POMONA, Calif., July 7, 2001 - There was thunder, lightning and rain in July in Southern California. There were hot, humid conditions not usually seen in Southern California. And that's just part of the reason Ron Capps called the NHRA ...
POMONA, Calif., July 7, 2001 - There was thunder, lightning and rain in July in Southern California. There were hot, humid conditions not usually seen in Southern California.
And that's just part of the reason Ron Capps called the NHRA 50th Anniversary Nationals "weird."
Capps qualified the Skoal Racing Green Camaro 12th on his final attempt, then didn't make a full run in either of his two elimination rounds Saturday in NHRA's only national event under the lights this year.
Tommy Johnson Jr., driving the Skoal Racing Blue Camaro, had similar experiences on race day. His 4.939-second time in a first-round win over Frank Pedregon was the quickest of the round, but his car smoked the tires hard at the starting line against Whit Bazemore in the next round. And Johnson's competitive day was over, too.
Capps ran 4.956 seconds at 303.91 mph on his last qualifying run and squared off against Tony Pedregon (the No. 5 qualifier) under the hot afternoon sun. Capps had a slight advantage at the starting line, but he pulled away when Pedregon's car smoked the tires. The Green Camaro was pulling away when the engine's blower belt came off and the horsepower went away. He coasted through with a 6.466 at 137.01-mph victory.
In the quarterfinals, Capps was opening up a margin over Gary Densham when the engine quit again. This time, however, Densham powered past him to win with a 4.961 to Capps' 6.969.
"The whole weekend was weird. It was very strange to struggle like we did," said Capps. "The first-round win helped. We were running really good against Densham when the engine just quit. It felt like the blower belt broke again, but the crew saw it was the throttle cable (at the finish line)."
Johnson hoped to go more rounds, too. "I thought it was our race to win," he commented. "We have a good hot-weather tune-up."
Johnson, whose .487 reaction time gave him a big lead over Bazemore's .523, had to watch his rival win with a 5.051 while coasting to the line with a 9.607.
Capps is sixth in Winston Series standings with 738 points while Johnson is eighth at 655.
The next event, the Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals, kicks off the annual three-race western swing, July 20-22, at Bandimere Speedway.
Qualified: Johnson, No. 8, 4.907 seconds at 304.74 mph; Capps, No. 12, 4.956 at 303.91 mph
First round: Johnson, 4.939 at 308.07 def. Frank Pedregon; Capps, 6.466 at 137.01 def. Tony Pedregon; Quarterfinals: Whit Bazemore def. Johnson; Gary Densham def. Capps.
Pro winners: Doug Herbert, Top Fuel; John Force, Funny Car; Jeg Coughlin Jr., Pro Stock
Next event: Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals, July 20-22, Denver