AFTER A SUCCESSFUL '05 CAMPAIGN, JOHNSON JR. LOOKING FOR BIGGER THINGS IN 2006 POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 6, 2006) & ...
AFTER A SUCCESSFUL '05 CAMPAIGN, JOHNSON JR. LOOKING FOR BIGGER THINGS IN 2006
POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 6, 2006) What a difference a year makes. Following a sub par 2004 finish, Tommy Johnson Jr. and his Skoal RacingSM team rebounded with a successful '05 season that saw the Iowa native open the year with a win at the storied Winternationals along with racing to a career-best finish in the vicious Funny Car division. The combination of arguably the best driver in the flopper ranks and a solid Mike Green tune-up has Don Prudhomme's Funny Car team eyeing multiple trips to the winner's circle and hopefully a spot in the chase for the NHRA crown in 2006.
Johnson's Winternationals triumph last February surprised many on the NHRA circuit. The six-time NHRA winner was mired in an 89-race winless drought, but over the course of the 23-race season Johnson proved his name belonged with the category's elite racers after leading the class in average reaction times and posting strong performance numbers that culminated with his 4.698-second, 331.45-mph blast last fall.
"Going into the Winternationals last year, I was hopeful," Johnson said. "This year, we're confident knowing that we've run well there along with the way the car performed last season and with what we learned at testing this winter. There's definitely a difference in our attitude entering this season. I don't think we're overconfident, but we ran well at both Pomona races last year. Sometimes you find the right combination for a race track and I think we've got one for Pomona."
The popular racer won six straight rounds at the historic Southern California quarter mile before losing a close semifinal match to Eric Medlen in November. Now, Johnson aims to join a distinct group of seven Funny Car drivers (Prudhomme, Dale Pulde, Al Segrini, K.C. Spurlock, John Force, Tony Pedregon and Jerry Toliver) who have captured multiple wins at NHRA's traditional February spectacle as the 2006 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series opens with the 46th annual CARQUEST Auto Parts Winternationals, Feb 9-12, at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
"The Winternationals is one of the top two or three races to win, so it's a nice one to have on your resume," Johnson said. "Hopefully, one day, you can win them all, but it's good to have that one out of the way. It's a prestigious win to have under your belt. Now, we need to add another one."
With one Winternationals trophy proudly displayed at his Indianapolis-area home, the veteran racer isn't looking for a different result on February 12, but rather a continuation of the same consistent 4.7-second tune-up from a season ago as there's no better way to kick-off the year than with a trip to the Pomona Raceway winner's circle. The biggest change Johnson and the Skoal Racing crew are focused on making in 2006 is a five-spot improvement in the standings, earning the $400,000 POWERade bonus check and series champion trophy.