Tommy Johnson Jr. aiming for big win in Las Vegas for Make-A-Wish

Las Vegas will play host to NHRA today.

Tommy Johnson Jr. aiming for big win in Las Vegas for Make-A-Wish

Don Schumacher Racing's Tommy Johnson Jr. and the Make-A-Wish team hope to hit the jackpot this weekend when NHRA's Mello Yello Drag Racing Series makes the first of two annual stops at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Johnson, who resides near Indianapolis, Ind., will be charging towards his first trophy of the season in the Terry Chandler-funded Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T at a racetrack where he has experienced success in the past.

The conditions in Las Vegas are somewhat different than other stops on the tour and will require minor adjustments. However, Johnson feels that the team he has behind him, led by recently appointed crew chief John Collins, has everything they need to achieve their common goal of powering to the winner's circle on Sunday.

"Luckily, the Make-A-Wish team was able to test in Las Vegas earlier this year, and I'm sure the guys will be looking at those notes," said Johnson, currently 6th in NHRA's Funny Car standings. "The car ran extremely well there, so we should have a baseline for that track. I'm excited."

This weekend will certainly not be the Ottumwa, Iowa-native's first trip to the racetrack nestled on the outskirts of Las Vegas. Johnson has been an NHRA competitor for all of his adult life and made his first professional start in 1989. He has raced in both nitro Funny Cars and Top Fuel dragsters and is also an accomplished sportsman racer who jumped right into national-level competition at the age of 15.

In 2001, Johnson – then driving a Funny Car for legendary drag racer and team owner Don "the Snake" Prudhomme – saw his first win light in Las Vegas.

Tommy Johnson Jr
Tommy Johnson Jr

Photo by: Bob Harmeyer

"I remember we ran Whit Bazemore in the final and got the win, and that is something I always think about when I go back there," said Johnson, who has earned nine trophies in NHRA's monstrously competitive nitro ranks. "It was just a good weekend. It was my birthday that weekend, and Don Prudhomme and I share a birthday, so it was his, too. It was really special to get the first win of the year for that team and the first win after they had expanded to a two-car team. It would be nice to see a repeat of that success this weekend."

In addition to the spring win at the Las Vegas facility in 2001, Johnson, who will celebrate a birthday April 6th, also reached the Las Vegas final in 2002 and 2006.

"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't looking forward to this race," said Johnson. "You always have certain tracks where you have success for some reason, and Vegas is one of those tracks for me. It just seems to happen for me there. I would love nothing more than to return to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and get that first win for Make-A-Wish and our sponsor, Terry Chandler. Things have been good so far for the Make-A-Wish Funny Car team, but there is nothing like a win."

THURSDAY'S FANFEST ON 'BROOKLYN BRIDGE' The annual spring NHRA FanFest returns to the "Brooklyn Bridge" in front of the New York-New York Hotel & Casino on Thursday on the Las Vegas Strip. The event kicks off the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals.

Johnson will join Don Schumacher Racing drivers Tony Schumacher, Antron Brown, Spencer Massey, Matt Hagan, Jack Beckman and Ron Capps, as well as other stars of the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. for a free autograph session.

Music, games, ticket giveaways and fun begin at 5 p.m.

The Don Schumacher Racing New York-New York Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car will be on display at this exciting event.

New York-New York is the official Las Vegas hotel and casino for Don Schumacher Racing.

Don Schumacher Racing

shares
comments
Lynda Petty passes away peacefully at home in North Carolina
Previous article

Lynda Petty passes away peacefully at home in North Carolina

Next article

Kyle Busch aiming to add grandfather clock to his collection of trophies

Kyle Busch aiming to add grandfather clock to his collection of trophies
Load comments
How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory Prime

How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory

From villain to hero, Kyle Larson had to reach his lifelong goal the hard way and go through a very public shaming after a ban for using a racial slur, but his talents shone long before his name grabbed the headlines...

NASCAR Cup
Nov 10, 2021
How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022 Prime

How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022

It’s not just Formula 1 that’s set for upheaval in 2022, as the NASCAR Cup series adopts its Next Gen cars that will cast any in-built advantages aside and require teams to adopt a totally new way of operating. Far more than just a change of machinery, the new cars amount to a shift in NASCAR's core philosophy

NASCAR Cup
Oct 12, 2021
Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR Prime

Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR

Bubba Wallace claimed his maiden NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega on Monday to become the first Black victor in the category since Wendell Scott in 1963. Both Wallace and Scott had faced obstacles and racism in their paths to their breakthrough wins, and NASCAR is trying to put it right with its range of diversity programmes

NASCAR Cup
Oct 5, 2021
Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI Prime

Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI

In a career that has had many ups and downs, Kurt Busch has been written off many times before. But facing career uncertainty after the sale of Chip Ganassi's NASCAR team, the 2004 Cup champion has found a new berth at Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan's 23XI organization - which underlines his enduring value

NASCAR Cup
Aug 31, 2021
From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview Prime

From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview

The death of Dale Earnhardt in the 2001 Daytona 500 shocked NASCAR to the core. At the Daytona 24 Hours, two weeks before his fatal accident, ‘The Intimidator’ shared his expectations of challenging for an eighth Cup title with JONATHAN INGRAM, in an article first published in the 15 February 2001 issue of Autosport magazine. Little did we know then what tragedy would unfold…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death Prime

The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death

On February 18, 2001, seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Dale Earnhardt – the fearless ‘Intimidator’ – was in his element at Daytona International Speedway. While his own DEI team’s cars ran 1-2 towards the finish line, his famed #3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo was playing rear gunner to block any late runs from the chasing pack. As the cars tore through Turns 3 and 4 on that fateful final lap, Earnhardt maintained the strongarm tactics that encapsulated his persona… but his actions in those moments sadly proved to be his last.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR Prime

Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR

The NASCAR Cup Series is changing. Whether it be the gradual morphing out the seasoned drivers of yesterday as the next generation step up, a radical calendar shake-up featuring more road courses than ever before and the prospect of an all-new car on the horizon, stock car racing’s highest level is nearing the end of a huge facelift.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 16, 2021
The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021 Prime

The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021

This weekend's Daytona 500 kickstarts a NASCAR Cup season that promises plenty of intrigue courtesy of new owners and a refreshed calendar. Here's what you need to know ahead of the new season…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 13, 2021