JOHNSON JR. EXCITED TO RETURN TO THE COMFORTS OF SEA LEVEL AT SEATTLE KENT, Wash. (July 18, 2005) -- For the NHRA pros, the Mile-High Nationals, near Denver, is sort of like a fastball hitter trying to just make contact with the nastiest...
JOHNSON JR. EXCITED TO RETURN TO THE COMFORTS OF SEA LEVEL AT SEATTLE
KENT, Wash. (July 18, 2005) -- For the NHRA pros, the Mile-High Nationals, near Denver, is sort of like a fastball hitter trying to just make contact with the nastiest breaking ball in the big leagues. When drag racing's elite are accustomed to competing in sea level conditions, the high altitude and thin air definitely throws a curveball at the drivers and crew chiefs.
For six-time NHRA winner and veteran nitro pilot Tommy Johnson Jr., not having to face those challenging conditions for another 12 months is certainly something that he welcomes with open arms.
"I'm excited to get back to sea level racing," Johnson said. "It's so hard to make these cars run at a mile high and our 85-percent sea level tune-up has been running well. You go to Denver and that throws a wrench into everything you're trying to do because it's so difficult to get the car to run at nearly 6,000 feet. I'm ready to get to Seattle and back to what we had been doing. We went to the second round at Denver and I felt like a (NASCAR) Cup guy that had a top 10 finish."
Johnson and his Skoal RacingSM crew aim to improve upon their fifth place ranking in NHRA's Funny Car division when the exhausting Western Swing continues with the 18th running of the CARQUEST Auto Parts Nationals, July 22-24, at the serene natural surroundings of Pacific Raceways, near Seattle. The Seattle race will always be a special event for the Iowa! native as Johnson scored his first career professional victory at Pacific Raceways 12 years ago.
"I think we'll find ourselves in the middle of the hunt again at Seattle," Johnson said. "I'm confident that we'll qualify in the top half of order and be one of the top cars to beat on Sunday. The sea level tracks are more suited for what we're doing. Our tune-up has been pretty good this year in the better conditions. We did it at the start of the season at Pomona (Calif.) and we've been able to continue that throughout the 2005 season. I'm confident that this Skoal Racing Funny Car is going to win one of these three races on the (Western) Swing."
Johnson may have stunned the Top Fuel field when he raced to victory at Seattle in 1993, but with the strong showing from Don Prudhomme's Funny Car team in '05, a repeat of that winning performance certainly wouldn't take NHRA's Funny Car division by surprise this time around.
T.J. 'Talks' Seattle...
What do you like most about Pacific Raceways?
The trees, the scenery, the woods, it's really located in a pretty area.
What is your favorite memory of Pacific Raceways?
I got my first national event victory at Seattle in 1993. We were the underdog and we ran just well enough to beat everybody. We were able to get down the left lane when nobody else could. It was tough because I had to drive around the bump all day long. I think we surprised everybody that day.
What do you like most about the Seattle area?
It's a really neat party of the country. We've been racing there forever and I've never done any of the touristy stuff. So, this year, Melanie (Troxel) and I are going to go downtown and do the Space Needle and be a tourist for a day before the race. I have been to SAFECO Field and it's a really beautiful ballpark.
When you hear 'Pacific Raceways' the first thing that comes to mind is?
Tough race track.