BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Sept. 13, 2017) - After a rough weekend at the U.S. Nationals, Tommy Johnson Jr. with Terry and Doug Chandler's Make-A-Wish Funny Car team are ready to head into NHRA's Countdown to the Championship playoffs on the right foot.
"We've started the Countdown there really well the last couple of years," said Johnson, who was runner-up for last year's championship after finishing third the in 2014 and 2015.
Two weeks ago at the U.S. Nationals near Indianapolis, the Make-A-Wish team struggled to qualify before earning the No. 12 spot but lost in the first rounds of the Traxxas Nitro Shootout all-star event and the following day in U.S. Nationals eliminations. They had not lose in a first round since May at Topeka, Kan.
"After we struggled at Indy we stayed there to test and know we're back on track," said Johnson. "Everyone on the team has the fire in them right now to regain our form to come out strong during the Countdown."
Johnson has competed in the final round in four of the last six events but has yet to win his second title of the 2017 season.
"Charlotte is a good race for us to get some momentum, and it would be great to turn a runner-up into a win finally with all our family and friends there."
Originally from Iowa, most of Johnson's family now lives near zMAX Dragway in Concord, N.C.
The 10th annual NHRA Carolina Nationals kicks off the six-race Countdown to the Championship with the Make-A-Wish team seeded No. 5.
"You want to try to continue to move up and do your best. I think we've done a great job in the Countdown the last three years. This is the highest I've ever been in the standings heading into the Countdown and it definitely gives us our best shot. We're doing everything right to make ourselves better in the Countdown this season compared to our past season and we've done pretty well in years prior."
TOMMY JOHNSON JR., Terry and Doug Chandler's Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T
Pts Events Wins Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ W/L
2017 5th 18 1 4 5 3 5 1 0 29-17
CAREER 416 16* 28 58 101 169 15 44 365-356
* 14 FC/2 TF
Career best time, speed: 3.837 sec. (Phoenix 2017); 332.02 mph (Sonoma 2017)
BY THE NUMBERS
Last event: Sept. 1-4, Indy: Qualified No. 12, lost in first round to Jack Beckman
2016 Fall zMAX: Qualified No. 1, lost in finals to John Force
2017 at Four-Wide: Qualified No. 7, lost in first quad
Career at Fall race: Wins 0; Runner-ups : Poles 0
Career at zMAX: Wins 0; Runner-ups 2 (2015, 2016): Poles 2 (2015, 2016)
COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP
(Reset for six-race playoff; wins in parenthesis; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. RON CAPPS (6) 2,100 -----
2. Robert Hight (2) 2,080 -20
3. MATT HAGAN (3) 2,070 -30
4. JACK BECKMAN (2) 2,060 -40
5. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. (1) 2,050 -50
6. Courtney Force 2,040 -60
7. John Force (1) 2,030 -70
8. J.R. Todd (2) 2,020 -80
9. Tim Wilkerson 2,010 -90
10. Cruz Pedregon 2,000 -100