Chandler’s Make-A-Wish team, Johnson eager to return home after another early loss in NHRA Southern Nationals near Atlanta

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The Make-A-Wish crew hasn’t since the swing started in Houston then stopped at Charlotte before ending with the NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Ga.

The team won the event title at Las Vegas and moved up to second in the standings before the swing began in the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series standings. But since then, one gremlin after another has bit the team and contributed to it contributed to the team losing the first round for the third race in three weeks.

“It wasn’t the best three-race swing we’ve had,” Johnson said.

The Mello Yello Drag Racing series concluded a three-race swing through the South with stops at Houston and Charlotte before heading to Atlanta.

Johnson and the team, led by crew chief John Collins and assistant Rip Reynolds, entered race day as the No. 3 qualifier with a qualifying time of 3.937 seconds at 319.29 mph in the last session Saturday. They faced their Don Schumacher Racing teammate and Chandler’s other Dodge driven by Jack Beckman and the Infinite Hero Foundation team.

Johnson went into tire smoke and coasted to a 4.928 (159.61) as Beckman drove to a 3.958.

“It’s showing signs of encouragement,” Johnson said of the car’s performance.

“It hit the bump out there and the tires came loose. We’re confident that we’re close to running really well again. It’s just a matter of a few more runs and we’ll be there.”

In two weeks, the NHRA circuit travels to Topeka, Kan., for the NHRA Heartland Nationals.

“I like racing Topeka. It’s always been a good track for me.

“The guys will go back to the shop. It’ll give them some time to look at the data we’ve gathered. So, we’ll come out to Topeka with the right calls and hopefully go right down through there. I think the car is right on the verge of performing where it had been and we weren’t that bad off to begin with.”

Event winner:
No. 1 qualifier: Courtney Force (John Force Racing), 3.893 sec.-track record, 322.65 mph

TOMMY JOHNSON JR., Terry Chandler’s Make-A-Wish 2017 Dodge Charger R/T
Crew chief: John Collins; assistant: Rip Reynolds
Qualified: No. 3
First round: Jack Beckman (3.958 sec., 312.93) def. JOHNSON (4.928, 159.61)
FRIDAY: rained out
SATURDAY: 4.731 sec., 169.85, (Session 3); 3.937, 319.29, (Session 4)
Best Time, Speed: 3.825 sec.-second quickest ever, (2016 Pomona 2); 334.15 mph (Seattle 2016)
Last event (April 28-30, Charlotte Four-Wide): Qualified No. 10, runner-up to event winner and DSR teammate Ron Capps
Career at Atlanta: Wins 2 (2011, 2009); Runner-ups 1 (2016); Poles 1 (2016)

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 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 304 NHRA national event titles and 16 world championships.

Follow Don Schumacher Racing at, on Twitter at @shoeracing and