Johnson Jr. Races to Semifinal Finish at Denver MORRISON, Colo. (July 18, 2004) -- Tommy Johnson Jr. drove his blue Skoal RacingSM Chevy Monte Carlo to its best finish of the 2004 NHRA season Sunday, posting a semifinal finish at Bandimere ...
Johnson Jr. Races to Semifinal Finish at Denver
MORRISON, Colo. (July 18, 2004) -- Tommy Johnson Jr. drove his blue Skoal RacingSM Chevy Monte Carlo to its best finish of the 2004 NHRA season Sunday, posting a semifinal finish at Bandimere Speedway near Denver.
Johnson, a five-time NHRA winner, won from the No. 6 qualifying spot after defeating Jeff Arend in the opening round of Funny Car eliminations for the second consecutive race. Johnson's Mike Green-tuned Chevy recorded low elapsed time of the opening round with a performance of 5.136 seconds at 295.14 mph, while Arend's Chevy Corvette spun the tires.
In the second round, Johnson again powered to low E.T. of the round, defeating rival John Force. Johnson's Don Prudhomme-owned Chevy recorded a run of 5.323 at 276.86, as Force's flopper overpowered the hot Bandimere Speedway drag strip and struck the tires.
"I told the announcer on the PA system that just going up there and getting the job done shows how far the blue crew has come," Johnson said. "They've stuck with it and we proved to ourselves that this team is capable of winning races. It was a big win for our crew. That's how your measure yourself, against (John) Force."
Johnson used a starting-line advantage to take the early lead on fellow Chevy driver Phil Burkart Jr. in their semifinal match before the Iowa native peddled his Chevy Funny Car allowing Burkart to drive by and score the narrow victory. Burkart used his best run of eliminations and a performance of 5.180 at 286.70 to edge Johnson's 5.285 at 292.46. This marks the first time that Johnson has advanced to the semifinals since posting a runner-up finish at Chicago 1 last May.
"I was nervous when we left the pits because the cloud cover came in over the race track," Johnson said. "Mike (Green) and the guys tuned the car to go down a hot, sunny race track. We tried to compensate for it, but that's what bit us. The car shook the tires around 150 feet into the run and I had to peddle it and that's why we got beat.
"I'm disappointed because I thought we had the car to beat today, but I'm extremely happy with the turnaround of this team. This shows that we're a car to contend with and a lot of the breaks that went against us earlier in the year should start coming our way."
The next NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event is the 17th annual CARQUEST Auto Parts Nationals, July 23-25, at Pacific Raceways in Kent. Wash. Johnson scored his first career NHRA national event victory at Seattle in Top Fuel in 1993.