JOHNSON JR. AIMS TO GET BACK ON TRACK AT THUNDER VALLEY BRISTOL, Tenn. (April 25, 2005) - Tommy Johnson Jr. and Don Prudhomme's Skoal Racing Funny Car team took the competition by storm at the 2005 season-opener at Pomona (Calif.) Raceway, as...
JOHNSON JR. AIMS TO GET BACK ON TRACK AT THUNDER VALLEY
BRISTOL, Tenn. (April 25, 2005) - Tommy Johnson Jr. and Don Prudhomme's Skoal Racing Funny Car team took the competition by storm at the 2005 season-opener at Pomona (Calif.) Raceway, as the veteran driver blasted to three consecutive mid-4.7-seconds pass en route to claiming the title at the historicWinternationals. The sport of drag racing, much like golf, can be humbling at times, and while the Skoal Racing team hasn't experienced the performance they hoped for at the past four races, they're still in fifth place in the Funny Car standings and well within striking distance of current points leader Whit Bazemore.
With the hype of Prudhomme's 100th victory now behind them, Johnson and company have their vision tunneled towards a return visit to the winner's circle and win No. 101 for the Snake when the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series makes its annual spring visit to Thunder Valley, April 29-May 1, for the Fifth annual O'Reilly Thunder Valley Nationals at picturesque Bristol Dragway, the track where Johnson earned his first noteworthy drag racing victory in 1987.
"I look forward to the Bristol race every year," Johnson said. "It's real important for our team to make a good showing at Bristol this year. We have to go out and run really well this weekend. It's time for things to come together again like they did early in the season.
"We've just been one piece away from putting the whole puzzle together at the past few races. We're qualifying better and that's key. Now we've just got to concentrate on not making any mistakes and we should run pretty well."
Johnson's goal entering the season was to qualify in the top half of the 16-car field at each event in order to make a strong showing at the Skoal Showdown bonus event at the prestigious U.S. Nationals in September. Johnson has blasted his Mike Green-tuned Chevy flopper to solid qualifying positions at the past three events giving the Iowa native lane choice, which can be a key factor in experiencing the success that the whole Skoal Racing team hopes for on race day.
"We've got a good track record at Bristol," Johnson said. "I think we'll be one of the cars to contend with. We've got a strong race car and we ran well at this race last year. I don't see why we can't run some more 4.70s this year."
T.J. 'Talks' Bristol
What do you like most about Bristol Dragway?
The acoustics are the best that we have on tour. There's nothing sweeter than the sound of a nitro car, but at Bristol it's that much better because of the echo. What else can you ask for? Plus, it's a Bruton Smith-owned facility, that's about all you have to say.
What is your favorite memory from Bristol Dragway?
I won the race in 1987 in Top Alcohol Funny Car on the IHRA circuit. I beat Bob Newberry in the final round and he's still one of the best out there today. We went from a semi-competitive car to a real good car that day. It changed the outlook on my career. From that day on, I knew I could run with the big guys of the sport.
What is your favorite Bristol-area restaurant?
We stay in the motor home at the track, so we don't really go out to eat much. I have some friends that work at Bristol Dragway, so it's always fun to visit them each year.
What do you like most about the Bristol area?
Everybody is so friendly. It's real laid-back. The people are real accommodating, unlike some other venues on the circuit. It's sort of like a vacation. It's nice to experience that good Southern hospitality.
When you hear 'Bristol' the first thing that comes to mind is?
The mountain echo.