Gainesville: Tommy Johnson Jr preview

JOHNSON JR. HOPES TO RETURN TO WINNING WAYS AT GATORNATIONALS GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 14, 2005) -- At the season-opening Winternationals, six-time NHRA winner Tommy Johnson Jr. broke a personal 89-race winless drought in dramatic fashion when...

JOHNSON JR. HOPES TO RETURN TO WINNING WAYS AT GATORNATIONALS

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 14, 2005) -- At the season-opening Winternationals, six-time NHRA winner Tommy Johnson Jr. broke a personal 89-race winless drought in dramatic fashion when he blasted his Skoal RacingSM Chevy Funny Car to a career-best E.T. (4.741-seconds) en route to the Winternationals title and the Funny Car points lead.

Johnson enters the 36th annual Mac Tools Gatornationals just 20 points out of first place as he looks to continue his strong run in the ultra-tough NHRA Funny Car division when the NHRA makes its only stop in Florida, March 17-20, at historic Gainesville Raceway, the track where Johnson made his NHRA national event debut.

After slipping just at bit at the season's second race near Phoenix three weeks ago, Johnson and the Skoal Racing crew have worked feverishly on the Chevy flopper with the goal being more 4.7-second elapsed times and multiple round wins at each race.

"After Phoenix, we recognized a few of the weaker areas of our race car and we went back to the shop and changed things to how we want them to be," Johnson said. "I'm confident that we solved a few issues and we'll be better than we were when we won at Pomona (Calif.). I think we have a better race car now. We've done some serious work at the shop the past few weeks heading into Gainesville."

If the team needs to improve in one area following the first two races, it's qualifying performance. While they have posted consistent times, Johnson and crew chief Mike Green are looking for quicker E.T.'s, knowing that qualifying 12th and 10th won't cut it. To be successful you need to be in the top five of the 16-car order heading into eliminations.

"How well you perform in qualifying will be key to doing well on Sunday," Johnson said. "That's an area that we're really trying to improve. Even though we have a race win, where not near our goals in qualifying. The consistency is good, now we just need to improve our performance on Friday and Saturday and then we'll be in real good shape come race day."

Tommy Johnson's Gainesville Memory

"Gainesville was the first national event that I ever competed in when I was racing in the Super Gas category. It's always been one of my favorite races on the tour. The town really supports the event and so many fans come to the race because it's a nice break from winter in many areas of the country. The Gainesville race just has an aura about it."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tommy Johnson , Tommy Johnson Jr.