JOHNSON JR. AIMS TO STAY HOT AT NIGHT IN ST. LOUIS MADISON, Ill. (June 22, 2005) - When you eat, sleep and breathe NHRA drag racing, you learn what to expect at each race. You know the Gatornationals in Florida will be jam-packed. You know it...
JOHNSON JR. AIMS TO STAY HOT AT NIGHT IN ST. LOUIS
MADISON, Ill. (June 22, 2005) - When you eat, sleep and breathe NHRA drag racing, you learn what to expect at each race. You know the Gatornationals in Florida will be jam-packed. You know it will rain at the Reading, Pa. race. You know the fans in New Jersey are die-hard and knowledgeable. And, when the series heads to St. Louis each June, you know the sauna-like conditions will be hot and muggy.
With the weather forecast calling for temperatures in the upper 90s, air conditioning, shade and water are essential to survive the first of two night races on the 2005 NHRA POWERade Series schedule, when the ninth annual Sears Craftsman Nationals, June 24-26, heads to Gateway International Raceway near St. Louis.
"The heat will be a little tough on your body," Skoal RacingSM Funny Car driver Tommy Johnson Jr. said. "More than anything, you have to keep hydrated. Last year, the heat got to me. I'm in better shape, physically, this year, and this is going to be a weekend where that is key. I'll make sure I drink a lot of fluids. The heat can really drain you mentally. You take a beating just sitting in the race car wearing all the protective gear."
Wrestling his 8,000 horsepower Skoal Racing Monte Carlo is a chore under ideal weather conditions, add in sizzling summertime temperatures and humid conditions and that makes the task of driving a 320-mph nitromethane-powered Funny Car that more challenging.
"The high temperatures will slow the whole field down," Johnson said. "Thankfully, we're running at night, but it will still be tough with hot temperatures. If it was a day race, we'd be in trouble. We'll just concentrate on having a quick car every qualifying session, and that will judge how good you are."
With seven round wins at the past three races, Johnson and his Skoal Racing crew have been pretty darn good. The solid Mike Green/Johnny West tune-up has vaulted the six-time NHRA winner to fourth in the Funny Car standings. Johnson is confident his team can continue its hot streak as they continue the climb towards the top spot in the flopper rankings.
"Right now, we've got a good thing going, so I'm looking forward to it," Johnson said. "We've run really well in both cool and hot conditions. Our tune-up is as flexible as it's ever been. Running at night is not a concern at all. I'm ready to go."
T.J. 'Talks' St. Louis...
What do you like most about Gateway Int'l Raceway?
I like the night race. It's probably one of my favorite races of the year because we run at night. Drag racing is so awesome at night. And, getting to sleep in doesn't hurt. It fits my schedule better.
What is your favorite memory of Gateway Int'l Raceway?
I grew up going there when my dad raced. He won the AHRA Springnationals in Modified eliminator at St. Louis in 1976.
What do you like most about the St. Louis area?
I like to go and hang out at Union Station.
When you hear 'Gateway Int'l Raceway' the first thing that comes to mind is?
Hot and humid.