JOHNSON, CAPPS EXPERIENCE TRACTION TROUBLE IN OPENING ROUND TOPEKA, Kan., May 25, 2003 - The sun came out Sunday morning at Heartland Park Topeka and changing track conditions brought first-round upsets that included Skoal Racing teammates Tommy...
JOHNSON, CAPPS EXPERIENCE TRACTION TROUBLE IN OPENING ROUND
TOPEKA, Kan., May 25, 2003 - The sun came out Sunday morning at Heartland Park Topeka and changing track conditions brought first-round upsets that included Skoal Racing teammates Tommy Johnson and Ron Capps.
Johnson and Capps qualified fifth and sixth, respectively, for the O'Reilly Summer Nationals during overcast and sometimes rainy skies Friday and Saturday and they had visions of repeating last week's performance that saw the drivers race each other in the semifinals. Sunday, traction trouble knocked both from competition.
Johnson's Blue Skoal Racing Camaro began eliminations from the No. 5 position following a qualifying best of 4.817 seconds at 318.17 mph and another run at 4.837. Cruz Pedregon, his first-round opponent, left the starting line first and never looked back because Johnson's tires began spinning, slowing him to a 5.014 at 292.01 while Pedregon got the win light with a 4.901 at 310.l3.
"I really expected to be in at least the semifinals today, especially the way the car ran in qualifying," said Johnson. "We were a little surprised, but I guess that's why they call this team a work in progress. We missed the tune-up. We saw some of the dragsters smoke the tires in front of us and we actually backed the combination down too much and the car smoked the tires.
Capps, runner-up last week in New Jersey, ran 4.820 and 4.821 qualifying, but he, too, became a victim of tire smoke against Tim Wilkerson.
Capps said he and crew chief Ed "Ace" McCulloch and assistant crew chief Todd Okuhara discussed what they thought the car should run.
"We wanted to run somewhere between 4.82 and 4.85 seconds," Capps added. "And until we got to half track that looked like a good plan. We just blew the tires off. It was a helpless feeling because I didn't see him until the tires started spinning. That was a tough one to lose."
Capps left the line first, .059 to .072, but Wilkerson's numbers were 4.860 at 316.01 to Capps' 5.301 at 204.91.
Capps is fifth in NHRA POWERade Series points with 533 and Johnson is seventh with 459.
Johnson and Capps will be back in action Friday through Sunday in the Lucas Oil Route 66 Nationals and Joliet, Ill.