Columbus: 'Pretty Good Weekend' for Johnson

Don Prudhomme's Skoal Racing Report Johnson Moves Up One Spot In Standings And Capps Slips One Place COLUMBUS, Ohio, June 17, 2001 - Tommy Johnson Jr. had what he described as a "pretty good weekend" at the Pontiac Nationals at National Trail...

Don Prudhomme's Skoal Racing Report

Johnson Moves Up One Spot In Standings And Capps Slips One Place

COLUMBUS, Ohio, June 17, 2001 - Tommy Johnson Jr. had what he described as a "pretty good weekend" at the Pontiac Nationals at National Trail Raceway Sunday, and he would be right.

Johnson and his Skoal Racing Blue Camaro Funny Car advanced to the quarterfinals and stepped from 10th to ninth (509 points) in NHRA Winston Series standings while teammate Ron Capps and his Skoal Racing Green Camaro experienced qualifying problems, started 16th and lost in the first round.

Johnson, whose Blue crew went through several changes in the week prior to the event, qualified third - his best in six races - with a 4.896-second, 304.60-mph effort during a Friday night session that turned cool after starting hot and humid.

He beat a tire-smoking Jim Epler in the opening round but saw his chances of a possible semifinal finish end when the engine's blower belt came off against eventual race runner-up Del Worsham.

"We've improved by leaps and bounds from where we were two weeks ago (when he didn't qualify at Joliet, Ill.)," said Johnson. "The car seemed to run OK in the heat. The engine dropped a cylinder against Worsham; then belt came off. We had some decent (incremental) numbers to that point."

He slowed to a 7.654 and Worsham won with a 5.004.

CAPPS, MEANWHILE, came within one-thousandth of a second of missing the starting lineup with his best of 5.078 seconds. His Green Camaro lost traction in the first qualifying run and, by the luck of the Friday night run order, he pulled to the starting line before weather conditions cooled considerably.

"The temperature dropped so dramatically that we weren't ready for it," Capps recalled. He ran 5.111 which wasn't quick enough but came back Saturday with the 5.078.

"We got stuck behind the 8-ball and from then on we were just fighting to get back to par, basically," he added. "We felt we could beat (No. 1 qualifier Dean) Skuza but he ran the best time of the day (4.939) against us."

Capps is now third with 676 points, 24 behind runner-up Del Worsham.

The Skoal Racing team returns to action Friday through Sunday at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill., near St. Louis.

Qualified: Johnson, No. 3, 4.896 seconds at 304.60 mph; Capps, No. 16, 5.078 at 285.71.

First round: Johnson, 4.998 at 300.20 def. Jim Epler; Dean Skuza def. Capps;
Quarterfinals: Del Worsham def. Johnson.

Pro winners: Larry Dixon, Top Fuel; John Force, Funny Car; Warren Johnson, Pro Stock.

Next event: Sears Craftsman Nationals, June 22-24, Madison, Ill.

-SR-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Warren Johnson , Jim Epler , Dean Skuza , Del Worsham , Ron Capps , John Force , Don Prudhomme , Tommy Johnson Jr.