BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 9, 2004) - Skoal Racing Funny Car driver Tommy Johnson Jr. is very familiar with the surroundings in Brainerd, Minn. Tucked away in the 'Land of 10,000 Lakes,' some two hours North of Minneapolis, the small resort town comes...
BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 9, 2004) - Skoal Racing Funny Car driver Tommy Johnson Jr. is very familiar with the surroundings in Brainerd, Minn. Tucked away in the 'Land of 10,000 Lakes,' some two hours North of Minneapolis, the small resort town comes to life each August when America's No. 2 motor sport roars into town.
"It's such a fun race because the atmosphere is so relaxed," Johnson said. "The fans come to take in the action and hang out. A lot of Canadians come out for the race. It's just a really fun environment. Everyone really enjoys themselves at the Brainerd race."
The five-time NHRA winner hopes to enjoy a fun weekend in the Northstar State when the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series makes its annual summer trip to Minnesota, Aug. 12-15, for the 23rd annual Lucas Oil Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway.
"I enjoy racing at Brainerd," Johnson said. "It takes me back to my Midwest days when I lived in Iowa. I won some races in Alcohol Funny Car at Brainerd. I've raced there my whole career from Super Gas to Top Fuel to Funny Car.
"It gives you the first inkling that fall is coming when you go to Brainerd. They resurfaced the track last year and it has had a year of curing, which should provide some great racing. My success in the past gives me confidence going into the race and right now, confidence is what our crew needs."
After Johnson was the No. 2 qualifier at St. Louis in late June and raced to a semifinal finish at Denver in mid-July, the NHRA implemented rule changes to ensure safer conditions for the drivers. One of those changes was to reduce the amount of nitromethane in the fuel mixture from 90 to 85-percent. For the blue Skoal Racing crew, it's been a challenge adapting to the new 85-percent rule and they look to right the ship beginning at B.I.R.
"The 85-percent deal has been tough for us," Johnson said. "We learned a lot at the past two races and learning is what it takes to make the car run well. The change has evened the field. There's no clear cut leader in Funny Car right now. We should be able to make some good strides at Brainerd. It was just a tough transition in the middle of the season. We had a pretty good handle on the 90-percent mixture before the change."
If crew chief Mike Green continues to progress with the 85-percent nitro tune-up, there's no reason why T.J. and his crew can't have a pleasurable trip to Minnesota.