BRISTOL, Tenn. (June 18, 2017) – Tommy Johnson Jr. wanted nothing more than to win the 17th annual Thunder Valley Nationals on Father’s Day weekend with his day Tommy Johnson Sr., who also celebrated his 72nd birthday over the weekend, in the stands but Terry Chandler’s Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car came up a tick short in the semifinals.
Before the semifinals, a summer rain shower fell at Bristol Dragway resulting in a delay. Prior to the rain, the track was hot and sticky and the Make-A-Wish Dodge made two of the better laps in the opening rounds on a race track that saw temperatures exceed 140 degrees.
In the opening round, Johnson ran a 4.105-second lap at 314.17 mph over rookie Jonnie Lindberg’s 5.901 before bettering the No. 1 qualifier, Tim Wilkerson, in round two to advance to the semifinals for the fifth time this season.
“The rain delay is probably what cost us the race,” Johnson, who has twice won at Thunder Valley said. “We were the car to beat coming into the semifinal round the way we were running in the heat.”
Squaring off against teammate Jack Beckman, whose team also is funded by Terry Chandler, the winner from one week ago in New Jersey scored the semifinal win light in the Infinite Hero Dodge 4.009 to Johnson’s 4.043.
“This Make-A-Wish team does such a great job when the conditions are really bad like they were today,” Johnson added. “That delay gave everyone else an opportunity and they got around us there in a close race. I’m still happy with the weekend. You never want to lose, but very happy with how the team and car performed in the heat and bad conditions and we’ll see more of that coming up.
“We’ve got two semis and a second round in this June Swing and it’s got us going back in the right direction. We were in a slump after winning at (Las) Vegas. Now going into Norwalk this team has a lot of confidence after starting these four races in a hole. We want to go to Ohio and bring the Wally back to Indy.”
Next weekend is the final race of a four-race swing throughout the month of June when the NHRA circuit travels to the 12th event of the 24 race Mello Yello Series season for the 11th annual NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio.
TOMMY JOHNSON JR., Terry Chandler’s Make-A-Wish 2017 Dodge Charger R/T
Crew chief: John Collins; Assistant: Rip Reynolds
Qualified: No. 8
First round: JOHNSON (4.105 sec., 314.17) def. Jonnie Lindberg (5.901, 122.44)
Second round: JOHNSON (4.083, 314.53) def. Tim Wilkerson (4.220, 262.18)
Semifinals: Jack Beckman (4.009, 318.99) def. JOHNSON (4.043, 313.29)
FRIDAY: 4.050 sec., 309.49 mph, (Session 1); 4.092, 277.26, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 4.420, 205.60, (Session 3); 4.000, 315.93, (Session 4)
BY THE NUMBERS
Best Time, Speed: 3.837 sec. (Phoenix 2017); 330.80 mph (Seattle, 2016)
Last event (June 11), Englishtown, N.J.: Qualified No. 7, lost in second round to Robert Hight
A year ago at Bristol: Qualified No. 6, won in championship round over Matt Hagan
Career at Bristol: Wins 2 (2014, 2016); Runner-ups 0; Poles 0
2017 NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES FUNNY CAR STANDINGS
(Unofficial after Bristol, Tenn.; 11th of 24 events; wins in parenthesis; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. RON CAPPS (5) 1,044 —–
2. MATT HAGAN (3) 881 -163
3. JACK BECKMAN (1) 748 -296
4. Robert Hight 707 -337
5. Courtney Force 704 -340
6. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. (1) 663 -381
7. John Force (1) 641 -403
9. Tim Wilkerson 490 -554
8. J.R. Todd 476 -578
10. Cruz Pedregon 397 -647
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 and the Papa John’s 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 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 309 NHRA national event titles and 16 world championships.
Follow Don Schumacher Racing at ShoeRacing.com, on Twitter at @shoeracing and Facebook.com/shoeracing.
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