COPE RACING CAMARO RUNS GOOD TIMES; CAPPS READY FOR RICHMOND DINWIDDIE, Va. - The pieces of the puzzle are slowly coming together. Very soon, probably as early as this weekend, Ron Capps, Roland Leong and the Copenhagen Racing Funny Car...
COPE RACING CAMARO RUNS GOOD TIMES; CAPPS READY FOR RICHMOND
DINWIDDIE, Va. - The pieces of the puzzle are slowly coming together. Very soon, probably as early as this weekend, Ron Capps, Roland Leong and the Copenhagen Racing Funny Car team will have a competitive race car. The racing combination that has been so elusive during the first four NHRA Winston Series races appeared for a while during last weekend's Castrol Nationals at the Texas Motorplex at Ennis, then vanished on race day. So Leong made one major change to the chassis to get ready for the Pennzoil Nationals, which begin Friday at Virginia Motorsports Park, near Richmond. The goal is to keep the front wheels on the ground. When the wheels stayed on the track, the Camaro-bodied car flashed the form everyone expected earlier this season. Capps went for his quickest rides of the year - back-to-back runs of 4.910 and 4.914 seconds -- that vaulted him into the No. 2 qualifying position at the Motorplex. On race day, however, the front wheels went skyward and Capps eventually had to pedal the throttle. "When I did, the engine dropped two cylinders," he said, "and (Dale) Creasy drove by me." Capps slowed to a 5.249 at 255.53 mph while Creasy won with a 5.099 at 294.40. "We weren't trying to set the world on fire," Capps added. "We put a little more weight on the front end because it carried the front wheels. We thought we'd run about 4.90 (seconds). But the front end came up and the car went to the right. The wheels came down, then picked up again. I couldn't believe what happened. It's very frustrating, but we all know the car is going to run. We saw what it is capable of Saturday. And those runs could've been quicker, but the engine dropped a cylinder near the finish line on each pass." Leong was pleased to see the 4.91 times although he realizes there is more work to do. "When I first started here (nearly two years ago), we won a few races and I had a good baseline (combination) by the end of the season," he said. "We didn't change anything last year because we had a good baseline to run for the championship, which we did. We didn't step up and use some of the new parts then. "I knew going into this season that it would take a while to get everything sorted out. Now that we've run some pretty good numbers, we need to run more in different conditions to get a good baseline." When Capps failed to make the field at Houston (April 11), the team tested for four days, making runs at Houston and the Motorplex. It was the first time since Leong took over the Cope Racing tuning duties (May 10, 1997) that Capps wasn't among the qualifiers. For Capps, going to Richmond looking for his first round victory of the campaign might seem like déjà vu all over again - as Yogi Berra would say. Two years ago the team struggled in its first season. Capps didn't get his first round win until the series moved to Richmond. And when he did, the car crashed into the retaining wall past the finish line. A broken suspension piece caused the incident and rain postponed the event for two weeks. After completing the race - Capps lost in the next round - Leong became the crew chief. "Roland and the crew will do everything it takes to get the car ready for four rounds of racing Sunday at Richmond," Capps said. Action begins with qualifying Friday and Saturday.
Ron Capps Facts:
Age: 33 Hometown: Carlsbad, Calif.
Final-round record: 8/12 (7/10 Funny Car, 1/2 Top Fuel); Last win: Topeka, Kan., 10/17/98;
Quickest time: 4.864 seconds; Fastest speed: 315.45 mph
At Virginia Motorsports Park: Capps lost in the second round in '97 and the first round last year, both times to Randy Anderson - who won't be competing at this event.