Bristol: Capps wins Thunder Valley Nationals

Don Prudhomme's Skoal Racing Report Capps, Green Skoal Racing Camaro Win At Bristol, Tenn., Giving Don Prudhomme 70th Career Win, 20th As Team Owner BRISTOL, Tenn., April 29, 2001 - Ron Capps won his first NHRA Funny Car race of the season and...

Don Prudhomme's Skoal Racing Report

Capps, Green Skoal Racing Camaro Win At Bristol, Tenn.,
Giving Don Prudhomme 70th Career Win, 20th As Team Owner

BRISTOL, Tenn., April 29, 2001 - Ron Capps won his first NHRA Funny Car race of the season and gave team owner Don "The Snake" Prudhomme his third straight Winston Series victory Sunday in the Mac Tools Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.

Capps drove Prudhomme's Skoal Racing Green Camaro over Al Hofmann in the title round for his 10 career triumph and ninth in Funny Car. He followed Skoal Racing Blue Camaro teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. and Top Fuel driver Larry Dixon into the winner's circle. Johnson won at Las Vegas (April 8) and Dixon won at Gainesville, Fla. (April 21).

Prudhomme's career wins total reached 70, 49 coming as a driver and the last 21 as a team owner. One of those victories, ironically, came at the last NHRA national event held at Bristol Dragway 33 years ago. Dixon has 11 wins and Johnson one.

Capps has now been to the finals of the last two races at Bristol. He was runner-up season in the non-points Winston Showdown that pitted Funny Cars against Top Fuel dragsters.

"All week back home in California we've been talking about the old Bristol races," Capps said after defeating Hofmann with a 5.045-second, 288.52-mph run. "I was two years old when Snake won the last race here. He's given me a great life, so I wish I could give him a thrill like this every weekend."

Capps, whose last win was last October in Memphis, also had high praise for crew chief Ed "The Ace" McCulloch, who tuned the Skoal Racing Green Camaro to consistent elapsed times throughout the day.

"We had lane choice all day and a four-second time on each run until the finals, so you can't ask for a better car than what we had Sunday. You also have to give credit to assistant crew chiefs Todd Okuhara (Green Camaro) and Tommy Delago (Blue Camaro)."

Capps, the No. 6 qualifier, opened competition with a close, 4.957 to 4.977 decision over Bob Gilbertson. He followed with wins over Tim Wilkerson (4.941 to 9.503) and Bruce Sarver (4.984 to 13.116).

The win moved Capps into third place with 406 points in what remains a close Funny Car title chase. John Force leads with 496, followed by Sarver at 424. Johnson, who lost in the opening round, is now fifth with 344 points.

JOHNSON'S SKOAL Racing Blue Camaro suffered an engine explosion on its first qualifying session and failed to run competitive elapsed times thereafter. "We were on a good run when that happened," said Johnson, "and from that point on we didn't run well.

"I don't know if that created problems we didn't find, but it didn't run the same after that. I don't think we know what the problem is."

Johnson's only full quarter-mile run was 4.992 seconds, which put him 15th - his lowest qualifying position of the season. And he failed to challenge Pedregon in the first round, even though Pedregon slowed to a 5.21-second time.

"It's frustrating," Johnson added. "We've lost in the first round at our last two races after we won at Las Vegas. The good thing is that even though we weren't able to make more runs, Ron was going rounds so we'll know how to set up our car. I don't think we have a major problem. It's just something minor that just isn't right."

Prudhomme's Skoal Racing team moves to Commerce, Ga., this weekend for the Advance Auto Parts Nationals (May 3-6).

Qualified: Capps, No. 6, 4.911 seconds at 303.78 mph; Johnson, No. 15, 4.992 seconds at 288.95 mph.

First round: Capps, 4.957 at 293.54 def. Bob Gilbertson; Frank Pedregon def. Johnson; Quarterfinals: Capps, 4.941 at 299.46 def. Tim Wilkerson; Semifinals: Capps, 4.984 at 295.46 def. Bruce Sarver; Final: Capps, 5.045 at 288.52 def. Al Hofmann.

Pro winners: Doug Kalitta, Top Fuel; Ron Capps, Funny Car; Greg Anderson, Pro Stock.

Next event: Advance Auto Parts Nationals, May 4-6 at Commerce, Ga.

-DPSR-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Bruce Sarver , Frank Pedregon , Larry Dixon , Bob Gilbertson , Al Hofmann , Ron Capps , John Force , Doug Kalitta , Greg Anderson , Don Prudhomme , Tim Wilkerson , Tommy Johnson Jr.