Don Prudhomme's Skoal Racing Report Capps Now Third, Johnson Seventh As Tight Funny Car Championship Battle Continues ENGLISHTOWN, N.J., May 20, 2001 - Pre-season forecasters said this could be one of the closest races in history for the...
Don Prudhomme's Skoal Racing Report
Capps Now Third, Johnson Seventh As Tight Funny Car Championship Battle Continues
ENGLISHTOWN, N.J., May 20, 2001 - Pre-season forecasters said this could be one of the closest races in history for the 2001 NHRA Funny Car championship. And, after nine events, their predictions have been right on.
Ron Capps, driver of the Skoal Racing Green Camaro, entered the Matco Tools Supernationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park second in points behind John Force. Capps, unfortunately, was upended in Sunday's opening round but still left in third place with nine of 24 races completed.
Tommy Johnson Jr. was pleased to have his Skoal Racing Blue Camaro back running competitive elapsed times after mechanical gremlins were solved. Johnson qualified fifth, one place ahead of Capps, and advanced to the quarterfinals.
Crew chief Ed "The Ace" McCulloch decided to switch some key parts from Capps' car to Johnson's after Friday's first two qualifying runs. Johnson wasn't in the field and Capps was fifth.
Johnson's runs Saturday were 4.951 and 4.858 seconds, putting him securely in the field. Capps ran his best run in the last session, 4.863 seconds.
On Sunday, Johnson's car dropped a cylinder but still beat Johnny Gray to the finish line in the first round of eliminations, 5.076 at 287.41 mph to an 8.274. In the quarterfinal against Gary Densham, Johnson left first but the car shook the tires, then smoked them, forcing Johnson to get out of the throttle.
"We have a competitive racecar again," Johnson commented. "We found our problems so it was a positive weekend. At least we're back on track."
Capps' engine dropped a cylinder against Frank Pedregon and he couldn't catch up.
"We haven't dropped a cylinder in a long time," Capps said. "It picked back up again and we still ran 4.91. The bummer was that Frank ran 4.84."
Capps is third with 536 points and Johnson seventh with 408 going into this week's Advance Auto Parts Nationals, May 25-27, at Topeka, Kan. John Force leads with 627, followed by Bruce Sarver (554) and Capps.
Qualified: Johnson, No. 5, 4.858 seconds at 296.31 mph; Capps, No. , 4.863 seconds at 309.49 mph
First round: Johnson, 5.076 at 287.41 def. Johnny Gray; Frank Pedregon, 4.844 at 284.09 def. Capps, 4.916 at 307.09; Quarterfinals: Gary Densham, 4.868 at 317.79 def. Johnson, 7.116 at 116.01.
Pro winners: Mike Dunn, Top Fuel; Frank Pedregon, Funny Car; Jim Yates, Pro Stock.
Next event: Advance Auto Parts Nationals, May 25-27, at Heartland Park, Topeka, Kan.