JOHNSON JR. QUALIFIES FIFTH IN QUICKEST FUNNY CAR FIELD IN NHRA HISTORY AT U.S. NATIONALS CLERMONT, Ind. (Sept. 3, 2005) Tommy Johnson Jr. qualified his Skoal RacingSM Chevy Funny Car in the No. 5 position Saturday at Indianapolis Raceway Park...
JOHNSON JR. QUALIFIES FIFTH IN QUICKEST FUNNY CAR FIELD IN NHRA HISTORY AT U.S. NATIONALS
CLERMONT, Ind. (Sept. 3, 2005) Tommy Johnson Jr. qualified his Skoal RacingSM Chevy Funny Car in the No. 5 position Saturday at Indianapolis Raceway Park as part of the quickest Funny Car field in NHRA history. The veteran nitromethane! pilot recorded a qualifying-best performance of 4.748 seconds on Friday evening on his first attempt of the weekend at I.R.P.
Entering the final day of qualifying at the 51st running of the prestigious U.S. Nationals in the No. 5 qualifying position, the six-time NHRA winner raced to a performance of 4.984 seconds at 317.64 mph during the first round of the Skoal Showdown bonus event where Johnson and the Skoal Racing team was edged at the finish line by Eric Medlen. Medlen raced his flopper to a run of 4.897 at 314.83 to earn the trip the semifinals of the Showdown. Johnson used the best reaction time of the opening round of the Showdown (.069 of-a-second) before the veteran driver had to lift off of the throttle and pedal the car, allowing Medlen's Funny Car to sneak by for the narrow win. The first round Skoal Showdown times also counted for the fourth qualifying session.
"It was a close race," Johnson said. "I got a pretty good jump at the starting line, but then the car shook the tires early in the run and I had to pedal. That was the best pedal job I think I've ever had. I didn't see his fender until about 900-feet down track. I was hoping he'd have problems, but we just couldn't drive around him."
On his fifth and final qualifying attempt at the U.S. Nationals, Johnson used a tune-up from crew chiefs Mike Green and Johnny West and cruised to a performance of 4.840 at 320.13 to record the third quickest elapsed time of the final qualifying session and remain fifth in the flopper order. It was Johnson's second quickest pass during qualifying.
"After having a few problems in the first round of the Showdown, it was really nice to recover and make a solid run like that," Johnson said. "It felt like a really good run. I knew it was a mid-4.80. Hopefully, we'll get to do that about the same time on Monday in the final round."
Johnson, the 2002 U.S. Nationals runner-up, will battle No. 12 qualifier Bob Gilbertson in the first round of Funny Car eliminations on Monday at I.R.P. Johnson is 5-1 in his career against the fellow Chevy driver.