Johnson stresses importance of winning rounds in Countdown as playoff reaches midway point this weekend at Gateway near St. Louis

BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Sept. 27, 2017) – After two early exits during the six-race NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoff, Tommy Johnson Jr. knows that Terry and Doug Chandler’s Make-A-Wish Funny Car team needs to win rounds in order to contend for the Funny Car world championship.

“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,” said Johnson, who finished last season second in points after being third the previous two years.

“The Countdown certainly hasn’t started out the way we’d wanted it to but even with that said, we’re still only 114 points out of the lead and that’s certainly attainable.”

The Make-A-Wish team has advanced to two quarterfinals during the Countdown. Johnson currently sits No. 6, behind the leader and Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps.

“Getting to final rounds are going to be important here on out. We need to find momentum that we’ve lost and go some rounds. We have to go to some finals to keep ourselves in it.

“Fortunately, nobody is running away with it and that’s keeping everybody in the race.”

The NHRA travels this week to Gateway Motorsport Park near St. Louis for the sixth annual NHRA Midwest Nationals for the third race of the six-race playoffs.

In 2016, Johnson entered the event as the No. 8 qualifier and advanced to the final round before being defeated by Jack Beckman and the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge, also funded by the Chandlers.

Aside from gaining ground in NHRA points, Johnson would love winning at Gateway to match the win by his dad, Tommy Johnson Sr., in 1976.
“It’s one of the tracks that’s closest to Iowa and Ottumwa,” he said of hometown. “This one of the races I’d like to win one of these days so I can say I won where my dad did.”

TOMMY JOHNSON JR., Terry and Doug Chandler’s Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T
Crew chief: John Collins; Assistant: Rip Reynolds
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

Career best time, speed: 3.837 sec. (Phoenix 2017); 332.02 mph (Sonoma 2017)
Last event: Sept. 22-24, Reading, Pa.:
A year ago at Gateway: Qualified No. 8, lost in championship round to Jack Beckman
Career at Gateway: Wins 0, Runner-ups 2 (2001, 2016), Poles 1 (1999)

(Standings after Reading, 2nd of 6 events in the Countdown playoff; wins in parenthesis; DSR drivers in CAPS)
Funny Car
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, on Twitter at @shoeracing and