Capps, Johnson eager to start testing

Skoal Racing teammates eagerly awaiting 2002 preseason test session at Phoenix CHANDLER, Ariz., Jan. 17, 2002 - Ron Capps and Tommy Johnson Jr. haven't been to their respective offices for 67 days and, frankly, they can't wait to get back to ...

Skoal Racing teammates eagerly awaiting 2002 preseason test session at Phoenix

CHANDLER, Ariz., Jan. 17, 2002 - Ron Capps and Tommy Johnson Jr. haven't been to their respective offices for 67 days and, frankly, they can't wait to get back to work.

On Friday, Don "The Snake" Prudhomme's Funny Car drivers will strap themselves into their respective Skoal Racing Camaros and begin preseason testing at Firebird Raceway. The goal is to be as prepared as possible for the approaching NHRA Powerade Drag Racing Series season, which commences with the traditional Winternationals, Feb. 7-10, at Pomona, Calif.

While the exteriors of Capps' Green Camaro and Johnson's Blue Camaro are unchanged from 2001, everything is different underneath the carbon-fiber bodies. So Mike Green, promoted to crew chief on Johnson's car, and Green car crew chief Ed "The Ace" McCulloch will be concentrating on ferreting out engine combinations that will make them championship contenders.

"I'm ready to go," said Capps, who won three times and finished fourth last year. "I went through the off-season finding new ways to motivate myself. Now there is no extra motivation needed because the new season is here. Ace has been working with the new engine combinations. We want to build up our arsenal for the (23) races ahead of us."

Johnson, who moved from Ottumwa, Iowa to Indianapolis during the off-season, echoed Capps' comments.

"I can't wait to get going," he said. "I hate to see the off-season going away, but I am anxious to test so we can try our new engine combinations and I can get the smell and sound of racing. Mike will be working to get the motor running right."

Johnson was 10th in 2001, winning once and finishing second once.

Everyone's goal is improving on last year's performances.

"We've taken everything we knew (about tune-ups) last year and thrown it out the window," said McCulloch, who tuned both cars in '01. "We are trying to make things better and I think we will. We had to change to pick up the pace, but I won't be comfortable with the new setup until we prove it works."

The test plan, commented Green, is to make quite a few runs down the track. "Testing is a new deal," he said. "You never know with a new combination, but I'm pretty optimistic. Ideally, we'd like to make 12-to-15 runs at Firebird and be done with testing."

If that doesn't work, McCulloch and Green are prepared to go to Houston or Las Vegas to continue making laps until they get it right. The preference, obviously, is to take the ensuing two weeks to get ready for the Winternationals - and the rest of the season.

-sr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Ron Capps , Tommy Johnson Jr.