Las Vegas: Capps, Johnson eliminations summary

Johnson reaches semifinals in promising outing; Capps goes out in quarterfinals at Las Vegas. LAS VEGAS, April 6, 2003 - This was the weekend Tommy Johnson Jr. has been waiting for. And it did come at his favorite racetrack. It did not,...

Johnson reaches semifinals in promising outing; Capps goes out in quarterfinals at Las Vegas.

LAS VEGAS, April 6, 2003 - This was the weekend Tommy Johnson Jr. has been waiting for. And it did come at his favorite racetrack. It did not, however, include a victory, but the Blue Skoal Racing Chevrolet's performance flashed signs of competitive performances.

Johnson was en route to what would've been his third straight SummitRacing.com Nationals final round Sunday afternoon at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway when the car's engine exploded in a ball of flames. That enabled Whit Bazemore to catch and pass him before the finish line, winning with a 4.889 to a 4.986.

Crew chief Mike Green dialed in three 4.8-second runs during qualifying, the best of which was a 4.817 that put him fifth overall. The good times didn't stop there.

Johnson's 4.804 at a career-best 321.04 mph was the best in the opening round and his 4.880 win over Del Worsham in the quarterfinals was the quickest of that round.

"We had him beat," said Johnson, who celebrated his 35th birthday on the same day team owner Don Prudhomme celebrated his 62nd. "And then the motor broke and the fuel tank ruptured, creating a real hot fire that ruined our Chevy body.

"Overall, though, I'm excited with the potential the car showed this weekend."

Johnson won this event in 2001 and was runner-up last year.

Ron Capps, driver of the Green Skoal Racing Chevrolet, began the day from the No. 11 position, beat Johnny Gray in the opening round and was ousted by eventual race winner Tony Pedregon in the quarterfinals.

"We came here with a car that had the front end replaced after our last race at Gainesville (Fla., March 16) when I hit the wall and it's kind of like having a new chassis," Capps said. "And Ace (crew chief Ed 'Ace' McCulloch) was trying to feel things out and see what the chassis liked. The car was real consistent, running a 4.87 and a 4.88 in qualifying. To beat Johnny Gray running in the right lane like we did was a pretty big accomplishment.

"We got bumped down a couple spots in the points but overall it's not bad."

Capps is now fourth in NHRA POWERade points with 287, 17 behind Bazemore. Pedregon now leads with 348, followed by Gary Densham at 323. Johnson is moved from ninth to seventh and has 210 points.

Capps' Green crew returns to The Strip Monday to test in preparation for the O'Reilly Spring Nationals, Friday through Sunday, at Houston Raceway Park in Baytown, Texas, where both crews will be ready for Friday qualifying.

-dpr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Pedregon , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , Ron Capps , Gary Densham , Don Prudhomme , Johnny Gray , Tommy Johnson Jr.