Topeka: Tommy Johnson Jr preview

JOHNSON JR. AND SKOAL RACINGSM CREW AIM FOR REBOUND AT HEARTLAND PARK TOPEKA, Kan. (May 23, 2005) - Anyone that has ever been involved in a team sport knows that adversity is an aspect of competition that teams will often encounter. Whether a...

JOHNSON JR. AND SKOAL RACINGSM CREW AIM FOR REBOUND AT HEARTLAND PARK

TOPEKA, Kan. (May 23, 2005) - Anyone that has ever been involved in a team sport knows that adversity is an aspect of competition that teams will often encounter. Whether a long road trip, an injury to a star play or a nudge that sends you headfirst into the wall, hard times escape very few teams. A strong team scraps and fights its way to overcome the rough waters, while others struggle to fight their way back to land.

After racing to a career-best elapsed time and speed en route to the victory at the 2005 season-opening event, six-time NHRA winner Tommy Johnson Jr. and his Skoal RacingSM team have stumbled upon some troubled waters at the past few NHRA races. Johnson, one of 13 NHRA competitors to have scored wins in both the Top Fuel and Funny Car categories, looks for a strong performance and a return to a top five ranking in the NHRA Funny Car standings when the NHRA POWERade Series makes its annual visit to Heartland Park Topeka, May 26-29, for the 17th annual O'Reilly Summer Nationals. Heartland Park is the track where Johnson joined the exclusive Cragar 4-Second Club 15 years ago.

"I know we can be one of the cars to beat every week," Johnson said. "Right now, we need to dig deep and do everything we can to turn this thing around. Nobody on this Skoal Racing team is going to pack it in. We're going to work our tails off until we get to where we want to be, and that's a strong race car that nobody takes lightly. Early in the year, we proved how good we can be. Now, we just have to find that tune-up again."

The Iowa native has been competing at the Topeka track since it first opened in the late 1980s. From his days in the alcohol ranks, to piloting both nitromethane-powered rails and floppers, Johnson has experienced some success at the Kansas track and feels right at home in the nation's heartland. Therefore, there's no track more suited for Don Prudhomme's Funny Car to right the ship and make a strong run in the spirited NHRA Funny Car division.

"Our goal is to get to Topeka and work on the tune-up of the race car," Johnson said. "We've got to improve our early numbers. If we do that, I know we can run as strong as anyone else. We're just missing it by a little bit. Once we fix that problem I'm certain that we'll be a car that goes rounds at each race."

T.J. 'Talks' Topeka

What do you like most about Heartland Park Topeka?

It used to be my home track when I lived in Iowa. A lot of Iowans show up, and it's good to see people that I don't get to see very often.

What is your favorite memory of Heartland Park Topeka?

I got my 4-second ring at Heartland Park. That's where I joined the Cragar 4-Second Club in 1990. So, it's a special place for me to visit each year.

What is your favorite Topeka-area restaurant?

I like going to Skinny's Sports Bar. It's always a fun place.

What do you like most about the Topeka area?

Topeka is a friendly area. The town really supports drag racing. It's always a fun place to race. The track owner, Ray Irwin, is a good guy who makes us feel welcome.

When you hear 'Heartland Park Topeka' the first thing that comes to mind is?

Windy.

-snake racing-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Tommy Johnson , Don Prudhomme