CHEVROLET NOTES AND QUOTES U.S. NATIONALS INDIANAPOLIS RACEWAY PARK INDIANAPOLIS, IND. SUNDAY, SEPT. 6, 1998 FUNNY CAR -- CAMARO Z28 RON CAPPS, COPENHAGEN CAMARO Z28, won his first Big Bud Shootout and $100,000 today, dominating in the final...
CHEVROLET NOTES AND QUOTES U.S. NATIONALS INDIANAPOLIS RACEWAY PARK INDIANAPOLIS, IND. SUNDAY, SEPT. 6, 1998
FUNNY CAR -- CAMARO Z28
RON CAPPS, COPENHAGEN CAMARO Z28, won his first Big Bud Shootout and $100,000 today, dominating in the final against Cruz Pedregon. Capps e.t. was 5.005 seconds at 304.56 mph, against Cruz's 5.092/300.00. Capps also qualified No. 2 for the event, with a 4.988/307.26 in the second round of the Shootout.
CAPPS: ON THE PRESSURE OF WINNING TODAY, BEING IN THE POINTS LEAD AND TRYING TO EXTEND THAT LEAD: "I wasn't thinking about that. The word of the week has been 'focus.' I asked 'Snake' (team owner Don Prudhomme) what do I need to do and he said stay focused; he also said that in Brainerd. Our game plan was to come into this race and not think about the money. Sunday was race day. It's been one of those weekends, the whole team has been focused on Sunday. The plan was to win this race today, take a deep breath and then focus on Monday. It's great to see a plan come together."
WHAT WILL YOU DO WITH THE MONEY? "Thanks to Snake we (my wife Shelley and I) -- we have been married only four years -- we bought our own home. It didn't have a backyard. This money goes to the team, we all get a percentage of it, to be honest with you. They get a better percentage than I do. This win is for the team because they got me there. They kept me qualified good. I will take my small percentage and build my backyard. Shelley has a great plan for the backyard, it includes a play area for the baby (Taylor). That's Shelley's dream, she takes care of the house."
ON QUALIFYING NO. 2: "We're sticking to our game plan, which was to win the Shootout first. Everybody is out here to win it. We were not thinking of qualifying better, and I ran a 4.98 in the second round of the Big Bud. I have learned a lot about my driving. I tried to shallow stage, just to get lane choice for the Big Bud, and it put me in the No. 2 spot. We killed two birds with one stone. In the final round they ran us up, they said two minutes, I had to sit there. I usually get just one thumbs-up sign from Snake. He came by about eight times, and that made me a little nervous. Once the Camaro fires up a calm comes over you. My good friend Blaine Johnson died here, I went down there (earlier this weekend) where he had the accident and I had a little talk. I felt he was driving with me today."
IS TOMORROW A GOOD OPPORTUNITY TO DISTANCE YOURSELF FURTHER FROM NO. 2 IN POINTS JOHN FORCE? "I can't wait for this weekend to be over. I thought I was ready for the pressure to be the points leader, it was a gut check, because in the first round for the Shootout I lost concentration, which I've never done, at the Christmas tree, and my light was like .570. Thank God Whit (Bazemore) smoked the tires...I still don't know if I've got what it takes to go the whole way (this year), but I'll find out."
DON PRUDHOMME: "It feels great. Especially with Larry (Dixon, who qualified No. 1 in Prudhomme's Miller Lite Top Fuel Dragster today) also doing well. I have never had two boys. The people who do (might have) two kids playing baseball and one kid is knocking the ball over the fence all the time, and the other kid is striking out. It's hard to sit at the dinner table and praise the other kid. It's really rough. I'm really pleased that Larry has done so well because he's really been working hard at it, so has (crew chief) Dale Armstrong and the whole team. Larry and Ron are buddies, it's really nice that each of them roots for the other. This thing with the Funny Car winning the Shootout is really cool. What can I say? I'll tell you what I can say and I hate to steal a line from (Roger) Penske: 'Effort equals results.' That's true. We came here a week ago testing both cars running up and down the track in the wee hours of the morning, and no one is in the stands and these guys are driving hard and working hard like it was a packed house. Both teams came down with so much knowledge to attack this weekend."
WHIT BAZEMORE, TEAM WINSTON CAMARO Z28, is No. 6 qualifier, 5.064/294.11. Whit lost to Capps in the first round.
"We made big changes going into the Big Bud Shootout in the first round because our Team Winston Camaro just wasn't running the way we wanted it to run, and the way it ran in testing. So we went back to something that we thought would work better and it did, but we were off on the clutch combination a bit so we smoked the tires at 300 feet. We thought we had a car length lead on Ron. The car was running very well. With that run we knew we were on the right track. We just had to fine tune the clutch a little bit, the 5.06 was the result. It's still far from perfect. Tomorrow will be a hot day, probably. At least we have a race car again and we feel confident that we can go out and do well. We're happy. The Camaro ran strong and we will tweak her a little bit and we will be ready tomorrow."
