WITH NEW CAREER-BESTS TO HIS CREDIT, JOHNSON JR. NOW AIMS FOR A CONSISTENT TUNE-UP ENNIS, Texas (Oct. 4, 2005) & ...
WITH NEW CAREER-BESTS TO HIS CREDIT, JOHNSON JR. NOW AIMS FOR A CONSISTENT TUNE-UP
ENNIS, Texas (Oct. 4, 2005) Entering last weekend's NHRA event at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill., Skoal Racing Funny Car driver Tommy Johnson knew that conditions would be ideal for the six-time NHRA winner to better his career best performances numbers. Johnson accomplished that on his first qualifying attempt of the weekend and upped that ante on Friday night when he clocked the fifth fastest Funny Car speed in NHRA history (331.45 mph) and became just the fifth Funny Car driver in NHRA history to post a 4.6-second elapsed time (4.698 seconds).
With just three events remaining on the 2005 NHRA scheduled, the sixth-ranked driver in the ultra-competitive Funny Car division now has his sights set on adding another Wally trophy to his mantle. The Iowa native has that opportunity as the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series returns to the always fast Texas Motorplex, near Dallas, to complete the Hurricane Rita-postponed O'Reilly Fall Nationals, Oct. 7-9.
"It was unfortunate that we had to postpone the race, but it was the right call," Johnson said. "The weather conditions will better be better for everybody this weekend. The fans, racers and crew members like the mid-70s a lot more than triple-digit temperatures that they had in Dallas a few weeks back.
We're coming off a strong performance at Joliet (Ill.) last weekend, so my confidence is high. I think that we can make the car run good again. The last three or four races, we've performed well and I think that we can do it again. If we can pick up our game on race day, we've got a good enough car to win, and I really want to win another race this season."
Johnson and the Skoal Racing crew have qualified fifth or better at the last five NHRA races competing in various conditions from 100-plus degree temperatures in Memphis (Tenn.) to the cool autumn weather in Illinois. The only thing missing from a winning equation for Don Prudhomme's Funny Car team has been consistency on Sundays.
"With temperatures in the mid 70s and a track like the Motorplex, you're going to see performances similar to what we saw in Joliet last weekend," Johnson said. "I don't know if we'll see record-setting times, but there's always a chance with the cooler weather. I'm confident that we'll qualify well and make a strong showing. We just need to improve our race day setup and we'll be good to go."
While a 4.69 probably won't be required to win rounds on Sunday, a consistent tune-up will. If Johnson has a reliable race car in his corner, with his driving skills, a seventh career trip to the winner's circle could be in order.