Atlanta: Capps runner-up

COMMERCE, Ga., May 6, 2001 - Ron Capps came close, but Frank Pedregon prevented Capps from winning his second straight NHRA Funny Car race Sunday in the finals of the Advance Auto Parts Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway. Capps and...

COMMERCE, Ga., May 6, 2001 - Ron Capps came close, but Frank Pedregon prevented Capps from winning his second straight NHRA Funny Car race Sunday in the finals of the Advance Auto Parts Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway.

Capps and the Skoal Racing Green Camaro did win seven consecutive rounds of competition - with four coming a week ago at Bristol, Tenn. Sunday, Capps beat Bob Gilbertson, Jim Epler and Bruce Sarver en route to the title round. Those round victories enabled Capps to pull into second place in Winston Series points, 28 behind pacesetting John Force, 530-502.

Capps' Skoal Racing teammate, Tommy Johnson Jr., suffered mechanical problems throughout the weekend and failed to make the tough, 16-car field. One of two magnetos failed on Johnson's Blue Camaro in Saturday's final qualifying session and his best run of the weekend, 5.016 seconds at 299.40 mph, wasn't enough to make the quickest field in NHRA history. The final qualified spot was 4.957 seconds, one-thousandth better than the previous best of 4.958.

Pedregon's 4.871-second semifinal win over Del Worsham gave him lane choice over Capps' 4.916-second triumph over Bruce Sarver - an important win because it enabled the Skoal Racing Green Camaro driver to move one point ahead of Sarver in the standings, 502-501.

    "We went up there knowing we would be running in the left lane," said
Capps.  "That was fine with us because we'd been running in that lane all
day.  When the car left the (starting) line, it didn't seem to have what it
had in the rounds before.  Then it drove into tire smoke.

"I'm disappointed we didn't win. We did everything we could. Ace (crew chief Ed "The Ace" McCulloch) tuned it to run between a 4.85 and a 4.90 (seconds) in the final.

"When you look on the bright side, we made up a lot of ground in the points race. We're now second. There are so many good Funny Cars out here, to even be in the top 10 is something to brag about."

Capps, who qualified third with a 4.870-second run, did have the day's second-best run, 4.863 seconds. Pedregon's 4.857 in the first round was the quickest.

Johnson was extremely unhappy when he failed to make the show.

"We've had problems with the car," said Johnson. "We're very disappointed. I was a victim of circumstances on our last qualifying run. One of the (engine's) magnetos quit about a half-second into the run and that slowed us. A lot of little things kept biting us on our last eight or nine runs. It's unbelievable. No one part or person has been at fault. It's been a lot of little things."

His 5.016 at 299.40 mph run with one magneto was his best and left him 19th overall.

Johnson fell to seventh with 354 points.

The Skoal Racing team returns to NHRA competition at the Matco Tools SuperNationals, May 18-20, at Englishtown, N.J.

Qualified: Capps, No. 3, 4.870 seconds at 308.43 mph; Johnson, dnq.

First round: Capps, 4.863 at 308.99 def. Bob Gilbertson; Quarterfinal: Capps, 4.886 at 307.03 def. Jim Epler; Semifinals: Capps, 4.916 at 307.51 def. Bruce Sarver; Finals: Frank Pedregon, 4.902 at 305.98 def. Capps, 5.577 at 180.07.

Pro winners: Mike Dunn, Top Fuel; Frank Pedregon, Funny Car; Jim Yates, Pro Stock.

Next event: Matco Tools SuperNationals, May 18-20 at Englishtown, N.J.

-Skoal Racing

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Bruce Sarver , Frank Pedregon , Mike Dunn , Bob Gilbertson , Jim Epler , Del Worsham , Ron Capps , John Force , Tommy Johnson Jr.