Topeka: Chevrolet qualifying notes

RON CAPPS, U.S. TOBACCO CO., qualified No. 3, 4.905/300.73, as the quickest of seven Camaros to qualify for the 16-car Funny Car field. * He's followed by SCOTTY CANNON, MAD SCIENTIST CAMARO Z28, in sixth, 4.973/289.38. * WHIT BAZEMORE,...

RON CAPPS, U.S. TOBACCO CO., qualified No. 3, 4.905/300.73, as the quickest of seven Camaros to qualify for the 16-car Funny Car field.

* He's followed by SCOTTY CANNON, MAD SCIENTIST CAMARO Z28, in sixth, 4.973/289.38.

* WHIT BAZEMORE, KENDALL OIL/MATCO TOOLS CAMARO Z28, is No. 8, 4.979/302.28. Bazemore clicked off four clean, consistent, quick runs this weekend: 4.987, 5.033, 5.060 and 4.979.

* JIM EPLER, WWF RACING 'STONE COLD' CAMARO Z28, is No. 9 and therefore will face Bazemore in the first round of eliminations tomorrow, 4.983/297.94.

* CRISTEN POWELL, BAZEMORE RACING'S NITROFISH CAMARO Z28, skipped the final qualifying session and is No. 11, 4.985/286.98.

* BOB GILBERTSON, TRICK TANK CAMARO Z28, qualified 14th, 5.056/299.00.

* PHIL BURKART, TEAM GERONIMO CAMARO Z28, rounds out the field in 16th, 5.093/301.60.

CAPPS: "We came into this weekend wanting to finish this season strong. We need to make a run at Jerry Toliver to get into second place (in the Winston Championship). To have a plan and to go through with the plan and get into the program solid in the first session Friday means so much (5.018 for fifth place). You can go up there Friday night and let it all hang out. So we ran a 4.905 (putting him in third, which he held throughout the remainder of qualifying). We probably won't see conditions like that for the rest of the weekend. Today we used the conditions as a prelude for Sunday. To run a 5.038 in the middle of the day is what we kind of wanted to do. We wanted to run a 4.90 in the last session, but it spun the tires pretty good in the third qualifying session (5.11) so we had to back it down. The main thing is we got lane choice for the first round. Nothing would be sweeter for anyone on the team than to give Camaro a happy 34th birthday with a win at Topeka. It was here that we last won (in '98). We feel good about tomorrow."

BAZEMORE: "We're happy. It seems like our consistency has come back. That's what we are working towards. Any time in this sport you achieve a goal you have reason to be happy. We have got a tough competitor with Epler in the first round, in another Camaro, but we owe him one. There are a couple of Camaro drivers in the field who want to be the one to celebrate the Camaro's 34th birthday with a win and so naturally I want to be the one who does it. You also have to contend with that 'evil' Mustang over there (John Force's team). It's going to be a tough day, but I have to say I feel the most confident that I have felt in a long time. We have been able to repeat (consistently in four runs) and the the car has responded to Terry's (crew chief Manzer) tune-up changes the way it should. The last run, the .97, was actually a lot better, but we blew the tires off at about 900 feet and that's easy to fix, so our early numbers are really competitive. We just have to see what the conditions are tomorrow and adjust the car accordingly, but we have a good baseline so we're in good shape.


* KURT JOHNSON, ACDELCO CAMARO Z28, is No. 3 qualifier, 6.950/198.00.

* V. GAINES, WESTERN MOTORSPORTS CAMARO Z28, is No. 11, 6.975/196.16.

* RICKIE SMITH, BUCKS COUNTY KAWASAKI CAMARO Z28, qualified 15th, 6.984/196.56.

* TOM HAMMONDS, WINNEBAGO/GM PERFORMANCE PARTS CAMARO Z28, failed to qualify in this his last race of the 2000 season (No. 22, 7.009/196.85). He will return to NBA training camp to prepare for the winter basketball season. Tom plans to return next year for 16 events. In the final qualifying session Tom failed to complete a burnout. He did not abort the run, however, and was able to get down the track with a 7.10-second pass.

