Capps escapes engine explosion with sore knees and headache; Johnson beats Tony Pedregon, marches to semifinals. ENNIS, Texas, October 13, 2002 - Ron Capps was spectacular and Tommy Johnson Jr. ended the season's longest win streak en route to a...
Capps escapes engine explosion with sore knees and headache; Johnson beats Tony Pedregon, marches to semifinals.
ENNIS, Texas, October 13, 2002 - Ron Capps was spectacular and Tommy Johnson Jr. ended the season's longest win streak en route to a semifinal finish at Sunday's O'Reilly's Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex.
A spectacular first-round engine explosion in Capps' Green Skoal Racing Camaro shattered the car's Camaro body, left Capps with a headache and sore knees and gave Johnson his first win over Capps in four tries since the two became teammates last year.
"The explosion lifted the top half of the motor off and it went into the firewall and pushed that up over the roll cage," Capps recalled. "There was no warning. The engine gave a little quiver, but that was it. I couldn't see anything at first. The firewall or whatever it was had my head pushed against the cage at an angle.
"The explosion was the worst that I've ever been through," he continued. "I could see the guard rail out there and I knew I was going to be hitting it sooner or later. I knew that Lefty Grice and the Safety Safari would be there when I stopped . . . and they were.
"My knees hurt and I was really worried about how bad they were. They still hurt, but the NHRA emergency services said they weren't broken."
"I just saw a huge flash in his lane," Johnson added. "I could just barely see the nose of his car out the window when it flashed; then my engine blew just as I passed him." Johnson won with a 5.068 at 279.76 mph to Capps' 5.532 at 166.91.
Then Johnson simply whipped Tony Pedregon, winner of the last three races, in the next round. Using a large starting line advantage, Johnson won with a slower 4.893 at 311.11 to Pedregon's 4.854 at 319.26. "I was ready for him," Johnson said. Pedregon had won 13 consecutive rounds, but his .493 reaction time was much slower than Johnson's .453.
The Blue crew's day ended when Johnson's engine expired against eventual race winner Del Worsham. "We really wanted to win this race for Ron," Johnson said.
Capps remained seventh in points with 1032 and Johnson now has 1005 in eighth place.
Capps will have an opportunity to rest his aching knees until the next event, Oct. 25-27, at Las Vegas, the next-to-last stop on the 23-race tour.
Qualified: Capps, No. 8, 4.867 seconds at 313.69 mph; Johnson, No. 9, 4.870 at 313.91 mph
First round: Johnson, 5.068 at 279.76 def. Capps, 5.532 at 166.91; Quarterfinals: Johnson, 4.893 at 311.31 def. Tony Pedregon, 4.854 at 319.26; Semifinals: Del Worsham, 4.857 at 312.39 def. Johnson, 6.811 at 121.13
Pro Winners: Doug Kalitta, Top Fuel; Del Worsham, Funny Car; Jeg Coughlin Jr., Pro Stock