Indianapolis: Skoal Racing eliminations summary

John Force edges Johnson in close U.S. Nationals title-round race; Capps loses to Skuza in opening round. CLERMONT, Ind., Sept. 2, 2002 - Tommy Johnson Jr. came within a few feet of giving Don "The Snake" Prudhomme a Funny Car double victory ...

John Force edges Johnson in close U.S. Nationals title-round race; Capps loses to Skuza in opening round.

CLERMONT, Ind., Sept. 2, 2002 - Tommy Johnson Jr. came within a few feet of giving Don "The Snake" Prudhomme a Funny Car double victory Monday during the final round of the prestigious U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park.

The win, however, went to 12-time champion John Force by two-hundredths of a second.

"We made great progress with the car's performance. It was a great weekend . . . and a big letdown," said Johnson, who finished second for the third time this season. "It was frustrating."

Johnson's Special Edition Skoal Racing Camaro ran quicker than Force's Ford, but Force used a better reaction time to gain his 104th career win - 5.028 seconds at 280.02 mph to 4.996 at 308.43 mph. Johnson was runner-up to Force at Houston in April when he won his 100th race.

"I just messed up," added Johnson. "But Force is good."

Ron Capps drove the Green Skoal Racing Camaro to victory in Sunday's special Big Bud Shootout, winning $100,000. But his chances of collecting a $50,000 bonus with a Monday win ended with a first-round loss to Dean Skuza. Ironically, Capps beat Skuza in the Shootout finals.

Johnson posted two of Sunday's quickest qualifying runs and crew chief Rob Flynn continued the performance Monday. Johnson left the starting line first to upset Scotty Cannon in the opening round, 4.950 at 304.12 to 4.946 at 312.13, and then went 4.973 at 300.13 to beat Johnny Gray's 7.113. Johnson meted out some team revenge in the semifinals, knocking out Skuza, 5.127 to 7.524.

"We have a competitive race car capable of putting together a string of round wins," Johnson said.

"We have a good hot rod," added Flynn.

Capps, meanwhile, was disappointed he didn't get past the first round Monday.

"We drove into tire smoke right away," said Capps after Skuza won with a 5.061 to a 7.178. "To be able to win the Shootout is a big deal, but we couldn't celebrate because we had to come back and race the next day. We felt we could go rounds on Monday after we won the Shootout. We knew Skuza would be tough, but we beat ourselves."

Johnson moved into ninth place in NHRA POWERade standings with 758 points and Capps remained seventh with 809.

The Skoal Racing team returns to action at Reading, Pa., Sept. 13-15, in the Lucas Oil Keystone Nationals.

-sr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Dean Skuza , Ron Capps , John Force , Scotty Cannon , Johnny Gray , Tommy Johnson Jr.