Topeka: Capps, Camaro reach final...again

FUNNY CAR: CAPPS MAKES IT INTO ANOTHER FINAL ROUND; LOSES TO FORCE RON CAPPS, U.S. TOBACCO CO. CAMARO Z28, continues to inch his way up the charts in his attempt to overtake Jerry Toliver for second in points. He reached the final round of ...


RON CAPPS, U.S. TOBACCO CO. CAMARO Z28, continues to inch his way up the charts in his attempt to overtake Jerry Toliver for second in points. He reached the final round of eliminations for the sixth time this season, and once again he's going home a runner-up. The good news is that Ron, in third, is now just 55 points behind Toliver, who lost to Force in the semifinal. Force has a stronghold on first place, 272 points over Toliver.

Capps faced John Force in the final round for the fourth time this season, the 24th of their careers. Ron has won four times against Force and today was not one of them, as Force grabbed his 90th career event title with a 4.933-second elapsed time at 291.82 mph to Capps' tire-smoking 8.875/91.65.

Capps eliminated BOB GILBERTSON, TRICK TANK CAMARO Z28, in the first round He then ousted SCOTTY CANNON, MAD SCIENTIST CAMARO Z28, in the second; and Del Worsham in the semifinal.

RON CAPPS: "Of course it's frustrating. We have to get past that as quick as we can and realize we had a pretty darned good weekend anyway. It would have been nice to give the Camaro a 34th birthday present, but we got outrun in the final. When you get beat by John Force you can't hold your head too low; he's a nine-time Winston champion. Just think of all the guys who got whooped on by 'Snake' (Ron's team owner and four-time Funny Car champion Don Prudhomme) all those years he dominated Funny Car. We know we're capable of winning. We have to pick up our chins and keep at it. It's gratifying to know we will have a great year next year because we will start off this way. It's frustrating losing final rounds, but it's better than losing first rounds. We're gaining points on Toliver. We're not completely out of first place, but mathematically it's probably not possible. We set a goal to try to finish second ahead of Toliver. We achieved as much as we could this weekend without winning." ON THE FINAL ROUND: "I just blew the tires off. The right lane wasn't the lane of choice all day. We stepped up in the semis and ran a 4.93. That was a darned good run for that time of day. Force ran a 4.92 and we lost lane choice. Whether it cost us we're not sure. We felt we could run a 4.90 if we had the left lane. We hadn't been in the right lane all day."

WHIT BAZEMORE, KENDALL OIL/MATCO TOOLS CAMARO Z28, was eliminated in the first round by JIM EPLER, WWF RACING 'STONE COLD' CAMARO Z28. Following a solid qualifying effort, Bazemore made his best run of the weekend, a 4.938 at 305.84 mph, which was the third quickest pass of the session. His speed was also the second fastest run of the weekend by a Funny Car. Unfortunately, Epler used the second quickest run of the session (4.927/303.43) to edge out Bazemore in one of the closest races of the day, winning by a margin of .021 of a second.

Epler advanced to the second round, where he was defeated by John Force, in another close match: 4.939/298.01 for Force; 4.976/298.47 for Epler.

BAZEMORE: "What can I say, it's been that kind of year for us. We were shallow staged and I had a .507 light, which is about my normal light when I do that. We also had our best run of the weekend, which was the third quickest elapsed time of the round. But Epler was in deeper and had a .940 60-foot time, so they outran us. You just hate to lose a race like that. I know the Camaro's setup can affect reaction time, but as a driver, you always feel you can do better. You could argue that we needed more performance on our car today, but I don't feel that way. When we run within a couple hundredths of the guy in the other lane, we should win. There are no excuses. We should be able to consistently have .480 lights when we're shallow. That represents being perfect, but in my mind I have to step up my game a little bit in those situations, which I am still figuring out how to do with this car. We needed to be absolutely perfect to win that round, and we weren't. We got beat, and that's frustrating. But even though we lost, I'm still excited about the Kendall/Matco Camaro's performance here this weekend. We've now made six runs in a row without smoking the tires, which is really encouraging. I'm looking forward to next weekend in Memphis."

EPLER: "It's really good to come out to a great racetrack where the drivers are going to be a factor. It's nice to go down the quarter mile and it's even better to win those close races. What hurts is to lose the close ones. The main thing is we lost to the world champion (Force). He's tough, but he knew we were there. It's our first race with 'Stone Cold' this season and our first race back from our fire in Reading (Pa.). We're real confident with the car now and that's the most important thing. I was a little nervous that we might have lost the tune-up. But whatever we might have lost I think we got back, and were going to be there the rest of the year."


1.    John Force, Mustang (9)                    1591
2.    Jerry Toliver, Camaro (2), Firebird (1)    1319
3.    Ron Capps, Camaro                          1264
4.    Tony Pedregon, Mustang (1)                 1167
5.    Jim Epler, Camaro (2)                      1090
6.    Scotty Cannon, Camaro                       925
8.    Whit Bazemore, Camaro (1)                   853


KURT JOHNSON, ACDELCO CAMARO Z28, the driver who came into Topeka having won four of the last seven events, lost to Darrell Alderman in the second round today, with a 7.043-second elapsed time at 196.53 mph to Alderman's 7.004/195.25. Kurt holds on to second place in points, however, as Ron Krisher, in third, was eliminated in the first round.

KURT: THAT'S NOT WHAT YOU WERE LOOKING FOR: "No. That was definitely a one-lane race track out there. Losing lane choice by a few thousandths in the first round cost us lane choice going into second round and in the right lane there's just nothing there. There's nothing at the starting line, and then downtrack at the transition of the new concrete to the old concrete there's a big bump down there and it cost us the race. The car wasn't the problem. Losing is not fun, losing in the second round is not fun. After running seven or eight races on the streak that we've been on, this is the worst that we've done since before Denver. We'll just regroup and head on to Memphis and see if we can do a little better there."


1.        Jeg Coughlin Jr., Olds Cutlass (9)            1710
2.        Kurt Johnson, Camaro (4)                      1285
3.        Ron Krisher, Firebird (2)                     1233
4.        Warren Johnson, Firebird (1)                  1187
5.        Mark Pawuk, Firebird (1)                       999

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Darrell Alderman , Mark Pawuk , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Jim Epler , Tony Pedregon , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , Ron Capps , John Force , Ron Krisher , Scotty Cannon , Don Prudhomme , Jerry Toliver