Capps, Johnson Glad Auto Club Finals Will End 2003 Season
POMONA, Calif., Nov. 3, 2003 - Twenty-two races have been completed, eight different Funny Car drivers have won at least once, and Tony Pedregon has already clinched the championship.
That's all old news for Ron Capps and Tommy Johnson Jr., drivers of Don Prudhomme's Skoal Racing Chevrolets.
The real news is the Auto Club Finals - Nov. 6-9 at Pomona Raceway - remain, so there's one more opportunity to put one of the team cars into the winner's circle.
Final positions in the NHRA POWERade Series top 10 are also up for grabs, with Capps and Gary Scelzi currently knotted for sixth place (1084 points) and Johnson 10th (1018), but a mere 11 points behind No. 9 Dean Skuza and 26 behind No. 8 Tim Wilkerson.
Nevertheless, Capps admits to being ready for a break in the action.
"At a certain point in the season if you are not in the championship hunt - like we were in 1998 and 2000 - you begin to feel like you're missing something," said Capps. It's just that time of the year," said Capps, driver of the Green Camaro. "We want to finish as strong as we can.
"As a driver, you want to stand up as close to the front of the stage as you can during the Awards Ceremony (Monday night, Nov. 10) because the higher you the finish, the closer you are."
Capps and Johnson both stayed an extra day in Las Vegas to test following the ACDelco Nationals (Oct. 26) and it was worth it, Capps noted.
"It was a good test session," he said. "We tested some parts that Todd (Okuhara, crew chief) wants to use next year, so we'll likely be using them when we go preseason testing in January.
"But we definitely aren't forgetting about the Finals. We want to win this one for our sponsors," added Capps, from Carlsbad, Calif. "We'll also have a lot of friends and family watching."
A winner at Phoenix in February, Capps was runner-up at Englishtown, N.J., in May.
He does have one win at Pomona, that coming in the season-opening Winternationals in 1998.
Johnson, driver of the Blue Camaro, was a finalist at the first Chicago race in May.
He has mixed feelings about the campaign closing.
"Part of me doesn't want it to be over, but I am kind of glad this is the last race," Johnson said. "I have mixed emotions because we have some unfinished business. If we win the race, it will be a good way to end it. Otherwise, we can clean the slate and get ready for 2004.
"I'd like to improve on my Finals finish last year when I was runner-up," added the Indianapolis resident. "Finishing second was good, but winning would be great. I think we are running better now than we were a year ago. We are close to getting it to run pretty well. There's no reason why we can't win the Finals."
Johnson could move up two positions in the standings with a good performance.
No matter where he finishes, things will be changing for Johnson before he gets strapped into his Blue Chevy next year. He and fiance and Top Fuel driver Melanie Troxel are getting married Dec. 31.
Funny Car qualifying sessions are scheduled at 3 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 12:15 and 3:30 p.m. Saturday. Finals eliminations begin at 11 a.m. Sunday.