Johnson Jr. Aims For Success On The Mountain in Colorado MORRISON, Colo. (July 12, 2004) - Tommy Johnson Jr. has every reason to consider Denver's Bandimere Speedway as one of his home tracks. In his earlier days of racing, the former...
Johnson Jr. Aims For Success On The Mountain in Colorado
MORRISON, Colo. (July 12, 2004) - Tommy Johnson Jr. has every reason to consider Denver's Bandimere Speedway as one of his home tracks. In his earlier days of racing, the former Division 5 standout competed regularly at the friendly confines of the Colorado facility. That's why it shouldn't be a surprise that Johnson's first career final round appearance at an NHRA national event (Super Gas)came on the mountain in Morrison as well as his first career professional final round in Top Fuel 13 years ago.
The Iowa native would like nothing better than to advance to his first final round of the 2004 season when the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series makes its annual appearance at arguably the most scenic track on the circuit, Bandimere Speedway, July 16-18, for the 25th running of the Mopar Mile-High Nationals.
"I like Denver a lot," Johnson said. "Even though it's tough to make the cars run, I've had a lot of success racing there. I was a Division 5 sportsmen guy and I raced there four and five times a year, so I got used to those high-altitude conditions that we all face each July."
Those high-altitude conditions that Johnson speaks of present the crew chiefs with a simple dilemma: how to make more horsepower to compensate for the lack of oxygen at 5,860 feet? These 8,000 horsepower engines that power Johnson's Skoal Racing Chevy Funny Car require large amounts of oxygen. At more than 5,000 feet above sea level, the air tends to be very thin unlike the sea level conditions at Houston Raceway Park or Gainesville (Fla.) Raceway.
"All the basics are still the same for me as a driver," Johnson said. "The car is just a little slower, which should make your driving sharper since you have more time to think about things. It's up to crew chiefs to make the cars run in these extreme conditions. As a driver, you have to listen for dropped cylinders because they tend to happen more often at Denver.
"To make up for the lost oxygen, we have to spin the superchargers faster, and put more magneto and compression in the engine. We have a much better advantage than Pro Stock cars or the bikes because we can spin the blower faster and that makes up for the loss in horsepower. It's really tough on the naturally aspirated cars."
Entering the Denver race, Johnson's Skoal Racing Chevy flopper has posted first round wins at the past two events and if Johnson and crew are on their game, there's no reason the five-time NHRA winner can't make his third career final round appearance at Bandimere on Sunday.
"I feel great with the way the car is running," Johnson said. "I'm very positive heading into the Western Swing. With the car running as well as it has, there's no reason why we shouldn't win one of the next three races."