Englishtown: GM Racing Saturday summary

Team Chevy's Tommy Johnson Jr. Puts Impala SS Funny Car on Raceday Pole at NHRA SuperNationals Greg Anderson's Pontiac GTO Sets Track E.T. and Speed Records ENGLISHTOWN, N.J., June 23, 2007 - Team Chevy's Tommy Johnson Jr. captured the No. 1 ...

Team Chevy's Tommy Johnson Jr. Puts Impala SS Funny Car on Raceday Pole at NHRA SuperNationals
Greg Anderson's Pontiac GTO Sets Track E.T. and Speed Records

ENGLISHTOWN, N.J., June 23, 2007 - Team Chevy's Tommy Johnson Jr. captured the No. 1 qualifying spot for the 38th annual ProCare Rx NHRA SuperNationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park. The Skoal Racing Chevy Impala SS Funny Car posted the quickest run in three of the four qualifying sessions this weekend, and that included a track-record 4.729 seconds at 321.96 mph on Friday night.

"With the struggles we had early in the season, gaining consistency has been the big thing," said Johnson. "Not only to gain performance, but to gain some consistency and have the car react to the changes you make, which it wouldn't do earlier in the year. The third session it smoked the tires, but that wasn't the car's fault, that was our fault. We were going for it. We wanted to see what we could get away with in the sunshine. Even though it smoked the tires before 330 (feet), it was still the third quickest 330 of the session so the car was going to run really well. To come back out in the last run, put it back so to speak, and go out and set low e.t., that's a huge confidence builder going into tomorrow knowing that you really do have all your problems solved and the car is back as a contender."

Johnson held on to the top spot through Saturday's two remaining rounds of time trials to claim his first raceday pole of the season, and his 4.864 e.t. at 315.19 mph in round four was the quickest of the final session.

"The Impala has given us better downforce over what we had last year," said Johnson of his new Chevrolet. "Our halftrack speeds are much quicker, and even though we've struggled in other areas, we've learned what makes this Chevy tick. We're now reaping the rewards from that in the halftrack area, and not only in the top end. It's really important to us right now in the halftrack areas for us to keep this thing hooked up and pulling. We ran almost 258 mph (to halftrack) on that last run and that's pretty hard to do on a hot, sunny racetrack."

It was the eighth career raceday pole for the 37-year-old Johnson, his first No. 1 qualifying effort since last September's NHRA Nationals in Reading, Pa., and his first at this event.

"We're making tuning changes now that earlier in the year didn't work," said Johnson. "Now we have our Skoal Racing Chevy Impala back to the car we had in preseason testing, and at the end of last year when we were running well and had a high level of confidence coming into the year. We have that car back and now it's a good solid racecar that we can tune.

"This is really for all of the guys. They're the ones who put in all the hard work and all the effort. The whole time we struggled, during the first 10 races, 11 races, whatever it is, there wasn't a chin down in our pit area. They were determined to beat it and I think you learn a lot about a team in the bad times more so than in the good. To see the smiles in the pit area after every run this weekend, that's a nice pleasant change and the only reason that's happening is that they never quit working. We've tested more than anybody out here, for sure. Being a single-car team we have to test any chance we get and during the St. Louis to Topeka break, when we didn't run Bristol, we tested three times. There hasn't been a lack of effort and that's why the car is running as good as it is."

In addition to Tommy Johnson's three fast sessions, Del Worsham's Checker Schuck's Kragen Chevrolet Impala SS ran the quickest e.t. in round three of time trials giving the Chevy Impala SS the best time slips in all four rounds of qualifying. Worsham's CSK Chevy Impala was also the third quickest Funny Car in round four and he'll push off from the No. 9 position on Sunday.

