Don Prudhomme's Skoal Racing Report Johnson Reaches Quarterfinals; Capps Runs Career Bests ENNIS, Texas, Oct. 21, 2001 - Ron Capps went for his quickest and fastest run while qualifying third for Sunday's O'Reilly Nationals at the Texas...
Don Prudhomme's Skoal Racing Report
Johnson Reaches Quarterfinals; Capps Runs Career Bests
ENNIS, Texas, Oct. 21, 2001 - Ron Capps went for his quickest and fastest run while qualifying third for Sunday's O'Reilly Nationals at the Texas Motorplex and teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. took a wild ride in the first round of eliminations. But neither Skoal Racing driver was able to avoid mechanical failures.
Capps went through it in the first round. His Green Skoal Racing Camaro suffered severe tire shake against Johnny Gray and when he pedaled the throttle, the throttle cable broke. Gray also had problems as his car smoked the tires. But Capps all could do was watch Gray win with a 6.634-second time at 228.31 mph. Capps, meanwhile, coasted through with a 10.878 at 81.76.
"The car left pretty good but then it went into tire shake and I gave it a quick pedal and the throttle cable broke. There's nothing you can do about it. It wasn't for lack of effort because the car's were set up to run what they did in qualifying."
On his previous run Saturday afternoon, Capps covered the quarter-mile in 4.802 seconds at 317. 57 mph. The e.t. was one-thousandth of a second better than his previous best, set three weeks ago at Joliet, Ill., while the speed was his fastest since 1997. Capps became the first Funny Cars driver to exceed 315 mph with a 315.45 in Houston four years ago. He did not run faster until that final qualifying session.
Johnson called his first-round decision against Jerry Toliver a "determination to win." He was in and out of throttle three times and held on as the front end of his Blue Skoal Racing Camaro came up twice, the second lifting all but one wheel off the track, then came crashing down.
"It shook real hard and I pedaled it," Johnson recalled. "As soon as the front end hit, I hit (the throttle) again and the front end went back up. I thought it was going to be OK, but it suddenly went up higher. I couldn't see where I was (on the track) and I wanted to smack the throttle again, but I didn't want to hit the guard rail." He did get the throttle down one more time, finishing with a 5.595 at 236.84 mph to Toliver's 10.958 at 58.44.
In the next round against Gray, Johnson had a comfortable lead with 230 feet left went the car's engine expired and he slowed down enough to see Gray win by five-thousandths of a second - 4.921 to 4.927. "I thought I won," Johnson added. "I didn't see him until he passed me at the finish line."
Capps remained fourth in points with 1304, 42 behind third-place Del Worsham while Johnson is ninth, 1039.
The Green and Blue Skoal Racing Camaros will be back in action in the ACDelco Nationals, Friday through Sunday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Qualified: Capps, No. 3, 4.802 seconds at 317.57 mph; Johnson, No. 6, 4.820 seconds at 314.35 mph
First round: Johnson, 5.595 at 238.84 def. Jerry Toliver; Johnny Gray def. Capps; Quarterfinals: Gray def. Johnson
Pro winners: Larry Dixon, Top Fuel; Gary Densham, Funny Car; V. Gaines, Pro Stock