Tommy Johnson Jr. will drive Don Schumacher Racing’s Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye Funny Car at the Mopar Express Lane NHRA Nationals Presented By Pennzoil at Maple Grove Raceway while Matt Hagan continues to recover from COVID-19.
For the second week in a row, Tommy Johnson Jr. will fill in for defending Funny Car world champion Matt Hagan who remains sidelined as he recovers from COVID-19. The points Johnson accumulates during the race weekend will be awarded to Hagan, who starts the Countdown ranked fifth.
“The past several days have been such a whirlwind and a roller coaster of emotions. From the excitement that I’d get to drive a nitro Funny Car again, and then a letdown when we didn’t get to make a run. I got the call earlier this week that I may be needed again, and fortunately, we were able to test and it allowed me to knock some rust off, and get familiarized with the car and the team. That just shows you how professional this team is, and how seriously they’re focused on making sure this car runs for a championship. It’s an unfortunate circumstance for sure, but I’m glad I’m able to help them out. Now that I’ve gotten a few laps under my belt, I feel very prepared going into this weekend’s race in Reading. I actually ran a career-best speed in testing (333.00 mph). It was a really good test session overall, and I’m looking forward to going back to a track where I’ve had a lot of success in the past, and a lot of history.
“My first Funny Car win was at Reading in 1999, and I was fortunate to win it again a few years back with DSR. So, there’s a lot of excitement and positivity going into the weekend. This Mopar team has done a great job in this circumstance. I hate it for Matt (Hagan) that he is not able to get back behind the wheel this weekend, but I’m happy to hop in and help these guys out in their championship chase. Last year, Matt and I battled it out for the championship, and now here I am trying to help him win it, and it would be cool to be a part of another championship for him.
“We’re going to go out there, do the best we can, and try to win some rounds and hopefully win the race. I’m not coming back just to take the car down the track, I want to come back and win the race, and maybe raise some eyebrows on my talents. The fans have been so great, it really makes me want to do my absolute best and I want to do whatever I can to help these guys stay in the hunt.”