JOHNSON JR. FIRED UP TO CONTINUE STRONG PERFORMANCE AT HISTORIC RACEWAY PARK ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (June 13, 2005) - While Tommy Johnson Jr. isn't sitting atop the NHRA Funny Car points standings, the veteran nitromethane pilot couldn't smile much...
JOHNSON JR. FIRED UP TO CONTINUE STRONG PERFORMANCE AT HISTORIC RACEWAY PARK
ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (June 13, 2005) - While Tommy Johnson Jr. isn't sitting atop the NHRA Funny Car points standings, the veteran nitromethane pilot couldn't smile much bigger thanks to the recent performance of his Skoal Racing Chevy Funny Car.
After driving his Monte Carlo to a final-round performance and a semifinal finish at the past two races (Topeka, Kan. and Joliet, Ill.), the six-time NHRA winner has already racked up more round wins (12) than the entire 2004 season (nine) and T.J. and his Skoal Racing team are currently fourth in the challenging NHRA Funny Car division.
"I'm pretty happy these days," Johnson said. "It's a nice change, that's for sure. I can't wait to get to the race track and the off weeks are fun. There's not much to frown upon here lately. I don't mind these back-to-back-to-back races at all."
Johnson and Co. aim to continue to impress the flopper contingent when the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series roars to life at the storied drag strip at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park for the 36th annual K&N Filters SuperNationals. For many years, the event was known as the Summernationals. The New Jersey track is located just 35 miles South of New York City and NHRA drag racing is the only major motor sport that competes near the Big Apple. Johnson's team owner, Don 'the Snake' Prudhomme, earned six of his 49 career driving victories at Raceway Park.
"I'm really excited going into Englishtown fourth in the points," Johnson said. "We're 10 races in and we're fourth, that shows you how good a year you have going and we want to keep it going strong. I like this being in the top five."
Johnson has long been considered one of the most talented drivers in the fuel ranks, having piloted both Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars to victory. He leads the Funny Car class in average reaction time. The one thing he lacked his entire professional career was a consistent top five race car. Right now, that's something crew chiefs Mike Green and Johnny West have provided him with.
"The guys have really improved the performance of the car," Johnson "A better running race car definitely helps my confidence. It takes a lot off pressure of me. I can do a better job driving and the team morale is so much better. It's hard to turn things around when you're down, but we did that this off season and the whole team is better because of it."
With a few more round wins on Father's Day, Johnson's smile might just be a little bit wider as the NHRA schedule nears the halfway point.
T.J. 'Talks' Englishtown...
What do you like most about Raceway Park?
It's a traditional race that goes back a lot of years. There's tons of history at Englishtown. The most die hard, knowledgeable fans on the circuit are at Raceway Park.
What is your favorite memory of Raceway Park?
I was there sitting in the stands when Don Garlits flipped his dragster in 1986.
What is your favorite Englishtown-area restaurant?
Last year, (wife) Mel (Troxel) and I went to Ben Benson's Steakhouse in New York City with the gift certificate that she won on (David) Letterman's show for playing 'Know Your Current Events.' The food was absolutely fabulous.
What do you like most about the Englishtown area?
Being able to go into New York City for a few days. It's like a little vacation in the middle of the tour.
When you hear 'Raceway Park' the first thing that comes to mind is?
Hot, humid and the Summernationals.