POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 11, 2017) - Tommy Johnson and the Make-A-Wish Funny Car team, funded by Terry Chandler, did not qualify where they wanted to for the opening race of the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing series season.
However, Johnson and his team remain confident in the abilities of their Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car.
The team finished qualifying in the No. 10 position with their best qualifying effort of a 3.933-second pass at 323.97 mph in Saturday evening's last qualifying session and will face Alexis DeJoria in the first round of competition on Sunday.
"We didn't perform like we wanted to," Johnson said. "It's been a little bit of a struggle ever since we had to do a car switch after the wheelstand last week during testing in Phoenix."
During pre-season testing, the Make-A-Wish car's wheelstand severely bent the chassis and it was sent back to Don Schumacher Racing headquarters near Indianapolis. The team pulled out their back-up car and have been running it as their primary car since.
"Every run is getting better. Hopefully by race day, we will have enough data in the book and the guys will make the right calls. We have a lot of good data from the Finals in November when we won the title so I'm still confident going into race day. We didn't ran as good as we wanted to so far, but we're not junk either."
Johnson is confident in the ability of crew chief John Collins and assistant Rip Reynolds to tune their Dodge to another Pomona victory.
"It's going to be a quick race. It'll be a little warmer on Sunday. It might be a little tricky with the track conditions but that might play into our hands. John does a great job of racing the track on Sundays so I hope it would be just as hot and warm as we can get it and level the playing field a little bit. We're going in as an underdog and that's kind of the style I like."
TOMMY JOHNSON JR., Make-A-Wish 2017 Dodge Charger R/T
Crew chief: John Collins; assistant: Rip Reynolds
First round opponent: Alexis DeJoria
Qualified: No. 10
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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