Columbus: Prudhomme Racing eliminations summary

Don Prudhomme's Skoal Racing Report Capps victorious at Pontiac Nationals; Johnson advances to semifinals. KIRKERSVILLE, Ohio, June 16, 2002 - Ron Capps ended a season-long slump by driving to victory at the Pontiac Excitement Nationals ...

Don Prudhomme's Skoal Racing Report
Capps victorious at Pontiac Nationals; Johnson advances to semifinals.

KIRKERSVILLE, Ohio, June 16, 2002 - Ron Capps ended a season-long slump by driving to victory at the Pontiac Excitement Nationals and teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. advanced to the semifinals - before losing to Capps - Sunday at National Trail Raceway.

After defeating Johnson's Blue Skoal Racing Funny Car in a tire-smoking, throttle-pedaling duel, Capps came back in the finals and used the same driving style to knock out Bruce Sarver to claim his 13th career title and 12th in Funny Car.

Minutes later, Larry Dixon captured the Top Fuel crown - his seventh in 10 final rounds in 11 events - to present team owner Don Prudhomme with his third double win since 1997. It also was Prudhomme's 85th victory, 36 as a car owner, 49 as a driver.

Capps, making his first 2002 final, was ahead of Sarver when the car's tire lost traction. He got on and off the throttle, trying to find traction while not knowing where Sarver was. Sarver, meanwhile, had traction trouble of his own and by the time he regrouped, Capps was too far ahead. Capps won despite breaking the engine's blower belt.

The final numbers were Capps, 6.027 seconds at 235.60 mph; Sarver, 6.942 at 257.97.

"I couldn't see him after we left the starting line," Capps recalled, "because his tires starting smoking before mine did. Then all of the sudden mine broke loose, too. I started pedaling and trying to see if I could hear his car at the same time. I'm looking out the window, pedaling and waiting to see if I can hear him. And then the blower belt breaks and I'm coasting. About that time I was looking for the win light on the guard rail, and happy when I saw it in my lane."

Capps qualified ninth and Johnson 13th for this event. Capps, who had not won a round of racing in the six previous events, used a good reaction time and a 4.982 at 303.23 on a tricky National Trail track. He eliminated favored Whit Bazemore, the No. 1 qualifier, in his next run with a 5.051 at 298.34 to a tire-smoking 11.485.

In only the second pairing between the Skoal Racing teammates, both drivers left at almost the same time, but Johnson's Blue car lost traction first. Both drivers began pedaling and Capps got to the finish line first, 6.917 at 154.51 to 7.851 at 197.51.

"The problem was that my car smoked the tires before his," said Johnson, who advanced with a first-round hole-shot win over Tim Wilkerson and a quarterfinal nod over Dean Skuza. "He had the momentum. I was surprised we smoked them that early, but we gave the fans their money's worth on that run. We didn't have low elapsed times but we were entertaining." Capps has now won both races between the teammates.

The good showing moved Capps from 10th into seventh place with 543 points while Johnson dropped to eighth at 526.

The next Skoal Racing team outing will be the Craftsman Nationals, June 28-30, at St. Louis.

Qualifying: Capps, No. 9, 4.907 seconds at 306.19 mph; Johnson, 13th, 4.946 at 304.12 mph

First round: First round: Capps, 4.982 at 303.23 def. Tony Pedregon, 5.112 at 260.86; Johnson, 4.980 at 286.98 def. Tim Wilkerson, 4.976 at 302.14; Quarterfinals: Capps, 5.051 at 298.34 def. Whit Bazemore, 11.485 at 89.33; Johnson, 4.940 at 299.40 def. Dean Skuza, 5.503 at 296.76; Semifinals: Capps, 6.917 at 154.51 def. Johnson, 7.851 at 197.51; Final: Capps, 6.027 at 235.60 def. Bruce Sarver, 6.942 at 257.97

Pro Winners: Larry Dixon, Top Fuel; Ron Capps, Funny Car; Greg Anderson, Pro Stock

-dpsr-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Bruce Sarver , Larry Dixon , Dean Skuza , Whit Bazemore , Ron Capps , Greg Anderson , Don Prudhomme , Tim Wilkerson , Tommy Johnson Jr.