JOHNSON JR. WINS AT BRAINERD, EARNS EIGHT VICTORY OF CAREER BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 13, 2006) - Tommy Johnson, Jr. powered his Skoal RacingSM Funny Car to the eighth victory of his career Sunday at Brainerd International Raceway as the veteran...
JOHNSON JR. WINS AT BRAINERD, EARNS EIGHT VICTORY OF CAREER
BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 13, 2006) - Tommy Johnson, Jr. powered his Skoal RacingSM Funny Car to the eighth victory of his career Sunday at Brainerd International Raceway as the veteran nitro pilot used a dominating tune-up from crew chief Mike Green to score the win at the 25th annual Lucas Oil Nationals. With the victory, Johnson moved to sixth place ! in the NHRA Funny Car standings.
After racing his special edition Skoal Racing Monte Carlo to the No. 5 qualifying position with a 4.796-second pass, the veteran nitro pilot knocked off No. 12 qualifier Gary Densham, defending event champion Eric Medlen, veteran racer Del Worsham, and defending NHRA Funny Car champion Gary Scelzi in the final round. It marks the first time since the 1999 NHRA season that Johnson has scored multiple wins in a season.
"I felt confident coming into eliminations," Johnson said. "To run 4.81 out of the box and then run three 4.70s and low E.T. of the race is awesome. This is all the team. They did a great job today. With just 65 minutes in between rounds, the guys really busted their butts today. They earned it."
As the second pair of Funny Cars to go down the B.I.R. quarter mile following a near three-hour rain delay, Johnson used a solid .076 of-a-second reaction time to race to the wire-to-wire victory over the former teacher. The Mike Green-tuned flopper clocked a solid run of 4.817 seconds at 321.96 mph to edge Densham's red Chevy.
Without lane choice against the most recent Funny Car winner (Sonoma, Calif.), Johnson used the best reaction time of the round (.046 of-a-second) and a blistering pass of 4.768 at 320.05 to earn the trip to the semifinals after Medlen's flopper broke and failed to complete the quarter mile pass. Johnson's elapsed time was the quickest of the quarterfinals.
In his seventh semifinal appearance of the 2006 season, Johnson again blasted his Skoal Racing flopper to low E.T. of the round when he used a Green tune-up to card a run of 4.772 at 322.73 to defeat Worsham, whose Chevy lost traction and slowed to a 6.073-second pass. The win advanced Johnson to his 20th career final round, and was the 200th round win of his career.
"We had an ignition problem before the semifinal," Johnson said. "When we went to fire the car, it wouldn't start. We had to change the ignition and then to go out and run 4.77, that was great. We'll figure out what the problem was later, but Mike (Green) and the guys did a fantastic job."
In his second final round of the season, the veteran racers used solid reaction times as Johnson blasted his Monte Carlo to low elapsed time of the event, 4.741 at 321.73, to capture his second victory of the 2006 NHRA season (Phoenix). Scelzi's red flopper lost traction and slowed to a 7.387-second pass.
"(Gary) Scelzi is always tough," Johnson said. "He's been a thorn in my side as of late. It seems like we always go back and forth. I got him last year at Pomona when he was going for the championship, but he's had our number lately.
"The car was so consistent all day long, I felt really confident going into the final. I knew it would be a good run. We're finally back to where we were before our win at Phoenix in February and we had to switch tires because of the rule change."
The next NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event is the 19th annual O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals, August 18-20, at Memphis Motorsports Park in Millington, Tenn. He is a two-time winner of the Memphis race having won in both Top Fuel (1994) and Funny Car (1999).