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Johnson exits in second round to open 2017 Mello Yello season with back-up Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger Funny Car

POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 12, 2017) - It was a different race for Tommy Johnson and the Make-A-Wish team, funded by Terry Chandler, from when the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing series raced in Pomona last November.

Last fall, Johnson raced his Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car for Don Schumacher Racing through four rounds of competition to win the NHRA Finals title.

At the 2017 Winternationals on Sunday, Johnson was eliminated in the second round.

"It's not what we were looking for but I saw the improvement over the weekend," said Johnson. "I'm looking forward to getting out to Phoenix and getting our other car back. I think it's a little bit better and it'll get us back on track."

Johnson is using his back-up car because of a chassis issue from testing after it was damage during a test run. He is ready to get back in his "favorite car," and get back to work in two weeks at the NHRA Arizona Nationals in Phoenix.

"For having all the problems we had going into this race and all the things we had to do, I think we did a decent job so we'll keep fighting and see if we can't pick it back up."

The Make-A-Wish team struggled a bit in qualifying at Pomona, Calif., and ended up in the No. 10 spot with a best pass of 3.933 seconds at 323.97 mph.

He opened Sunday with a win over higher seeded Alexis DeJoria with a time of 3.938 (323.89 mph).

In round two, Johnson lined up against John Force but his 3.938 (324.36) wasn't enough to hold off Force's 3.884.

"We're off to a better start than we were last season at the Winternationals when we lost in the first round," Johnson joked.

"We ran good this weekend but I think the other car will run better. So we'll head to Phoenix and get back to work."

Event winner: Matt Hagan (Don Schumacher Racing)

TOMMY JOHNSON JR., Make-A-Wish 2017 Dodge Charger R/T
Crew chief: John Collins; assistant: Rip Reynolds
First round: JOHNSON (3.938 sec., 323.89) def. Alexis DeJoria (4.148, 229.24)
Second round: John Force (3.884, 329.67) def. JOHNSON (3.939, 324/36)
Qualified: No. 10
QUALIFYING:
FRIDAY: 4.723 sec., 183.97 mph, (Session 1); rained out, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 3.942, 320.58, (Session 3); 3.933, 323.97, (Session 4)

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