Johnson looks forward to defend title in two weeks at Las Vegas, and early preparations for the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Series

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ENNIS, Texas (Oct. 15, 2017) – An early exit at the 32nd annual NHRA FallNationals sets Tommy Johnson Jr.’s sights on the upcoming 2018 season.

During the opening session of competition on Sunday, Johnson lined up Terry and Doug Chandler’s Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T against 16-time world champion John Force.

The two nitro cars battled down the track in puffs of smoke with each lost traction but Force got the smoking win light with a 4.413-second lap at 234.61 mph to beat Johnson’s 4.467 (192.44).

“It was just a weird first round, a lot of people were having issues and we were going right down there and then came loose,” Johnson said of the messy first round resulting in many drivers smoking their tires.

“I tried to pedal it and it wouldn’t go. I could hear him coming. It’s frustrating to lose that close after all the issues. We actually had a better race car this weekend, we’re just still not on top of it. We’ve got to get better.”

The NHRA will have a weekend off before traveling to Las Vegas for penultimate event of 2017.

“Going to back to Vegas where we won in the spring will hopefully bring a little bit of our luck back and we can get back on track. We’re going to do some testing after Vegas, looking forward to next season.”

Johnson and the team, led by crew chief John Collins and assistant Rip Reynolds, won the spring event in Las Vegas but has yet to visit a winner’s circle since.

No. 1 qualifier: Robert Hight (John Force Racing) 3.871 sec., 332.84 mph

TOMMY JOHNSON JR., Terry and Doug Chandler’s Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T
Crew chief: John Collins; Assistant: Rip Reynolds
First round: John Force (4.413 sec., 234.61 mph) def. JOHNSON (4.467, 192.44)
Qualified: No. 7
FRIDAY: 4.149 sec., 236.96 mph, (Session 1); 3.930, 327.59, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 5.622, 125.25, (Session 3); 3.969, 323.81, (Session 4)
Pts Events Wins Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ W/L
2017 7th 22 1 4 5 5 7 1 0 31-21
CAREER 420 16* 28 58 102 171 15 44 367-360
*14 FC/2 TF
Career best time, speed: 3.837 sec. (Phoenix 2017); 332.02 mph (Sonoma 2017)
A year ago at Dallas: Qualified No. 3, lost in second round to Del Worsham
Career at Dallas: Wins 0, Runner-ups 1 (1999), Poles 0

Funny Car
1. RON CAPPS (8) 2495 —–
2. Robert Hight (4) 2471 -24
3. Courtney Force 2324 -171
4. JACK BECKMAN (2) 2309 -186
5. MATT HAGAN (3) 2269 -226
6. John Force (1) 2252 -243
7. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. (1) 2224 -271
8. Tim Wilkerson 2206 -289
9. J.R. Todd (2) 2199 -296
10. Cruz Pedregon 2128 -307

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 316 NHRA national event titles and 16 world championships.

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