SONOMA, Calif. (Aug. 2, 2015) – Tommy Johnson Jr. was fired up today at the 28th annual NHRA Sonoma Nationals. Johnson, powering the Terry Chandler-sponsored Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T out of the Don Schumacher Racing stable, made his way to the final round for the third time this season and narrowly missed defeating DSR teammate Jack Beckman. With the final round appearance, Johnson moved from sixth in the Funny Car standings all the way up to fourth.
“Some days, you wake up and feel good. That’s what happened this morning,” said Johnson. “I’m happy with the way I drove, and I’m happy with the way the team performed. I had good lights [reaction times] when we needed them, and we ran as well as we could on the track without smoking the tires. The crew chief and I were in sync today, and that usually leads to good things.”
Qualified in the No. 10 spot, Johnson first disposed of Tim Wilkerson with a better reaction time and a quicker elapsed time. Johnson launched in .078-second to Wilkerson’s .104 and closed the deal at the top end with a 4.070-second pass at 309.63 mph to 4.508, 190.06.
The second round brought Johnson up against DSR teammate Matt Hagan, and again the driver of the Make-A-Wish Dodge did his job at the starting line. His .054 was efficient for the nitro crowd, even beating Hagan’s .065. At the top end, Johnson clocked out with a 4.126, 305.98 to his opponent’s 4.139, 306.53. With a ticket to the semifinals, Johnson arrived for a match with Cruz Pedregon and kept his nose to the grindstone in his John Collins-tuned Dodge.
Johnson was .041 on the tree to Pedregon’s .080, and he kept ahead for a 4.109, 307.93 win over his challenger’s troubled 11.67 pass. Johnson didn’t have lane choice, but he was going to the final. As is becoming the norm, Johnson was first to leave with a .061 to .068 but Beckman was on a tear and surged ahead for a 4.037, 310.63 win over the 4.073, 308.99 put up by the Make-A-Wish team.
“Anytime you race your teammate, its always tough – especially when he’s leading the points,” said Johnson. “There really were not any easy rounds today. Wilkerson is always tough. Then Hagan, then Cruz. This runner-up was not an easy road. We did not fall into it; we ran really well today and earned that runner-up.
“That’s two final rounds in three races. The Make-A-Wish team is really good, and heading into the last race of the Western Swing [three races in a row out west], I feel like we’re peaking at the right time of the season. We need to carry the momentum as we get closer to the Countdown to the Championship, so it makes me happy knowing our car is running better and better.”
Winner: Jack Beckman (Don Schumacher Racing),
No. 1 qualifier: Beckman, 3.921 sec.-NATIONAL RECORD/quickest ever, 323.43 mph
TOMMY JOHNSON JR., MAKE-A-WISH DODGE CHARGER R/T
Qualified: No. 10
First Round: JOHNSON (4.070, 30.63) def. Tim Wilkerson (4.508, 190.06)
Second Round: JOHNSON (4.126, 305.98) def. Matt Hagan ( 4.139, 306.53)
Semi-Final Round: JOHNSON (4.109, 307.93) def. Cruz Pedergon (11.675, 67.24)
Final Round: Jack Beckman (4.037, 310.63) def. JOHNSON (4.073, 308.99)
FRIDAY: 4.087 seconds, 310.20 mph (Session 1); 4.031 seconds, 317.05 mph (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 4.219 seconds, 242.67 mph (Session 3); 406.9 seconds, 309.77 mph (Session 4)
2015 NHRA MELLO YELLO FUNNY CAR CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
(Unofficial after Sonoma; 15 of 24 races; DSR drivers in CAPS)
DRIVER (WINS) POINTS BEHIND
1. MATT HAGAN (4) 1,142 —–
2. JACK BECKMAN (5) 1,065 -77
3. John Force (2) 948 -194
4. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. (1) 947 -195
5. RON CAPPS (2) 935 -207
6. Del Worsham 902 -240
7. Cruz Pedregon 855 -287
8. Tim Wilkerson (1) 815 -327
9. Robert Hight 784 -358
10. Alexis DeJoria 765 -377
Make-A-Wish® grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. According to a 2011 U.S. study of wish impact, most health professionals surveyed believe a wish-come-true can have positive impacts on the health of children. Kids say wishes give them renewed strength to fight their illnesses, and their parents say these experiences help strengthen the entire family. Based in Phoenix, Make-A-Wish is one of the world’s leading children’s charities, serving children in every community in the United States and its territories. With the help of generous donors and more than 27,000 volunteers, Make-A-Wish grants a wish somewhere in the country every 37 minutes. It has granted more than 254,000 wishes since its inception in 1980; more than 14,200 in 2014 alone. Visit Make-A-Wish at wish.org to learn more.
ABOUT DON SCHUMACHER RACING
Don Schumacher Racing, headquartered in Brownsburg, Ind., fields seven professional NHRA teams: in Funny Car, the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T of Ron Capps, 2012 NHRA world champion Jack Beckman in the Valvoline Dodge, two-time world champion Matt Hagan in the Mopar/Rocky Boots Dodge and the Make-A-Wish Dodge driven by Tommy Johnson Jr.; and in Top Fuel, the 2012 NHRA Top Fuel world champion Matco Tools dragster driven by Antron Brown, the U.S. Army dragster driven by eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher and the Battery Extender Powered by Schumacher dragster driven by Spencer Massey.
DSR has won 260 NHRA national event titles and 13 world championships.
Follow Don Schumacher Racing at ShoeRacing.com, on Twitter at @shoeracing and Facebook.com/shoeracing.