ON FACING TONY PEDREGON IN FIRST ROUND: "It will be a classic Camaro versus Mustang (matchup) and it'll be another good race. They're a good team. We don't get many easy draws, but I realize that there aren't any. It doesn't matter who you race, they're all tough."
CHUCK ETCHELLS, KENDALL/MA MA ROSA'S PIZZA/SUPERWINCH CAMARO Z28, is No. 4 qualifier, 5.057/304.36. Chuck lost to Dean Skuza in the first round of the Big Bud Shootout.
"It's a good baseline run for tomorrow, but we've got to be careful with it, because those were great conditions. The sun was off the track, and it was nothing like we would run into in the first, second, or even third round of eliminations. It was actually more like what we would expect to see in the final. I'm not going to say I'm confident, but I hope we can repeat that number all day tomorrow, because that could win the race. Looking at the ladder, I see the rest of the Top Five packed on the other side. It's a wonderful opportunity for this Kendall Camaro Z28 to make a move in the points, and we can't blow it."
PRO STOCK -- CAMARO Z28
KURT JOHNSON, AC DELCO CAMARO Z28, is No. 2 qualifier, 6.989/197.41, behind dad Warren. This is Kurt's fourth No. 2 spot this year and the fourth time in 1998 that the Johnsons have qualified 1-2. Kurt will race for his third straight U.S. Nationals title tomorrow. He won in 1996 after qualifying fifth, and won in '97 from the No. 1 spot.
"I tried to leave the starting line this afternoon with the engine rpm a little higher, and that didn't work. We'll go back to Plan A to get the performance back and try a different staging style to keep my reaction times where they need to be. I think we've got a handle on that. Dad and did our jobs in qualifying; now we've got to take advantage of it."
LARRY MORGAN, RAYBESTOS CAMARO Z28, is No. 5 qualifier, 7.005/195.69.
TOM HAMMONDS, WINNEBAGO/MATCO TOOLS/KENDALL CAMARO Z28, failed to qualify.
PRO STOCK TRUCK -- CHEVY S-10
LARRY KOPP, ACCURATE BINDING/ARMA COATINGS/G-FORCE TRANSMISSIONS CHEVY S-10, won his fourth Pro Stock Truck event of the year, from his fifth No. 1 qualifying position. He eliminated fellow Chevy S-10 driver Bob Panella Jr. in the final, 7.760/173.77 to Panella's 10.803/84.41.
DID YOU EVER THINK YOU WOULD RUN AWAY WITH THIS CHAMPIONSHIP? "We never thought it would happen. We lost a little bit of our cushion in the West Coast swing. I'm just so happy I won Indy, it's unbelievable."
HAS BILL 'GRUMPY' JENKINS FOUND MORE HORSEPOWER? "We found some this weekend, we made some changes. We tested here last week, we made 17 passes in two days. We were ready to come here and win. That was our main goal."
ARE THE OTHER TEAMS CATCHING UP TO YOU? "When they're as fast as we are we will be one step ahead of them, and we'll be faster."
WHAT DID JENKINS SAY TO YOU AFTER YOU WON?: "He was in the dumps a little bit because I was driving so bad, but he didn't say anything to me. I knew he was concerned, he wanted this win. He left me alone to do my job, and I did it. After the race, all he said was 'good job.'"
ON WINNING AT INDY: "After being runner-up here twice (in the Sportsman category), in this win I said to myself I can't cry, I can't cry. It's just unbelievable."
IS IT EVERYTHING YOU THOUGHT IT WOULD BE? "Absolutely, with all the people around, and we just won Indy. I won three races back to back, this is probably just as exciting as winning three back to back."
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO WIN FOR CHEVROLET? "Chevrolet has been behind me from the get-go. They saw how fast I went and they took me under their wing. They had known of me, I showed them I am for real, I didn't have big corporate sponsors behind me, and we're fast."
HAVE THE FANS SHOWN MORE INTEREST IN THE PRO STOCK TRUCKS? "Absolutely. At every race we give out 2000 to 2500 autograph cards. We gave out about 5000 here this wekend. The truck has got a nice paint job, they love it. The fans identify with the S-10, that's what this sport is all about."
TOP FUEL DRAGSTER
LARRY DIXON, MILLER LITE TOP FUEL DRAGSTER, is No. 1 qualifier, 4.566 (track record), 317.01 mph.
CRISTEN POWELL, TEAM REEBOK TOP FUEL DRAGSTER, did not qualify.