CHEVROLET NOTES AND QUOTES PARTS AMERICA NATIONALS -- RAIN DATE NHRA WINSTON DRAG RACING SERIES HEARTLAND PARK TOPEKA (Kansas) SATURDAY-SUNDAY A.M., OCT. 17-18, 1998 FUNNY CAR -- CAMARO Z28 CAPPS WINS FIFTH, CAMARO'S SEVENTH! RON CAPPS,...
CHEVROLET NOTES AND QUOTES PARTS AMERICA NATIONALS -- RAIN DATE NHRA WINSTON DRAG RACING SERIES HEARTLAND PARK TOPEKA (Kansas) SATURDAY-SUNDAY A.M., OCT. 17-18, 1998
FUNNY CAR -- CAMARO Z28
CAPPS WINS FIFTH, CAMARO'S SEVENTH!
RON CAPPS, COPENHAGEN CAMARO Z28, won his fifth Funny Car title of the year (more than any other Funny Car driver this season), the seventh for the Camaro brand. He defeated Al Hofmann in the final round with a 5.111-second pass at 285.53 mph. Hofmann didn't have a chance as he smoked the tires on takeoff. (8.160/104.28). As Capps passed through the finish lights, the Cope Camaro caught on fire, which singed the Camaro body on both sides. Damage to the body is primarily cosmetic. The Don Prudhomme Racing crew was planning to test here on Monday, but they will now pack up and return to their summer home base in Indianapolis and make repairs in time for the Dallas event this weekend. The final round of eliminations of this one-day thrash to complete this initially rained-out event was held at approximately 1:30 a.m., with winner's circle ceremonies going well past 3 a.m., and temperatures dropping rapidly towards the 40-degree mark.
Two headlines come to mind for this event: "The Midnight Ride of Ron Capps," or even "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil," (make your own suppositions on this last one). In any event, Capps gained points on John Force in the championship, and is now only 47 points behind, with three events remaining.
CAPPS: "It broke the crankshaft. I'm glad a lot of teams have gone to a dry sump system...it could have been very bad. It's very uncommon for something like this to happen to Roland (Leong, crew chief), it isn't something he did. The crankshaft must have been cracked. Thank God it didn't let go early in that round or at the end of the last run. It happened right at the llights.
WHAT ABOUT FORCE GOING OUT IN THE FIRST ROUND? "We were very happy. You know, Snake's (Don Prudhomme) not here, he's got the flu, and we were talking on the telephone, and the first thing he asked was if was I okay. I said yes and he said 'good job'. He didn't care about the car, he just wanted to make sure I was o.k. I'm still a rookie, I may be a sophomore in this, but I'm still a rookie. You just got to take one round at a time, do what you have to do and everything will take care of itself."
"We took care of (Chuck) Etchells and Cruz (Pedregon) fell out in the semis. We did a lot of good damage here this weekend (in the points battle)."
ON BEING 47 POINTS BEHIND: "That's awesome. I felt good about this weekend. I knew I gained points in qualifying and I knew Cruz would be tough. Early this morning we showed up at the track and it's raining and we're standing around all day, wondering if we'd get this race in. The Safety Safari did a great job. We're running over 300 mph on a track that's 60 degrees (of surface temperature). If they didn't do their job it could have been ugly."
"We're thinking about that big bad (championship) ring at the end of the year right now. There's no reason why we can't win it, no matter what happens we're going to shoot for the championship."
ON THE SEMIFINAL AGAINST ETCHELLS: "I could hear him. What was ironic, in the 'Tantrum' (computer drag racing) game, if you are in a close race -- some of the crew and I play it in the hotel -- in either Funny Car or Dragster, it changes the motor sound, real echoey. I could hear him (Etchells), it was almost the same sound. I couldn't see him but I could hear him and I said to myself either my car is burning up or I'm hearing something. Usually you see the guy when you pull the chutes, I didn't see him, and it got down to my winning on a holeshot. I didn't physically see him, but I knew he was there. Someone said we won by four inches, one thousandth of a second, and we ran 300 mph. It's awesome. I've been on the losing side of that, it's good to be on the winning side."
HOW BIG A WIN IS THIS? "Huge. They're all important."
ARE YOU READY TO WIN THIS THING? "I am ready. I don't know if I was in Indy (where he entered the year's biggest race with the points lead, and left without it) and I never was put into that position before. I'm better for what I went through at Indy. I have the best coach in the world (Prudhomme), he's wearing four (championship) rings on his finger."
"For Force to go out early, it's more than just the points, it's a tide. The crew was down (before today), we were down. At Reading andMemphis we went out in first round. That will mentally knock you down even if everything is fine. It's like playing golf. If you have a bad, bad day, at the first hole, you still have 17 more holes to go. You have to find your problem and get through the day. You have to fight adversity. We have a great crew, they all pull together."
ON THE PROBLEM BEFORE THE SEMIFINAL: "We fired it up and it had no oil pressure. Just about every race we've won it was a mad thrash to get to the final, there was always something wrong. This time we found out it was just the gauge."
FUNNY CAR CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS:
John Force 1395 Ron Capps 1348 Chuck Etchells 1227 Bruz Pedregon 1212 Tony Pedregon 1113