Indianpolis: Tommy Johnson Jr preview

JOHNSON JR. AIMS FOR STRONG SHOWING IN SKOAL SHOWDOWN AND U.S. NATIONALS CLEMONT, Ind. (Aug. 29, 2005) -- Comparing Tommy Johnson's 2004 and 2005 seasons is sort of like the old apples and oranges line, they don't mirror each other one bit. Last...

JOHNSON JR. AIMS FOR STRONG SHOWING IN SKOAL SHOWDOWN AND U.S. NATIONALS

CLEMONT, Ind. (Aug. 29, 2005) -- Comparing Tommy Johnson's 2004 and 2005 seasons is sort of like the old apples and oranges line, they don't mirror each other one bit. Last season, the Iowa native advanced to the semifinals just once the during the entire 23-race season. T.J. and his Skoal RacingSM team accomplished that and more by winning the season-opening Winternationals. Johnson also has posted a runner-up finish at the Topeka event along with five trips to the semis, keeping his race team in title contention with just six races remaining on the 2005 NHRA schedule.

While that's all fine and dandy, team owner Don "the Snake" Prudhomme isn't happy unless the team captures the $400,000 champion bonus from POWERade and the big "Wally" trophy. However, a strong showing Labor Day weekend can make just about any team's season and for some, a career as the NHRA series rolls into the motor sports capital of the world, Indianapolis, for the 51st running of the storied Mac Tools U.S. Nationals.

Johnson, who advanced to the final round of NHRA drag racing's 'Super Bowl' event in 2002, is piloting one of the best race cars he's driven since turning pro in 1989 and is confident that the Skoal Racing flopper can be a player for the $100,000 bonus as he makes his second career appearance in the Skoal Showdown on Sunday, September 4.

"I like our chances in the Skoal Showdown, but you have to remember that you're looking at the eight best Funny Cars," Johnson said. "It's going to be a tough race, but we've had one of the top three or four cars recently. I'm excited to be a part of the event."

In an effort to bring their best product to the table, Prudhomme's Funny Car team spent two days testing the Skoal Racing Monte Carlo at Indianapolis Raceway Park, posting solid elapsed times in both day (4.839 seconds) and night (4.836 seconds) conditions.

"We've run pretty good all year, but this summer, we've really refined our tune-up," Johnson said. "We're peaking at the right time of the year. No matter what conditions we'll face, we've got a good tune-up. Qualifying has really helped our performance, and the Friday and Saturday night sessions will be so important at Indy. I want to have a solid qualifying position so that we don't have to worry about our position on Sunday and we can focus on the Showdown."

If the Indy test session pays off for the Skoal Racing crew, Johnson's 2005 campaign could be just a little more fruitful and $100,000 sweeter.

T.J. 'TALKS' INDY...

What do you like most about Indianapolis Raceway Park?

That it's three miles from my house.

What is your favorite memory from Indianapolis Raceway Park?

I would have to say this year. This is the best I've been running going into Indy and we're in the Skoal Showdown.

What is your favorite local restaurant?

Charbono's in Avon, Ind.

What do you like most about the Indy area?

My house, and that the drag racing community is so prevalent in Indy.

When you hear 'Indianapolis Raceway Park' the first thing that comes to mind is?

-www.snakeracing.com

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tommy Johnson