By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
Tommy Johnson Jr. may be without a job in a week. He showed any potential sponsor that he can still compete at a high level in the Nitro classes.
Johnson Jr.’s MD Anderson Cancer Center Funny Car giving car will not have funding following the Las Vegas race. He won potentially his last Wally with the late Terry Chandler/Doug Chandler sponsored car.
The Indiana native went 3.929 at 321.04 mph on Sunday to win the 33rd annual Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals presented by Pennzoil Wally at Houston Raceway Park in Baytown, Texas. He defeated his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps – who advanced to the final round from the 16th spot – went 3.952 at 325.14 mph.
“It was a must-win,” Johnson said. “We get close and then we stumble and we think we’re out of it, and here we come again. We just keep coming back. It’s like a heavyweight battle and when we get knocked down, we get back up and keep swinging. I’m just really proud of these guys. They never quit. I’m just super happy with the fight in these guys and this has got drama written all over it when we go to Vegas. You’ve got to keep digging and you knew the final round was going to be a great race.
“It’s definitely been different this year, but once you fire the engine it’s no different. These guys have done a really good job under some tough circumstances.”
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the normal spring event in April has been pushed back to a rare October date. In 2021, the new date will be in May.
Before this final round appearance, Capps had a 21-19 advantage over Johnson Jr. in prior events. In addition, the NAPA Auto Parts pilot also held a 3-2 advantage in previous final rounds.
Capps and crew chief Rahn Tobler brought out the backup car following an explosion in the semifinal round. The Carlsbad, California native had a small starting line advantage, as he went 0.045, while his competitor went 0.065.
Johnson Jr. then made up the difference by the 330-foot mark. He then never trailed the rest of the race.
He won by 0.0034 seconds, or approx. 19 inches. This is Johnson’s third Wally of the 2020 season.
In addition, he now has 22 career NHRA Wally’s, including 20 in the Funny Car class.
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