Despite an inauspicious start to the 2007 NHRA POWERade season, Tommy Johnson
Jr. and his Don Prudhomme Racing team have the Skoal Racing Chevy Impala SS
hitting on all cylinders as they make a final push to make the final eight for
the Countdown to the Championship at this weekend's 7th annual O'Reilly NHRA
Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway. Johnson has qualified in the top
half of the ultra-competitive Funny Car field for the last five NHRA contests
including his eighth career No. 1 qualifier at Englishtown two weeks ago. Even
more impressively, the Skoal Racing team overcame a first-round fire at
Englishtown and parlayed the season's first No. 1 qualifier into the team's
first win of the season. Although Johnson stubbed his toe with a first-round
loss at Norwalk after qualifying fourth, the Avon, Ind., resident sits ninth in
points and likes the turnaround the team has made heading into the final six
races that det ermine the eight qualifiers for the Countdown to the
"We're heading in the right direction," Johnson said. "At
Topeka we went back in a different direction (with the car), and it took us a
race or two to actually get the tune-up back to where we knew how to make a
run. We had changed so many things that it took us a little awhile to get the
thing back to where we knew how to run it. Now, it really responds. When (crew
chief) Mike (Green) makes a change to the car, it does what he tells it.
Earlier in the year, he'd make a change and it really wouldn't do anything.
Once we got the problem solved and started tuning the race car, it made all the
difference in the world. And the better downforce (with the new Impala SS) we
have over what we had last year has allowed us to run much better half-track
speeds. Even though we've struggled, we've learned along the way what makes
this thing tick, and we're now reaping the rewards from that.
season-low points position of 15th after Atlanta, Johnson finds himself just 10
points out of the coveted elite eight and gives all the credit for the season's
turnaround to the hard work and dedication of his Skoal Racing team.