Las Vegas II: Tommy Johnson Jr preview

A SMILING JOHNSON JR. EYES A FUN TIME AT THE STRIP LAS VEGAS (Oct. 17, 2005) -- When you're lucky enough to have a job that you enjoy, it's pretty easy to sport a constant smile, and driving a 330-mph nitromethane-powered Funny Car for a living...

A SMILING JOHNSON JR. EYES A FUN TIME AT THE STRIP

LAS VEGAS (Oct. 17, 2005) -- When you're lucky enough to have a job that you enjoy, it's pretty easy to sport a constant smile, and driving a 330-mph nitromethane-powered Funny Car for a living has to be a fun gig. For six-time NHRA winner Tommy Johnson Jr., driver of Don "the Snake" Prudhomme's Skoal RacingSM Chevy Funny Car, life is indeed enjoyable.

The veteran nitro pilot is experiencing his best season in recent memory and as the 2005 NHRA seasons nears its end, Johnson hopes to be wearing his trademark smile long into the afternoon on Sunday, October 23, as the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series returns to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Oct. 20-23, for the fifth annual ACDelco Las Vegas Nationals.

"The Strip has always been a good track for me," Johnson said. "My two Funny Car wins with (Don) Prudhomme have been at (Las) Vegas and Pomona (Calif.), so I'm excited to finish the season at those two tracks. I'd sure like to win one before we finish out the year and maybe be a spoiler in the championship chase. That could be fun."

Johnson, who scored his first win as a member of the Don Prudhomme Racing camp at The Strip in April 2001, made the quickest (4.698 seconds) and fastest (331.45 mph) run of his career just three weeks ago, giving the Iowa native another reason to smile. While Johnson isn't in the mix for the 2005 POWERade Funny Car title, having the opportunity to wear the spoiler hat at the season's final two races is something else that keeps a grin on TJ's face.

"I'd rather be in the chase for the title, but this way, it takes some pressure off and brings back more fun into racing instead of having the added pressure of competing for the title," Johnson said. "I'd like to have it the other way, but I'll go ahead and have some fun at the last two races."

Being at the race track is always fun, but when your car performs well and you advance rounds during eliminations, the enjoyment meter peaks a little higher.

T.J. 'Talks' Vegas ...

What do you like most about The Strip at LVMS?

It's a beautiful facility and I always seem to drive well there.

What is your favorite memory from The Strip?

It would have to be when I won there in April 2001. It was my first win with Snake's team.

What is your favorite Las Vegas-area restaurant?

Hyakumi, a sushi place in Caesar's Palace.

What do you like about Las Vegas?

It's just a fun race and a really fun town. Everything about the race is fun and not only is the race fun, but you can have fun when you're not at the race. It's definitely not a boring town.

When you hear The Strip at LVMS, the first thing that comes to mind is?

A premier facility, a Bruton Smith track.

-www.snakeracing.com

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tommy Johnson , Don Prudhomme , Tommy Johnson Jr.