JOHNSON JR. DRIVES SKOAL RACINGSM CHEVY TO SEMIFINALS FOR SECOND CONSECUTIVE WEEK MILLINGTON, Tenn. (Aug. 21, 2005) & ...
JOHNSON JR. DRIVES SKOAL RACINGSM CHEVY TO SEMIFINALS FOR SECOND CONSECUTIVE WEEK
MILLINGTON, Tenn. (Aug. 21, 2005) Tommy Johnson Jr. used a consistent tune-up to race his Skoal RacingSM Chevy Funny Car a semifinal finish for the second straight week Sunday at Memphis Motorsports Park.
The Iowa native defeated New York driver Tony Bartone and veteran racer Del Worsham before losing a narrow match-up to former teammate Ron Capps in the semifinals.
After qualifying his Skoal Racing flopper in the No. 3 qualifying spot with a 4.936-second elapsed time, Johnson scored a wire-to-wire victory against the fellow Chevy driver in the first round of Funny Car eliminations. Johnson used a Mike Green/Johnny West tune-up to power to a pass of 5.199 seconds at 278.92 mph, while Bartone's Monte Carlo lost traction and slowed to a 8.451-second E.T.
"The first round was just a gamble round," Johnson said. "Nobody knew what track would be like with it so hot in middle of the day. We ran a respectable 5.19 and that gave us a good tune-up for second round. We lost lane choice to Del (Worsham), but it turned out not to be an issue."
T.J. than used the best reaction time of round two (.058 of-a-second) to score the win against Worsham. Johnson never trailed as the Skoal Racing Monte Carlo powered to a performance of 5.113 at 284.93 to outdistance Worsham's 5.157, 283.97-effort.
"Del's a tough car, so we had to be on our toes and make the car run better," Johnson said. "I stepped up my reaction time and the guys stepped up the performance of the car. They're a good car and tough to get around."
In the semifinals, the seasoned drivers used nearly identical reaction times and at the 330-foot mark, Johnson's Skoal Racing flopper was ahead, but Capps' Funny Car powered by to score the narrow victory. Johnson recorded a run of 5.010 at 283.47, while Capps used a time of 4.986 at 295.59 to earn the trip to the final round.
"That's a tough loss," Johnson said. "Against your ex-teammate, you want to do your best. It's frustrating to lose such a close race. We both were gunning on the line and it showed with our reaction times, but we came up short at the finish line. Overall, it was another good weekend for out team and we're keeping ourselves in the points chase."
Johnson remains sixth in the POWERade Funny Car standings, trailing leader Robert Hight by 144 points. The next NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event is the 51st annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, Aug. 31-Sept. 5, at Indianapolis Raceway Park in Clermont, Ind. The Skoal Racing crew will test at I.R.P. August 23-24 in preparation for the U.S. Nationals.