BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Sept. 20, 2017) – This weekend’s NHRA Dodge Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway was held a week later in the season last year and even with temperatures expected to much warmer this time, Tommy Johnson Jr. with Terry and Doug Chandler’s Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car team hope for the same results this week.
“It’s always been a great race for me,” Johnson said of the NHRA Dodge Nationals. “I won my first Funny Car race there in ’99. Then to do it again last season, it went on to set our championship charge. I always look forward to going back there. It’s such a great race, performance wise so to be able to win the race twice now, it’s been a lot of fun.”
The track near Reading, Pa., has a history of rainy, chilly temperatures and last year Friday qualifying was rained out. With hopes of fighting off Mother Nature, the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing series moved the event earlier in the schedule.
In 2016, Johnson hoisted the NHRA Wally Trophy at the end of the day at the Dodge Nationals. Johnson, with crew chief John Collins and assistant Rip Reynolds, went on to finish second in the NHRA points standings after ending the year third the previous two years.
“It’s great to have Dodge in the sport. I’ve been involved with Mopar for so many years and then to take our Charger R/T and go on to win the Dodge race was big. It’s just one of those special events you want to do well at.”
The Dodge Nationals is the second race in the six-event NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoff. Last weekend near Charlotte, N.C., Johnson was one of only three drivers in the seven-car Don Schumacher Racing stable to advance to the second round. He was then defeated by eventual event winner Robert Hight of John Force Racing who also took over the points lead.
“We obviously didn’t go as far as we wanted in Charlotte, but it was a positive race for us,” Johnson said of his quarterfinals finish that allowed him to move from fifth to fourth in the points standings.
“We’ve moved up in points and we want to continue doing that. We started the Countdown in a positive manner instead of a negative one.”
TOMMY JOHNSON JR., Doug & Terry Chandler’s Make-A-Wish 2017 Dodge Charger R/T
Crew chief: John Collins; Assistant: Rip Reynolds
BY THE NUMBERS
Last event: Sept. 15-17, Charlotte: Qualified No. 3, lost in second round to Robert Hight
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 4th 19 1 4 5 4 5 1 0 30-18
CAREER 417 16* 28 58 102 169 15 44 366-357
* 14 FC/2 TF
Career best time, speed: 3.837 sec. (Phoenix 2017); 332.02 mph (Sonoma 2017)
COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP – FUNNY CAR
(Through Charlotte, 19 of 24 events, 1 of 6 in Countdown playoff; wins in parenthesis; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. Robert Hight (3) 2197 —–
2. Ron Capps (6) 2153 -44
3. Courtney Force 2141 -56
4. Tommy Johnson Jr. (1) 2107 -90
5. Matt Hagan (3) 2102 -95
5. J.R. Todd (2) 2102 -95
7. Jack Beckman (2) 2095 -102
8. John Force (1) 2085 -112
9. Tim Wilkerson 2046 -151
10. Cruz Pedregon 2033 -164
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.