Route 66 NHRA Nationals
Event 9 of 24 (Chicago)
Route 66 Raceway
May 31 – June 2, 2019
DSR Chicago Elimination Highlights:
- Tommy Johnson Jr. raced to his first win of 2019 at the Route 66 NHRA Nationals and advanced to second in the Funny Car point standings
- Johnson’s victory marked the third consecutive Don Schumacher Racing Funny Car triumph and fourth of the season
- Antron Brown and Jack Beckman recorded semifinal finishes
- All four DSR Funny Cars advanced to the quarterfinals
Tommy Johnson Jr. Races to Victory at Route 66 NHRA Nationals
JOLIET, Ill. (June 2, 2019) – Tommy Johnson Jr. raced to his first win of the season at the 22nd annual Route 66 NHRA Nationals near Chicago on Sunday, moving up to second in the Funny Car point standings and bringing home the third consecutive Don Schumacher Racing win, and fourth this year.
The win was the 18th of Johnson’s career in his 50th overall final, and marked his first victory since the NHRA Finals in November 2017, ending a 32-race drought. The triumph was also the second for the Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat driver in five career final-round appearances at Route 66 Raceway.
Johnson kicked off race day from the No. 2 spot after a strong qualifying effort that saw the 2015 Chicago event winner collect six bonus points. He posted a steady 3.946-second E.T. in round one to defeat Paul Lee and was even better in the quarterfinals with the quickest pass of the round at 3.941-seconds to outrun teammate Matt Hagan.
Johnson left first in the semifinals against John Force with a quicker .081-second reaction to Force’s slower .137 mark, earning him the holeshot win on a 3.972-second run and a chance to run for the Wally trophy. Pitted against the current Funny Car point leader, Robert Hight, in the final round, Johnson took the win in dramatic fashion, overcoming a “boom and bang” under the hood to hold off Hight, who smoked the tires in the opposite lane.
“It makes your heart stop for a second because you’re sitting there coasting and you know he’s got to be there somewhere,” said Johnson of his nail-biter of a final round. “It’s the longest coasting you’ve ever done in your life. You’re thinking ‘come on, get there,’ and then I saw the light come on and I was just so thrilled for the guys and (team sponsor) Doug Chandler. He continued this program in his wife, Terry Chandler’s, honor so I’m happy we could get this win for him. We’ve been close a lot – six times we were there in the final and couldn’t get it done, so it was nice to finally do that.”
Following Terry Chandler’s passing, the Make-A-Wish St. Louis chapter purchased a star in her honor. Johnson’s Make-A-Wish Funny Car proudly features the coordinates of the star as a reminder that the late drag racing enthusiast is always watching over them. Sunday’s win at Route 66 Raceway was the first time they’ve finished the day in the winner’s circle since adding the star’s coordinates, making the victory even sweeter.
“That was actually (crew chief) John Collins’ idea to put the coordinates of her star on our roof hatch,” explained Johnson. “The roof hatch comes up every time I get out, and every time I turn around and look at it I see the coordinates, so I know she’s always there. She’s a lasting impact on our team and she’ll be with us forever.”
The Chandler family’s Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat’s Joliet victory notched win No. 337 for Don Schumacher Racing.
Qualified: No. 2 (3.882 E.T. at 326.24 MPH)
E1: 3.946 E.T. at 325.85 MPH defeated Paul Lee 4.673 E.T. at 180.72 MPH
E2: 3.941 E.T. at 323.81 MPH defeated Matt Hagan 4.071 E.T. at 274.16 MPH
E3: 3.972 E.T. at 321.81 MPH defeated John Force 3.953 E.T. at 322.42 MPH
E4: 4.715 E.T. at 229.86 MPH defeated Robert Hight 4.438 E.T. at 202.55 MPH
NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship Standings:
1. Steve Torrence – 820
2. Doug Kalitta – 574
3. Mike Salinas – 573
4. Brittany Force – 572
5. Antron Brown – 544
6. Clay Millican – 523
7. Leah Pritchett – 497
8. Richie Crampton – 410
9. Terry McMillen – 383
10. Austin Prock – 375
1. Robert Hight – 818
2. Tommy Johnson Jr – 650
3. Ron Capps – 610
4. John Force – 596
5. J.R. Todd – 593
6. Matt Hagan – 559
7. Jack Beckman – 553
8. Tim Wilkerson – 495
9. Shawn Langdon – 435
10. Bob Tasca III – 401
About Don Schumacher Racing:
Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) is the winningest team in NHRA Drag Racing history, having claimed more than 325 NHRA national event titles and 17 world championships since opening its doors in 1998.
Headquartered in Brownsburg, Indiana, DSR fields seven professional teams competing in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing series. In Top Fuel, the Matco Tools dragster driven by three-time world champion Antron Brown, the MOPAR/Pennzoil/Sparkling Ice dragster driven by Leah Pritchett and eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher’s machine. In Funny Car, the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat driven by 2016 world champion Ron Capps, the Mopar Express Lane/Pennzoil/Sandvik Coromant Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat piloted by Matt Hagan, and in Terry and Doug Chandler’s ‘giving cars,’ 2012 NHRA world champion Jack Beckman in the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge, and Tommy Johnson Jr. behind the wheel of the Make-A-Wish Dodge.
DSR also campaigns two Factory Stock Showdown entries. The duo is piloted by Pritchett, the 2018 Factory Stock Showdown Series champion, and former Pro Stock racer Mark Pawuk.
Follow Don Schumacher Racing at Shoeracing.com, on Twitter and Instagram at @shoeracing and Facebook.com/shoeracing.