DSR: Tommy Johnson Jr., driver of the Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car sponsored by Doug and the late Terry Chandler, enters 2018 teeming with confidence.
In an effort to get a head start on the 2018 NHRA season, the team led by crew chief John Collins and assistant Rip Reynolds, opted to transition from the five-disc clutch setup they had been employing previously, to a six-disc clutch at the 2017 NHRA Finals in Pomona, Calif. The decision proved to be effective, enabling Johnson to drive past the competition and into the winner’s circle. Closing out the year with a win and a proven combination fuels Johnson’s belief that the success the Make-A-Wish team enjoyed at the 2017 season finale will carry into 2018.
Tommy Johnson Jr., 49, has been the most successful Funny Car driver over the past three seasons with Terry Chandler’s Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car at Don Schumacher Racing by finishing third in points twice and second in 2016 with crew chief John Collins and assistant Rip Reynolds.
The native of Ottumwa, Iowa, who lives outside Indianapolis in Avon, has competed in more than 400 NHRA pro events, which includes stints driving for four hall-of-famers (Don Schumacher, Kenny Bernstein, Don Prudhomme and the NFL’s Joe Gibbs).
In addition to winning event titles in seven countries, he is one of 15 drivers to win NHRA events in Top Fuel and Funny Car and one of only 18 to qualify No. 1 in both nitro categories.
DOB: April 6, 1968
Hometown: Ottumwa, Iowa
Residence: Avon, Indiana
Marital Status: Engaged
Height/weight: 5'10", 160 lbs.
Hobbies: Computers, golf and lawn care
Notable: Johnson is one of 15 drivers in NHRA history to have won events in both Top Fuel and Funny Car and is one of 18 drivers in NHRA history to qualify No. 1 in both Top Fuel and Funny Car; The Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T is funded by Doug Chandler, honoring the giving spirit of the late Terry Chandler.
FC #: 33
- Reached three final rounds
- Had wins at Las Vegas 1 and Pomona 2, posted four runner-up finishes and tallied a No. 1 qualifier in Pomona
- Set a career-best time in Phoenix and a career-best speed in Sonoma
- Finished a career-high second in points
- Won a career-high three races
- Posted three runner-finishes
- Tallied a No. 1 qualifier at Charlotte 2
- Set a career-best E.T in Dallas and a career-best speed in Reading
- Tied a career-high third place finish in points
- Raced to victories at Chicago and Seattle
- Claimed six runner-up finishes on the season
- Raced to No. 1 qualifying efforts at Epping, Charlotte 2 and Las Vegas 2
- Posted career-bests in elapsed time and speed, both at Pomona 2
- Finished a career-high third in points
- Raced to victory at Bristol
- Joined DSR as the fourth Funny Car driver following Johnny Gray’s retirement
- Raced in four Top Fuel events for Rapisarda Motorsports, posting one quarterfinal finish
- Raced in two Funny Car events, but posted DNQs in both
- Finished 18th in points during last full season behind the wheel of a Funny Car
- Won wire-to-wire in Englishtown (No. 1 qualifier, race winner)
- Set career bests for time
- His two wins came against the last two Mello Yello Series champions (John Force and Gary Scelzi)
- Matched his career-best sixth place finish in Mello Yello standings
- Matched a career-best with two No. 1 qualifiers, his first since the 2001 season
- Opened the season with a win and finished a career-best sixth in points
- Set his still top speed of 331.45 mph at Chicago
Additional Career Highlights
2010: First Top Fuel Driver to ever run down the new drag strip in Abu Dhabi, at the Yas Marina Circuit in the United Arab Emirates.
2008: Drove for drag racing legend Kenny Bernstein. Only person to ever drive for KBR outside of the Bernstein family.
2007: Won in Englishtown, NJ after a first round fire that burned the car to the ground. The team rebuilt the entire car in 75 minutes to go on and win the race, set low e.t. of the day, all after qualifying number one.
2006: Earned victories at Phoenix and Brainerd, Minn. and runner-up at fall Las Vegas event to equal a career-best sixth place finish for the year. His career-best run of 4.672 seconds was also low E.T. at Joliet and collected his second No. 1 qualifier award of the year at Reading, Pa. Also posted a runner-up finish at the $100,000 Skoal Showdown bonus event.
2005: Won NHRA season-opening Winternationals. Advanced to two final rounds and finished a career-best sixth in the Funny Car standings. Set career-best performances at the fall Joliet race (4.698 seconds, 331.45 mph).
2003: One of four Funny Car drivers to qualify for all 23 races.
2002: Advanced to a career-best four final round appearances.
2001: Victory at Las Vegas (April 8) was the first for Prudhomme’s new two-car organization and came two days after Johnson and Prudhomme celebrated their birthdays (both were born on April 6). He was also a runner-up in St. Louis.
2000: Became a member of Don Prudhomme’s Funny Car organization in December. Qualified No. 1 at U.S. Nationals driving Helen Hofmann’s Funny Car.
1999: Joined Joe Gibbs Funny Car team for the final 13 races. Won his first Funny Car race at Reading, Pa. Added a second win at Memphis, was runner-up twice, ran his quickest speed (320.05 mph) to become only the third driver in the category to exceed 320, and became the 12th NHRA driver to win races in both Top Fuel and Funny Car.
1995: Enjoyed his best NHRA Top Fuel series finish (8th) in his last full season driving his family-backed dragster.
1994: Became the 15th member of the Slick 50 300-mph Club (302.01 mph) and one of only five drivers to hold spots in both the 300-mph club and the Cragar 4-second Club. Won at Memphis for his second dragster win and held the speed record for three months at 306.64 mph.
1993: Notched his first professional victory at Seattle and was runner-up two weeks later at Brainerd, Minn. He also made his first top 10 appearance at No. 10.