JOHNSON JR. DRIVES SKOAL RACING FUNNY CAR TO SEMIFINAL FINISH AT COLUMBUS HEBRON, Ohio (May 21, 2006) & ...
JOHNSON JR. DRIVES SKOAL RACING FUNNY CAR TO SEMIFINAL FINISH AT COLUMBUS
HEBRON, Ohio (May 21, 2006) Seven-time NHRA winner Tommy Johnson Jr. raced his Don "the Snake" Prudhomme-owned Skoal RacingSM Chevy Funny Car to a semifinal finish Sunday at National Trail Raceway. John! son now sits fifth in the NHRA POWERade Funny Car standings.
Johnson, who qualified in the No. 7 spot with a 4.752-second elapsed time, bested No. 10 qualifier and local favorite Jim Head and veteran racer Gary Densham before losing a close race to former category-champion Tony Pedregon in the semifinals.
Johnson used a tune-up from crew chief Mike Green to power the Skoal Racing Monte Carlo to the second quickest elapsed time of the opening round of eliminations and the round win over Head. Johnson's flopper stopped the National Trail Raceway timers in 4.813 seconds at 320.36 mph to earn the win light over Head, who recorded a 4.939-second pass.
"We qualified well with a 4.75," Johnson said. "We knew we could run well. With the conditions after the rain, we didn't know what to expect. We ran a solid 4.81 and I was extremely happy to be second quick after that session. The guys did a great job of hitting the tune-up on that first run."
In the quarterfinals, the Iowa native used a slight starting line advantage and another 4.81-second pass (4.813 at 321.04) to record the wire-to-wire victory over Densham. Densham's Chevy lost traction and slowed to an 8.325-second run. It marked the third time this season that Johnson has advanced to at least the semifinals.
"They actually de-tuned the car a little bit because it was a little loose out there on the first pass," Johnson said. "It stuck to the race track and ran a little better than the first round. They guys did a great job of adjusting to the condition changes in the second round and we made another good run."
Johnson used a slight starting line advantage to jump to the early lead, but it wasn't enough as Pedregon's Chevy stepped up and posted a run of 4.802 at 319.60 to hold off Johnson's hard-charging run of 4.876 at 317.72.
"With our consistency, Tony (Pedregon) had to step up to outrun us and he did," Johnson said. "We didn't make many changes, but the car fell off a little bit. We're not sure why. It was still a good, solid run. We didn't beat ourselves, we just got outrun. We'll go back and see why the performance fell off that round. I'm never disappointed with a semifinal effort. I have a lot of confidence in the car now. The tune-up is solid with the chassis change. I'm excited to go to Topeka (Kan.)."
The next NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event is the 18th annual O'Reilly Summer Nationals, May 25-28, at Heartland Park Topeka in Topeka, Kan. Johnson raced to a runner-up finish at Topeka last season.