Phoenix Chevrolet Finals Notes

RON CAPPS, COPENHAGEN CAMARO Z28, reached the final round today after defeating bob Gilbertson, Jim Epler and Tony Pedregon. He faced John Force in the final in a Chevy-vs.-Ford matchup, in the pair's fourth final-round meeting. Ron was ...

RON CAPPS, COPENHAGEN CAMARO Z28, reached the final round today after defeating bob Gilbertson, Jim Epler and Tony Pedregon. He faced John Force in the final in a Chevy-vs.-Ford matchup, in the pair's fourth final-round meeting. Ron was relegated to the less-favorable left lane after his Camaro suffered an oil leak in the previous round against Tony Pedregon, causing him to be penalized 10 points. He was also fined $1000 and lost lane choice for the final. Capps left the starting line with a .484 reaction time to Force's .513, but smoked the tires at about 300 feet, while Force posted a 4.933-second lap at 313.88 mph. Capps coasted to the finish in 8.196 seconds at 101.89 mph. This was Capps' 13th final-round appearance.

CAPPS: "I think it was a big deal to have lane choice in the final round. Obviously the right lane was a lot better. We tried to do what we could. It shook real hard. It shook so hard that it broke one of the side windows. I pedaled it and I didn't see him right away, then he pulled ahead. The second time I pedaled it my car went up in smoke. I saw him pull past me. I saw he had no smoke off his tires so I knew I wasn't going to catch him. If I had stood on the throttle I might have taken a chance on losing another 10 points. At that point you just give up and you watch the rest of the race from the front row. We had a wonderful weekend, that's the best part of it. As I've said before, Ed McCulloch (crew chief) is just getting used to running a funny car. He's run nothing but a dragster the last decade an d this is his first year with a funny car. It obviously showed what he can d o and what knowledge he has. The qualifying run (4.858) was an awesome run under the 90 percent nitro rule. We are real excited at this point, and we are looking forward to working with Ace all year."

ON THE RUN AGAINST TONY PEDREGON: "I saw Tony's guys wiping up oil as he was backing up and I was backing up. I was watching it on Winston Vision so I knew they had some kind of problem. As the Camaro left the starting line it went out there an d it kind of shook and I had some real weird smoke in the cockpit. It wasn't tire smoke, it smelled differently. One of the oil fittings broke off of the block and was dripping some oil. I pulled off to the side and coasted down so I wouldn't oil the track in the middle of the lane. We lost 10 points and were fined $1000. Even more important than that we lost lane choice to Force in the final round, which might have cost us. I could have pedaled it and tried to run it down there, I probably would have run better than the 10.024. For some reason I made the right call, it was probably a lucky call to get off the throttle, as it might have caught the car on fire."

ON THE PENALTIES: "We don't mean to oil it down. Even though we got fined, I'm more for doing that, because it makes a better show for the fans. I hated to do it,, but I know what it feels like to be a fan and wait two hours for one qualifying session to get through. I think it's a great idea for NHRA to do that. We will take our lumps. We're doing the best we can to not oil the track down. That's our main priority."

ON CHANGING ENGINES INSTEAD OF REBUILDING BETWEEN ROUNDS BECAUSE OF THE 75-MINUTE RULE: "The guys were changing engines in 25 minutes. With 75 minutes, if something goes wrong we're already ahead of the game, we have time to fix it. If we service the old engine and then have a problem and have to replace it anyway, we would really be behind. It's tight. Every single round on Sunday we were the first to be ready to warm it up. Our guys were ahead of all the teams."

WHIT BAZEMORE, KENDALL OIL/MATCO TOOLS CAMARO Z28, was eliminated in the first round by Al Hofmann, 5.127/286.68 for Hofmann, 5.324/227.57 for Bazemore. Whit launched first with a reaction time of .518 to Hofmann's .536, but his Camaro dropped a cylinder almost immediately. Whit continued to race, hoping to hold on, but further mechanical complications developed, allowing Hofmann to win.

BAZEMORE: "We really didn't get the number in qualifying (No. 11, 5.034/307.51), but we still ran well on our last run, with some good low numbers before we smoked the tires at the top end. We know the performance is there and it's just a matter of fine-tuning and getting our Camaro on the right side of the combination. In fact, I was very confident going up ther e for the first round against Hofmann. Unfortunately, the car had just dropped a cylinder at the hit and cost us a lot of performance. After that , it was basically over. I stayed in it, but at about a thousand feet, the dropped cylinder caused the engine to run lean which then threw the belt off. We needed to run a 5.14 to beat him, but it just wasn't in the cards today. It's plenty frustrating, but we're going to stay and test until we get this car figured out -- that's our top priority."

KURT JOHNSON, ACDELCO CAMARO Z28, was ousted in the first round by Jamie Yates, when his Camaro shook violently on takeoff. Although Kurt was in the favored right lane, he lost to Yates' 7.067/195.76 as he coasted to a 12.256-second pass at 71.83 mph.

KURT: "It was terrible. My head was rattling half way through low gear and I plugged in second (gear) and the engine went to the moon. It went up against the (rev) limiter. It was out of control, totally out of control. (Last night) we changed the clutch, the gearing, we changed the ballast in the car, we changed the 4-link suspension around, we changed it all, and we tried to be soft with the clutch. It didn't like it. We got aggressive with it this morning and it didn't like it. The thing is just totally not cooperating."

ON THE WHOLE WEEKEND: "We came here and missed it on the first qualifying run, we ran a 6.92 on a not-very-good run Friday night and Saturday morning we ran the .89. It just wasn't a clean run. We qualified No. 1 with an .89, so it may look like we had no problems, but it was just on the verge of shaking on that run too. We shook last night, we changed things around, but it shook again first round. Obviously we have our work cut out for us. We will have to dig deep, do a bunch of testing and straighten it out.

AFTER HAVING TO MAKE THE REPAIRS AFTER CRASHING IN POMONA, WILL YOU BE ABLE TO GIVE YOUR GUYS A COUPLE OF DAYS OFF? "They're really dedicated. My hat is off to them. They want to test, they want to get the Camaro going fast, they want to be in the winner's circle. This is their livelihood out here. People are standing behind us, like ACDelco and Chevrolet. They want us to do good and we know we have to do good. We hav e been to the winner's circle before, we know how to do it. We're just in a dry spell right now."

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Jim Epler , Tony Pedregon , Al Hofmann