JOHNSON JR. FIRED UP AS NHRA SCHEDULE ROARS TO LIFE IN HOTLANTA COMMERCE, Ga. (May 9, 2005) - The first three months of the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series season crawls along, sort of like an elderly couple out for a leisurely Sunday cruise in...
JOHNSON JR. FIRED UP AS NHRA SCHEDULE ROARS TO LIFE IN HOTLANTA
COMMERCE, Ga. (May 9, 2005) - The first three months of the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series season crawls along, sort of like an elderly couple out for a leisurely Sunday cruise in their four-door sedan. There's a race then a week or two of down time then a race and another week off. Well, that all ends when the world's fastest race cars convene upon Atlanta Dragway in Northern Georgia for the 25th annual Summit Racing Equipment Southern Nationals as the 2005 NHRA schedule accelerates like a 7,000-horsepower, nitromethane-powered Funny Car with six races in seven weeks.
"I can't wait to get going again," Skoal RacingSM Funny Car driver Tommy Johnson Jr. said. "I want to race as much as possible. When you get some momentum going, you want to build on that, not take weeks off. I think you drive better and everything works better because you're on your game. I'm real excited to get going.
"I don't like a lot of time at home because I get bored. I'd just as soon go back-to-back all the time. It makes things tight with sponsor commitments and other appearances, but I'd spend everyday at the race track if could. I'm happy being at the track. Even if I'm not racing, I just like being at the race track. That's where I grew up and what I enjoy the most."
Johnson, who drove his Chevy flopper to the win at the 2005 season-opener, enters the seventh of 23 races on the NHRA schedule 114 points from the top spot. While Johnson and his Skoal Racing crew would like to be higher than their current sixth-place ranking, they're in the perfect spot to make a charge to the top of the standings as the NHRA schedule begins the first of four three-race swings.
"I'm pretty confident with our race car," Johnson said. "We won the first race and since have experienced a few problems here and there. We've addressed the issues and now we're heading in the right direction. This is the best team and race car that I've had in years. We've made a complete 180-degree turn from where we were in years past."
Johnson's increased performance has led to a race win, improved qualifying outings and a position in the top 10 of the Funny Car standings, which allows the veteran driver and his team to have a positive outlook for the remainder of the season as the six-time NHRA winner aims to be a title contender when the 2005 NHRA campaign again slows down in the fall.
T.J. 'Talks' Atlanta
What do you like most about Atlanta Dragway?
"I like that they pull a big crowd each year. There's always a big spectator turnout at the Atlanta race. I've been racing there for years and it's neat when you get to see a lot of fans at the track."
What is your favorite memory of Atlanta Dragway?
"When I used to go there before I started driving, the old track configuration had you sitting right up against the track. It was really cool to watch from there. As a driver, my Atlanta moment would have to be my runner-up finish in Super Gas in 1985."
What is your favorite Commerce-area restaurant?
"That's one of the races where we stay in the motor home during the race, so we don't eat out much."
What do you like most about the Commerce area?
"One of my hobbies is shopping, so I really like the outlet malls. The shopping, along with the Southern hospitality makes it a nice place to visit. When we first started racing at Commerce, there were only a few hotels and the outlet stores. Now, it's like a small city. The place has really grown."
When you hear 'Atlanta Dragway' the first thing that comes to mind is?
"It's a long way from Atlanta."