Johnson loses to Force in final round; Capps loses in quarters at finals. POMONA, Calif., November 10, 2002 - On a weekend when rain dominated the track on Friday and Saturday, Tommy Johnson Jr. took advantage of NHRA's qualifying rules to: a)...
Johnson loses to Force in final round; Capps loses in quarters at finals.
POMONA, Calif., November 10, 2002 - On a weekend when rain dominated the track on Friday and Saturday, Tommy Johnson Jr. took advantage of NHRA's qualifying rules to: a) not be qualified after Thursday's only session; b) be put into the top 16 at No. 15 thanks to the rain rules provisions; and c) finish second to John Force at the season-ending Auto Club Finals Sunday at Pomona Raceway.
Ron Capps, Johnson's Skoal Racing teammate, started the day from the No. 5 position but fell to Tony Pedregon in the quarterfinals.
Johnson's Special Edition Camaro had traction problems Thursday and coasted through at 9.078 seconds, 103.98 mph that left him 17th. Capps ran 4.873 at 313.80 for fifth best.
Two days of steady rain, something not seen in drought-stricken Southern California in more than 200 days, kept the cars in their trailers and forced NHRA to rely on its rain rules, which seeds top 10 drivers into the field if they weren't among the top 16. So Johnson moved in at No. 15, then beat No. 2 qualifier Dean Skuza in the first round, Cruz Pedregon in the second and Tim Wilkerson in the semifinals.
This was Johnson's fourth final round of the year and third against Force, who left the starting line first and won with a 4.867 at 317.12 mph to Johnson's 4.906 at 313.80 mph, his quickest run of the weekend.
"I like the NHRA provisional rules," Johnson commented. "Twenty-four hours ago we didn't think we would even be racing. Force is tough. We just got out-run. It was a nice day. The car ran well and the crew did a good job."
Several of the Blue crew will not be returning next year, including crew chief Rob Flynn and assistant Larry Meyer.
Johnson's finish moved him into seventh place, his highest in Funny Car. He wound up with 1129 points, 19 behind No. 6 Capps' 1148.
Capps had hoped to be a factor in the Funny Car title chase in his race against Pedregon, but tire shake, followed by tire smoke ended his season. Pedregon lost in the semis to Force, giving Force his 10th straight NHRA Funny Car championship, 12th in succession and first with POWERade as the sponsor.
"We thought we'd be able to run a low 4.90 (seconds) against Tony but the engine dropped a cylinder at the hit of the throttle and when it does that it shook the tires," said Capps, who slowed to a 10.135 at 83.46.
Capps won once in three final rounds this year in the Green Skoal Camaro.
The next race, the 2003 Winternationals, is scheduled Feb. 6-9 at Pomona Raceway.