CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals
Johnson Jr. sets goal for 2008 season
He will begin to target those goals Feb. 7-10 at the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals.
“Actually, there are two or three objectives,” confided Johnson. “The first is to match Kenny’s performance on the starting line. Kenny is the class of the field as far as driving and reaction time go and the bar is set pretty high. We’ve compared driving styles and mine is different from his, but Kenny said for me to do what’s comfortable for me rather than trying to adopt his driving style. His words were, ‘You drive it like it’s yours.’
“Secondly, I’d like to get a win for him and for Monster this season, the sooner the better. It’s a given that everyone wants to win, but Kenny and the Monster team were awful close to winning more than once last year. I’d like to help them get over the hump. If we can get that first win, I think others will follow. I’d like to be in the top five at the end of the year, and from what we’ve experienced in testing, this team is capable.
“Kenny and I have formed a very good working relationship right off the bat,” continued Johnson. “He has respect for my opinions and we bounce a lot of ideas off each other. There’s good chemistry there.
“The way this team is run is like a machine. It’s very professional and organized and every member of Kenny Bernstein Racing gives 100 percent. I’m proud to be associated with that.
“If there isn’t enough for every team to accomplish during the off season to prepare for testing and the impending ’08 kick-off, Jimmy Walsh (crew chief) and the team had to switch everything over on the chassis to fit me.
“These guys have given their all and I intend to do everything I can to contribute to the success of the Monster Energy team.”
Johnson was named pilot of the Monster Energy Funny Car in early December after Kenny Bernstein made the decision to step out of the cockpit.
“I was only contemplating driving one more year,” explained Bernstein, “but when Tommy became available at the end of the ’07 season, we started to give the situation a lot of thought. We’ve been fortunate to win six championships, 69 races, and we have some milestone performance marks, chief among them, becoming the first to crack the 300 miles-per-hour barrier.
“I guess we could always look to win one more race or one more championship, but in reality, I’ve had a great career and many talented crew members who have helped mold my success through the years. For me at this stage of my life, the right decision was to step away from the cockpit.
“Tommy is a good choice and we’re enjoying working with him. We’ll roll to the starting line at
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