JOHNSON JR. RACES TO RUNNER-UP FINISH IN SKOAL SHOWDOWN CLERMONT, Ind. (Sept. 3, 2006) Eight-time NHRA winner Tommy Johnson, Jr. piloted his special edition Skoal Racing Chevy Funny Car to a runner-up finish in the lucrative Skoal Showdown...
JOHNSON JR. RACES TO RUNNER-UP FINISH IN SKOAL SHOWDOWN
CLERMONT, Ind. (Sept. 3, 2006) Eight-time NHRA winner Tommy Johnson, Jr. piloted his special edition Skoal Racing Chevy Funny Car to a runner-up finish in the lucrative Skoal Showdown bonus event Sunday at O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis.
Having accrued the fifth most qualifying points over the last calendar season, Johnson was matched up against defending NHRA Funny Car champion Gary Scelzi in the first round of the Skoal Showdown. It was Johnson's third career appearance in the $100,000 bonus event that is contested annually during the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals.
As the first pair of floppers to do battle in the Skoal Showdown, the veteran drivers used nearly identical reaction times as Johnson blistered the ORP quarter mile in 4.750 seconds at 324.36 mph to card the quickest elapsed time of the round. Scelzi's red flopper lost traction and slowed to a 9.373-second pass. Johnson's E.T. earned the Skoal Racing team lane choice over round two opponent Robert Hight, who ran 4.768-seconds in an opening round victory against Whit Bazemore. It was Johnson's first career round win in the popular race-within-a-race.
In a second round race versus the 2005 NHRA Rookie of the Year, Johnson used his veteran driving prowess to drive the Skoal Racing Monte Carlo to the victory. Hight used a slight starting line advantage in his flopper, but both 8,000 horsepower race cars lost traction mid-track before Johnson pedaled the throttle as the Skoal Racing/Raybestos Chevy recovered to clock a run of 5.325 at 259.16 to earn the win light in the Summit Racing Equipment lane. Hight's car lost power and slowed to a 6.314-second effort in his second career Skoal Showdown appearance.
In the final round, the seasoned Funny Car drivers powered to a terrific race as Johnson clocked a consistent 4.823 at 321.04, while the 13-time NHRA champion blasted his silver flopper to a run of 4.789 at 327.19 to earn the victory in the Skoal Showdown and the $100,000 bonus prize. In was Force's sixth victory in the 25-year history of the event. The Skoal Racing team earned a $15,000 pay day for the runner-up effort.
"We had a great day and were just a little short in a great race," Johnson said. "Mike (Green) and the guys did a great job today. I'm so proud of our Skoal Racing team. Sure, we wanted to win, but our performance in qualifying gives us a lot of confidence heading into Monday's eliminations. I expect us to have another solid day on Monday."