TOPEKA, Kan., May 27, 2001 - Ron Capps advanced to the semifinals and returned to second place in NHRA Winston Series Funny Car standings Sunday in the Advance Auto Parts Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka. Tommy Johnson Jr.,...
TOPEKA, Kan., May 27, 2001 - Ron Capps advanced to the semifinals and returned to second place in NHRA Winston Series Funny Car standings Sunday in the Advance Auto Parts Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka.
Tommy Johnson Jr., Capps' Skoal Racing teammate, was upset in the first round.
Capps and his Skoal Racing Green Camaro ousted Gary Densham and Bob Gilbertson with back-to-back 4.86-second runs (4.869 and 4.863, respectively) and was leading Tony Pedregon in the semifinals when his car spun the tires hard. While Capps was slowing to a 6.216 at 151.90 mph, Pedregon was winning with a 5.100 at 278.29.
"After running those 4.86s, we really felt confident that we could go out there and run good against Tony," Capps said. "Our car was past the point where it usually gets into trouble and all of the sudden it just struck the tires. I didn't see him come by right away so I gave it a quick pedal but it was too late.
"Points-wise, it was a pretty good weekend because Bruce Sarver, who was in second place, lost in the first round and we were able to get back into second place, ahead of him by 25 points (610-585)," Capps added. "Unfortunately we didn't gain any points on (point pacesetter) John Force (who was runner-up and has 725 points)."
JOHNSON WAS very disappointed when he felt the tires on his Skoal Racing Blue Camaro begin spinning about half-track.
"We had the quickest 60-foot and 330-foot times (in the first round) and were fourth at half-track," said Johnson. "Then it started spinning the tires."
As Johnson's traction disappeared, Jim Epler was able to come from behind and win a close one - 4.930 at 307.02 to 4.931 at 302.75 mph. "I saw the nose of his car, then it disappeared," Johnson commented. "I barely saw his fender at the finish line and I didn't know who won. About that time I was wishing the track was a little shorter."
Johnson's 4.824-second qualifying time in the quickest NHRA Funny Car field in history (4.919 was No. 16), was a career best. He is in eighth place with 448 points.
Capps and Johnson are now focusing on the Lucas Oil Products Nationals, Friday through Sunday, at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill.
Qualified: Johnson, No. 4, 4.824 seconds at 312.71 mph; Capps, No. 6, 4.838 at 311.85 mph
First round: Capps, 4.869 at 310.77 def. Gary Densham; Jim Epler def. Johnson: Quarterfinals: Capps, 4.863 at 307.16 def. Bob Gilbertson; Semifinals: Tony Pedregon def. Capps.
Pro winners: Kenny Bernstein, Top Fuel; Tony Pedregon, Funny Car; Ron Krisher, Pro Stock.
Next event: Lucas Oil Products Nationals, June 1-3, at Joliet, Ill.