Tommy Johnson Jr. Captures Funny Car Pole at NHRA 2020 Restart
BROWNSBURG, Ind. (July 11, 2020) – A four-month hiatus couldn’t slow down the momentum Tommy Johnson Jr. and the MD Anderson Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car team built during the first part of the 2020 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season before it was suspended due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Johnson, who entered race weekend as the most recent Funny Car winner on tour, put down an impressive Q1 blast of 3.983 seconds at 317.72-mph to earn the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals No. 1 qualifying position right out of the gate.
"It's just a great start after such a long layoff and all the uncertainty,” said Johnson, who claimed the NHRA Arizona Nationals victory in February. “It’s great to be able to carry the momentum from Phoenix right into this race and not miss a beat. The guys worked hard those four months so to be able to give them a No.1 qualifier right out of the box and just carry that momentum is really good. I have a really good race car and it shows that Phoenix wasn't a fluke. It was a good race car and is continuing to be.”
While Johnson’s stout Q1 pass allowed him to bank three bonus points, and pick up his 19th No. 1 qualifier award, it set him up for a less-than-favorable first-round matchup versus his Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat teammate, Ron Capps. Both Capps and Johnson are focused on securing their first Lucas Oil Raceway victories, and Johnson knows that an Indy win could boost him from second in the Funny Car point standings up to the top of the leaderboard.
“It's going to be a tough day tomorrow because the conditions are going to be so different,” said Johnson, a resident of nearby Avon, Ind. “Today was really irrelevant for tomorrow, but it's good to know that we have a good baseline and can go from there.
"Testing on Friday before the event was so valuable. You can't put a price on that because we probably wouldn't have qualified if we hadn't tested with the issues we had with the new body and being able to work through some things. We also found a problem with one of our controllers for the clutch and the fuel system. To find those issues on Friday and be able to run so well on Saturday, it just shows you that we needed a couple of runs to work everything out after being off for four months."
Qualified: No. 1 (lane choice)
The Competition: No. 16 Ron Capps
Q1: 3.983 E.T. at 317.72 MPH (Three bonus points for quickest run of the session)
Q2: 4.128 E.T. at 238.43 MPH
Bonus Points: Three