Baytown: Tommy Johnson Jr preview

Johnson Jr. Hopes to Rebound in Lone Star State BAYTOWN, Texas (April 13, 2004) 0x2022 Following a qualifying setback in Sin City where Tommy Johnson's 37-race qualifying streak abruptly ended at Las Vegas, the five-time NHRA winner ...

Johnson Jr. Hopes to Rebound in Lone Star State

BAYTOWN, Texas (April 13, 2004) 0x2022 Following a qualifying setback in Sin City where Tommy Johnson's 37-race qualifying streak abruptly ended at Las Vegas, the five-time NHRA winner immediately focused his attention towards the next race in Texas.

"You hate to struggle and you can't afford to struggle more than one race or you'll fall way behind," Johnson said. "We lost a little ground in Vegas, but it could be worse. We want to bounce back and show we're a true contender in the Funny Car class. It's really important for the confidence of the entire crew to get this thing going in the right direction."

Johnson and Don Prudhomme's Skoal Racing Funny Cars look to return to the top 10 in the NHRA Funny Car standings when the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series visits the Lone Star State for the first time, April 15-18, for the 17th annual O'Reilly Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway Park.

"The other day, someone asked me if anybody has ever had a DNQ and still won the championship," Johnson said. "I told them Larry (Dixon) and the Miller Lite dragster did it in 2002.

"As bad as the DNQ sounds, we really only lost 20 points. If we would have lost in the first round at Vegas, we'd have only had 20 more points. If you can't make up 20 points over 19 races, then you shouldn't be out there racing. It's really not much worse than a first round loss."

Johnson, whose best career finish at the Texas facility was a runner-up finish to John Force two years ago, is confident that his Skoal Racing Chevy Monte Carlo can make some noise in the Funny Car ranks and feels the car's clean performance will play a key role in the finish of the car.

"Another thing we have going is that we have zero oil down penalties, while some of the other guys have two or more," Johnson said. "Two oil downs are the same as a DNQ. If you lose 10 points per oil down, that can add up to a lot of points over the course of the season."

Another factor this weekend is the new track surface at HRP. The weather forecast is calling for warm temperatures, which could produce tricky track conditions for the crew chiefs and drivers.

"It could be Gainesville (Fla.) all over again," Johnson said. "The track at Houston has a new surface and will be very green. When it's hot, the oil tends to come up to the surface of the track, and a new track and hot weather makes it hard to get the rubber to stick. We did pretty well at Gainesville, so I'm hoping for some hot conditions at Houston."

-www.snakeracing.com-

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Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Tommy Johnson , Don Prudhomme