By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
MD Anderson Cancer Center Funny Car pilot Tommy Johnson Jr. picked up the 11th straight Don Schumacher Racing win in the category. He defeated Matt Hagan in the final round at the ninth annual Mopar Express Lane NHRA Midwest Nationals presented by Pennzoil.
Johnson Jr. went 3.884 at 326.08 mph to claim the Wally at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway in Madison, Illinois. Hagan went 3.886 at 333.00 mph in the losing effort.
“The last couple races have been ‘must do well’ races and you look over there (at DSR teammates Jack Beckman and Hagan) and they’re still going rounds, so when you do face-up against them, it’s a must-win,” Johnson Jr. said. “You can’t let them keep going rounds or you fall a round behind. It was huge to be able to take out both of them [on Sunday] and keep ourselves securely planted in it and make it a solid three-man race right now.”
This was the first-time in Don Schumacher Racing that they have won 11 straight races in a category.
Despite the win, Johnson Jr. is third in the Funny Car points standings with the win. He is just 34 points behind Hagan and Beckman.
Hagan leads with 659 points, while Beckman has 643 points. Johnson Jr. has 625 points.
“It’s incredible that we won that many races in a row as a team and that I won the race [on Sunday],” added Johnson. “It’s a tribute to all the hard work, even through the lockdowns and everything. These guys are at the shop working and trying to make everything better even not knowing when we would race again. They continually worked hard to keep that advantage. It’s extremely hard to make these cars run that good, that long, and that many runs in a row, so to be able to do it for this long is incredible.”
Prior to this final round appearance, the Virginia native led with a 19-14 advantage over the Indiana native. In addition, he also led Johnson Jr. 3-2 in previous final rounds.
Johnson Jr. did have a small advantage off of the starting line, as he had a 0.047 reaction time. Hagan had a 0.058 reaction time.
The Terry Chandler giving car was able to capture potentially one of his last Wally’s with the ride. He won by 0.0127 seconds, or approx. 7 feet.