NHRA Toyota Nationals
Event 23 of 24 (Las Vegas II)
NHRA Countdown, Event 5 of 6
The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Las Vegas, Nevada
October 26-28, 2018
DSR Las Vegas II Saturday Highlights:
- Funny Car racer Tommy Johnson Jr. clinches the No. 1 qualifying spot for the third race in a row
- Johnson made the best run of the round in both Q3 and Q4 and ran the second quickest pass of Q2
- Top Fuel pilots Antron Brown and Leah Pritchett will start race day from the quick half of the field
- Jack Beckman joins his Funny Car teammate with a solid qualifying position, beginning race day from the No. 3 spot
- Brown and Pritchett earn bonus points for each making a ‘top three’ pass on SaturdayTommy Johnson Jr. Clinches Third Consecutive No. 1 Qualifying Position
LAS VEGAS (October 27, 2018) – Tommy Johnson Jr. captured his third consecutive No. 1 qualifying position on Saturday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The exceedingly consistent Johnson drove his Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger R/T to a pass of 3.879-seconds at 327.82-mph during the final round of qualifying to clinch the pole. It is the first time in the veteran driver’s career that he has captured back-to-back-to-back No. 1 qualifiers.
“Our car has been running so well as of late,” said Johnson, who has qualified in the top half of the Funny Car field for the past 11 events, dating back to the Epping race in July. “To come out here and run a 94, 92 an 89 and an 87, you go into race day with a ton of confidence.”
While Johnson’s string of success includes a semifinal finish or better at six of the last eight events and three No. 1 qualifiers in five Countdown races, the Make-A-Wish team has come up short on race day, having been unable to finish the weekend in the winner’s circle as of yet in 2018. Johnson feels confident that his John Collins/Rip Reynolds-led team will fare better on Sunday at the NHRA Toyota Nationals and is ready to parlay their current No. 1 starting position into a Las Vegas winner’s circle celebration.
“We came out today and John said, ‘there’s more there; I know where to fix it, I think it can run an 89,’ and then to go out there and run an 89 in the warm conditions was just outstanding. Then John said we’re going to run an 87 the next run, and it did. That’s just how good of a handle the guys have on our Make-A-Wish Dodge right now. John can make a change and tell you what it will run. Our car is so happy and performing so well and is so predictable. He can almost dial-in what he wants, and it’ll go out there and run it.”
While Johnson no longer has 2018 championship aspirations, his sights are set on finishing as high as possible in the Funny Car standings – and outranking his team members, an achievement that would reward him with a Dodge Hellcat to use as his daily driver for a year.
“It’s not about finishing first anymore, that’s pretty much out of reach, but we won’t quit, and we’ll continue to try. All we can do is to try and win this one, win the next one and run the best we’ve ever run every round, and see if we can get as high in the points as we can. There’s a Dodge Hellcat on the line at DSR. The highest finishing Funny Car driver gets a Hellcat to drive for a year, so that’s even more motivation.
“The season isn’t over yet. I’m excited about tomorrow. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to sleep tonight, I just want to get to first round. Let’s go, let’s do this.”
Johnson will begin his campaign for his 18th career win, and the 150th Funny Car event win by a DSR entry, with a first-round matchup against No. 16 qualifier Jeff Arend. Round one of eliminations will begin at 11 a.m. PST.
Qualified: No. 1
The Competition: No. 16 Jeff Arend
Q1: 3.947 E.T. at 321.65 MPH
Q2: 3.928 E.T. at 324.28 MPH (Two bonus points for second quickest run of the session)
Q3: 3.899 E.T. at 324.98 MPH (Three bonus points for quickest run of the session)
Q4: 3.879 E.T. at 327.82 MPH (Three bonus points for quickest run of the session)
Bonus Points: Eight
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/U.S. Army dragster driven by three-time world champion Antron Brown and the Mopar/Papa John’s Pizza/Pennzoil/FireAde/U.S. Army dragster driven by Leah Pritchett; and in Funny Car, 2016 world champion Ron Capps in the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T; two-time world champion Matt Hagan in the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, and 2012 NHRA world champion Jack Beckman in Terry and Doug Chandler’s Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge and the Chandlers’ Make-A-Wish Dodge driven by Tommy Johnson Jr.
DSR also campaigns two Sportsman teams. The two-car Factory Stock Showdown duo is piloted by Pritchett and veteran Pro Stock racer Mark Pawuk. Both drivers compete in Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Paks.
DSR has won 333 NHRA national event titles and 17 world championships.