Joliet: Tommy Johnson preview

ROUTE 66 RACEWAY HISTORY: This will be Johnson's first Funny Car race at the track.  He attempted to qualify in Top Fuel in 1999.  The day after that race (June 7), he was named to replace Cruz Pedregon in Joe Gibbs' Funny Car and tested ...

ROUTE 66 RACEWAY HISTORY:

This will be Johnson's first Funny Car race at the track.  He attempted to qualify in Top Fuel in 1999.  The day after that race (June 7), he was named to replace Cruz Pedregon in Joe Gibbs' Funny Car and tested at Route 66 Raceway.

STANDING:

Eighth place, 443 points, after nine of 24 NHRA Winston Series events.

LOOKING AHEAD TO LUCAS OIL PRODUCTS NATIONALS:

June, Johnson hopes, will bring more pleasant racing memories than May.  In the three events during May, Johnson won one round of competition and fell from fifth to eighth in points.

"It seems like we've been struggling since we won the race at Las Vegas (April 8)," Johnson said.  "One way or another, we've struggled and it's getting frustrating."

The lone bright spot in May was his career-best run of 4.824 seconds during qualifying last week at Topeka, Kan.  It was part of the quickest 16-car field in history.  The 4.824 put him fourth overall and it took a 4.919 to make the show.

"We need a confidence booster at this race," he added.  "We need to work on our consistency.  I'm frustrated by how inconsistent we are right now. 

"I know Ace (crew chief Ed "The Ace" McCulloch), Tommy (Delago, assistant crew chief) and the rest of the crew aren't happy with what's going on either. 

"We know we can win races.  We proved all that.  We just have to go out and continue to do it.  Whatever it takes.

"We need to make four good qualifying runs and go out Sunday and make four more.  The Funny Car class is so tough right now that you blink and you're out. 

"At last week's race at Topeka, Frank Pedregon, who was fourth (in points) didn't even qualify.  And Bruce Sarver, who was second, lost in the first round.  So did I.  So did Del Worsham, who was sixth, Gary Densham (eighth) and Dean Skuza (ninth).  That's six of the top 10 out after the first round.

"With the competition this tight, that's why we have to work on our consistency."

A LOOK BACK AT ADVANCE AUTO NATIONALS:

Johnson's 4.824-second performance was his best during qualifying and came during the Friday night session that saw three of the top four qualifiers also run their top times of the event.

"Track conditions were perfect, the weather was perfect and it was a good time to make some good runs," Johnson said.  "We were pretty close to an all 4.80 (second) field last week.  You had to qualify at 4.845 to get lane choice.  That shows you how competitive Funny Car has become."

A blower explosion in the first session Friday not only damaged parts but the Skoal Racing Blue Camaro body as well. 

In the opening round, Johnson had a comfortable margin on Jim Epler only to lose it, and the win light, when his tires began spinning about half-track.  Epler won with a 4.930 at 307.02 mph to 4.931 at 302.75.

-Skoal Racing

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Bruce Sarver , Frank Pedregon , Jim Epler , Dean Skuza , Del Worsham , Tommy Johnson , Cruz Pedregon