ELIMINATIONS FUNNY CAR: BAZEMORE OUT IN FIRST ROUND; CAPPS LOSES TO TOLIVER; EPLER GOES TO SEMIS WHIT BAZEMORE, KENDALL OIL/MATCO TOOLS CAMARO Z28, had high hopes entering today's final eliminations. As the top qualifier, he faced 16th...
FUNNY CAR: BAZEMORE OUT IN FIRST ROUND; CAPPS LOSES TO TOLIVER; EPLER GOES TO SEMIS
WHIT BAZEMORE, KENDALL OIL/MATCO TOOLS CAMARO Z28, had high hopes entering today's final eliminations. As the top qualifier, he faced 16th seed Tommy Johnson Jr. in the first round. The odds seemed to be in Bazemore's favor, as in addition to having lane choice, Johnson's team had struggled to get down the tricky track during qualifying. Bazemore had the edge at the Christmas Tree with a .509 reaction time to Johnson's .555, but his Camaro soon lost traction, slowing Whit to a 5.980-second pass at 215.89 mph,, while Johnson sped to a 5.060/286.07 lap and victory.
No. 11 qualifier RON CAPPS, U.S. TOBACCO CO. CAMARO Z28, didn't have lane choice in the first round, yet defeated No. 6 qualifier Louis Sweet with a 5.409-second elapsed time at 291.01 mph to Sweet's 6.232/155.9, earning lane choice over Jerry Toliver in the second round. Capps launched with a .508 reaction time to Toliver's .486, but lost any chance of making up any ground as he smoked the tires, losing to Toliver's 5.120/291.45 with his 8.636/94.97.
CAPPS: "We struggled quite a bit in qualifying. So, we didn't have lane choice in that first round. Ace (crew chief Ed McCulloch) picked a great time to figure out what the track liked. It gave us lane choice over Toliver. We felt pretty confident. Unfortunately, it smoked the tires out there and what made it even worse was watching him run a 5.12 next to us. That's tough, but we're going to be battling these guys all year long. We'll just plug away until we go to the next race." ON HAVING A GREAT FIRST ROUND AFTER THREE BAD QUALIFYING SESSIONS: "We've been fighting this track all weekend. It's been close. In one of the (qualifying) runs we aborted it lost a blower belt; it had good numbers until then. We're just trying to find a happy medium; this is a tough track to get down. You can't take any of these guys lightly. You can't expect to beat them if you set the car up to run a 5.20. Dale Armstrong (Toliver's crew chief) is tough; these guys are good. It's easy in hindsight to say we should have done this or should have done that. I have a lot of confidence in Ace, especially after the 5.04 we ran in the left lane. Against Toliver I expected to run a low 5 or a high 4.90. Instead, it went up in tire smoke."
JIM EPLER, WWF RACING CAMARO Z28, advanced to the semifinal round after eliminating Bruce Sarver and Del Worsham from the undesirable left lane. He faced Frank Pedregon in the semis, once again without the benefit of lane choice. It was close, but Pedregon came out on top with a 5.129/285.41/.481 R/T pass to Epler's 5.140/284.62/.483 R/T.
EPLER: "We have been negotiating that left lane all day and it just beat us that time. I had to go out and make a hard right. The bumps upset the Camaro too much; I couldn't pull it off. We're happy that we made a little headway on (Ron) Capps and Tony (Pedregon) in points. Toliver only lost 20 points to Force, and the goal is to come out of this (Western swing) with us in third and Jerry in first."
PRO STOCK: KJ REACHES SEMIS
KURT JOHNSON, ACDELCO CAMARO Z28, advanced to the semifinals by defeating Scott Geoffrion and Allan Johnson before he met Jeg Coughlin in the semifinals. Kurt had lane choice and opted for the left lane, which had been the lane of choice for the Pro Stock category. He was unaware that in the previous semifinal round, Troy Coughlin experienced tire shake which resulted in his chutes deploying -- similar to what Kurt had experienced during qualifying in that lane. Kurt also experienced tire shake and was unable to keep up even to a slowing Jeg Coughlin. Coughlin, who had his own share of problems, crawled to an 8.076/124.96 pass to Kurt's 10.756/84.28.
KURT: "I don't think it was the lane, although I guess we could have changed lanes. We should have just backed it down by a couple of horsepower."
<pre> POINT STANDINGS:
1. Jerry Toliver, Camaro (2), Pontiac (1) 1084 2. John Force, Mustang (6) 1052 3. Tony Pedregon, Mustang (1) 848 4. Ron Capps, Camaro 839 5. Jim Epler, Camaro (1) 738
9. Whit Bazemore, Camaro (1) 592
1. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Olds Cutlass (6) 1123 2. Ron Krisher, Firebird (2) 896 3. Warren Johnson, Firebird (1) 838 4. Kurt Johnson, Camaro (1) 778 5. Troy Coughlin, Olds Cutlass 740