Capps, Johnson focus on winning as season approaches last three races. ENNIS, Texas, October 8, 2002 - And then there were three . . . races remaining in the 2002 NHRA POWERade Series. Three more attempts by Skoal Racing Funny Car teammates...
Capps, Johnson focus on winning as season approaches last three races.
ENNIS, Texas, October 8, 2002 - And then there were three . . . races remaining in the 2002 NHRA POWERade Series.
Three more attempts by Skoal Racing Funny Car teammates Ron Capps and Tommy Johnson Jr. to add to their win totals.
First up is the O'Reilly Fall Nationals at Texas Motorplex near Dallas, Friday through Sunday, and both drivers have experienced some success on drag racing's only all-concrete racing surface.
Capps, driver of the Green Skoal Racing Camaro, won the spring race at the track in 1998 and has been a semifinalist on three other occasions. He and the crew want to improve upon his runner-up finish at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill., Sept. 27.
"Our car's performance has picked up," said Capps, "and we know the Motorplex can be very fast if the conditions are cool."
Capps credits crew chief Ed "Ace" McCulloch and Todd Okuhara, assistant crew chief, with making the tuning improvements that carried him to the finals in Illinois.
"They learned a lot from our performance at Reading (Pa., where Capps was semifinalist), and they felt they could improve on it during the rest of the season.
"Weather conditions at Joliet were cool and the track was fast and everybody ran well there. We had a problem with the front end coming up, but we fixed that during a test session after the race. The changes made the car more drivable.
"I feel we have a good racecar that will be very fast," Capps continued. "We are concentrating on winning the race."
Capps has one victory (at Columbus, Ohio) in three final rounds this season. He was challenging Tony Pedregon in the title round at Route 66 Raceway when the car did a wheel stand, then smoked the tires.
"We want to finish the year as strong as we can," said Capps. "We want to learn as much as we can about the car so we can get a head start on the 2003 season."
Capps would like to move up a few places in the standings before the campaign concludes in Pomona, Calif., Nov. 10, a goal also shared by Johnson. Capps is seventh with 999 points while Johnson is eighth, 66 points behind. Ahead of them are sixth-place Scotty Cannon (1025) and fifth-place Whit Bazemore (1073). Capps and Johnson raced each other for the third time this year during the semifinals at Joliet. Capps won when Johnson's Blue Skoal Racing Camaro smoked the tires. Capps has won all three clashes between the teammates.
Johnson, a three-time 2002 runner-up (Las Vegas1, Houston and Indianapolis), is optimistic heading to the Lone Star State. First of all, his car's performance has improved.
"The Blue crew has not lost in the first round in the last four races and we've moved up to eighth in points," Johnson remarked. "At one point earlier in the season we were talking about maybe finishing in fifth place. We dropped to 10th, but now we are going in the right direction.
"It's interesting that Ron and I didn't race each other last year and we've raced each other three times already. Now we are even racing for finishing positions. It's possible, with a little luck, that we could be fifth by the end of the year. We'd like to start going in that direction at the Motorplex."
Johnson's best finish on concrete was runner-up in 1999, when he drove for Joe Gibbs and recorded his career-best speed of 320.05 mph. The season winds down with the AC-Delco Las Vegas Nationals, Oct. 25-27, and the Auto Club Finals at Pomona, Calif., Nov. 7-10.