Johnson Drives Dodge//SRT and Mopar to No. 3 Position in Funny Car Qualifying at NHRA Gatornationals
Gainesville, FL – Tommy Johnson, Jr. is the fastest of six Mopar-powered Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car drivers qualified for Sunday’s elimination rounds at the 50th Annual NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville (Florida) Raceway.
Johnson, who made his first professional run at Gainesville in 1984, earned the provisional No. 1 qualifying position Saturday afternoon with his lap of 3.896 seconds at 324.75 mph in the Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) Make-A-Wish machine, earning three bonus points. In the final qualifying session, Johnson was hoping to back up his earlier run and regain the No. 1 position, but an explosion halfway through his run resulted in the body flying off and the racecar slowing to a run of 4.385/182.92.
Johnson walked away from the scene and his DSR team will go to work to rebuild his Funny Car in order to chase history Sunday from the third starting spot. He’ll be joined in Sunday’s field by fellow DSR and Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car drivers Matt Hagan, Jack Beckman and Ron Capps as well as fellow Mopar-powered competitors Cruz Pedregon and Jim Campbell.
Hagan, winner of the NHRA Arizona Nationals three weeks ago, posted his best lap of 3.900/325.85 aboard the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car in his final pass to grab the fifth position. Beckman, the defending Gatornationals champion, registered the same ET (3.900) driving the Infinite Hero Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat in Q4, but his speed of 323.74 dropped him to sixth. Pedregon also used Q4 to make his best run of the weekend (3.910/325.30) in the Snap-On Tools Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat to grab seventh just ahead of Capps in the NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, who closed qualifying with a run of 3.933/318.77.
In Top Fuel, Leah Pritchett made an impressive pass to open both qualifying days aboard her Mopar Dodge Top Fuel dragster earning a pair of qualifying points with her Q1 run of 3.818 seconds at 321.88 mph and two more following her run of 3.724/325.22 in Saturday’s Q3 session. Pritchett begins her fifth run for a Gatornationals Wally from the fourth position Sunday facing Pat Dakin in the opening round.