JOHNSON JR. RACES TO SEMIFINAL EFFORT AT DENVER MORRISON, Colo. (July 16, 2006) - Tommy Johnson Jr. powered his special edition Skoal RacingSM Chevy Funny Car to a semifinal finish Sunday at Bandimere Speedway. It's the third consecutive event...
JOHNSON JR. RACES TO SEMIFINAL EFFORT AT DENVER
MORRISON, Colo. (July 16, 2006) - Tommy Johnson Jr. powered his special edition Skoal RacingSM Chevy Funny Car to a semifinal finish Sunday at Bandimere Speedway. It's the third consecutive event where the seven-time NHRA winner has advanced to the semifinal round of eliminations.
After qualifying in the No. 3 position for the second straight race, Johnson knocked off No. 14 qualifier Mike Ashley and rising Funny Car star Eric Medlen before falling to four-time NHRA champion Gary Scelzi in a close semifinal match-up.
Johnson, a former NHRA Division 5 competitor who is as familiar with this race track as any on the circuit, was handed the victory when the former NHRA Pro Mod champion fouled at the start. Johnson drove his silver-and-blue Skoal Racing flopper to the third quickest run of the round, 5.154 seconds at 299.06 mph, to earn the win and lane choice in round two.
In the second round, Johnson was again given the "get out of jail free card" when Medlen fouled at the start. Johnson used an .092 of-a-second reaction time and drove his Skoal Racing Monte Carlo to a pass of 5.567 at 224.43 after slightly losing traction on the hot Bandimere Speedway quarter mile. Medlen drove to a run of 5.976 at 170.34. It was the 10th red light victory of Johnson's career.
"We had a great day and I was surprised we didn't win with Mike Ashley and Eric Medlen both red lighting," Johnson said. "You don't see it often, but to get two of those in one day, I'll take those kinds of breaks. Even though we had those breaks, we would have outrun them any way. The car ran well all day."
Both veteran drivers used identical .091 of-a-second reaction times as Johnson drove his Mike Green-tuned Monte Carlo to a pass of 5.328 at 290.32, but it wasn't enough as Scelzi clocked low elapsed time of the round at 5.182 seconds to earn the trip to the semifinals.
"After struggling on Saturday with the fuel system, Mike (Green) and the guys did a great job of finding the problem and fixing it," Johnson said. "The car ran good. It's such a gamble up here. It's really a guessing game. The guys did a great job. The car when well all weekend. To qualify third and go to the semis again is a solid performance. This shows this team is ready to break through. I don't think it will be long before this team starts getting some wins."
The next NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event is the 19th annual Schuck's Auto Supply Nationals, July 21-23, at Pacific Raceways in Kent, Wash. near Seattle. Johnson earned his first career NHRA victory at the Seattle race in 1993.