BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Aug. 2, 2017) – The silver lining for Tommy Johnson Jr. and Terry Chandler’s Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car team at last year’s Northwest Nationals near Seattle was having an impact on whether someone won all three titles on the three-week Western Swing.
While the veteran driver would have preferred contending for the coveted “sweep,” he had to settle for stopping another driver from winning all three Swing trophies.
He accomplished that by eliminating 16-time world champion John Force in the first round before his day was ended on the next run by Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps, who went on to claim the rain-delayed Northwest Nationals title two weeks later at Brainerd, Minn.
“Yeah, anytime you race (Force), you really want to beat him,” Johnson said. “We loved being the team that stopped them from sweeping the Swing. Not because it was John, just because if we couldn’t win it we didn’t want anyone else to.”
That is just one good memory Johnson has of Pacific Raceways. That’s where he won his first event titles in Top Fuel (1993) and Funny Car (2015).
“Seattle is one of the tracks where I’ve won in Top Fuel and Funny Car,” he said. “There are just certain tracks on the tour you always seem to do well at. I feel comfortable there, and love going back to that area to kind of re-live the memories of my first Top Fuel win and just two years ago winning Funny Car.
“I don’t know what it is about Seattle, but I always seem to do well there. I come in relaxed because of the confidence from our past success. You just seem to do better when you’re relaxed and with no distractions and not trying too hard.”
Johnson and his team Powered by Pennzoil and led by crew chief John Collins and assistant Rip Reynolds will arrive at Pacific Raceways with some momentum despite a second-round loss Sunday to Courtney Force at Sonoma, Calif.
The Make-A-Wish team qualified No. 5, but in its loss recorded Johnson’s career-best speed of 332.02 mph.
Three NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events remain in the 18-race regular season before only top-10 qualify to contend for the world title in the six-race Countdown to the Championship that begins after Labor Day after which points are reset.
“We’re getting close to the Countdown and we’re focused on making sure we’re in the top-five for that. Right now we’re solid in the top-five and would like to make a move and maybe gain a couple more spots.”
TOMMY JOHNSON JR. BY THE NUMBERS FOR SEATTLE
Pts Events Wins Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ W/L
2017 5th 15 1 2 5 3 4 1 0 23-14
CAREER 413 16* 26 58 101 168 15 44 359-353
14 FC/2 TF
Career best time, speed: 3.837 sec. (Phoenix 2017); 332.02 mph (Sonoma 2017)
SEATTLE BY THE NUMBERS
Last event (July 30), Sonoma, Calif.: Qualified No. 5, lost in second round to Courtney Force
A year ago at Seattle: Qualified No. 10, lost in second round to Ron Capps
Career at Seattle: Wins 2 (1993, 2015); Runner-ups 0 Poles 0
2017 NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES FUNNY CAR STANDINGS
(Official after Sonoma; 15 of 24 events: wins in parenthesis; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. RON CAPPS (6) 1,276 —–
2. MATT HAGAN (3) 1,093 -183
3. JACK BECKMAN (2) 1,049 -227
4. Robert Hight (1) 1,035 -241
5. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. (1) 982 -294
6. Courtney Force 874 -402
7. John Force (1) 821 -455
8. Tim Wilkerson 727 -549
9. J.R. Todd (1) 724 -552
10. Cruz Pedregon 570 -706
About Don Schumacher Racing
Don Schumacher Racing, headquartered in Brownsburg, Ind., fields seven professional NHRA teams. In Top Fuel, the U.S. Army dragster driven by eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher, the Matco Tools dragster driven by three-time world champion Antron Brown and the Papa John’s Pizza/Mopar Top Fuel dragster driven by Leah Pritchett; and in Funny Car, 2016 world champion Ron Capps in the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T; 2011 and 2014 world champion Matt Hagan in the 80th anniversary Mopar/ Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T, and 2012 NHRA world champion Jack Beckman in the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge and the Make-A-Wish Dodge driven by Tommy Johnson Jr., both of which are funded by the late Terry Chandler.
DSR has won 312 NHRA national event titles and 16 world championships.
Follow Don Schumacher Racing at ShoeRacing.com, on Twitter at @shoeracing and Facebook.com/shoeracing.