Skoal brand returns to drag racing

GREENWICH, Conn., January 5, 2001 - U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company announced the signing of a major three-year sponsorship agreement with Don Prudhomme and his Snake Racing team. The agreement enables Prudhomme to field two Funny Cars in...

GREENWICH, Conn., January 5, 2001 - U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company announced the signing of a major three-year sponsorship agreement with Don Prudhomme and his Snake Racing team. The agreement enables Prudhomme to field two Funny Cars in National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) competition beginning in 2001.


New SKoal cars Drawing: Snake Racing Team

"U.S. Smokeless Tobacco has made a serious commitment to drag racing and we are very excited to be the team chosen to make it happen," said Prudhomme. He added, "I am delighted Skoal Racing <FONT SIZE="-2"><SUP>TM</SUP></FONT> will become the primary sponsor on both race cars since I raced under that program when I was still driving."

"The new three-year contract with Don Prudhomme Racing is an investment for our future," said Garnis Hagen, vice president, marketing promotions. "This long-term partnership with Snake Racing underscores our commitment to drag racing allowing us to balance our sponsorship portfolio with an organization that exemplifies professionalism, hard work and a true passion for winning," Hagen added.

Tommy Johnson, Jr. will join Ron Capps in the new line-up. Each will drive identically prepared Chevrolet Camaros except for their color. Capps will be in the Green Camaro and Johnson in the Blue Camaro. "We aren't going to have a number one team and a number two team. We are going to have a Green team and a Blue team, and I'm thrilled about it. And, there is going to be some serious competition whenever they meet on race day," said Prudhomme.

Capps has eight victories and finished second twice in his four seasons driving U.S. Smokeless Tobacco-backed Funny Cars for Prudhomme. Johnson, 32, is a veteran competitor with victories in both Funny Car and Top Fuel categories -- a trait he shares with Prudhomme and Capps. "Tommy was our first choice when the opportunity came up to put together a second car," Prudhomme said, "and fortunately, he was available and we were able to sign him to a three-year contract. Johnson possesses tremendous ability and is driven to win. He deserves to be driving a good car, one that comes with a great sponsor."

Johnson drove in the Top Fuel dragsters from 1990-96 and competed in Funny Car part of the last two years. He has made it to the finals four times, winning twice.

"Now I can focus on one thing -- and that's winning," Johnson said, with his future secure for at least the next three years. "One of the most exciting things about driving for Prudhomme is the organization and how he runs it. This isn't a race team; it's a first-class organization. It's going to be a pleasure to be a part of it. I'm looking forward to having Capps as a teammate. We've always gotten along, maybe because we both grew up around the sport and came up through the ranks; and, we haven't forgot where we came from," Johnson added.

Capps, who won his first NHRA race in Top Fuel in 1995, is enthused about Johnson joining the team. "I'm very happy to have Tommy on our team. I think he's one of the best Funny Car drivers out there and he'll be a great teammate," stated Capps. Prudhomme drove Skoal Racing SM -backed racecars during the last eight years of his driving career (1987-94), the first three years in Funny Cars, and the final five in Top Fuel. U.S. SmokelessTobacco was not active in drag racing in 1995-96 but returned to Prudhomme's team in 1997 when he added a Funny Car for Capps. Prudhomme also owns a Top Fuel dragster driven by Larry Dixon.

When he retired from driving following the 1994 season, Prudhomme's 49 victories -- 35 in Funny Car and 14 in Top Fuel -- were the most in drag racing's two top categories. He also won four consecutive Funny Car championships (1975-78).

-Joe Sherk

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