Make-A-Wish team advances to second straight final round but fall a little short at Bandimere in another heartbreaking loss
Category : DSR Article
MORRISON, Colo. (July 23, 2017) – For the second race in a row, Tommy Johnson Jr. raced Terry Chandler’s Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car to the final round.
Unfortunately for Johnson, he was beat to the finish line by Robert Hight of John Force Racing at Bandimere Speedway in the 38th annual Mopar Mile-High Nationals.
“I really like the way the car has been performing, especially on race day and going rounds,” Johnson said.
The Make-A-Wish car entered race day qualified No. 12 as they had some issues in adjusting to the thin, Colorado air.
Throughout race day, Johnson eliminated Don Schumacher Racing teammate and reigning Funny Car champion Ron Capps then beat Jonnie Lindberg and Jim Campbell before lining up with Hight for the final.
The Make-A-Wish Dodge, tuned by crew chief John Collins and assistant Rip Reynolds, made four clean passes down the track on race day. Their most impressive run of the came during the semifinals when Johnson’s 3.988-second pass at 306.19 mph was best of the round.
“You know you have to peak at the right time with the Countdown (to the Championship) coming. This always seems to be when we turn the corner and start making a move. We want to get some wins but I’m not unhappy with the way we’ve been going a lot of rounds lately.”
The Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s version of the playoffs, begins after the U.S. Nationals near Indianapolis during Labor Day, a mere four events away.
“You always want a better qualifying position but I had a lot of confidence in the guys that they would get it figured out, even though last night’s last round in qualifying wasn’t as good as we wanted.
Sunday marked Johnson’s fourth career final round at Bandimere. His first came when he was 16 years old racing in Super Gas.
“We learned a lot from it and got a lot of good information and knew we that could use today. It showed. The car ran great all day. We really don’t know what happened. It wore a lot of clutch in the final and put a hole out about the middle of the track. We’ll look at that data and hopefully we can apply that here next year. Right now, we can’t be disappointed with another final for the second race in a row.”
Next week, the NHRA continues its annual Western Swing at Sonoma Raceway for the 30th annual NHRA Nationals at Sonoma.
TOMMY JOHNSON JR., Terry Chandler’s Make-A-Wish 2017 Dodge Charger R/T
Crew chief: John Collins; Assistant: Rip Reynolds
SUNDAY CHAMPIONSHIP ELIMINATIONS
First round: JOHNSON (4.040 sec., 311.20 mph) def. Ron Capps (4.017, 311.99)
Second round: JOHNSON (4.052, 301.87) def. Jonnie Lindberg (4.471, 210.80)
Semifinals: JOHNSON (3.988, 306.19) def. Jim Campbell (4.768, 176.35)
Final: Robert Hight (3.995, 317.57) def. JOHNSON (4.089, 297.16)
Qualified: No. 12
FRIDAY: 4.266 sec., 219.47 mph, (Session 1); 7.755, 81.14, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 4.507, 191.73, (Session 3); 4.058, 304.87, (Session 4)
DENVER BY THE NUMBERS
Last event (July 9), Joliet, Ill.: Qualified No. 9, won in championship round over Tommy Johnson Jr.
A year ago at Denver: Qualified No. 11, lost in second round to Del Worsham
Career at Denver: Wins 1 (2009); Runner-ups 3 (1988, 2007, 2017); Poles 1 (2009)
2017 NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES FUNNY CAR STANDINGS
(Official after Denver; 14th of 24 events; wins in parenthesis; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. RON CAPPS (6) 1,244 —–
2. MATT HAGAN (3) 1,058 -186
3. JACK BECKMAN (2) 970 -274
4. Robert Hight (1) 973 -271
5. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. (1) 925 -319
6. Courtney Force 793 -451
7. John Force (1) 757 -487
8. Tim Wilkerson 634 -610
9. J.R. Todd 612 -632
10. Cruz Pedregon 538 -706
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 312 NHRA national event titles and 16 world championships.
Follow Don Schumacher Racing at ShoeRacing.com, on Twitter at @shoeracing and Facebook.com/shoeracing.