T.J. aiming to leave Vegas with ultimate b-day gift -- a Wally
Las Vegas, prerace: Buying birthday presents can be a perplexing chore. What do you buy the guy that is living out his childhood dream and drives a 330-mph Funny Car for a living? Perhaps a card and a birthday greeting will suffice, but his teammates can help him earn the ultimate birthday offering, an eighth career “Wally” trophy.
Since the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series added The Strip as Las Vegas Motor Speedway to its list of national event tracks in 2000, Skoal Racing Funny Car driver Tommy Johnson Jr. has annually celebrated his April 6 birthday at or near The Strip with his greatest birthday highlight coming on Sunday, April 6, 2001, when the veteran nitro pilot captured his fifth career victory and first as a member of Don Prudhomme Racing. Johnson, who turns! 38 on the opening day of the seventh annual Summitracing.com Nationals, is hoping for a belated birthday celebration on Sunday, April 9, as the NHRA makes the first of two 2006 visits to The Strip at LVMS.
“Mine and Snake’s (Don Prudhomme) birthdays are on Thursday (April 6) and (crew chief) Mike Green’s birthday is on Friday (April 7), so it would be a nice present for all of us if we can go out and have a solid weekend,” Johnson said.
A solid Las Vegas weekend is in order as Johnson and his Mike Green-led Skoal Racing crew looks to right the ship and jump back into championship contention in the Funny Car division. The team’s goal is to find that early season performance and consistency that saw Johnson qualify second at the 2006 season-opener before winning the Phoenix race two weeks later.
“(Las) Vegas has always been a good track for me,” Johnson said. “I can’t think of a better place for us to get back on track. We’ve struggled with our consistency on the new tire after winning Phoenix. We need to get our consistency back to where we were earlier this year.
“I know we’ve got a good team and a good race car, now we just need to work harder to figure it out. A lot of teams are struggling right now. We’ve got all the resources to turn it around. It’s not like we’re that far off. We’ll overcome this and be back on the winning track soon enough.”
Four win lights to his credit would not only get the Skoal Racing Monte Carlo back on the title track, but would provide the perfect recipe for both a post-birthday celebration for T.J., Snake, and the Skoal Racing team.
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