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Johnson Jr. Shines In Bristol

| , RacinToday.com Monday, June 20 2016
Winning the Wallys at Thunder Valley on Sunday were Shawn Langdon, Tommy Johnson Jr. and Jason Line.

Winning the Wallys at Thunder Valley on Sunday were Shawn Langdon, Tommy Johnson Jr. and Jason Line.

Tommy Johnson Jr. delivered a dual birthday/Father’s Day gift for his dad, Tommy Johnson Sr., at Bristol Dragway Sunday that couldn’t be bought. It had to be earned.

“I love this race, and Father’s Day seems to be really good to me,” Johnson Jr. said after his first Funny Car victory of the season in the 16th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals. “This is just a great way to celebrate Father’s Day and my dad’s birthday.”

Johnson Jr. posted a 4.038-second 1,000-foot pass at 313.22 mph at the wheel of his Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger R/T, funded by Terry Chandler, to defeat Don Schumacher Racing teammate Matt Hagan in the final. A two-time winner this season and two-time world champion, Hagan ran 4.030-seconds at 317.57 mph in his Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots Dodge.

Johnson’s 13th career Funny Car victory moved him from ninth to seventh in the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series standings after 11 of 24 national events.

“We had a great season last year and finished third in the points, but it started slow and then we made a really good charge late,” said Johnson, who also won the Thunder Valley Nationals in 2014. “This year, we had that same slow start, then we were runnerup in Epping (N.H., two weeks ago) and that just seems to have set the tone for the rest of the year.

“My guys did a great job. We’re not an aggressive team; we race the racetrack, and (crew chief) John Collins makes some really great calls on what to do. He’s feeling it out as the season begins, and we get all that data and then really start to make a charge.”

Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel) of DSR and Jason Line (Pro Stock) also were winners in their respective categories at the historic strip built between a pair of mountains.

The win also qualified Johnson for the $100,000 Traxxas Nitro Shootout all-star race held during the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals near Indianapolis over Labor Day weekend. The eighth and final spot of the lucrative bonus event will be decided by a fan vote.

“This takes a lot of the pressure off, to lock yourself in like that,” Johnson said. “It’s in the back of your mind, and we had a shot in Epping and just barely lost to my teammate Capps, who is already in.

“Then to race against Hagan, another teammate who’s already in the Shootout, I thought, ‘Man, we have to get this done.’ We missed our first big shot but they made a mistake giving us a second chance. We had to go get it. I kept telling myself it would be OK if we didn’t make the Shootout because the championship is the big picture…but you really want it. It’s a big race. You want that Shootout trophy on the mantel.”

Johnson’s Dodge made four solid runs Sunday. In Round 1, Johnson faced two-time world champion Cruz Pedregon and used a run of 3.988-seconds at 316.38 mph to turn on his first win light of the day.  In Round 2, Johnson ran 3.990-seconds to eliminate Gainesville, Fla., winner and 2009 world champion Robert Hight of archrival John Force Racing. In the semifinals against Las Vegas winner Alexis DeJoria, Johnson beat the afternoon heat with a 4.039-second pass that sent him into the final against Hagan. Johnson was quicker off the starting line with an outstanding 0.035-second reaction time that enabled his 4.039 to overcome Hagan’s quicker 4.030.

“Today, the car drove flawlessly,” Johnson said. “(Collins) made all the right adjustments to get the car down the track in these hot conditions. He used the data to make the car go down the track all day.”

Hagan, who scored back-to-back wins earlier this season, outlasted two-time 2016 winner Tim Wilkerson, Houston winner Courtney Force and DSR teammate and point-leader Ron Capps en route to meeting Johnson Jr. in the final. Hagan moved up two spots to fourth in the point standings.

