JOHNSON JR. CLAIMS TOP SPOT AT JOLIET Makes quickest run of career, earns first No. 1 qualifying position since 2001 Winternationals JOLIET, Ill. (June 10, 2006) -- Tommy Johnson Jr. paced the quickest Funny Car field in NHRA history Saturday at...
JOHNSON JR. CLAIMS TOP SPOT AT JOLIET
Makes quickest run of career, earns first No. 1 qualifying position since 2001 Winternationals
JOLIET, Ill. (June 10, 2006) -- Tommy Johnson Jr. paced the quickest Funny Car field in NHRA history Saturday at Route 66 Raceway after the veteran nitro pilot powered his Skoal RacingSM Funny Car to the third quick! est pass in NHRA history, 4.672 seconds. Johnson's career-best elapsed time came on Friday's second qualifying pass under the lights at the record-setting Chicagoland drag strip.
The seven-time NHRA winner opened qualifying with a solid run of 4.780 seconds at 321.58 mph to position the Skoal Racing Chevy seventh in the 16-car order. Then, the Iowa native used a tune-up from crew chief Mike Green to rocket to the quickest pass of his career, 4.672 seconds at 328.70 mph, bettering his previous career-best elapsed time (4.698 seconds) by nearly three-hundredths of-a-second. Johnson's 4.672-second effort led the quickest Funny Car field in NHRA history. Only 13-time NHRA champion has gone quicker in a Funny Car (4.664 and 4.665 seconds).
Johnson's Don "the Snake" Prudhomme-owned flopper overpowered the stout Route 66 Raceway quarter mile and struck the tires on its third and final qualifying attempt, which came following a long rain delay due to persistent afternoon rain showers in the Joliet area. NHRA officials were forced to cancel the final qualifying session due to time constraints after the long rain delay.
"Last night I was hoping for rain, but this morning I wanted a shot at the (national) record," Johnson said. "I wasn't surprised it smoked the tires on the last run. They had it loaded for bear. It's hard to improve on a 4.67. Now, we just have to go out and take it one round at a time on Sunday and hopefully end that No. 1 qualifier jinx."
Johnson will battle No. 16 qualifier and Illinois driver Tim Wilkerson in the opening round of Funny Car eliminations on Sunday morning at Route 66 Raceway. Johnson has a career mark of 8-4 versus Wilkerson. They have yet to meet in 2006. Johnson drove to a semifinal finish at the Joliet race last June.