JOHNSON JR. WINS AT PHOENIX CHANDLER, Ariz. (Feb. 26, 2006) -- Tommy Johnson Jr. powered his Don "the Snake" Prudhomme-owned Skoal RacingSM Chevy Funny Car to his seventh career NHRA victory Sunday at Firebird International Raceway defeating...
JOHNSON JR. WINS AT PHOENIX
CHANDLER, Ariz. (Feb. 26, 2006) -- Tommy Johnson Jr. powered his Don "the Snake" Prudhomme-owned Skoal RacingSM Chevy Funny Car to his seventh career NHRA victory Sunday at Firebird International Raceway defeating John Force in the final round.
Johnson, who qualified the Skoal Racing flopper in the No. 12 spot, defeated No. 5 qualifier Robert Hight, who won the 2006 season-opener two weeks ago, veteran racer Tony Pedregon and Phil Burkart Jr. before besting the 13-time NHRA champion in the final round. It was Johnson's first career final-round victory over Force in seven tries.
"I owed the guys from Friday night," Johnson said. "We should have qualified No. 1 on Friday and the car got loose on me. They gave me three great rounds today and I gave them one. My lights were a bit off, but I dug deep for that final round."
Johnson scored his first round win of the 2006 NHRA season by knocking off the 2005 NHRA Rookie of the Year when he drove the Skoal Racing flopper to a pass of 4.802 seconds at 321.04 mph. The drivers used nearly identical reaction times, but Hight's flopper lost traction and slowed to an 8.209-second pass.
The Iowa native advanced to the semifinals after scoring a slight victory over Pedregon, the 2003 NHRA Funny Car champion. Johnson drove his Mike Green-tuned flopper to the second quickest elapsed time (4.809 seconds) of the round to earn the trip to the semifinals. Pedregon clocked a run of 4.847 seconds.
Using another 4.80-second elapsed time, Johnson raced to his first final-round appearance of the 2006 NHRA season when he blasted the Skoal Racing Ha Ha Coupe to a 4.808, 322.42 pass to edge Burkart, who drove his Chevy to a 4.887, 314.39 effort.
In the final round, Johnson used a slight starting line advantage to race to the early lead and never looked back as the Skoal Racing flopper scored the wire-to-wire victory. Force's car lost traction early in the run and slowed to a 5.705-second pass, while Johnson pedaled to a 5.225-second run to collect his seventh career final-round win light.
"It left good and I thought it was on another 4.80," Johnson said. "Then I could feel it coming loose and I had to pedal it three times. On race day, you just have to keep if floored and hope they don't drive around you.
"He's (John Force) the best, so I'd be lying if I said it doesn't feel sweet to finally beat him," Johnson said. "I tried not to think about that. I just wanted to go up there an run my own race. This is great."
Johnson and Don Prudhomme' Skoal Racing team will test the Goodyear 2420 tire at Firebird Raceway on Monday before taking a few weeks off to gear up for the 37th annual ACDelco Gatornationals, March 16-19, at Gainesville (Fla.) Raceway.