In Top Fuel, Langdon _ in his first final-round appearance of the year _ covered the 1,000-foot distance in 3.838-seconds at 322.19 mph in his Red Fuel Powered by Schumacher/Sandvik Coromant dragster to defeat teammate Tony Schumacher. An eight-time world champion, “The Sarge” ran 3.934-seconds at 310.70 mph in his U.S. Army dragster in the final. Langdon, who won this event in 2014, claimed his 12th career victory and moved up to sixth in the point standings.

“We really did struggle at the beginning of the year,” said Langdon, the 2013 Top Fuel world champion. “Everybody at Don Schumacher Racing came together and everybody there helped out; it’s a big team. I have to thank all the other crews and our Red Fuel crew. This is a big win for us and we‘re excited.”

Langdon, who secured the sixth spot in the Top Fuel Traxxas Nitro Shootout bonus event, beat Gainesville runnerup Terry McMillen, two-time 2016 winner Brittany Force and point-leader Doug Kalitta to advance to the final round.

Schumacher, who powered to a runnerup finish last weekend in Englishtown, N.J., drove by J.R. Todd, two-time 2016 winner and pole-sitter Steve Torrence and two-time/reigning world champ Antron Brown of DSR to make his second consecutive final round appearance. Schumacher is fifth in points.

In Pro Stock, pole-sitter Line wheeled his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro to his sixth victory of the season and 43rd of his career by outlasting Ken Black Racing teammate Greg Anderson in the final. Line sprinted to a quarter-mile pass of 6.668-seconds at 207.59 mph to better Anderson’s numbers of 6.694/207.62 in his Summit Camaro. Line, who won this event in 2006, advanced to his 10th final-round appearance of the season.

“It’s big to win here, and I haven’t done much here in the last 10 years so I love winning here,” Line said. “And to win on Father’s Day is special; to be able to tell my dad that I love him on TV is a pretty cool thing. The fact that (this streak) has gone on so long is unfathomable to me. But, at the same time, pretty exciting and exciting for me to be a part of. I’m living my dream. The fact that I’m getting to do this and have been so successful this year is awesome.”

Line won on a bye run in the first round when Dave River’s Chevrolet Cobalt had a mechanical problem. Line also drew a bye in the second round before sprinting past 2014 top rookie Drew Skillman in the semifinals to meet four-time world champion Anderson in the final.

Anderson, a five-time 2016 winner who sits second in the point standings, outlasted John Gaydosh Jr., Shane Gray and five-time world champ Jeg Coughlin Jr. in the earlier rounds.

The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule continues with the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, June 23-26, in Norwalk, Ohio.


Funny Car icon John Force was recognized as a Legend of Thunder Valley during Sunday’s pre-race ceremonies at Bristol Dragway. The four-time NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals winner received a plaque and a huge congratulatory banner signed by the fans as his name was added to the façade of the trackside suite tower. Force then led one of the season’s largest track walks, as thousands of fans joined him and daughters Brittany and Courtney in a stroll down the racetrack.

“There have been so many memories for me here at Bristol Dragway,” Force, a 16-time world champion, said during the ceremony. “Winning the Funny Car race against the Top Fuel dragsters was huge for me. I always want to entertain people and there are a lot of people I want to thank from the sponsors to the media to all of you fans. I look up at the names on the side of that building and it’s an honor to see my name up there.”

Force’s day in his PEAK/Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS ended in the first round, as the No. 8 qualifier was trailered by 2012 world champion Jack Beckman of archrival Don Schumacher Racing.


Final finishing order (1-16) at the 16th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.  The race is the 11th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:

Top Fuel _ 1.  Shawn Langdon; 2.  Tony Schumacher; 3.  Doug Kalitta; 4.  Antron Brown; 5.  Steve Torrence; 6. Richie Crampton; 7.  Brittany Force; 8.  Pat Dakin; 9.  Leah Pritchett; 10.  Clay Millican; 11. J.R. Todd; 12.  Kyle Wurtzel; 13.  Chris Karamesines; 14.  Terry McMillen; 15.  Terry Haddock; 16. Scott Palmer.

