Gainesville Raceway Track History: Hasn't competed at the track since 1997 when he was a Top Fuel driver Won three rounds of racing in eight appearances Best finish: Semifinals, March 1993 Standing: Sixth place, 110 points, after two of 24 NHRA...
Gainesville Raceway Track History:
Hasn't competed at the track since 1997 when he was a Top Fuel driver Won three rounds of racing in eight appearances
Best finish: Semifinals, March 1993
Sixth place, 110 points, after two of 24 NHRA Winston Series races
Looking Ahead to the Gatornationals:
Johnson has driven an Alcohol Funny Car at Gainesville but not a nitro-fueled one. His previous eight visits have been in Top Fuel. He drove Joe Gibbs' Funny Car the last half of the 1999 season and, because the Gatornationals event is traditionally run in March, he consequently didn't race there. Last season he took over the controls of Helen Hofmann's Funny Car several months after this race.
"What's nice about this year is that the Gatornationals is my favorite race on the tour and I finally get to go to Gainesville with a legitimate shot at taking home the title," said Johnson. "The last few times I have been there it has been on a shoestring (budget). This time I go there in the top 10 in points. I've never been there in the top 10 and I've never had a shot at winning the race like I do now. It would be nice to take that win home.
"It has been a while since I raced there. I have special feelings for the Gatornationals because it's the first national event I drove in. I like the way the city gets behind the race. It's by far the best-supported race as far as fan-wise and city-wise and it makes for a nice atmosphere.
"It's just a matter of time until my Skoal Blue Camaro turns the corner, too, and I'm hoping this is the race where we do it. The performance is there; it's just the little things that keep biting us. In Funny Car, just getting in the show this year is the hard part."
"For a new crew, everything being brand new, it has operated smoother than you could ever imagine," Johnson commented. "The guys have put in a lot of hard work to make it run so smoothly.
"Ed (crew chief Ed McCulloch) is very good at focusing everyone on the same goal and you can obviously tell. Everybody is working toward the same goal, putting in a lot of hours with no complaints. That's what makes it a success.
"I knew Snake runs a first-class operation and that was one of the deciding factors of me coming on board. Everyone was asking me before the season what I was expecting and I said I expect to win right off the bat. I don't see why we can't. So far we haven't won but we're not too far away from it. This team - my blue Camaro and Ron's green Camaro - are definitely capable of winning."
Looking Back at the CSK Nationals:
Johnson qualified ninth (4.8983 seconds at 310.13 mph) in NHRA's quickest Funny Car field. On race day, Johnson defeated Frank Pedregon with a 4.881 at 310.05 mph in the opening round. In the quarterfinals, Johnson was pulling away from Gary Densham when the car's blower snout broke, ending his race day. Johnson slowed to a 6.715.
"The blower snout is not one of those things that usually break," said Johnson, who also was victimized by a broken blower belt on one of his qualifying runs. "The snout breaking hurt because both Skoal Racing cars were running so well and I thought we'd both get to the semifinals."