Sonoma: Capps, Johnson preview

Capps, Johnson anxious to get on good track in Sonoma, Calif. SONOMA, Calif., July 30, 2003 - First it was Denver and its altitude. Then it was Seattle and the bumpy, slippery racetrack. After outings at two demanding and frustrating tracks,...

Capps, Johnson anxious to get on good track in Sonoma, Calif.

SONOMA, Calif., July 30, 2003 - First it was Denver and its altitude. Then it was Seattle and the bumpy, slippery racetrack.

After outings at two demanding and frustrating tracks, Don "The Snake" Prudhomme's Skoal Racing Funny Car team is excited about competing on the one-year-old Infineon Raceway asphalt. The track is new, smooth, and is close to sea level, promising the potential of good elapsed times and speeds.

For Ron Capps, it brings him back to the track, formerly known as Sears Point Raceway, which used to be his "home" track when he lived in Cupertino, Calif. Capps, driver of the Green Camaro, won once at the old track (1998) and was runner-up at the new facility last year.

His teammate, Tommy Johnson Jr., thinks it's about time he started adding a win at Infineon Raceway to his list of accomplishments.

Both drivers will be competing for Fram/Autolite Nationals honors, Friday through Sunday.

This is the final event in NHRA's annual "western swing," featuring races in Denver, Seattle and Sonoma.

Johnson and his Blue Camaro have fared a bit better than Capps on the three-race run. Johnson won a round at each of the two previous stops, including a first-round win over Capps Sunday at Seattle. Capps is still looking for his first round win.

"Even though I haven't lived in the Bay Area since I went to work for Snake in 1997, I still consider this a home race for me," Capps said. "I still have a lot of friends and family in the area."

"It will be great to race at a track again where both lanes are good and lane choice is not critical," added Capps, who was in the tough lane against Johnson in the first round at Seattle when lane choice meant virtually everything.

Only three Funny Car drivers won from the left lane during eliminations in 15 rounds.

Johnson, the No. 6 qualifier, was timed in 5.010 seconds at 300.46 mph in his win over Capps. "There's a bump in the track just off the concrete pad and when I went over it, the tires started spinning," Capps said, and he coasted the rest of the way. "I'm glad we don't have to worry about the emphasis being on where you qualify this weekend."

Johnson's time was second best of the round but still wasn't good enough for lane choice. John Force wound up with that, the round win and, eventually, the race win. Force ran 5.005 to Johnson's bumpy, tire-hazing 5.787 at 173.81 mph.

"I figured the only way I could win (running in the left lane) was if John screwed up, and he didn't," said Johnson, who has won two of the six races against his teammate. "Going over the bump in the lane, I felt like I was on a ski jump. Force shot ahead of me when I went over the bump."

"We won't have to worry about any of that at Sonoma," he continued. "You have shot at winning from either lane."

Capps is sixth in POWERade Series points with 798, only 28 behind Gary Densham. Johnson is seventh with 727.

Qualifying at Infineon Raceway is scheduled at 4 and 7 p.m. Friday, noon and 4 p.m. Saturday. Final eliminations begin Sunday at noon.

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Ron Capps , John Force , Tommy Johnson Jr.