JOHNSON JR. KICKS-OFF 2005 SEASON WITH WIN AT POMONA Veteran driver sets both career-best E.T. and speed en route to sixth career win POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 13, 2005) -- On the 40th anniversary of Don Prudhomme's first career victory at the 1965...
JOHNSON JR. KICKS-OFF 2005 SEASON WITH WIN AT POMONA
Veteran driver sets both career-best E.T. and speed en route to sixth career win
POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 13, 2005) -- On the 40th anniversary of Don Prudhomme's first career victory at the 1965 Winternationals, veteran flopper pilot Tommy Johnson Jr. powered his Skoal RacingSM Chevy Monte Carlo to his sixth career victory and second win since joining the Snake Racing stable in 2001 Sunday at Pomona Raceway after his victory at the 45th running of the Winternationals.
The second generation driver and Iowa native earned his first win at historic Pomona Raceway by defeating Frank Pedregon, Bob Gilbertson and Whit Bazemore, before besting Phil Burkart Jr. in the final round. Johnson's win helped legendary team owner Don "the Snake" Prudhomme inch closer to his 100th career victory. The win was Prudhomme's 50th as a team owner. He also drove to 49 NHRA wins during his 32-year driving career. Prudhomme sits just one win shy of the century mark.
"That was such a huge weight lifted off of us," Johnson said. "The satisfaction of this win is greater than any win I've ever had. It's great to show them all that we could do it. Once we got the breaks going our way, it happened.
"In my pre-race press release I talked about Snake winning here 40 years ago. Wow, this is really nice. I've never been No. 1 in points before. This is a pretty good start to the season."
Johnson and his Skoal Racing team caught a break in the first round when opponent Frank Pedregon crossed the center line automatically disqualifying his run. Prudhomme's team took advantage by posting its three quickest runs of the weekend in the next three elimination rounds. Johnson blasted his Chevy flopper to a run of 4.761 seconds at 326.71 mph to knock off Bob Gilbertson in round two. He then used a .036 reaction time to score a wire-to-wire win over Whit Bazemore in the Funny Car semifinal when his Chevy stopped the times in 4.761 at a career-best 328.22 mph. In his first final round appearance since June 2003, Johnson raced to the quickest pass of his career, 4.741 at 327.59, en route to his first win since April 2001.
"I never get breaks like that," Johnson said. "After first round I thought it would be a good day and maybe we'll start getting some breaks this season. After that, I ran career-bests all day long. To do that in the final was great. It doesn't get any better than that. It felt so good."
Johnson and his Skoal Racing team look to extend their points lead when the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series heads to Phoenix for the 21st annual Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals, Feb. 25-27, at Firebird International Raceway in Chandler, Ariz.