POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 29, 2004) -- Tommy Johnson Jr. clocked his quickest and fastest pass of the early 2004 NHRA season in the opening round of eliminations at Pomona Raceway Sunday, but fell in a close battle with No. 6 qualifier Del Worsham.

Johnson, a five-time NHRA event winner, drove his Mike Green-tuned blue Skoal Racing Chevy Monte Carlo to a run of 4.878 seconds at 308.35 mph, but Worsham's 4.816 at 318.54 edged Johnson at the finish line. Jerry Toliver defeated Gary Densham in the Funny Car final at Pomona on Sunday.

"The car ran a lot better today," Johnson said. "We're getting a lot closer with the tune-up on these Skoal Racing Chevys. We got a little behind during qualifying and that bit us on Sunday. You hate to lose, but there were some positives for the crew. If the car didn't shake the tires and I didn't have to pedal it, it would have run close to Ron's (Capps) 4.80.

"This gives us a lot of confidence heading into Phoenix. I can't wait to get there. I want to get going right now because I feel that we're close. I would run tomorrow if we could. I'm glad we don't have to wait another week. I don't like the off weeks."

The next NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event is the 20th annual Checker Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals, March 5-7, at Firebird International Raceway in Chandler, Ariz.

ESPN2 will televise two hours of qualifying highlights from the CSK Nationals beginning at 11 p.m. (ET) on Saturday, March 6 and show three hours of final eliminations at 7 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, March 7.