August 6, 2017, Kent, Wash. – Mopar® driver Tommy Johnson Jr. went to the final round for the third time in the last four NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events this weekend, but he came up just one win light short of taking the Funny Car category victory during the NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways.
“Our goal was to try to get our placement the best we can going into the Countdown and we’re doing a good job of that,” said Johnson after the race. “It’s frustrating to lose a final again, but three of the last four races (we’ve been) runner-up, so you can’t complain too bad.”
Johnson’s final-round appearance in his HEMI®-powered Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T from Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) marked the 14th final round for at least one Mopar Funny Car fielded by the team in 16 events to date this year. They have visited the winner’s circle 12 times.
Johnson met Robert Hight in the final round on Sunday, and despite getting off the starting line first with a .045-second reaction time to Hight’s .085, he was bested by Hight’s time of 3.890 seconds at 328.62 mph. Johnson made a lap of 3.978 at 323.27.
The final round was a re-match of the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals two weeks ago at Bandimere Speedway, won by Hight, while Johnson also went to the final of the NHRA Route 66 Nationals two weeks prior.
Although Johnson didn’t hold his second Wally of 2017 at the end of the day, he and the Make-A-Wish team still turned in a very solid Sunday at the Seattle-area track.
Johnson first defeated fellow Dodge competitor Jim Campbell in round one when Campbell slowed, setting up a showdown between Johnson and his Mopar DSR teammate Ron Capps. Johnson defeated Capps for the third week in a row with both cars side-by-side as they reached the finish line. The Make-A-Wish team next bested another Mopar teammate, Matt Hagan, in the semis to reach the final round against Hight.
Johnson won the Northwest Nationals in 2015 and claimed his first win in the Top Fuel category at Pacific Raceways in 1993.
Hagan, meanwhile, drove his Mopar 80th/Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T from DSR past Del Worsham in round one and then squared off with Alexis DeJoria. Hagan just bested her on a holeshot before falling to Johnson in the semis.
The remaining two Mopar-backed Funny Cars from DSR each reached the second round.
In the Top Fuel category, Leah Pritchett began her march by driving her Papa John’s Pizza/Mopar Pennzoil dragster from DSR past Shawn Reed. She next raced Mopar teammate Tony Schumacher, and despite both cars going up in smoke, Pritchett was able to get to the finish line first. She ultimately bowed out in the semis to Terry McMillen.
Schumacher powered his U.S. Army car past Troy Coughlin Jr. during round one in the first-ever meeting of the two drivers when the rookie Coughlin hazed his tires. Schumacher’s day was then ended by Pritchett.
The 30th annual NHRA Northwest Nationals concluded the three-race Western Swing on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season and served as the two-thirds mark on the 2017 series calendar. There are now just two races to go before the NHRA Countdown to the Championship begins.