MOHNTON, Pa. (Sept. 24, 2017) – Everything from the weather to the end result were different from last year’s NHRA Dodge Nationals for Tommy Johnson Jr. and Terry and Doug Chandler’s Make-A-Wish Funny Car Dodge Charger R/T team.
In 2016, Johnson hoisted the NHRA Wally trophy claiming him as the Maple Grove winner. This year, he was defeated in the second round by Don Schumacher Racing teammate and eventual event winner Ron Capps.
And instead of temperatures being in the low 60s with cloudy skies, the temps at Maple Grove Raceway near Reading, Pa., were in the low 90s.
What a difference a year makes.
Johnson upset the higher qualified Alexis DeJoria in the opening session by pedaling to a 4.226-second pass at 226.62 mph as DeJoria smoked her way to a 4.684.
In the loss to Capps, Johnson couldn’t get his to car to recover from losing traction early.
“We’ve got some issues with the clutch and we’ve just struggled to get a handle on the it and the race track,” Johnson said. “It’s was a difficult weekend and the guys kept working hard to try and fix it.
“If we’re going to have a shot at the championship, we have to fix it,” said Johnson, who finished second in the NHRA standings to Capps last year.
“I’m sure John (Collins) and Rip (Reynolds) and all the guys will really regroup this week and see if we can’t pinpoint the problem. We’ve just got to win out.”
Johnson ranks sixth heading to St. Louis and is 114 points out of first.
“The championship is still doable but it’s going to take at least four finals and we need to win them to get back on track.”
“The temperatures are the same for everybody. We should have been able to adapt. It really wasn’t weather related. We had a mechanical problem. It’s going to be cooler next week so it’ll probably make the problem even worse. We’re going to have to get after it this week and find the cure.”
Next weekend the NHRA will travel to Gateway Motorsports Park, near St. Louis, for the third of the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoffs.
TOMMY JOHNSON JR., Terry and Doug Chandler’s Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T
Crew chief: John Collins; Assistant: Rip Reynolds
First round: JOHNSON (4.226 sec., 226.62 mph) def. Alexis DeJoria (4.684, 266.27)
Second round: Ron Capps (3.987, 326.32) def. JOHNSON (5.135, 146.21)
Qualified: No. 11
FRIDAY: 5.058 sec., 148.49 mph, (Session 1); 3.957, 326.00, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 4.208, 236.80, (Session 3); 4.003, 317.64, (Session 4)
BY THE NUMBERS
A year ago at Reading: Qualified No. 2, won in championship round over Ron Capps
Career at Reading: Wins 1 (2016), Runner-ups 1 (2014), Poles 1 (2006)
Pts Events Wins Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ W/L
2017 6th 20 1 4 5 5 5 1 0 31-19
CAREER 418 16* 28 58 102 169 15 44 367-358
1. RON CAPPS (7) 2273 —–
2. Robert Hight (3) 2265 -8
3. Courtney Force 2234 -39
4. MATT HAGAN (3) 2183 -90
5. JACK BECKMAN (2) 2173 -100
6. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. (1) 2159 -114
7. J.R. Todd (2) 2135 -138
8. John Force (1) 2116 -157
9. Tim Wilkerson 2098 -175
10. Cruz Pedregon 2065 -208
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 315 NHRA national event titles and 16 world championships.
Follow Don Schumacher Racing at ShoeRacing.com, on Twitter at @shoeracing and Facebook.com/shoeracing.