PRO STOCK: KURT BEATS DAD WARREN IN FINAL KURT2 JOHNSON, ACDELCO CAMARO Z28, defeated his dad Warren, five-time Winston Champion, in the final round today, in only their 12th final-round pairing since 1993. Kurt has only defeated Warren three...
PRO STOCK: KURT BEATS DAD WARREN IN FINAL
KURT2 JOHNSON, ACDELCO CAMARO Z28, defeated his dad Warren, five-time Winston Champion, in the final round today, in only their 12th final-round pairing since 1993. Kurt has only defeated Warren three times for the title since his rookie year in 1993. The previous two times were in that season, here in Maple Grove, and the the last one in Dallas. This was Kurt's fourth win of the season, the fourth of the last seven, and the 19th of his career. Kurt not only beat Warren to the finish line with a 6.885-second pass at 200.14 mph, he out-launched him at the starting line with a .452 reaction time to Warren's .515. Kurt moved into second place in points, 363 behind Jeg Coughlin Jr.
Kurt's consistent elapsed times all day assured him a berth in the final round: 6.881/200.23 to eliminate Mark Pawuk; 6.892/200.05 against Ron Krisher; and a 6.878/200.41 to oust RICKIE SMITH, BUCKS COUNTY KAWASAKI CAMARO Z28, in the semifinals.
KURT: "Dad and I raced here in '93. We were side-by-side, door handle-to-door handle. The power is so close. You never know what's going to happen. I had a little advantage because the sun was blazing on his side of the (Christmas) Tree. I left on him and it paid off."
WHAT DID HE SAY TO YOU AT THE OTHER END? "Good job."
DID YOU KNOW YOU WERE WINNING? "I never look over there. I try to make the best run I can in my lane. If you look over there you start driving over there. I only knew I had won when I saw the win light on in my lane."
WHAT DID HE SAY TO YOU BEFORE THE RACE? "He came over before the final and said 'are you ready?' I said, 'yup.'"
WHAT WERE YOUR EMOTIONS? "The situation here, where you know neither one of us has a shot of winning the championship, it's just let it all go. May the best driver on this given day win. You aren't great every day; you have to go day by day."
THIS CAMARO HAS REALLY COME AROUND FOR YOU: "It seems to be pretty special. It has won four races; I've never won four races in a year. It's a good thing they added races; it gave us a chance to do it."
ON BEATING DAD: "You hate to piss off your dad. If I wouldn't have done a good job out there he wouldn't have been proud of me. You have to go out there and do your best. That's what it's all about: the sponsorship, the hard work and getting off the starting line on time." <pre> POINT STANDINGS:
1. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Olds Cutlass (8) 1592 2. Kurt Johnson, Camaro (4) 1229 3. Ron Krisher, Firebird (2) 1196 4. Warren Johnson, Firebird (1) 1112 5. Troy Coughlin, Olds Cutlass 926 Mark Pawuk, Firebird (1) 926
FUNNY CAR: CAPPS GOES TO FIFTH FINAL ROUND OF SEASON
RON CAPPS , U.S. TOBACCO CO. CAMARO Z28, made his 18th career final round appearance, his fifth in 2000 and his second straight at the Keystone Nationals, and for the fifth time this year he's a bridesmaid instead of the bride. If you include the non-points Winston Showdown in July, he's been to six final rounds, with no wins. He lost to first-time winner Bruce Sarver, in a Pontiac Firebird, by four hundredths of a second in a close match-up. Capps had the advantage at the starting line with a .495 reaction time to Sarver's .516, but his 5.063-second lap at 293.73 mph wasn't enough to outrun Sarver's 4.993/303.03.
Capps disposed of JIM EPLER, WWF RACING 'BIG RED MACHINE' CAMARO Z28, in the first round, when Epler's car was went up in flames; then took care of the Pedregon Brothers, Frank and Tony respectively, before reaching the final round.
