Chandler’s Make-A-Wish Dodge team with Johnson earns DSR 299th Mello Yello title before teammate Browns gets No. 300
LAS VEGAS (April 2, 2017) – It’s be 16 years since Tommy Johnson Jr. hoisted an NHRA Wally trophy at the Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway but he did it again on Sunday.
But when they arrived for Saturday qualifying, the Make-A-Wish Dodge Charge R/T Funny Car, sponsored by Terry Chandler, was just hoping to qualify.
After an uncharacteristic day Friday, Johnson came into Saturday as the No. 19 ranked Funny Car driver. His lap of 3.887 seconds at 328.46 mph on Saturday safely got him into Sunday’s show as the No. 6 qualifier.
“It started off Friday, just you know a very tricky racetrack and very few cars got down it. You kind of went into Saturday going, ‘boy I hope we can figure this thing out,'” Johnson said.
“The weather changed a little bit. We’re not used to running those conditions, but when the weather changed to a little warmer racetrack, sun on it, it kind of came to everybody and we just made the appropriate changes like we normally would to the car and went right down the racetrack.”
Johnson faced Jim Campbell in the first round for Sunday’s eliminations. He clocked a pass of 3.943 (320.97) to give him the win. He moved into the second round where he faced Robert Hight of John Force Racing. Hight double-stepped resulting in a red light and Johnson got the win. He clicked his hot rod off before the finish line and coasted to a 4.068 (268.71).
He then traveled to the semifinals where he faced 16-time champion John Force. It was a rematch of two weeks ago of the Gatornationals when Force got the round win, and later the event win. This week, both drivers had reaction times of .071 seconds but Johnson’s Mopar pulled away for a pass of 3.997 (319.45).
Finally, in the final round of race day, Johnson lined up against nitro newcomer, Jonnie Lindberg of Head Racing.
Johnson got off the starting line first and ran a 3.933 (323.66) over Lindberg’s 4.016 for the final win light of the day.
“Today was a pretty trying day too because it was pretty hot,” Johnson said “It’s probably the hottest track we’ve seen this season yet and we’re at a little bit of altitude so it changes the tune-up and it kind of changes the clutch curve so the guys really have to work at it and the guys did a great job.
“When we come out first round and were low E.T. by three-hundredths I thought, ‘oh it’s gonna be a good day.’ Then dropped the hole second round, ran decent semis and then they figured it out and made some changes again for the final.”
“I love racing here in Vegas. It’s a great facility, you can’t deny, it’s such a great facility and great people that come watch this race.”
Aside from winning their first win of the 2017 Mello Yello Drag Racing series season, the Make-A-Wish team earned win No. 299 for the Don Schumacher Racing organization. Johnson later congratulated his DSR teammate and reigning Top Fuel world champion, Antron Brown, who won win No. 300.
“It was definitely pretty cool to win this one for Don and everyone at DSR. It’s pretty interesting that this team was part of the 200th win for DSR (with driver Johnny Gray). It was just another milestone for DSR and we’ll just keep going this year.”
TOMMY JOHNSON JR., Make-A-Wish 2017 Dodge Charger R/T
Crew chief: John Collins; assistant: Rip Reynolds
Qualified: No. 6
First round: JOHNSON (3.943 sec., 320.97) def. Jim Campbell (4.71, 181.
Second round: JOHNSON (4.068, 268.71) def. Robert Hight (redlight)
Semifinals: JOHNSON (3.997, 319.45) def. John Force (4.128, 282.13)
Final: JOHNSON (3.933, 323.66) def. Jonnie Lindberg (4.016, 320.14)
FRIDAY: 8.874 sec., 77.44 mph, (Session 1); 8.939, 76.60, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 3.972, 321.27, (Session 3); 3.887, 328.46, (Session 4)
2016 Las Vegas 1: Qualified No.11, lost in first round to Alexis event winner DeJoria
2016 Las Vegas 2: Qualified No.10, lost in first round to Del Worsham
Career at Las Vegas 1: Wins 2 (2001, 2017); Runner-ups 1 (2002); Poles 0
2017 NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES STANDINGS
(Official after Las Vegas 1; 4 of 24 events; wins in parenthesis; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. MATT HAGAN (2) 368 —–
2. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. (1) 324 -44
3 John Force (1) 314 -54
4. RON CAPPS 275 -93
5. Courtney Force 218 -150
6. JACK BECKMAN 205 -163
7. Robert Hight 201 -167
8. Jonnie Lindberg 183 -185
9. Jim Campbell 180 -188
10. J.R. Todd 170 -198
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 wish.org 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, the Papa John’s Top Fuel dragster driven by Leah Pritchett and 2013 Top Fuel world champion Shawn Langdon; 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 300 NHRA national event titles and 16 world championships.
Follow Don Schumacher Racing at ShoeRacing.com, on Twitter at @shoeracing and Facebook.com/shoeracing.
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