JOHNSON JR. DRIVES SKOAL RACING FLOPPER TO SEMIFINAL FINISH AT BRAINERD BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 14, 2005) Tommy Johnon Jr. completed a solid weekend of racing Sunday at Brainerd International Raceway (B.I.R.) as the veteran nitromethane pilot...
JOHNSON JR. DRIVES SKOAL RACING FLOPPER TO SEMIFINAL FINISH AT BRAINERD
BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 14, 2005) Tommy Johnon Jr. completed a solid weekend of racing Sunday at Brainerd International Raceway (B.I.R.) as the veteran nitromethane pilot drove his Skoal RacingSM Chevy Funny Car to a semifinal finish at ! the Lucas Oil Nationals.
After posting his best qualifying position of the 2005 season (No. 2), Johnson bested Bob Bode and Cruz Pedregon before falling to 13-time series champion John Force in the semifinal round of eliminations.
The six-time NHRA winner clocked the top speed of the first round of Funny Car eliminations to edge Bode, the No. 15 qualifier, in a close matchup. Johnson used a tune-up from crew chiefs Mike Green and Johnny West to power to a run of 4.863 seconds at 320.58 mph, while Bode's Pontiac flopper recorded a pass of 4.921 seconds. Johnson's 4.863-second E.T. was the second best E.T. of the round.
Johnson then scored a wire-to-wire victory against former the NHRA Funny Car champion (1992) in round two. The drivers had nearly identical reaction times, but Pedregon's Chevy lost traction and Johnson breezed to a pass of 4.907 at 318.54 in his Monte Carlo to score the trip to the semifinals.
In the semis, Johnson used a starting line advantage to get the jump against Force, however the tune-up in Force's flopper was too much as he earned the round win with a run of 4.836 at 316.30. TJ's Monte Carlo slowed to a pass of 5.084 at 281.13. It was Johnson's fourth semifinal appearance of the 2005 season.
"Overall, I'm real happy with how everything played out this weekend," Johnson said. "I thought we had a race car that could win the race, but for whatever reason, it dropped a cylinder in the semis. In the big picture, we closed the gap on the top spot and we're still in the title hunt. If we can continue to run like we are running and go to semis at each race, we'll be one of the guys in the hunt until the end."
Johnson sits in 6th place in the POWERade Funny Car standings, 142 points behind leader Robert Hight with seven races remaining on the 2005 schedule. The next NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event is the 18th annual O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals, Aug. 19-21, at Memphis Motorsports Park in Millington, Tenn. Johnson has scored wins at the Memphis race in both Top Fuel (1994) and Funny Car (1999).