Tommy Johnson Jr. raced to a runner-up finish Sunday in the Four-Wide NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and ranks third in the NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car championship standings.
Johnson, who was competing in the 450th professional event of his career, came up short in the final run. His final run of 3.975 seconds at 313.29 mph wasn’t enough to defeat reigning NHRA Funny Car world champion J.R. Todd. Fellow DSR and Dodge Charger SRT® Hellcat drivers Jack Beckman, Matt Hagan and Ron Capps also raced past the first round. Leah Pritchett qualified the Mopar® Dodge Top Fuel dragster fourth, but was unable to advance past the opening round.
The run to his sixth career final appearance began with Johnson turning the fastest pass in his first round quad to advance to a loaded second-round quad where he was joined by DSR teammates Beckman and Capps, as well as 16-time world champion John Force. In the second round, Johnson was first off the line with his .058 reaction time and he never trailed, posting a pass of 3.994 to reach the 49th final of his career and second consecutive Vegas Four-Wide Nationals final.
Beckman, who defeated Johnson at “The Strip” in 2006 to earn his first career Funny Car Wally, followed Force to the finish line in his first quad driving the DSR Infinite Hero Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat before coming home second behind Johnson in the second quad to reach his second final of the season. The run to the final pushed Beckman up to second in the championship standings.
Hagan’s bid to capture his second victory of 2019 came up short in the second round. After qualifying the DSR Pennzoil/Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car fifth, the two-time Funny Car world champion raced to an opening round win with his pass of 4.073/288.03 to defeat Todd, Gary Densham and Jim Campbell. In the second round, Hagan posted an impressive lap of 4.017, but lost on a holeshot to Todd. Hagan heads to the Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals ranking fifth in the Funny Car standings.
Capps started from the second position Sunday in the DSR NAPA Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat and followed Johnson to the second round quad with his run of 4.280. Despite making a solid run of 4.037, he wasn’t able to race past Johnson or Beckman to advance to the final.
In Top Fuel, Pritchett entered the fourth race of the season second in the championship standings and seeking her first Las Vegas triumph. With three qualifying point-earning runs to begin the weekend, she positioned herself to close the gap during eliminations. Unfortunately, Pritchett’s Dodge Mopar Top Fuel dragster lost traction almost immediately in lane three during the opening quad. While watching Clay Millican and Terry Totten make clean runs down the track in front of her, Pritchett coasted to the finish with a lap of 6.768 seconds at 114.02 mph. Pritchett heads to Houston next week fourth in the Top Fuel championship standings.
Mopar Dodge/SRT NHRA Sportsman Spotlight
In Stock Eliminator, Justin Jerome from Fullerton, California, raced his 1974 Plymouth Duster to his first career NHRA national event win by defeating Ryan Mangus in the final with his lap of 10.818 seconds at 120.11 mph.
Wayne Taylor drove his 1999 Chrysler Sebring to a second round finish in Super Stock. After defeating Wes King with his run of 10.038 seconds, Taylor just barely redlighted with a very close -0.009 reaction time to give his opponent Don Thomas the win.
Both Jerome and Taylor will receive $500 for being the Dodge Top Finisher by advancing the furthest in Stock Eliminator and Super Stock, respectively.
The Dodge Top Finisher award, now in its third year, awards $500 to Stock Eliminator and Super Stock drivers who advance the furthest behind the wheel of a Mopar-powered Dodge, Chrysler or Plymouth racecar at all 24 NHRA national events.
The DSR crew is headed over to the great state of Texas for the NHRA SpringNationals April 12-14. Stay tuned to Dodge Garage for all of the exciting coverage.