Tommy Johnson Jr. Driver on Don "The Snake" Prudhomme's Skoal Racing Blue Camaro Funny Car The Race: 22nd annual Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals, July 20-22, Bandimere Speedway, Denver BANDIMERE SPEEDWAY HISTORY: Johnson has had some success...
Tommy Johnson Jr.
Driver on Don "The Snake" Prudhomme's Skoal Racing Blue Camaro Funny Car
22nd annual Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals, July 20-22, Bandimere Speedway,
BANDIMERE SPEEDWAY HISTORY:
Johnson has had some success at the track, primarily when he drove in Top Fuel. He was runner-up in 1991 and a semifinalist in 1995. He qualified in Funny Car in 1999, losing in the first round, and didn't qualify last year.
Eighth place, 655 points after 13 of 24 NHRA Winston Series events.
LOOKING AHEAD TO MILE-HIGH NATIONALS:
Johnson is making his first appearance at Bandimere Speedway in Skoal Racing Blue colors. This also is the first of three straight events dubbed the "western swing." Races in Seattle (July 29) and Sonoma, Calif. (Aug. 5) follow.
"It seems like I've always run well at Bandimere," said Johnson, "and I'm looking forward to racing there again. It's a nice track. The problem in Denver is that you can't make any power because of the high altitude.
"I think it's one of those tracks you go to where you can't figure out why you have success there, but you do. Some guys hate to race there and hate to go there. I think they have themselves beat before they even start to race. I love it.
"I'd say we have a pretty good chance (to win the race)," Johnson added. "(Crew member) Mike Green has been there four times as a crew chief (on Cory McClenathan's Top Fuel dragster) and won three of them. With his experience and the hot weather tune-up Ace (crew chief Ed "The Ace" McCulloch) now has, we should be all right. I can't wait to go racing.
"We are going to Denver knowing we have a very good shot at winning the race. We're only one point out of seventh place (Frank Pedregon has 656) so we're looking to pick up a spot in the standings, too."
"We are going to concentrate on winning as many races as we can for the rest of the year. Our chance of winning the championship is probably over so we want to be competitive."
A LOOK AT THE "WESTERN SWING:"
"All three tracks are so different," Johnson noted. "From Denver's high altitude, good track but no horsepower, we go to Seattle, where you can make a lot of power because the track's at sea level. But there's not enough race track to hold the power. (That leads to traction trouble.)
"You never know what kind of conditions you'll get at Sonoma. The track can be tricky because it's part of the road course. Then you don't know what the weather's going to be. It could be 108 degrees or it could be 70 degrees. It always throws you a curve."
LOOKING BACK AT 50TH ANNIVERSARY NATIONALS:
After qualifying eighth (4.907 seconds at 304.74 mph) Johnson ran 4.939 to beat Frank Pedregon in the opening round on a hot afternoon at Pomona (Calif.) Raceway. It was the quickest run of the opening round.
In the quarterfinals against Whit Bazemore, Johnson had a .487 reaction time to a .523, but the Skoal Racing Camaro lost traction and the round.
"Our car had been running so well in the heat that the last thing I expected was to smoke the tires," Johnson said. "It was frustrating. We had one of the best running cars out there. It was still encouraging. We have a good hot-weather tune-up."