BROWNSBURG, Ind. (June 13, 2017) – It’s no secret that Tommy Johnson Jr.’s favorite racetrack is Bristol Dragway and luckily for him and Terry Chandler’s Make-A-Wish Funny Car team, the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing series returns to Bristol, Tenn. this weekend for the 17th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals to defend their title win from last year.
“I love going to Bristol,” Johnson said. “You always have confidence going into a track where you’ve won the year before but even without our success there it’s one of those places I always look forward to going to.”
Bristol Dragway in what is called Thunder Valley, sends nitro cars down a track that cuts through a mountain side. Fans and drivers alike look forward to the event every year.
“We always do really well there and it’s just a really cool location and unlike a lot of the tracks we see during the year.”
The NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals falls on Father’s Day weekend. Johnson has had a lot of success racing on the holiday and hopes to continue that success this weekend.
“I love racing on Father’s Day. I’ve been fortunate enough to win several times on Father’s Day and we hope to do that again this year.”
Most of Johnson’s family, including his father, Tommy Johnson Sr., now live in Charlotte, N.C. and make the short trip to Bristol for the event.
“Bristol always falls near my dad’s birthday and I’ve been able to celebrate his birthday and Father’s Day with him a few times in the winner’s circle and I’d love to do it again this year.”
Johnson has won at Bristol twice: in 2014 and last year in 2016. He has won four times on Father’s Day.
In 2016, the Make-A-Wish car defeated Cruz Pedregon, Robert Hight and Alexis DeJoria before meeting their Don Schumacher Racing teammate, Matt Hagan, in the final round of competition.
Johnson made a 4.039-second pass at 312.42 mph to give me a slight holeshot victory of Hagan’s 4.030 (317.57) because of Johnson’s quicker reaction time of .035-seconds.
“Going to Bristol and having as much success there and all that data to build off of it’s easy to go in there with a lot of confidence. So we’ll head that way and see if we can’t repeat some of that success again.”
TOMMY JOHNSON JR., Terry Chandler’s Make-A-Wish 2017 Dodge Charger R/T – defending winner
Pts Events Wins Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ W/L
2017 6th 10 1 0 3 2 4 1 0 12-9
CAREER 408 16* 24 56 100 168 15 44 348-348
* 14 FC/2 TF
Best Time, Speed: 3.837 sec. (Phoenix 2017); 330.80 mph (Seattle, 2016)
BY THE NUMBERS
Last event (June 11), Englishtown, N.J.: Qualified No. 7, lost in second round to Robert Hight
A year ago at Bristol: Qualified No. 6, won in championship round over Matt Hagan
Career at Bristol: Wins 2 (2014, 2016); Runner-ups 0; Poles 0
2017 NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES FUNNY CAR STANDINGS
(Official after Englishtown, N.J.; 10th of 24 events; wins in parenthesis; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. RON CAPPS (4) 931 —–
2. MATT HAGAN (3) 802 -129
3. JACK BECKMAN (1) 652 -279
4. Courtney Force 648 -283
5. Robert Hight 645 -286
6t. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. (1) 587 -344
6t. John Force (1) 587 -344
8. J.R. Todd 444 -444
9. Tim Wilkerson 427 -504
10. Del Worsham 372 -559
Make-A-Wish® grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. According to a 2011 U.S. study of wish impact, most health professionals surveyed believe a wish-come-true can have positive impacts on the health of children. Kids say wishes give them renewed strength to fight their illnesses, and their parents say these experiences help strengthen the entire family. Based in Phoenix, Make-A-Wish is one of the world’s leading children’s charities, serving children in every community in the United States and its territories. With the help of generous donors and more than 27,000 volunteers, Make-A-Wish grants a wish somewhere in the country every 37 minutes. It has granted more than 254,000 wishes since its inception in 1980; more than 14,200 in 2014 alone. Visit Make-A-Wish at wish.org to learn more.
About Don Schumacher Racing
Don Schumacher Racing, headquartered in Brownsburg, Ind., fields eight 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 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 Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T, 2012 NHRA world champion Jack Beckman in the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge, and the Make-A-Wish Dodge driven by Tommy Johnson Jr.
DSR has won 308 NHRA national event titles and 16 world championships.
Follow Don Schumacher Racing at ShoeRacing.com, on Twitter at @shoeracing and Facebook.com/shoeracing.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Jeff Wolf (firstname.lastname@example.org), 702.524.1368
Leah Vaughn (email@example.com), 618.516.1988