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Sun, 24 Oct 1999, 02:20 PM

DALLAS - Funny Car Round 1 Eliminations
By Larry Sullivan

Lots of Tire Smoke

ENNIS, Texas - Results of round 1 eliminations in Funny Car at the 14th annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec:
   4 Ron Capps           4.908 295.76  Q   13 Dale Creasy Jr.     5.026 301.00
 *****WINNER***** 0.524  4.899 310.98  E1                  0.494 16.146  62.58
12:35 PM These two have met once before this year and Creasy came away with the win light that time. Here Capps comes off a solid performance during qualifying and had to be considered a big favorite. The team appears to have overcome their first-round jinx, coming up with a great opening pass while Creasy smoked the tires at the hit of the throttle. Capps' Copenhagen Camaro was straight, smooth, and glued down all the way through this run, with no tire smoke and no raw fuel from the headers. In other words, a picture-perfect run.
   3 Whit Bazemore       4.904 303.43  Q   14 Cory Lee            5.030 306.74
 *****WINNER***** 0.502  4.854 304.98  E1                  0.330  5.024 305.81
Cory Lee got to the finish line first, but he took too much of a head start, making Bazemore's great run look like it was a loser - until the win light came on in Bazemore's lane and people noticed the red light in Lee's. Bazemore's run was as good looking as Capps', the car straight and true, the engine flawless.
   1 John Force          4.844 317.12  Q   16 Al Hofmann          5.206 274.55
 *****WINNER***** 0.526  4.828 321.54  E1                  0.518  5.271 279.06
These two have faced each other three times this year and Force won all three of them. Make that four for four, Force resetting low ET and top speed of the meet on yet another picture-perfect run in the left lane. There was nothing visibly wrong with Hofmann's run, but he was not in contention almost from the start, falling behind quickly and losing ground all the way.
   2 Tommy Johnson Jr.   4.857 316.45  Q   15 Scott Weis          5.150 305.60
 *****WINNER***** 0.422  5.176 259.96  E1                  0.292 10.017  87.17
Johnson has been the hot property in Funny Car the past three events, so his layoff notice this weekend came as a big surprise. Business is business, but...

This was over before the green, Weis leaving very early, then losing traction almost immediately. That was a break for TJ, his Interstate Batteries Pontiac mixing the cylinders up pretty badly from half track to the finish line. The Safety Safari rolls to the rescue once again, the cleanup in the left lane.
   5 Dean Skuza          4.935 312.28  Q   12 Cruz Pedregon       5.019 308.11
                  0.347 10.807  87.06  E1 *****WINNER***** 0.479  5.492 201.34
Skuza left early and then did one of his long, smokey burnouts. Pedregon was home free, but his engine expired around the 1,000-foot marker, losing lane choice to Capps in round two. No oil, so we continue.
   6 Jerry Toliver       4.939 310.02  Q   11 Tony Pedregon       5.016 292.68
                  0.500  6.557 139.68  E1 *****WINNER***** 0.480  4.937 312.06
If Tony loses here, John Force will clinch the 1999 championship (like it's in doubt anyway?). But Toliver's car did a sidestep at 100 feet. He pedaled, but had traction problems and gave it up. No problems for Tony, his car clean all the way through, losing lane choice to Bazemore in round two.
   7 Gary Densham        4.954 299.40  Q   10 Frank Pedregon      5.005 302.62
 *****WINNER***** 0.505  5.039 301.30  E1                  0.521  5.418 203.29
Tony and Cruz won, can Frank make it three Pedregons in the second round? Nope! Pedregon was right with Densham to 1,000 feet, but his car kept getting closer and closer to the centerline. Frank didn't want to repeat the "hip check" he put on Densham during qualifying at Memphis and lifted. Densham wins easily and earns lane choice against Tommy Johnson Jr. in round two.
   8 Jim Epler           4.971 305.91  Q    9 Scotty Cannon       4.981 299.30
                  0.488  9.319  86.93  E1 *****WINNER***** 0.542  5.469 217.65
Final pair, the winner facing Force in round two. Epler smoked the tires early in the run. Cannon's car smoked the tires early, but didn't completely lose traction and he drove through it, trailing smoke and mist, probably raw fuel from dead cylinders, all the way down the track. He got so close to the centerline that the blast from the headers blew the 1,000-foot marker away, but he didn't cross the line. Force will have lane choice.

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