Funny Car _  1.  Tommy Johnson Jr.; 2.  Matt Hagan; 3.  Alexis DeJoria; 4.  Ron Capps; 5.  Jack Beckman; 6. Courtney Force; 7.  Robert Hight; 8.  Del Worsham; 9.  John Hale; 10.  Chad Head; 11.  John Force; 12.  Tim Wilkerson; 13.  Jeff Diehl; 14.  Dave Richards; 15.  Jim Campbell; 16.  Cruz Pedregon.

Pro Stock _ 1.  Jason Line; 2.  Greg Anderson; 3.  Jeg Coughlin Jr.; 4.  Drew Skillman; 5.  Vincent Nobile; 6. Allen Johnson; 7.  Shane Gray; 8.  Bo Butner; 9.  Erica Enders; 10.  Alex Laughlin; 11.  John Gaydosh Jr.; 12.  Chris McGaha; 13.  V. Gaines; 14.  Dave River.

Sunday’s final results from the 16th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway:

Top Fuel _ Shawn Langdon, 3.838-seconds, 322.19 mph def. Tony Schumacher, 3.924-seconds, 310.70 mph.

 Funny Car _ Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 4.038, 313.22 def. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.030, 317.57.

Pro Stock _ Jason Line, Chevy Camaro, 6.668, 207.59 def. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.694, 207.62.

Pro Modified _ Mike Castellana, Chevy Corvette,  def. Bob Rahaim, Corvette, Foul/Centerline.

Super Stock _ Chad Taylor, Pontiac Sunfire, 9.792, 128.10 def. Dan Jacobs, Chevy Cavalier, 9.887, 133.74.

Stock Eliminator _ Jeff Strickland, Chevy Camaro, 9.625, 131.36 def. Adam Davis, Pontiac Firebird, Foul/Red Light.

Super Comp _ Rusty Cook, Dragster, 8.895, 173.16 def. David Schmidt, Dragster, 8.871, 172.32.

Super Gas _ John Taylor, Dodge Dakota, 9.926, 159.49 def. Leo Zynda, Chevy Cavalier, 9.931, 161.67.

Top Sportsman _ Mark McDonald, Ford Mustang, 6.866, 194.38 def. Ronnie Proctor, Mustang, 6.867, 200.71.

Top Dragster _ Steve Furr, Dragster, 6.474, 187.76 def. Larry Roberts, Dragster, Foul /Red Light.

Top Fuel Harley _ Len Darnell, Harley, 6.612, 203.25  def. Mike Beland, Johnson, 6.553, 214.66.

Final round-by-round results from the 16th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway:


ROUND ONE _ Pat Dakin, 3.821, 292.65 def. Clay Millican, 3.841, 322.65; Shawn Langdon, 3.817, 323.89 def. Terry McMillen, 4.357, 195.96; Brittany Force, 3.842, 317.42 def. Chris Karamesines, 4.243, 220.12; Steve Torrence, 3.823, 325.14 def. Terry Haddock, 4.645, 173.72; Doug Kalitta, 3.783, 329.34 def. Kyle Wurtzel, 3.917, 300.46; Antron Brown, 3.842, 315.12 def. Scott Palmer, 5.456, 127.76; Richie Crampton, 3.812, 314.83 def. Leah Pritchett, 3.838, 320.13; Tony Schumacher, 3.794, 324.90 def. J.R. Todd, 3.873, 314.61;

QUARTERFINALS _ Langdon, 3.835, 319.07 def. Force, 4.089, 276.80; Brown, 3.856, 314.31 def. Crampton, 3.937, 257.24; Schumacher, 3.802, 326.32 def. Torrence, 3.835, 320.97; Kalitta, 3.821, 323.89 def. Dakin, 8.486, 71.22;

SEMIFINALS _ Langdon, 4.464, 265.53 def. Kalitta, 5.350, 188.52; Schumacher, 3.840, 325.61 def. Brown, 8.399, 84.20;

FINAL _ Langdon, 3.838, 322.19 def. Schumacher, 3.924, 310.70.


