Las Vegas II: Tommy Johnson Jr Saturday summary

JOHNSON STARTS LAS VEGAS EVENT FROM THE LUCKY NO. 7 POSITION IN FUNNY CAR LAS VEGAS (Oct. 28, 2006) -- Tommy Johnson Jr. and the Don Prudhomme-owned Skoal Racingsm Monte Carlo crew decided to gamble a little bit on Saturday night. They are in...

JOHNSON STARTS LAS VEGAS EVENT FROM THE LUCKY NO. 7 POSITION IN FUNNY CAR

LAS VEGAS (Oct. 28, 2006) -- Tommy Johnson Jr. and the Don Prudhomme-owned Skoal Racingsm Monte Carlo crew decided to gamble a little bit on Saturday night. They are in Las Vegas, after all.

The gamble didn't work, but Johnson is still confident Sunday will run in his favor.

After turning in a 4.771-second pass at 322.73 mph in the first qualifying session on Saturday at the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, crew chief Mike Green wanted to aim high for the final qualifying pass.

The car smoked the tires en route to a 7.943 pass at 104.97.

"We went for it in the second session today and we knew from the start that there was a chance we would smoke the tires," Johnson said. "It barely smoked the tires, but it was enough to slow us down. We were going for the No. 1 position. It was a gamble, but we are still happy with the numbers we've turned in so far."

The best run of the four-round qualifying set was a 4.734 at 323.97. Those numbers are good enough for the No. 7 position going into the 22nd of 23 events on the NHRA POWERade tour.

"We are most proud of the way that we ran in the middle of the day," Johnson said. "That first session had the conditions that we are most likely to face during the final elimination rounds."

Johnson said he also has a little good luck riding around his helmet -- courtesy of the men who work on his Funny Car. The crew members spent more than two months designing a new helmet for Johnson to wear. The helmet has photos of Johnson, the car and the crew as well as each crew member's signature.

"It blew me away that the team did that for me," Johnson said. "I always get the guys a present at the end of the season to thank them for their hard work, but this year they beat me to the punch. They are an amazing group of people and I'm lucky I get to work with them."

Johnson has earned two wins and two No. 1 qualifying awards this season but said there is still one goal left to reach -- finishing in the top five. Going into this weekend's race, Johnson is in sixth place.

But if Johnson can earn some valuable points, The Strip is one of the best places to make a run for the event win. Johnson has already earned one win in two runner-up appearances Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

"We have a really good car right now and this is a place we've done well at in the past," Johnson said. "I think it's going to be a great day here on Sunday."

Johnson will face Phil Burkart in the first round of eliminations.

Final eliminations are slated for 11 a.m. on Sunday. All the action can be seen on ESPN2 on Sunday at 8 p.m. (ET).

-credit: www.snakeracing.com

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tommy Johnson , Don Prudhomme , Phil Burkart , Tommy Johnson Jr.