"We have a good racecar right now," said Worsham. "We've been picking away at this thing trying different approaches and finding ways to get down the track consistently, and right now I'm pretty happy with where we are. I feel we have a car that can compete tomorrow and it all comes down to the first round. We'll be racing another fast car but that's not exactly front-page news. Every car in the field is fast. What we have to do is keep building on this and if we can get past round one then I'll consider it a success. Anything after that will be whatever it is, but our goal is to always be one of the final eight at each race by getting out of the first round. If we do that, we'll be in the Countdown field come Indy. Right now, with the way the car is running and the way the team has come together, I feel good. I hope I feel great tomorrow."

In Pro Stock, Greg Anderson earned his seventh No. 1 qualifying award of the season by driving the Summit Racing Pontiac GTO to both ends of the Old Bridge Raceway track record with a run of 6.592 seconds at 210.57 mph.

"The Summit Racing Pontiac has been fantastic all year long," said Anderson. "I've had a great shot at every race we've been to this year. I certainly haven't won them all but I've had a horse that could win them all. That's so far beyond anything a driver could ask for. Some people get certain races where they're strong, and certain ones where they're weak and they have to make it happen when they're at a strong race. The guys that have been working on this racecar and preparing it figure out what to do every weekend. I'm a lucky man and it's because of the crew that surrounds me, my team owner Ken Black and great sponsors like Summit Racing, and Pontiac and Mac Tools, and without a doubt I'm a lucky man."

It was Anderson's 58th career No. 1 qualifying award, his fifth straight raceday pole going back to the Atlanta national eliminator in May, and the third time he's been No. 1 qualifier at the NHRA SuperNationals (his first pole at this venue was in 2003). Anderson is also a two-time winner (2002-03) of this race, and he will race Craig Hankinson in round one of eliminations on Sunday.

"He's has been a crew chief for a lot of years and he's been a driver for a lot of years," said Anderson of his first-round opponent. "He's has a brand-new car that he brought to the last race, and he qualified real well and made four great qualifying runs, and he's done the same thing here. Do I fear him? You're darn right I do. Anybody that makes the show at one of these things you have to fear, I don't care who you are. The whole field, top to bottom, is separated by less than five-hundredths. Anybody in the field has a shot at winning, and it will come down to the driver and the guys tuning the car, but they're all going to be close. We're going to need a total team effort whether we're racing Craig Hankinson or anyone else we may line up against."

Anderson posted the two quickest runs of the day and that included a 6.607 e.t. at 209.49 mph lap in the final session.

"The car was a tick off yesterday and you want to go back and kick a stone," said Anderson. "But we were still No. 2 with a 6.60. It's easy to get spoiled but we rebounded today, conditions were still good, but certainly not as good as last night. We came back and made two runs today that were fantastic, got that pole back and we get to start in that No. 1 position again. I've got a great hot rod. We made four runs between 6.59 and 6.60 and I can't complain. I'll see what I can do with it.

"The left lane hasn't been as friendly on the scoreboard to the Pro Stock cars as the right lane. To run that 6.60 in the left lane in the warm conditions obviously we're pretty proud of that run. If we'd put that down in the right lane we could have run a 6.59 again, so it was as good, if not better than the run this morning."

Jeg Coughlin Jr. celebrated his 37th birthday by placing the JEGS.com Chevrolet Cobalt in the exact same position on the elimination ladder that he occupied two weeks ago when he won the race in Chicago. Coughlin's 6.612-second run at 209.46 mph, which he carded Friday night, was good enough to secure the No. 3 qualifying position. Coughlin has the best qualified Chevy Cobalt in the 16-car field. We hurt a motor in the first session but still ran a 6.63, so that was encouraging to a certain extent. Of course we don't want to beat up our parts but to have a motor that's wounded still run a 6.63 is exceptional.

"We swapped bullets for the second run and improved to a 6.62, which I feel is really good for the conditions. We're excited and ready to race, and we're really enjoying our time in New Jersey and New York. It's an exciting place to be."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Del Worsham , Greg Anderson , Tommy Johnson , Craig Hankinson , Ken Black , Tommy Johnson Jr.