Memphis: Capps to Semis; Johnson to Quarterfinals

MEMPHIS, Sept. 23, 2001 - Ron Capps, for the second straight race, advanced to the semifinals and Tommy Johnson was a quarterfinalist during the AutoZone Nationals Sunday at Memphis Motorsports Park. Capps, whose Skoal Racing Green Camaro began...

MEMPHIS, Sept. 23, 2001 - Ron Capps, for the second straight race, advanced to the semifinals and Tommy Johnson was a quarterfinalist during the AutoZone Nationals Sunday at Memphis Motorsports Park.

Capps, whose Skoal Racing Green Camaro began eliminations from the No. 2 position (equaling a season high), edged newcomer Vincent Arcadi in the opening round, thanks to a .501 to .533 starting line reaction time. Capps was ahead at half-track when the car's tires began smoking. He kept his foot in the throttle and won with a 5.026-second time to Arcadi's 5.022.

There was no question in Capps' ensuing round win over Dean Skuza, who was knocked out with a 4.904 at 300.46, the quickest time of the round.

In the semis, Gary Densham stunned Capps with a near-perfect .414 reaction time and led all the way, winning with a 4.945 to Capps' 4.981.

"I thought he had a red light," Capps said. "I was pretty good on the lights today and he was out there so quick that it looked like a red light. I kept looking for the win light in my lane, but it wasn't there.

"All in all it was a good weekend for us," he continued. "The car ran good in Friday qualifying (4.858 seconds) and we were able to test the track during Saturday qualifying to see what it would and would not hold."

Capps also moved within one point of third-place Del Worsham, 1205-1204.

For Johnson's Skoal Racing Blue Camaro, his first-round win over Bob Gilbertson (4.901 to 7.152) put him into the quarterfinals for the first time in five races. Up against John Force in the quarterfinals, Johnson used a .451 reaction time to build a lead off the starting line but Force reached the finish line first, 4.929 to 4.994.

"We had some problems during qualifying but we got things together on race day and the car ran pretty good," Johnson said. "We wanted to make a good run against Force, but we didn't want to beat ourselves."

Johnson remains eighth in points with 898, 10 behind Frank Pedregon.

Next up is the NHRA Inaugural Nationals, Friday through Sunday at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill.

Qualified: Capps, No. 2, 4.858 seconds at 306.12 mph; Johnson, No. 8, 4.974 seconds at 294.05 mph

First round: Capps, 5.026 at 280.37 def. Vincent Arcadi; Johnson, 4.901 at 302.75 def. Bob Gilbertson; Quarterfinals: Capps, 4.904 at 300.46 def. Dean Skuza; John Force def. Johnson; Semifinals: Gary Densham def. Capps.

Pro winners: Kenny Bernstein, Top Fuel; Gary Densham, Funny Car; George Marnell, Pro Stock

-Skoal Racing-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Frank Pedregon , Kenny Bernstein , Bob Gilbertson , Dean Skuza , Del Worsham , Ron Capps , John Force , Tommy Johnson , Gary Densham