Championship Drag Racing

NHRA Nationals
Las Vegas, NV
(April 6-9)

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Tommy Johnson
Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger

Johnson Jr. races to semifinal finish

Las Vegas, Sunday:  Tommy Johnson Jr. moved to fourth place in the NHRA Funny Car standings after driving his Skoal Racing Chevy to a semifinal finish Sunday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The Iowa native defeated Gary Scelzi and Eric Medlen before falling to Cruz Pedregon in the semifinals of the seventh annual Nationals.

In a marquee match-up of two of the category's best drivers, Johnson scored his first round victory since earning his seventh career victory at Phoenix in February when he knocked off the 2005 NHRA Funny Car champion. Johnson used a tune-up from Mike Green to record a run of 4.820 seconds at 327.27 mph, while Scelzi's flopper lost traction and slowed. Johnson's 4.820-second pass was the second quickest run of the round.

"We know they're a tough car, you can't take them lightly," Johnson said. "You know they're going to figure it out. Gary (Scelzi) is the defending champion, so we had to be on our game. We ran 4.82 and it was second quick of the round. I was happy with the way the car ran that round. It got us lane choice and might have won us the second round for us as well."

In round two, the veteran racer got the jump on rising star Medlen to score the wire-to-wire victory in his Skoal Racing Monte Carlo. Johnson powered to a performance of 4.887 at 316.90 to edge Medlen's pass of 4.938 at 305.36. The Skoal Racing flopper lost traction early in his semifinal match against Pedregon as he slowed to a 6.583-second pass, while 1992 NHRA Funny Car champion advanced to his first final round of the 2006 season with a 5.314-second run.

"We slowed a little bit, but still made a decent run," Johnson said. "The blower was starting to go away and it didn't have quite as much boost. We had to change superchargers before the semis and that's a big change in the tune-up of the car. It pepped it up too much. It was just a little too aggressive for the conditions in the right lane in the semifinals.

"Yeah, it's frustrating to lose because Cruz (Pedregon) made an average run. They were there for the taking. Overall, I'm happy with the strides that we made with this tire. We got ourselves back in the points race. We'll test on Monday and hopefully work on the consistency."

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