HAMMONDS: WHAT HAPPENED ON THE BURNOUT? "It kicked out of gear in fifth gear. That's the second time it did that this race. It did that on the second pass yesterday and kicked out again during the burnout this last session. It never did that before. It might be something in the adjustment of the transmission or fifth gear might be worn out." HOW IMPORTANT IS THE BURNOUT? "That was important. It's always important to do your normal routine as far as your burnout (is concerned). You always want to burn out across the line to make a fresh track of rubber where you plan on staging the car. We didn't get a chance to do that, but that wasn't our problem as far as our not performing. It's just been a tough year for the Winnebago/GM Performance Parts Camaro team." ON NEXT SEASON: "I think next year is a make-or-break year for our team and we definitely have a lot of work to do in the off season. We have to open some eyes in the first two or three races to let people know we are serious about this and that we are going to be in this class for a very long time. It's not only important for me, but for my sponsors as well. I'd like to thank all my sponsors for sticking with me. It's been a rough year. It shows the quality of people we have on this car, that even though we have an off year that they are still associated with us next year." WHEN WILL YOU RETURN NEXT YEAR? "This year we ran the most races we have ever run during an off (NBA) season. We ran 12 races. We plan on running 16 races next year. Next year will be our last half season until I retire from basketball. The basketball season, depending on the playoff situation, ends at the beginning of April. We plan on hitting the track full speed soon after."


BOB PANELLA JR., PANELLA TRUCKING CHEVY S-10, grabbed the No. 1 qualifying position for the seventh time this season with a 7.585-second lap at 177.32 mph. STEVE JOHNS, SUPERCLEAN CHEVY S-10, is No. 2, 7.593/176.79; and GREG STANFIELD, CHEVY S-10, is No. 3, 7.596/176.86. Second place in points RANDY DANIELS, BAILEY TRUCKING CHEVY S-10 is fourth, 78.599/176.93.

PANELLA: LAST YEAR THIS RACE WAS PIVOTAL, IT PUT YOU IN THE POINTS LEAD: "I thought about that. I really did. Last year we started getting back together around the U.S. Nationals in Indy and got beat on a holeshot there and came here with high hopes, if nothing else just to stay in the points battle. Luck turned our way. We got the points lead and we never looked back. I'd like nothing more than to be in that position tomorrow. We made four good runs in qualifying. We have both S-10s flying (Jeff Gracia, teammate, is No. 5). We're looking good for tomorrow and hope for the best." ON THE WIND CONDITIONS: "The wind no doubt probably helped a little bit tonight. We made an exceptional run this last run (7.592/177.32). I would have been happy with a high .59 or a .60, but we went 7.592. We were real happy with that." THE FIELD IS TIGHT: "I didn't even realize it. Jeff (Gracia) was looking at the qualifying sheet. He said this is probably our second or third quickest field ever. It makes it a driver's race for sure. When you have equal lanes like that and the elapsed time separation is so close, it's going to be a driver's race. I'm up to the challenge. I've turned that (driving and reaction times) program around. If we don't make any mistakes tomorrow we will be in good shape."


Garley Daniels, crew chief and father of Randy, the Bailey Trucking Chevy S-10 driver in NHRA's Pro Stock Truck category and a contender for the Winston Championship (second in points), was hospitalized this week with a condition known as irregular heartbeat.

Garley, 58, winner of two NHRA Championships (1979 and 1988) and two-time TRW Champion (1990 and 1991) is a mainstay of the team and has supported Randy's quest for the championship since they entered the series in 1998.

Garley and Randy, 32, run Daniels Racing, an engine-building operation in Grantsboro, N.C. Garley was voted the Car Craft Magazine Driver of the Year-Modified in 1980 and had been bringing Randy to the races with him "since he was three or four years old."

The doctor who initially treated Garley also treated former president George Bush for a similar condition at Pitt Memorial Hospital in Greenville, N.C., where Garley is in the intensive care unit. It is expected that Garley will be transported to Cleveland (Ohio) Medical Center next week, considered the best in the country for treatment of this condition.

"He hadn't been feeling very well the last month or so and he'd been tiring easily. He finally decided to go to the doctor and get checked out," said Randy. "The doctors found he had an irregular heartbeat which steadily progressed. They tried to treat it with medicine, but his body did not respond. They'll take him to Cleveland, where he will undergo more extensive tests of all four heart chambers to find an answer.

"He was able to walk around yesterday, but he's not improving today," added Randy. "It's hard trying to concentrate on what we're supposed to be doing at the race here. We were pretty close to packing everything up and heading back home on Thursday. But I talked to dad and my mom (Barbara) and they told me to do what I had to do, there's nothing I could do back there."

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Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Jerry Toliver