Dodge carries Johnson to career best numbers in Pomona qualifying

Out of the gate, Johnson was a very quick 4.082 at 314.75 mph, easily resetting his career best speed and making the fourth-quickest pass of the session

Tommy Johnson Jr. and the Terry Chandler-sponsored Make-A-Wish Funny Car team are quite happy at the conclusion of qualifying for the 54th annual Circle K NHRA Winternationals, and with good reason. The striking Don Schumacher Racing Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T is well in the field at the first race of the 2014 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, and along the way to qualifying in the No. 9 spot, the joyful group enjoyed more than one spectacular moment.

Out of the gate, Johnson was a very quick 4.082 at 314.75 mph, easily resetting his career best speed and making the fourth-quickest pass of the session. The Make-A-Wish team faltered some in the evening session with a 4.690, but they returned on Saturday on a mission.

Tommy Johnson Jr
Tommy Johnson Jr

Photo by: Bob Harmeyer

Johnson came to the starting line with a certain sense of determination, and the team behind him echoed his resolve. The brilliant blue Make-A-Wish Dodge launched down the racetrack steadily to trip the final timers with a 4.069 at an impressive 316.82, resetting both ends of Johnson's personal best and putting two bonus qualifying points in his pocket.

"I thought for sure that we would improve on the career best," said Johnson, whose previous best was a 4.070, 305.47 set in 2008. "I know this team is plenty capable, and I fully expected coming to Pomona that we would have bettered those numbers by a little bit. Thankfully, we were able to do that right away. It was great."

The last qualifying run of the weekend provided what could have been excellent conditions for quickening their pace, and the collaborative crew chiefs of Don Schumacher Racing determined that the Make-A-Wish Dodge was ready. They were batting for the fences and had hearts set on getting the powerful Dodge into the three-second zone for the first time. Unfortunately, it just wasn't in the cards.

"We had made some good runs throughout qualifying, and our Make-A-Wish Dodge continued to show improvement," said Johnson. "The conditions were good, and yeah, we were going for it. This team wanted to improve, and we know that it's possible because the car is responding to changes."

Although they were unable to conclude the evening and the first four qualifying rounds of the year on a high note, the team remains enthusiastic and exceptionally optimistic heading into raceday at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, especially with so many Make-A-Wish representatives in attendance.

"This is the first drag race for most of the Make-A-Wish folks, and to be able to debut this car here and see their faces and watch them experience this, it's just been pretty neat," said Johnson, who will race DSR teammate Jack Beckman in the first round on Sunday. "Everybody falls in love with drag racing when they come to their first race, and I definitely think we have some new fans. We're really glad they're here and sharing this with us."

Don Schumacher Racing

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Tommy Johnson , Jack Beckman , Don Schumacher , Tommy Johnson Jr.
Article type Qualifying report
Tags don schumacher racing, funny car, terry chandler, tommy johnson jr