Las Vegas: Johnson Jr, Capps eliminations report

Johnson runner-up at Summitracing.com Nationals and Ron Capps reaches quarterfinals. LAS VEGAS, April 7, 2002 - Tommy Johnson Jr. came close to a second straight birthday weekend victory during the Summitracing.com Nationals at The Strip at Las...

Johnson runner-up at Summitracing.com Nationals and Ron Capps reaches quarterfinals.

LAS VEGAS, April 7, 2002 - Tommy Johnson Jr. came close to a second straight birthday weekend victory during the Summitracing.com Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Sunday, but he came up a few feet short.

Johnson's Blue Skoal Racing Funny Car was slowed by traction problems early in the run, permitting Gary Densham to pull away. But Densham's momentum went away when a broken blower belt stopped the engine. As he coasted toward the finish line, Johnson's tires hooked up again and he went after the win. Densham's car got there first with a 5.409-second, 205.13-mph run, followed closely by Johnson at 5.447 at 272.61 mph.

"We overpowered the track and I gave the throttle a pedal," Johnson said. "Then our car took off and I thought I was going to get him. We were coming awful hard, but we came up a few inches short. It was the first time the engine didn't drop a cylinder all day and we smoked the tires. All-in-all, it was a pretty good weekend."

Johnson upset No. 3 qualifier Whit Bazemore in the opening round, using a .477 reaction time to a .511 to pave the way to his best run of the weekend, 4.969 at 303.91 mph. Johnson used a 5.209 to oust Gary Scelzi and a 5.137 to stop Tim Wilkerson to move into his 12th career final.

Johnson and team owner Don "The Snake" Prudhomme have April 6 birthdays and Johnson's 2001 victory came on April 8.

It was Johnson's first final round of the NHRA season, and came from the 14th starting position. He jumped into a tie for sixth place with 229 points in what is now a tight race for the championship.

RON CAPPS, Johnson's teammate and driver of the Green Skoal Racing Camaro, qualified seventh and beat Jerry Toliver in the first round before falling to Wilkerson in round 2.

"For some reason we had problems with the clutch welding together on the runs Sunday and it pushed the tires loose," Capps said. Tire smoke slowed Capps to a 5.937 against Toliver and a 5.838 against Wilkerson.

Capps remained fourth with 252 points. John Force is first with 308, followed by Del Worsham, 288; Densham, 286; and Capps, 252.

Larry Dixon, driver of Prudhomme's Miller Lite Top Fuel dragster, won for the third time this season, giving Prudhomme 31 victories as a team owner.

The team returns to competition Friday through Sunday in the O'Reilly Springnationals at Baytown, Texas.

-dpsr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , Ron Capps , John Force , Gary Scelzi , Gary Densham , Tim Wilkerson , Jerry Toliver , Tommy Johnson Jr.