ROUND ONE _ Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 3.945, 309.49 def. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.614, 176.12; Ron Capps, Charger, 3.978, 315.86 def. Jim Campbell, Toyota Camry, Foul/Red Light; Del Worsham, Camry, 3.961, 323.04 def. John Hale, Charger, 4.186, 255.34; Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 4.000, 319.67 def. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Solara, 5.581, 133.43; Courtney Force, Camaro, 3.984, 320.89 def. Dave Richards, Mustang, 7.636, 65.61; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.988, 316.38 def. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, Foul/Centerline; Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.026, 315.93 def. Chad Head, Camry, 4.489, 226.32; Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.974, 322.73 def. John Force, Camaro, 4.503, 197.74;

QUARTERFINALS _ Hagan, 4.048, 316.82 def. C. Force, 4.048, 313.66; Johnson Jr., 3.990, 314.83 def. Hight, 4.095, 283.85; DeJoria, 4.012, 314.53 def. Worsham, 8.397, 80.47; Capps, 3.990, 315.05 def. Beckman, 4.007, 317.19;

SEMIFINALS _ Johnson Jr., 4.039, 312.42 def. DeJoria, 4.138, 288.33; Hagan, 5.190, 220.98 def. Capps, 5.989, 158.13;

FINAL _ Johnson Jr., 4.038, 313.22 def. Hagan, 4.030, 317.57.


ROUND ONE _ Shane Gray, Chevy Camaro, 6.752, 206.86 def. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.796, 205.63; Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.695, 207.59 def. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.760, 206.29; Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.688, 207.75 def. Erica Enders, Dart, 6.716, 206.32; Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.689, 207.37 def. V. Gaines, Dart, 9.479, 96.16; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.650, 208.97 def. Dave River, Chevy Cobalt, Broke/No Show; Jeg Coughlin Jr., Dart, 6.716, 205.54 def. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.645, 207.85; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.657, 208.07 def. John Gaydosh Jr., Camaro, 6.790, 202.94;

QUARTERFINALS _ Coughlin, 6.746, 204.63 def. Johnson, 6.971, 167.32; Skillman, 6.702, 206.76 def. Nobile, 6.715, 206.86; Anderson, 6.668, 207.56 def. Gray, 7.165, 150.88; Line, 6.668, 207.34 was unopposed;

SEMIFINALS _ Line, 6.688, 207.66 def. Skillman, 14.723, 56.33; Anderson, 6.690, 207.56 def. Coughlin, 10.882, 80.81;

FINAL _ Line, 6.668, 207.59 def. Anderson, 6.694, 207.62.

Point standings (top-10) following the 16th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway:

Top Fuel _ 1.  Doug Kalitta, 926; 2.  Antron Brown, 873; 3.  Steve Torrence, 846; 4.  Brittany Force, 754; 5. Tony Schumacher, 675; 6.  Shawn Langdon, 595; 7.  J.R. Todd, 562; 8.  Clay Millican, 540; 9. Richie Crampton, 535; 10.  Leah Pritchett, 412.

Funny Car _ 1.  Ron Capps, 841; 2.  Jack Beckman, 786; 3.  Courtney Force, 741; 4.  Matt Hagan, 710; 5.  Del Worsham, 701; 6.  Tim Wilkerson, 691; 7.  Tommy Johnson Jr., 675; 8.  Robert Hight, 643; 9.  John Force, 615; 10.  Alexis DeJoria, 588.

Pro Stock _ 1.  Jason Line, 1,263; 2.  Greg Anderson, 1,170; 3.  Bo Butner, 758; 4.  Allen Johnson, 668; 5. Drew Skillman, 625; 6.  Vincent Nobile, 535; 7.  Chris McGaha, 524; 8.  Jeg Coughlin Jr., 496; 9. Shane Gray, 458; 10.  Alex Laughlin, 445.


| , RacinToday.com Monday, June 20 2016
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