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Runs on the gas you pour in, or keeps running until you turn the key off ??? If the fuel pump relay fails, you would have to crank the engine until you get oil pressure to provide power to the fuel pump. Do the injectors spray when you are cranking it ? Have you checked fuel pressure when the key is turned to start ?
If you turn the key to the on position and you hear the fuel pump run, does it run for longer then 5 seconds? If so then you are going to need to look at your fuel filter, if it stays running then you are going to need to look at your fuel regulator. You can also go to Auto Zone and buy a fuel pressure test kit or rent one, and check your fuel pressure on the fuel rails. Check for spark also, if you are low on spark then you are not going to fire, unless you dump more fuel then you need to into the throttle body.
If it has spark at the plugs, then it's most likely a fuel issue. You should have an electric fuel pump, so if you turn the key to the "on" position (not the "start" position to crank it over), you should hear the fuel pump prime. It's a humming noise. Have someone turn the key while you kneel next to the back of the truck by the tank so you can listen for it. If there is no noise at all, you most likely aren't getting fuel to the throttle body/injectors. If you hear the hum of the fuel pump, then check to make sure fuel is getting in the engine. Easiest way to check that is to crank it over for a while, then pull one of the plugs. If the plug is wet and smells like gas, then it's not a fuel delivery problem with the throttle body/injectors. If no fuel is getting to the engine, the first thing you should check is the fuel filter if you haven't changed it regularly. An engine only needs 3 things to start. Air, fuel and spark. If all of those are present, then the problem is much deeper (timing belt, etc.) and will need to be looked at. Hope this at least gets you pointed in a direction to troubleshoot it.
OK, first, let's clarify one point. Your 1986 Chevrolet Nova does not have a carburator, it is equipped with Throttle-body Fuel Injection.
You should be able to look into the throttle body and see fuel spraying from the fuel ijector while you are cranking the engine over. If not, then there is a whole list of things that could be causing the fuel to not spray. Here are some of the possibilities:
Low fuel pressure (for several possible reasons)
no B+ feed to injector (for several possible reasons)
bad crank sensor
broken injector wires
If it runs with fuel poured down the throttle-body, it is definitely a fuel-delivery/fuel injection problem.
in the majority of my dealings with these issues a fuel pump has repaired all symptoms you allready know this as you stated you just dont want to drop the tank to be honest they are not hard at all to do
remove the air filter housing from the throttle body, or if its mult-ported injection, remove the large air duct. Do this the night before. The next day, before cranking and having a spray can of carb. cleaner, spray a couple of shots of carb cleaner either into the large air duct, spray towards the engine, or if its single body injection, spray directly on to the throttle body.
Crank engine immediately, preferrably have some one else sitting in the car to start it after you spray.
If the car even tries to start, replace cold start relay.