CAPPS, ARMSTRONG READY TO CONTINUE LEARNING PROCESS AT MEMPHIS MEMPHIS - Mother Nature might've given Dale Armstrong the cold shoulder - maybe even a cold - when he took over as crew chief on the Copenhagen Racing Camaro...
CAPPS, ARMSTRONG READY TO CONTINUE LEARNING PROCESS AT MEMPHIS
MEMPHIS - Mother Nature might've given Dale Armstrong the cold shoulder - maybe even a cold - when he took over as crew chief on the Copenhagen Racing Camaro Funny Car last weekend, but rest assured Armstrong is warming up to the task ahead.
Armstrong, scheduled to move from Don Prudhomme's Top Fuel dragster tuning position to the Ron Capps-driven Funny Car after the season, made the switch at Topeka, Kan. It was the first time Armstrong had tuned a Funny Car in 10 years.
If the task at hand didn't offer enough challenges, weather conditions played havoc with all the crew chiefs during the Advance Auto Parts Nationals.
"We certainly hope we get average conditions this weekend at Memphis," said Armstrong, referring to the AutoZone Nationals event that runs Friday through Sunday at Memphis Motorsports Park. "The conditions at Topeka were real odd, at best. The cold (wind chill temperatures Sunday, before the event was postponed until Monday, were in the low 20s) just compounded our problems.
"It is hard to run when it's that cold, but it can be done. It caused a lot of problems and it makes it difficult." For his part, all Armstrong wanted was a racetrack where he could make a few test runs before qualifying begins Friday at Memphis. But none fit into the tight time schedule.
"We have a lot of areas we want to address," he said. "We need to make the car run consistently down the track. I wish we had a place to test. It would sure help answer a lot of questions."
"Dale learns something with every run," Capps commented. "When he gets enough runs on this car it's going to run very well. It's exciting going to Memphis. I'm glad the next race is this week; I don't have to wait as long to get back in the car."
Topeka weather was Chamber of Commerce-like for Friday's two qualifying sessions, then temperatures dropped 25 degrees Saturday and Sunday.
Capps, meanwhile, qualified 14th with a 5.391-second, 282.54-mph run and met John Force in the first round. While the Cope Racing Camaro shook tires, Force raced to the win.
"We put ourselves behind the eight-ball qualifying where we did," said Capps. "This was Dale's first race with our team and it's just a matter of him getting acclimated to the car.
"Having Dale Armstrong, who is arguably one of the top crew chiefs on the grounds, tuning this car is very exciting for everybody on our team, including me as a driver. You can't put too much pressure on because he's just taken the car over."
Armstrong, Capps added, "was fighting the clutch all weekend. The car shook so bad it shook my foot right off the throttle loop against Force. When I could finally get my foot back on the throttle pedal I got back on it, but by that time Force was pulling away pretty good."
Armstrong tuned Kenny Bernstein to 30 wins and four NHRA Funny Car championships in the 1980s before Bernstein switched to Top Fuel in 1990. He won 17 more races and one more season title with Armstrong as crew chief. Larry Dixon won twice with in the last 18 months with Armstrong tuning Prudhomme's.