregon