RON CAPPS TAKES CAMARO TO THIRD FUNNY CAR FINAL ROUND IN 2000; TEAMMATE LARRY DIXON WINS HIS SECOND STRAIGHT IN TOP FUEL DRAGSTER RON CAPPS, U.S. TOBACCO CAMARO Z28, reached the final round for the third time this season, the 16th of his career.
RON CAPPS TAKES CAMARO TO THIRD FUNNY CAR FINAL ROUND IN 2000; TEAMMATE LARRY DIXON WINS HIS SECOND STRAIGHT IN TOP FUEL DRAGSTER
RON CAPPS, U.S. TOBACCO CAMARO Z28, reached the final round for the third time this season, the 16th of his career. He faced John Force's Mustang for the fourth time, losing to the nine-time Winston Champion in a pedaling match. Capps had the edge in reaction times (.491 to .504 for Force) but Force emerged out of the smoke the winner with a 5.913-second elapsed time at 236.01 mph to Capps' 6.165/233.76.
Ron's teammate in the Don Prudhomme Racing pits, LARRY DIXON, MILLER LITE TOP FUEL DRAGSTER, won his second straight event. Prudhomme was hopeful for another double win for the team. Capps and Dixon gave Prudhomme his first double-victory as a car owner at the 1998 season-opening Winternationals in Pomona, Calif.
CAPPS: "I didn't see him when I left the line, but then my tires started shaking tremendously hard. I pedaled the throttle and the tires hooked up. I could see Force's car smoke the tires. I pulled up on him, but then he started to pull away. I didn't want to cross the centerline like I did at Houston (losing in the semifinals to eventual race winner Bob Gilbertson). It was a good weekend for us. We're third in points, but we're closer to (first-place Jerry) Toliver than we were before today."
PRUDHOMME: "It's a great moment for Larry, Dick LaHaie, the whole Miller Lite team and it's just fabulous. With Ron we were so, so close, but the positive side is that it moved him up in points and that Camaro is a bad-ass race car and his time will come. It will come and they're working real hard on it. But it's always tough for me because Larry is like a son to me, so I am really thrilled for him because of all that he has achieved. But Ron -- you know I come from the (West) Coast with him -- and the whole team is just working on getting him in the winner's circle.
WHAT WAS GOING THROUGH YOUR MIND WHEN LARRY WON AND RON WAS UP NEXT? "Normally I go down to the end and jump out of the Suburban and congratulate him, but I stayed up here to watch Ron, hoping of course that he was going to pull it off too. It wasn't going to be at this race. You just always think positive and I kind of keep to myself and wait until it's all over with. Because in drag racing you never know, you never know what's going to happen when you pull up there. It's that close and that tough to do."
WHIT BAZEMORE, KENDALL OIL/MATCO TOOLS CAMARO Z28, was eliminated in the first round by Bruce Sarver. Whit smoked the tires at the hit of the throttle and was unable to recover to outrun Sarver to the finish line. Sarver's 5.055/269.78 took the win lilght over Bazemore's 6.169/288.39.
BAZEMORE: "I felt very optimistic coming into today. My goal was to leave on time. I'm not sure what happened to the car, but we smoked the tires at the hit. When I looked at the run on our computer, you could see the driveshaft graph go straight up, indicating the tires never hooked up. When that happens, you're not going anywhere. I did get it to recover, but then you're only going to be able to run an e.t. between 5.80 and 6.20, and that's what it did. In that case, you have to hope your competition makes a mistake or has a mechanical failure. Either way, it's extremely disappointing. We all felt really good after being so consistent in qualifying. When you totally expect to win, it makes it even harder to lose. But we're going to keep going and work through this. We know this Kendall/Matco Camaro is a lot better than we've shown. It's just up to us to show it. But I'm not going to dwell on this. I'm going to get in my Camaro SS, put the top down, turn on a Led Zeppelin CD, crank up the volume and go on to the next race. After that, I'll feel a lot better."
FUNNY CAR POINTS:
Jerry Toliver, WWF Racing Camaro/WWF Racing Firebird 512
John Force, Mustang 443
Ron Capps, U.S. Tobacco Co. Camaro 436
Tony Pedregon, Mustang 412
Jim Epler, WWF Racing Camaro 335
KURT JOHNSON MAKES IT TO THE SEMIS IN PRO STOCK FOR THE FIRST TIME THIS SEASON
KURT JOHNSON, ACDELCO CAMARO Z28, defeated Mark Osborne and Tom Martino to make it into the semifinals, then lost to eventual winner Jeg Coughlin Jr. with a 7.142/197.62 to Coughlin's 6.880/199.88. Kurt had consistent elapsed times of 6.874 and 6.912 until that round.
KURT: "The last run was the worst run we made all weekend. It spun real hard in the second round, so we changed the 4-link (suspension) around and then it just was out of control down track, so we changed the springs, which are the same springs we ran 6.83 (in qualifying) with, and I guess the combination of the two it just didn't like. I guess it's back to the drawing board."
ON THE WEEKEND: "It could have been a lot worse. It's my first semifinal of the year and we're trying to find out what this car likes, and all the runs we did in Atlanta helped and we came here and ran fairly well. Those guys are just making excellent runs getting down there and we know we can run with them, we're just trying to run faster than they do and it just hasn't happened yet."