CAPPS: "We knew that they had lane choice and we hadn't had lane choice all day. When you get up there to the right lane -- everyone ran good there -- we weren't concerned. We knew Sarver could run anywhere from a 4.95 or a 5 flat. We tried to do the same thing and not be too greedy with the track. We left the starting line, I didn't see Sarver's car out the side window, and I said 'here we go.' I could hear his engine next to me. At about half track I knew it was close because I couldn't see him through the side window. At 800 feet I saw his nose pop out and we just kind of stayed with him; he was about a half a car in front of me. You have a lot of emotions going through your body in just five seconds. From 800 feet the emotions went from I'm going to win this race, to, oops, we just lost this race. It's unfortunate. I feel like (John) Force with all those bridesmaids before his first win. In '98 we had all those wins (five) and we are very capable of winning a race. It even hurts that much more. But it does show we are ready to win." ON THE WEEKEND: "The weekend started terrible. It started with the fire we had in Englishtown last weekend. Ace (crew chief Ed McCulloch) had been fighting a gremlin that caused the fire in Englishtown. We came here and had a fire in the first round in qualifying. We had a great week considering how our weekend started. Friday night we had to go up to the starting line to run the car half track to find the problem. We got a couple of runs behind everyone else. The brighter side of this weekend, even though we didn't win, is that we really helped ourselves out in Winston Championship points. Now we're only four rounds behind Jerry Toliver for second place. John Force is untouchable. We set our goal to be second in points, and we're pretty close considering how far Jerry Toliver was ahead earlier in the year. To be able to beat Epler in the first round was great. He's right behind us in points and to beat Tony (Pedregon), who's right behind us in points and to gain some more ground on him, we really had a good weekend. It's just too bad we didn't put the Camaro in the winner's circle. I haven't won since '98. When we do win again it's going to be very sweet, because everyone on the team has really earned it, and it's going to happen here real soon and it's going to be very worth it."
DON PRUDHOMME , team owner: ON GAINING ON SECOND PLACE IN POINTS WITHOUT WINNING A TITLE: "We are pointing them to death. But a win would be nice. It looks very promising. Any time you get to the finals at one of these races with the tough competition it's not bad. It's not bad at all. The team is doing great, just great."
EPLER'S CAMARO DESTROYED IN FIRE
JIM EPLER , WWF RACING 'BIG RED MACHINE' CAMARO Z28, escaped serious injury in the first round against Chevrolet teammate RON CAPPS, U.S. TOBACCO CO. CAMARO Z28, when his Camaro Funny Car was engulfed in fire following an engine explosion. Capps' win against Epler with a 5.715-second lap at 230.45 mph to Epler's 6.870/116.42 was not without incident, as Capps' Camaro smoked its tires and deployed its burst panel when the motor blew as he crossed the finish line.
The two left normally and were side-by-side for the first 60 feet before Capps' Camaro lost traction and smoked the tires. Epler streaked ahead for a moment until his powerplant let go with a thundering blast. A huge fire ensued but the veteran driver managed to keep his Camaro off the retaining wall and out of Capps' way. He finally brought the fiery wreckage to a stop just past the finish line and climbed out of the escape hatch without injury.
EPLER: "It was a pretty wild ride. The worst part of this is we go out there and I see Capps drop back in his lane. I thought we were on our way and then it started spinning the tires. I hung with it a little bit and then suddenly it dropped a cylinder. I gave it a quick pedal and the engine just exploded with lots of fire. I didn't like seeing him go by me and us losing the round, but I really hate to lose our 'Kane' car. There was quite a bit of fire in the car and the best way to get them stopped at that point is to turn the car sideways. I got it stopped and got out of the car as quick as I could. Unfortunately, we lost our 'Kane' (Camaro) Funny Car body...so the 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin Chevy will be back in Topeka and will be seen at next week's 'Unforgiven' pay-per-view in Philadelphia. I hope we can have the same success and luck with 'Stone Cold' as we did with 'Kane.'"
(The above Epler note is courtesy of WWF Racing's Jay Wells.)
CRISTEN POWELL , BAZEMORE RACING NITROFISH CAMARO Z28, lost in the first round to Bruce Sarver. Sarver won on a holeshot advantage: 5.051/287.35/.512 R/T to Cristen's 5.026/277.26/.541.
SCOTTY CANNON , MAD SCIENTIST CAMARO Z28, also lost to Bruce Sarver, in the semifinal, after defeating Al Hofmann and BOB GILBERTSON, TRICK TANK CAMARO Z28. Semis: 4.978/286.13/.539 for Cannon; 4.961/302.28/.529 for Sarver. <pre> POINT STANDINGS:
1. John Force, Mustang (8) 1473 2. Jerry Toliver, Camaro (2), Firebird (1) 1247 3. Ron Capps, Camaro 1168 4. Tony Pedregon, Mustang (1) 1112 5. Jim Epler, Camaro (2) 1038
9. Whit Bazemore, Camaro (1) 820