BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 20, 2017) – Tommy Johnson Jr. advanced to his fourth final round in the past five events but came up a little short Sunday at Brainerd International Speedway but finished as the runner-up.
“It’s another runner-up, which is frustrating, but at the same time it’s a really good thing,” said Johnson, who moved up one spot to fourth in the championship standings with Terry and Doug Chandler’s Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T Powered by Pennzoil.
“We made a move in the points today, got ourselves in the top four and one of these days if we continue to run like that that runner-up’s going to become a win.
Johnson with his crew chief John Collins and assistant Rip Reynolds entered race day as the No. 5 Funny Car with their time of 3.880 seconds at 330.96 mph in their quest for a second title of the year.
Johnson defeated Jonnie Lindberg in the opening round and Courtney Force in the second.
In the semifinals, he faced Robert Hight of John Force Racing who set the NHRA world time record on Friday night at 3.793 seconds (338.00 mph).
Johnson caught a break when Hight made mistake at the starting line and thought he saw Johnson’s win light come on at the end of the track so Hight didn’t get back on the throttle. But Johnson’s lost traction and peddled the throttle a few times and was able to get the win with a subpar time of 6.875 at 128.60.
In the final round, Johnson lost a close race to Alexis DeJoria whose time of 3.906 edged Johnson’s 3.933.
“We’re saving all those wins I guess for the Countdown (to the Championship). We have a really good team, really consistent car and just can’t get a little bit of luck in the finals. Our team is going to be tough to deal with.”
In two weeks, the NHRA teams will battle it out at the prestigious U.S. Nationals, near Indianapolis. Then points are reset for the NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship playoffs.
“I’d love nothing more than to get that win at Indy or in the Countdown and I think we’ll have a great shot at both.”
In 2015, Johnson finished No. 3 and went on to No. 2 in 2016.
TOMMY JOHNSON JR., Doug & Terry Chandler’s Make-A-Wish 2017 Dodge Charger R/T
Crew chief: John Collins; Assistant: Rip Reynolds
SUNDAY CHAMPIONSHIP ELIMINATIONS
First round: JOHNSON (3.922 sec., 328.66 mph) def. Jonnie Lindberg (7.147, 206.26)
Second round: JOHNSON (3.932, 326.48) def. Courtney Force (8.099, 84.74)
Semifinals: JOHNSON (6.875, 128.60) def. Robert Hight (9.806, 78.40)
Final: Alexis DeJoria (3.906, 330.96) def. JOHNSON (3.933, 324.44)
Qualified: No. 5
FRIDAY: 3.907 sec., 328.22 mph, (first session); 3.880, 329.58, (second session)
SATURDAY: 3.897, 330.96, (third session); 3.907, 326.95, (fourth session)
BRAINERD BY THE NUMBERS
A year ago at Brainerd: Qualified No. 3, lost in second round to Courtney Force
Career at Brainerd: Wins 1 (2006), Runner-ups 3 (1993, 1995-TF; 2015-FC), Poles 0
Pts Events Wins Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ W/L
2017 5th 16 1 3 5 3 4 1 0 26-15
CAREER 414 16* 27 58 101 168 15 44 362-354
* 14 FC/2 TF
Career best time, speed: 3.837 sec. (Phoenix 2017); 332.02 mph (Sonoma 2017)
2017 NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES FUNNY CAR STANDINGS
(Official after Brainerd; 17 of 24 events; wins in parenthesis; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. RON CAPPS (6) 1,383 —-
2. Robert Hight (2) 1,247 -116
3. MATT HAGAN (3) 1,214 -149
4. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. (1) 1,180 -183
5. JACK BECKMAN (2) 1,160 -20
6. Courtney Force 1,012 -351
7. John Force (1) 954 -409
8. Tim Wilkerson 792 -571
9. J.R. Todd (1) 788 -575
10. Alexis DeJoria (1) 664 – 699
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 dragster driven by three-time world champion Antron Brown and the Papa John’s Pizza/Mopar 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 80th anniversary Mopar/ Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T, and 2012 NHRA world champion Jack Beckman in the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge and the Make-A-Wish Dodge driven by Tommy Johnson Jr., both of which are funded by the late Terry Chandler.
DSR has won 314 NHRA national event titles and 16 world championships.
Follow Don Schumacher Racing at ShoeRacing.com, on Twitter at @shoeracing and Facebook.com/shoeracing.