JOHNSON JR. ENTHUSED TO REGAIN TOP 5 SPOT BEGINNING AT JOLIET JOLIET, Ill. (Sept. 26, 2005) & ...
JOHNSON JR. ENTHUSED TO REGAIN TOP 5 SPOT BEGINNING AT JOLIET
JOLIET, Ill. (Sept. 26, 2005) After an unexpected week off due to Hurricane Rita's charge through the Gulf Coast, the NHRA POWERade Series is back in full swing as the 8,000 horsepower nitro pros head to The Windy City for the final time this season, Sept. 29-Oct. 2, for the Fifth annual Ameriquest Mortgage Co. Nationals at the record-setting Route 66 Raceway quarter mile in Joliet, Ill. Johnso! n and the rest of drag racing's professionals are now refreshed following a sudden weekend of rest and relaxation, which will come in handy as the series will heads back to Dallas following the Joliet race.
"Certainly we'll all be more rested for the Chicago race," Johnson said. "It was originally scheduled at the end of three straight races, now it's a normal deal with a week off. Teams should be more prepared both mentally and physically since you won't be drained from three-race swing. Otherwise, I don't think you approach it any differently. It's all downhill from here. There are not many races left and I want to win one before the season ends. We went to the semis at Joliet (Ill.) in June, and could have easily won the race. We lost a real close race to (Gary) Scelzi. I'm focusing on winning this race."
En route to winning the season-opening Winternationals, Johnson piloted his Skoal Racing flopper to three consecutive 4.7-second runs on the way to earning his first victory in nearly three seasons. If the six-time NHRA winner and Don Prudhomme's Funny Car team expect a return visit to the winner's circle and to improve upon their semifinal effort that they posted at the Joliet drag strip in June, then more 4.70s will be a prerequisite if you expect to compete with the big dogs in the aggressive Funny Car division.
"We're qualifying better and running pretty good, I'm leaving on everybody, but we're lacking a little bit on Sunday as far as consistency goes," Johnson said. "We're just a little bit behind. We need those few hundredths (of-a-second). Hopefully, Mike (Green) and Johnny (West) can get a handle on making the car run really strong every Sunday. Two or three more hundredths (of-a-second) every run will make a difference. The Chicago track is so good that it will hold the E.T.s that we'll all throw at it. We've got to pick up our 330 (foot) times a bit. If we can do that, we'll be one of the guys to beat."
The Iowa native has proven to be the class of the Funny Car contingent when it comes to getting the jump off the starting line. However, drag races are competed on a 1,320-foot course and a strong tune-up usually proves to be just as or more important then a solid reaction time. If T.J. and Co. can string together four solid runs on race day then perhaps career win number seven is in store for the veteran driver as he looks to return to a top five position in the Funny Car standings.