NHRA Carolina Nationals
Event 22 of 24 (Charlotte II)
NHRA Countdown, Event 4 of 6
October 12-14, 2018
DSR Charlotte II Saturday Highlights:
- Tommy Johnson Jr. qualified No. 1 for the second consecutive weekend
- Johnson advanced to third in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship Funny Car standings
- Leah Pritchett and Tony Schumacher will start Sunday from the top half of the Top Fuel field
- Ron Capps and Matt Hagan join Johnson in the Funny Car ‘top eight’
- In the third session, Schumacher ran quickest and Johnson ran third quickest of their respective categories
- Johnson leads the Funny Car category in number of bonus points earned (seven) throughout the weekend
Tommy Johnson Jr. Qualifies No. 1 for Second Consecutive Weekend
CONCORD, North Carolina (October 13, 2018) – Tommy Johnson Jr. locked down the No. 1 Funny Car spot to start race day at the NHRA Carolina Nationals in Concord, N.C. Johnson nabbed the pole for the second consecutive weekend, marking the first time in his career that he has qualified No. 1 at back-to-back events.
Johnson claimed the top spot when he powered the Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger R/T down the zMAX Dragway strip in 3.873-seconds at 329.26-mph during Q4. At the start of the final qualifying session, Johnson was positioned fourth, standing on his Q1 run of 3.901-seconds, which was the quickest time of the opening session.
“We’ve got a really, really good race car,” said Johnson, who has raced to the semifinals or better at six of the last seven events. “The guys are doing such a great job and you can see their confidence. You can just see it in the way they walk and carry themselves.
“It’s kind of ironic. Last weekend we had No. 1, it got taken away from us and then we came back in the last session and took it back. This weekend we had No. 1 for a while, it got taken away from us and we came back last session and took it back.”
Johnson entered the race weekend ranked fourth in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship Funny Car point standings, but his strong qualifying performance moved him up to third to start race day. While his team has enjoyed a steady improvement in performance, including two No. 1 qualifiers in the first four Countdown events, they have yet to reach the winner’s circle in 2018. Johnson knows that turning on four Sunday win lights will be key to keeping their 2018 championship hopes alive.
“I’d say the only thing we have to change is the semifinals. We have to fix that this weekend. We’ve had a really good car the last six or seven races and we just keep building on it. John Collins is a very methodical crew chief that likes to pick at it, and once he’s close, it gets easy because we’ve picked at it for so long, we know right where we’re at. It’s just small changes and it allows us to be able to step it up when you need to.
“I think John was mad after (the semifinals in) Dallas. We were aggressive, but not aggressive enough. We came back this weekend and to run a 91, 90, 92 and an 87, I think it shows he’s got a great handle on it and he knows when he can be aggressive, and how he can be aggressive.
Going back-to-back and running quickest of the session twice during the weekend would’ve been sweet enough for the three-time Carolina Nationals No. 1 qualifier, but the cherry on top was to be able to do it in front of family, including Johnson’s mother who has been sidelined with an illness for the better part of the summer.
“It’s pretty special. My mom has been in the hospital a whole lot this summer. Her goal was to get well enough to come out to the races this weekend, and she’s here, so she’s pretty happy right now. It’s really special to me to have her out here. We grew up racing as a family and so to have my mom, my dad, my nephews out here, it’s special. I’m proud of it, but she’s probably even prouder.”
Tommy Johnson Jr. and the Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car team will begin race day with a first round matchup versus No. 16 qualifier Dave Richards.
Qualified: No. 1 (lane choice)
The Competition: No. 16 Dave Richards
Q1: 3.917 E.T. at 327.98 MPH (Three bonus points for quickest run of the session)
Q2: 3.901 E.T. at 329.26 MPH
Q3: 3.924 E.T. at 327.03 MPH (One bonus point for third quickest run of the session)
Q4: 3.873 E.T. at 329.10 MPH (Three bonus points for quickest run of the session)
Bonus Points: Seven