Columbus: Tommy Johnson Jr preview

JOHNSON JR. LIKES PERFORMANCE OF SKOAL RACING CAR AS NHRA SERIES ROLLS INTO OHIO HEBRON, Ohio (May 17, 2005) - When your race car is performing at a peak level, the last thing a team wants to see on the schedule is a week or two off. That's why...

JOHNSON JR. LIKES PERFORMANCE OF SKOAL RACING CAR AS NHRA SERIES ROLLS INTO OHIO

HEBRON, Ohio (May 17, 2005) - When your race car is performing at a peak level, the last thing a team wants to see on the schedule is a week or two off. That's why six-time NHRA winner Tommy Johnson Jr. and his Skoal RacingSM crew are thrilled about the current string of six NHRA races in seven weeks.

"Our performance level is head-and-shoulders above where we were at this point last season," Johnson said. "We're qualifying better and going some rounds on race day. This current stretch of six races is really key because if we do well, we can put ourselves in position to contend for the title, and that's certainly our goal."

Johnson blasted his Chevy flopper to its best qualifying position of the season, third, last weekend at Atlanta Dragway in Georgia, where he recorded his first 4.7-second (4.787-seconds) elapsed time since the 2005 season-opener in February where he raced to his sixth career victory and second win since joining Don Prudhomme Racing in 2001. Johnson and his Mike Green-led race team eye another strong showing when the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series makes its annual spring visit to the Buckeye State, May 19-22, for the 41st annual Pontiac Excitement Nationals at storied National Trail Raceway near Columbus.

Qualifying might be overlooked as long as you make the cut for the 16-car field, but a strong qualifying performance can be critical to success or a short outing on race day. Johnson has qualified in the top half of the Funny Car order at the past five races giving the Skoal Racing team lane choice, along with earning valuable points towards the Skoal Showdown bonus event that will be contested at the prestigious U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis.

"We always talk about how important it is to qualify well," Johnson said. "If you qualify in the top half of the field, you get lane choice in the first round and you know that you've got a pretty good race car as well. Plus, it's important for our team to qualify well to ensure our placing in the Skoal Showdown. If we don't win the title or Indy, the Showdown is probably the next biggest race a Funny Car driver could win. Everyone likes that $100,000 payday."

Johnson scored the first major victory of his career at historic National Trail Raceway in the Top Alcohol Funny Car category. The veteran nitromethane pilot would like nothing better to add a second 'Wally' trophy from the Columbus event to his collection as he eyes the ultimate Funny Car prize--a POWERade championship and the $400,000 bonus check that comes along with being the champ.

T.J. 'Talks' Columbus

What do you like most about National Trail Raceway?

I got my first national event win there in Top Alcohol Funny Car, that's what I like most about the place. I have a lot of memories from National Trail; that place has a lot of drag racing history. The fans are really hardcore and it's a fun place to race. When I won, it was called the Springnationals and now we're racing in the spring time again, so it's like the old days.

What is your favorite memory of National Trail Raceway?

The day I won, John Force (Funny Car) and Darrell Gwynn (Top Fuel) also won. It was Father's Day and it was cool to give my dad a win as a Father's Day present. That was a really good memory for our family.

What do you like most about the Columbus area?

I like that it's a three-hour drive from our home in Indy. I've always felt comfortable there. I'm a Midwest boy from Iowa and I like it there. It feels like home.

When you hear 'Columbus' the first thing that comes to mind is?

Hot, humid and rain, which leads to a tricky race track.

-www.snakeracing.com

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Tommy Johnson , Don Prudhomme , Darrell Gwynn , Tommy Johnson Jr.