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NHRA: Ron Capps Beats John Force to Win His Second Funny Car Event of '98

5 May 1998

Ennis, Texas: Ron Capps, driving the Copenhagen Camaro Z28, defeated John Force's Ford today in the Funny Car final of the Castrol Lone Star Nationals at the Texas Motorplex. This was the second title-round meeting for the pair, and the score is tied at 1-1. Capps scored the Chevy Camaro's fourth win, his second, in seven events of the 22-race 1998 NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series and catapulted himself from a fourth-place tie into second place in championship points, 54 behind leader Force (553-499).

Chuck Etchells, driver of the Kendall/MaMa Rosa's Pizza/Superwinch Camaro Z28, points leader going into this event, is a close third in points (497) after failing to qualify here.

As the green light flashed, both cars took off with Capps having the edge in reaction times, a .470 to Force's .478. But it didn't matter, as Force blazed his tires and Capps blasted to the finish line in 4.960 seconds at a top speed of 292.39 mph. Force limped to the line with an e.t. of 6.463 seconds and a speed of 146.93 mph.

Capps' run wasn't perfect, however. "We got lucky and that's what it takes a lot of times," said Capps, 32, of San Diego. "I hit the pedal and the Camaro took off. I said if he's going to beat me he's going to have to catch up soon. Then we blew the supercharger through the body at about 900 feet. We've been struggling all year, and weird stuff was happening this weekend," referring to a fire in qualifying, consistently losing cylinders and two engine changes during final eliminations. "We're not trying to steel the cheese," he commented, "we're just trying to get out of the trap."

After replacing the burnt body, changing the engine and finally correcting an ongoing problem in the ignition, Capps qualified No. 4 with an e.t. of 4.946 seconds and a top speed of 301.20 mph. In the first round of final eliminations he defeated Phil Burkhart, Jr. with a 4.924-second run, then disposed of Del Worsham in 5.102 seconds in the second round. In the semifinals he defeated Frank Pedregon with a 5.139-second pass. "When we ran the 4.92 in the first round I knew we could run it again, then it dropped cylinders in the next two rounds. Force had been running 4.90s all day and I thought I might be in trouble. 'Snake' (team owner Don Prudhomme) told me as we went to the line that this snake can strike at any time, and that's what we did in the final."

"Force was running good," added Prudhomme. "When Roland (Leong, crew chief) came up with the 4.94 in qualifying we knew we had a good race car for Sunday. It was a great car for Sunday. I'm really proud of the job that the whole Copenhagen Camaro crew did. They're doing a great job and we just have to keep it up. There's highs and lows in drag racing; it's real easy to lose and doubly hard to win. It was our day and we'll just keep going straight ahead."

In Pro Stock competition, Kurt Johnson took the ACDelco Camaro Z28 into the final for the first time this season in a points event, after beating Mark Pawuk, Team Chevrolet teammate Larry Morgan, in the Raybestos Camaro Z28, and Richie Stevens. In the final it was Johnson vs. Mike Edwards. Reaction times made the difference as Edwards captured the title on a holeshot advantage (.444 for Edwards, .462 for Kurt), reaching the end of the quarter mile in 7.024 seconds (195.56 mph) to Johnson's 7.018 (196.89 mph).