Gateway: Tommy Johnson preview

Skoal Racing Report Tommy Johnson Jr. Driver Of Don "The Snake" Prudhomme'S Skoal Racing Blue Camaro Funny Car The Race: Fifth annual Sears Craftsman Nationals, June 22-24, at Gateway International Raceway, Madison, Ill., near St....

Skoal Racing Report
Tommy Johnson Jr.
Driver Of Don "The Snake" Prudhomme'S Skoal Racing Blue Camaro Funny Car

The Race: Fifth annual Sears Craftsman Nationals, June 22-24, at Gateway International Raceway, Madison, Ill., near St. Louis.

GATEWAY RACEWAY HISTORY:

Johnson earned his first No. 1 qualifier honor here in 1999 in just his second race driving Joe Gibbs' Funny Car.  He advanced to the semifinals in that event.  

STANDING:

Ninth place, 509 points after 11 of 24 NHRA Winston Series events.

LOOKING AHEAD TO CRAFTSMAN NATIONALS:

A No. 3 qualifying effort and quarterfinal finish at the Pontiac Nationals Sunday near Columbus, Ohio lifted Johnson into ninth in points and boosted his spirits.

He'd had only one other round win since his victory at Las Vegas six races ago.  

"The weather in St. Louis has always been real ugly when we've had races there and this time probably won't be an exception," said Johnson, "but I don't mind the heat. Hopefully my Skoal Racing Blue crew can keep improving.

"I think it's good for us to have back-to-back races.  We really aren't that far off (on the hot-weather tune-up).  I don't see why we can't go to St. Louis and be impressive.  We just need to keep working on it."

Owner Don "The Snake" Prudhomme and crew chief Ed "The Ace" McCulloch made some personnel moves prior to the Columbus race, adding veteran Mike Green to oversee the Blue Camaro crew.

"Everything we changed has been positive and made a difference," Johnson commented.  "We have a long way to go to get where we want to be but we're headed in the right direction.

"Mike will keep getting better and better.  He's still adjusting to a new team.  Everything I've seen this week is in the direction we need to go."

A LOOK  BACK AT THE PONTIAC NATIONALS:

Johnson's 4.896-second qualifying run put him solidly in the show and his 4.998 in the first round sidelined Jim Epler.  Del Worsham beat a slowing Johnson in the quarterfinals.

"As far as I'm concerned it was a good weekend," Johnson said.  "The car ran OK in the heat."

"We drew a tough one in Del Worsham in the quarterfinals.  He's on a roll right now."  (Worsham, Sunday's runner-up, won at Joliet, Ill. three weeks ago.)

"The engine dropped a cylinder against Worsham and knocked the blower belt off," he continued.  

The car's performance "makes it a lot easier to smile," Johnson noted. "We still lost, but it's all positive about the loss.  It was a good weekend."

-SR-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Jim Epler , Del Worsham , Tommy Johnson , Tommy Johnson Jr.