Johnson’s plan to end slump for Chandler’s Make-A-Wish team goes up in flames in first round on Sunday in Heartland Nationals

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TOPEKA, Kan. (May 21, 2017) – Tommy Johnson Jr. wanted to leave Heartland Park with a bang, but Sunday’s explosive first round wasn’t exactly what he and Terry Chandler’s Funny Car team had in mind.

During the opening round of competition at Sunday’s 29th annual NHRA Heartland Nationals, Johnson lined up against Del Worsham.

Johnson left the starting line first but as he drove down the track, his car blew up in a ball of flames and Worsham drove around him to get the round win.

“It’s frustrating you know?” Johnson said. “We ran so good in qualifying and had a great race car for today.”

The Make-A-Wish team, led by crew chief John Collins and assistant Rip Reynolds, entered the event as the No. 5 qualifier with a time of 3.847 seconds at Johnson’s career-best speed of 331.61 mph.

“Then we come out and it just come loose down there, start spinning the tires and blew the blower off of it. We’ll regroup and go try it again.”

Unfortunately, Sunday marks the fourth straight race that the Make-A-Wish lost in the first round.

The Make-A-Wish team and the rest of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing series will have the Memorial Day weekend off before heading to Epping, N.H., and the New England Dragway to start the “Eastern Swing” that includes four races in four weeks.

Event winner:
No. 1 qualifier: Matt Hagan (Don Schumacher Racing), 3.802 sec.-world record, 338.85 mph-world record

TOMMY JOHNSON JR., Terry Chandler’s Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T
Crew chief: John Collins; assistant: Rip Reynolds
Qualified: No. 5
First round: Del Worsham (3.968 sec., 326.97) def. JOHNSON (4.456, 190.83)
FRIDAY: 3.990 sec., 323.43 mph, (Session 1); rained out, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 3.882, 325.61, (Session 3); 3.847, 331.61-career-best, (Session 4)
Best Time, Speed: 3.837 sec. (2017 Phoenix); 331.61 mph (2017 Topeka)
Career at Topeka: Wins 0; Runner-ups 2 (2005, 1999); Poles 1 (2007)

Funny Car
1. RON CAPPS (4) 748 —–
2. MATT HAGAN (2) 629 -119
3. John Force (1) 524 -224
4. Robert Hight 518 -230
5. JACK BECKMAN 502 -246
6. Courtney Force 464 -284
7. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. (1) 461 -287
8. J.R. Todd 378 -370
9. Tim Wilkerson 360 -388
10. Jonnie Lindberg 318 -430


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 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 306 NHRA national event titles and 16 world championships.
Follow Don Schumacher Racing at, on Twitter at @shoeracing and

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