Indianapolis: Capps/Johnson preview 2

Capps, Johnson don't mind waiting to finish rain-delayed U.S. Nationals INDIANAPOLIS, Sept. 3, 2003 - Well, Mother Nature got in the way of completing the 49th annual U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Sunday giving Ron Capps, Tommy Johnson...

Capps, Johnson don't mind waiting to finish rain-delayed U.S. Nationals

INDIANAPOLIS, Sept. 3, 2003 - Well, Mother Nature got in the way of completing the 49th annual U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Sunday giving Ron Capps, Tommy Johnson Jr. and the rest of Don "The Snake" Prudhomme's Skoal Racing Funny Car team a few extra days to wait.

But they aren't waiting with baited breath. Both drivers qualified solidly in the top half of the 16-car field before heavy rain forced NHRA officials to postpone completion of the event until this weekend. One session of qualifying is scheduled Friday night, followed by two final sessions Saturday and eliminations on Sunday. The Budweiser Shootout, which features Capps and Johnson among the elite eight who'll be vying for a top prize of $100,000, will unfold Saturday in conjunction with qualifying.

Capps, coming off a disappointing non-qualifying effort at Brainerd, Minn., shook off the doldrums with a 4.821-second effort at 318.32 mph in the Green Camaro to climb into fifth place while Johnson was right behind him at 4.828, 304.94 mph.

"We don't mind getting a little extra time before we race," Capps said. "This will give Todd (Okuhara, the Green crew's new crew chief) more qualifying runs to get ready for the race. It's to our advantage at this point because we meet John Force in the first round of the Shootout and we need to make more runs."

Okuhara, who replaced Ed McCulloch last month, was pleased with the car's best run of the weekend. "It did just what we expected it to do," Okuhara said. "And the best thing was we didn't hurt any parts on the run."

Johnson also was happy to be able to put in more laps prior to eliminations.

"I actually like the idea of three more qualifying runs. It will give us more chances to get things sorted out," said Johnson, who drove the Blue Camaro to second place at last year's U.S. Nationals. "That's great. The only drawback is that we have to wait a week for the Shootout."

Johnson will be making his Shootout debut Saturday while Capps will be in search of his second straight victory and fourth in six appearances in the race for the top eight qualified drivers over the past year.

In the opening round, Capps meets Force while Johnson takes on Whit Bazemore. Force (4.780 at 317.94 mph) was No. 3 in the qualifying order prior to the rain delay while Bazemore was second (4.767 seconds).

Other pairings are: Tony Pedregon vs. Dean Skuza and Gary Densham vs. Del Worsham. The semifinal match-ups will pit the Capps-Force winner against the Bazemore-Johnson winner and the Pedregon-Skuza winner against the Densham-Worsham winner.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Dean Skuza , Ron Capps , John Force , Tommy Johnson , Gary Densham , Tommy Johnson Jr.