JOHNSON JR. FOCUSED ON STRONG FINISH TO 2005 NHRA SEASON BEGINNING AT READING MOHNTON, Pa. (Sept. 12, 2005) & ...
JOHNSON JR. FOCUSED ON STRONG FINISH TO 2005 NHRA SEASON BEGINNING AT READING
MOHNTON, Pa. (Sept. 12, 2005) With drag racing's marquee event now completed and more than two-thirds of the 2005 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series in the books, veteran nitro pilot and six-time NHRA winner Tommy Johnson is focused on returning his Don "the Snake" Prudhomme-owned Skoal RacingSM Chevy into a top five placing in NHRA's viciously competitive Funny Car division.
As the NHRA pros embark on the final three-race swing of the '05 season beginning with the annual fall visit to scenic Maple Grove Raceway near Reading, Pa., Sept. 15-18, for the 21st annual Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals, the world's sixth ranked Funny Car driver is well aware of the importance of advancing rounds on race day if he and the Skoal Racing crew are to see a top five finish come to fruition.
"Not that I've given up on the title, but I know that our hopes are a little diminished," Johnson said. "My goal is to buckle down and make sure that we finish in the top five. I'm excited about the final three race swing. My attention is off the point chase and back to racing each race. We need to have a good showing and finish strong."
Maple Grove Raceway is one of the few tracks on the NHRA tour where drivers expect to record career-best numbers and hope to set a national elapsed time mark and earn the 20 bonus points that come along with an E.T. record. Two weeks ago during qualifying for the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, Johnson cruised to the second quickest run of his driving career, 4.748-seconds. While John Force's 4.665-second E.T. record is likely to remain intact, Johnson's personal best is definitely in jeopardy at the ultra-quick Eastern Pennsylvania drag strip.
"There are only five races remaining, so we need to make sure that we don't have any more first round losses," Johnson said. "We certainly didn't do ourselves any favors at Indy. Qualifying will be really important at Reading. It has been known to be a one lane race track with a narrow groove. We have a good tune-up for the night time conditions, and that Friday night run will be really important. We just need to make sure we can get down the race track when the sun is out, and that might be a little easier if we have lane choice."
If T.J., the category leader in average reaction time, can post a few 4.7-second runs behind the wheel of his Monte Carlo flopper at The Grove,' with his driving ability and with a consistent tune-up, then a top five finish is indeed a realistic goal for the Skoal Racing driver.
T.J. 'TALKS' READING ...
What do you like most about Maple Grove Raceway?
The scenery and the backwoods setting.
What is your favorite memory from Maple Grove Raceway?
It would have to be 1999 when I won the race in the Interstate Batteries car. It was my first Funny Car victory.
What is your favorite local restaurant?
Santino's Family Restaurant, is a good Italian place that we like.
What do you like most about the Reading area?
I like the outlet mall because I like to shop.
When you hear Maple Grove Raceway' the first thing that comes to mind is?