JOHNSON JR. DRIVES TO SEMIFINAL FINISH AT POMONA POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 6, 2005) - Tommy Johnson Jr. drove his Don Prudhomme-owned Skoal RacingSM Chevy Monte Carlo to a s! emifinal finish Sunday at Pomona Raceway to wrap up the 2005 NHRA season.
JOHNSON JR. DRIVES TO SEMIFINAL FINISH AT POMONA
POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 6, 2005) - Tommy Johnson Jr. drove his Don Prudhomme-owned Skoal RacingSM Chevy Monte Carlo to a s! emifinal finish Sunday at Pomona Raceway to wrap up the 2005 NHRA season. Johnson also maintained his sixth place ranking in the NHRA POWERade Funny Car standings.
The six-time NHRA winner used a bye run in the first round before defeating four-time NHRA champion Gary Scelzi in the second round, and then was knocked off in the semifinal round in a close battle with Eric Medlen.
When first-round opponent Gary Densham's Chevy Funny Car broke at the starting line, the Skoal Racing team earned the free pass to round two. On his only bye run of the 2005 season, Johnson blasted his Chevy flopper to a pass of 4.761 seconds at 325.36 mph. Johnson posted two 4.761-passes en route to the win at the season-opener at Pomona in February.
In a marquee match-up with championship implications, the Iowa native got the jump at the start and scored the wire-to-wire victory over Scelzi the 2005 NHRA Funny Car champion. Johnson drove the Skoal Racing flopper to a run of 4.794 at 327.11 to edge Scelzi, who posted a run of 4.807 at 326.16. Scelzi earned the 2005 NHRA Funny Car crown when John Force also was defeated in the second round.
"That was definitely one of our bigger rounds all year," Johnson said. "Even though there were only three cars with a shot, this shows how tough this Funny Car class is. It feels very satisfying to have played a role. We opened the door for (John) Force, but they didn't take advantage."
In his sixth semifinal appearance of the season, the veteran driver used the holeshot start to get the jump on Medlen, but at the finish line Medlen scored the narrow victory by just a few feet. Johnson powered the Skoal Racing flopper to a performance of 4.771 at 326.24, while Medlen raced to a 4.740 at 321.65 to score the trip to the final round.
"We gave 'em a good run," Johnson said. "I never saw him, it was real close. We struggled all weekend getting the car to run early. I know Mike (Green) and the guys made a lot of changes to get the car to try and perform better early, but it didn't respond and we lost by nine thousandths (of-a-second).
"It was a huge improvement over last season. I'm real happy. I would have liked to have finished the season off with a win, but I'm not too disappointed."