Joliet: Capps and Johnson Jr. preview

Capps, Johnson look for improved performances at Route 66 Raceway this weekend JOLIET, Ill., May 28, 2003 - It's been said for as along as there have been back-to-back races on the NHRA schedule that the only good thing about them is you don't...

Capps, Johnson look for improved performances at Route 66 Raceway this weekend

JOLIET, Ill., May 28, 2003 - It's been said for as along as there have been back-to-back races on the NHRA schedule that the only good thing about them is you don't have to wait long for the next race.

Such is the case with Ron Capps, Tommy Johnson Jr. and Don Prudhomme's Skoal Racing team.

By noon Sunday in Topeka, Kan., Capps and Johnson were looking ahead to Route 66 Raceway and the Lucas Oil Nationals, May 30-June 1, because their competitive day was an abbreviated one.

They recall their last visit to the track in September because they raced each other in the semifinals. Capps won and finished second to Tony Pedregon. It was the best performances at Route 66 Raceway for both Skoal Racing drivers.

And now they'd like to improve it and meet in the final round.

"I'm really looking forward to racing there," said Johnson, driver of the Blue Camaro. "It's a very good race track. It hadn't been a good place for me until last October. I enjoy racing there. It's a nice facility."

Capps, driver of the Green Camaro, echoes Johnson's praise of the six-year-old facility.

"It's a great racetrack . . . one of the fastest on the circuit," Capps said. "Ace (crew chief Ed 'Ace' McCulloch) is making a lot of horsepower right now and it's good to be going to a track like Route 66 with that kind of horsepower.

"Ace had a new fuel pump setup we used at Topeka. That was a pretty serious move, especially after we were runner-up at Englishtown (N.J., May 18). The car responded with two great runs in qualifying (4.820 and 4.821 seconds)."

Disappointed by upset losses in the first round at Topeka, Capps and Johnson will be aiming for consistent outings more reminiscent of their last trip to Route 66 Raceway.

"We just missed the tune-up at Topeka," Johnson commented. "We watched Top Fuel cars smoke the tires, then we backed down the setup so we wouldn't smoke the tires. Unfortunately, we backed it down too much and the engine was too weak. It dropped a cylinder and we smoked the tires.

"Until then, the car had run well. We qualified fifth (4.817 seconds at 318.17 mph) and expected to win at least a few more rounds."

McCulloch and Mike Green, Blue crew chief, fought changing weather conditions at Topeka during qualifying, when it went from cooler and sometimes wetter to clear and warmer for eliminations.

Route 66 Raceway, like many other tracks, also gives up low elapsed times when the weather is cooler and the skies are overcast.

"Sunshine may be good for golfing and tanning, but the best conditions for us are cool, cloudy days," said Capps.

Capps goes into the 10th race of the season and last in the current three-races-in-three-weeks mode in fifth place with 553 points while Johnson is seventh at 459. Capps Ready to Test at ChicagoLand Speedway

When the rest of the NHRA competitors leave for home Monday, Capps will stay behind and take his second test drive in International Race of Champions cars at nearby ChicagoLand Speedway, a l½ -mile oval.

Capps, who received high marks for his driving skills in his first test session at Talladega (Ala.) Speedway in April, expects a different challenge this time.

"Talladega was one of those tracks where you just run with the throttle wide open because it's a 2.66-mile oval," he said. "The real key to the ChicagoLand track will be car control. It's one of those tracks where you have to get on and off the throttle and learn how the car works going in and out of the corners. It's very much more a finesse track.

"I think this will really be the key track to see if I can feel how the cars corner. I've watched tapes of the NASCAR drivers running there and there's a lot of in-and-out of the throttle car control and getting on and off the brakes and really learning how to get the car in and out of the corners as quick as possible.

"I'll have to learn how to pass with deeper braking and car control with the throttle and learning how the car's setup works for me. I'm excited to be getting out there again and testing," Capps concluded.

This testing phase will run Monday through Wednesday and be conducted by the same test drivers who worked with Capps at Talladega - Dick Trickle, Andy Hillenburg, Jim Sauter and Dave Marcus.

-dpsr-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Dick Trickle , Ron Capps , Andy Hillenburg , Jim Sauter , Don Prudhomme , Tommy Johnson Jr.