Memphis: Capps/Johnson Jr preview

Another rain delay has Skoal Racing teammates eager to resume racing at Memphis MEMPHIS, Sept. 16, 2003 - It would be incorrect to say that Ron Capps and Tommy Johnson Jr., teammates on Don Prudhomme's Skoal Racing Funny Car team, have been ...

Another rain delay has Skoal Racing teammates eager to resume racing at Memphis

MEMPHIS, Sept. 16, 2003 - It would be incorrect to say that Ron Capps and Tommy Johnson Jr., teammates on Don Prudhomme's Skoal Racing Funny Car team, have been spinning their wheels in NHRA POWERade Series competition lately.

They did have tire shake in their lone quarter-mile run in their most-recent racing attempt Friday at Reading, Pa., during the rain-plagued Lucas Oil Nationals. The wet stuff eventually postponed completion of the event to Oct. 5. It was the second consecutive rain delay in as many races and Capps and Johnson are anxious to go racing.

They get their next opportunity in the O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals at Memphis Motorsports Park Friday through Sunday. And, thanks to the most-recent rain out, the two crews now have four races in four weeks. Events in Joliet, Ill. (Sept. 28), Reading, Pa., and Dallas (Oct. 12) are up next.

"It's hard to build consistency and continuity when the conditions (wet and cold) are so drastically different," said Johnson, driver of the Blue Camaro. "There's no pattern or rhythm. But everyone has been in the same boat - no pun intended - with the rain delays at Indianapolis (from Sept. 1 to Sept. 6) and Reading. It's unfortunate because I believe we are continuing to improve and make headway. We'd like to be racing."

In his lone qualifying run at Reading, the car shook the tires and he coasted through with a 7.317-second elapsed time that had him 16th.

Johnson, however, is confident the performance of his racecar will get better with each run. "We have a new car and Mike (Green, crew chief) and the crew are still fine-tuning it," Johnson said. "The next four races are important because there are only six left this year and - I'm looking ahead - we are in contention for a top five finish."

That's a goal he and Capps both share.  Capps is sixth with 873 points,
seven in front of Johnson.  Del Worsham is No. 5 with 1007.

"We are excited to be in the running for fifth," added Johnson, from Indianapolis. He also has a good feeling about Memphis Motorsports Park, a track where he's been to the winner's circle in both Top Fuel (1994) and Funny Car (1999, when he was driving for Joe Gibbs).

"When a driver has that kind of success at one track, it automatically becomes one of his favorites," Johnson concluded.

Capps has been a winner at Memphis, too, taking the Funny Car title in 2000. And he's looking forward to the six-race stretch run to solidify his Green Camaro crew's bid for fifth place.

Capps has high praise for Todd Okuhara, his new crew chief who took over two races ago. "With our performance at Indy, Todd showed he can get the car down the racetrack," said Capps. "I'm looking forward to what's ahead for us. Four races in a row will be a grind, but I have a lot of confidence in my Green crew.

"The conditions we will be facing the rest of the season should be on the cooler side and we want to make our move in points, too," continued the Carlsbad, Calif.-based driver. "We will need to be running in the low 4.80s (seconds) or high 4.70s to be in contention. We ran low 4.80s at Indy and Todd was using a conservative setup. I'm excited to see what we can do."

Severe tire shake struck the Green car at Reading. "The tires shook so hard it shook the parachute out," said Capps. "That was the hardest shake I've had in a long time, but conditions got cooler and we weren't set up for it."

Capps and Johnson open their bids for positions in the 16-car field Friday with qualifying at 4 and 7 p.m. Two more sessions are scheduled Saturday at 1 and 4 p.m. to set the field for Sunday's 11 a.m. eliminations.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Del Worsham , Ron Capps , Don Prudhomme , Tommy Johnson Jr.