Test Session promising for Capps, Cope Racing Team

TEST SESSION RESULTS SHOW PROMISE TO CAPPS, COPE RACING TEAM COMMERCE, Ga. - Driver Ron Capps knew there would be times like this. So did crew chief Roland Leong and team owner Don "The Snake" Prudhomme. What they didn't expect was the...

TEST SESSION RESULTS SHOW PROMISE TO CAPPS, COPE RACING TEAM

COMMERCE, Ga. - Driver Ron Capps knew there would be times like this.

So did crew chief Roland Leong and team owner Don "The Snake" Prudhomme.

What they didn't expect was the search for a new combination to take this long. The Copenhagen Racing Camaro Funny Car goes into the Advance Auto Parts Southern Nationals, May 14-16, at Atlanta Dragway, without a round win in the first six races.

New cylinder heads and an injector provided the engine with more horsepower while the revolutionary five-disc clutch came with its own tuning adversity. Together, they've given Leong some sleepless nights.

"We knew going into the season that we needed a new baseline combination," explained Leong. "We've been working to find out what the motor likes for certain track conditions. Then we have to adapt that to the new clutch. It always takes time to learn a new engine combination. The only way to do it is to make a lot of runs."

The car reacted in different ways to various tune-ups. It did wheelstands or lost traction, either smoking or shaking the tires. After a number of test runs, Leong believes the Cope Racing Camaro is ready to challenge for race victories.

A test session (May 4) at Virginia Motorsports, near Richmond, told Leong that he was on the right trail. "I was very pleased," said Leong. "We got past the critical part of the track, where the tires would shake, without a having a problem. "We've learned a lot, but the only way to do that is to just go run the car and make the changes according to what the car tells you it wants. You have to adjust to the different race tracks and air (atmospheric conditions). We've stumbled sometimes, but we're always learning things"

In the few days between the NHRA Winston Series race at Dallas (April 25) and Richmond (May 2-3), the car's engine was moved forward on the chassis. "That seemed to help some, but we still need to make more runs," Leong commented.

Capps qualified 11th at Richmond (5.215 seconds) and fell to Whit Bazemore in the first round - 5.081 at 301.81 mph to 9.924 at 81.59 mph. "The car started to shake and I gave (the throttle) a quick pedal," Capps said of his run against Bazemore. "The car took off like it was going to be all right, but then the tires went up in smoke. I tried to catch it and pedal it again, then I saw Whit driving away.

"It's obvious we're still struggling. By no means is it a lack of effort by anybody on the crew. We want to roll into Atlanta and hopefully give everybody something to talk about."

Capps is 15th in points with 177. He trails 10th place Jerry Toliver by 56 points.

Southern Nationals qualifying is at 3 and 7 p.m. Friday, noon and 4 p.m. Saturday. Eliminations begin at 11 a.m. Sunday. 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 Atlanta Dragway: Capps was runner-up there in 1995, driving a Top Fuel dragster. He lost in the first round ('97) and second round ('98) driving the Cope Racing Camaro.

RON CAPPS' 1999 RACE-BY-RACE RESULTS:

Winternationals: Qualified: No. 5, 5.003 seconds, 293. 79 mph Pomona, Calif. First round: Gary Densham def. Capps Standing: 10th, 34 points

CSK Nationals: Qualified: No. 9, 5.000, 295.34 mph Phoenix First round: Al Hofmann def. Capps Standing: 12th, 66 points

Gatornationals: Qualified: No. 10, 5.013 seconds, 304.87 mph Gainesville, Fla. First round: Frank Pedregon def. Capps. Standing: 13th, 98 points

O'Reilly Nationals: Did not qualify Houston Standing: 14th, 108 points

Castrol Nationals: Qualified: No. 2, 4.910 seconds, 306.95 mph Dallas First round: Dale Creasy Jr. def. Capps Standing: 14th, 145 points

Pennzoil Nationals: Qualified: No. 11, 5.215 seconds, 261.78 mph Richmond, Va. First round: Whit Bazemore def. Capps Standing: 15th, 177points

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Series NHRA
Drivers Frank Pedregon , Al Hofmann , Whit Bazemore , Ron Capps , Dale Creasy Jr. , Gary Densham , Jerry Toliver