Johnson Hopes for Long Night at St. Louis MADISON, Ill. (June 21, 2004) - Don Prudhomme Racing Funny Car driver Tommy Johnson Jr. is a self-proclaimed night owl. Fittingly, racing under the lights at night suits him just fine. The former...
Johnson Hopes for Long Night at St. Louis
MADISON, Ill. (June 21, 2004) - Don Prudhomme Racing Funny Car driver Tommy Johnson Jr. is a self-proclaimed night owl. Fittingly, racing under the lights at night suits him just fine.
The former runner-up at Gateway International Raceway (2001) aims to be racing long into the night when the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series makes its annual visit to the Illinois facility, June 25-27, for the eighth annual Sears Craftsman Nationals
"I like the aspect of the night race," Johnson said. "A lot of people don't like it, but I really enjoy driving at night. I like the laid-back atmosphere during the day of a night race. I normally stay up late and get up late, so it fits my schedule very well."
The heat and humidity of summertime in the Midwest isn't very conducive to making laps down a drag strip because the hot sun tends to make the track very greasy and slick. So, a few years back, NHRA officials decided to change the St. Louis event to a late afternoon/night race to give the crews better race conditions and to not have to run under such blistering heat.
"It's really warm and humid and takes a toll when you drive the race car," Johnson said. "It's hard on everybody during the summer. The track is going to be slick during the afternoon. It will get much better at night once the sun goes down, which makes for better racing for the fans.
"I don't look to see any record E.T.s at St. Louis, but you never know. It might cool off at night time. We run at 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday evening. You never know what can happen during a drag race. St. Louis is usually about 85 degrees with 100-percent humidity even at 9 p.m. I'm excited about this race. I have a good feeling about our chances."
Most of the racing action will take place near dusk when some of the daytime heat has dissipated. However, the first round of racing starts at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, right in the middle of the afternoon and that will present the crew chiefs with probably the most challenging conditions of the entire race weekend.
"It's a challenge for the crew chiefs and the guys on the crew," Johnson said. "It doesn't bother me. The 4:30 start time in the afternoon is great for me. The only bad thing is that you have to sleep in or you'll have three times the butterflies trying to wait for the first round which normally begins at 11 a.m."