Phoenix test session helps Ron Capps

PHOENIX - The last two times Ron Capps drove down Firebird Raceway he had elapsed times of 4.97 and 4.99 seconds. That's very good news because Capps and the U.S. Tobacco Co. Camaro Funny Car team were making test laps earlier this year at...

PHOENIX - The last two times Ron Capps drove down Firebird Raceway he had elapsed times of 4.97 and 4.99 seconds. That's very good news because Capps and the U.S. Tobacco Co. Camaro Funny Car team were making test laps earlier this year at the site of the NHRA's Checkers-Schuck's-Kragen Nationals, Feb. 25-27. And the times were quicker than what he posted last season at this event. "I've learned not to get too excited about test results," said Capps following a February 11 outing at the track that produced the 4.99-second time. But he was nevertheless pleased with the effort, as was crew chief Ed McCulloch. "We tried a lot of different combinations when we tested," Capps added, "and were happy with the results." McCulloch liked the effort, too, plus the opportunity to make more runs to adapt to NHRA's new rule limiting the amount of nitromethane fuel to 90 percent and 10 percent methanol. "We must build our own data this year," said the former Funny Car and Top Fuel driver. "We don't have anything relative to running the car with 90 percent nitro so we're starting over. We made some major changes to the combination during testing. The more runs we make, the better we'll get at figuring out this new fuel curve. "All-in-all, I think the testing we did at Firebird and SpeedWorld (located north of Phoenix) went well," McCulloch continued. "We should be able to run decently during the race." Capps, who posted the 4.97-second time to conclude mid-January testing, didn't get into the four-second range at the season-opening Winternationals at Pomona, Calif. (Feb. 6). He did qualify sixth with a 5.016 at 296.24 mph on his only full-throttle lap of the event. In the first round of eliminations, Capps was leading Gary Densham when the U.S. Tobacco Co. Camaro suddenly spun the tires hard in the final 300 feet of the race. The loss of traction enabled Densham to drive by and win by seven-thousandths of a second - 5.166 at 292.46 mph to 5.163 at 278.40 mph. "That was heart breaking," Capps commented. "The car left the starting line great and was running good. It was probably on a high 4.90-second run when, for some reason, it struck the tires real hard about three seconds into the run. The car usually doesn't do that too often that far down-track. I gave the throttle a quick pedal and that saved it but Densham was right next to me. Then he nosed ahead of me and beat us." Incremental times had Capps ahead by seven-hundredths of a second at half-track and three-hundredths at 1000 feet - before the tires began spinning. "I wasn't real pleased with our performance at the Winternationals," said McCulloch. "We ran the 5.01 on our second (of four) qualifying runs and we thought everything would by OK, but I had to make a big change in the fuel system and the car didn't get down the track on the next two runs. The change to the fuel system came a run or two too late." Capps, who qualified ninth at 5.000 seconds at last year's CSK Nationals, was runner-up at Firebird in 1998.

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Ron Capps , Gary Densham