HOUSTON (April 23, 2017) – Tommy Johnson Jr. and the Make-A-Wish Funny Car team were disappointed for two reasons Sunday in the 30th annual NHRA SpringNationals at Baytown, Texas.
They badly wanted to win the Wally Trophy and delivered to team sponsor Terry Chandler, who is recovering at home after major surgery.
They might have wanted that too badly as the Don Schumacher Racing 2017 Dodge Charger R/T, which won the title two weeks ago, were eliminated in the first round by rookie Jonnie Lindberg, the driver who Johnson beat for the trophy at Las Vegas.
Johnson’s Dodge lost traction early and his 4.356-second run wasn’t enough to catch Lindberg’s 3.944. It was Johnson’s initial first-round loss this year in five Mello Yello Series events.
“It’s definitely frustrating to go out first round,” said Johnson, who qualified seventh. “We have such a great team and we know we can do better.
“It was just a tricky racetrack out there first round. There were some good runs but there was also a lot of tire smoke. Unfortunately, this round we were on the wrong side of that.
“Normally, we shine when conditions are like that. We were just a little off all weekend. We were kind of doing catch up all weekend long. The problem was on Sunday, we didn’t have enough good data from qualifying for a winning tune-up on race day.”
The Make-A-Wish team, led by crew chief John Collins and assistant Rip Reynolds, entered race with a best time of 3.934 (320.05 mph) in qualifying.
Next week the NHRA circuit travels to zMAX Dragway near Charlotte Motor Speedway for the unique Four-Wide Nationals where four nitro cars race at a time.
“We’ll regroup, come out swinging at the Four-Wide. Charlotte is kind of a home race for me with all my family lives there now and come out. We’ve done well there in the past there so I’m looking forward to it.”
Event winner: Ron Capps (Don Schumacher Racing)
No. 1 qualifier: Courtney Force (John Force Racing), 3.851 sec., 330.23 mph – track records
TOMMY JOHNSON JR., Terry Chandler’s Make-A-Wish 2017 Dodge Charger R/T
Crew chief: John Collins; assistant: Rip Reynolds
QUALIFIED: No. 7
First round: Jonnie Lindberg (3.944 sec., 326.16 mph) def. JOHNSON (4.556, 190.16)
FRIDAY: 8.164 sec., 82.98 mph, (Session 1); 7.144, 86.40, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 3.950, 321.12, (Session 3); 3.934, 320.05, (Session 4)
Career at Houston: Wins 0; Runner-ups 1 (2002); Poles 0
2017 NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES STANDINGS
(Official after Houston; 5th of 24 events; wins in parenthesis; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. MATT HAGAN (2) 400 —–
2. RON CAPPS (1) 398 -2
3. John Force (1) 371 -29
4. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. (1) 357 -43
5. Robert Hight 301 -99
5. Courtney Force 301 -99
7. JACK BECKMAN 282 -118
8. Jonnie Lindberg 235 -165
9. J.R. Todd 222 -178
10. Jim Campbell 211 -189
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, the Papa John’s Top Fuel dragster driven by Leah Pritchett and 2013 Top Fuel world champion Shawn Langdon; 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 300 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