Johnson Tops Route 66 Funny Car Field

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Tommy Johnson Jr. was the fastest qualifier in the NHRA Funny Car class Saturday at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill. (NHRA Photo)
Tommy Johnson Jr. was the fastest qualifier in the NHRA Funny Car class Saturday at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill. (NHRA Photo)
Tommy Johnson Jr. was the fastest qualifier in the NHRA Funny Car class Saturday at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill. (NHRA Photo)

JOLIET, Ill. – Tommy Johnson Jr. ran his first career three-second pass in Funny Car to claim the No. 1 qualifier for Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway.

Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also claimed No. 1 qualifying positions and will lead their respective classes into Sunday’s 11 a.m. eliminations at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event.

Johnson piloted his Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger to a 3.999-second pass at 317.19 mph to secure the No. 1 seed during the final qualifying session. With the run, Johnson became the 10th Funny Car driver to complete a three-second pass. He will line up against two-time world champ Tony Pedregon in the opening round.

“The conditions out here were difficult,” said Johnson, winner of the Funny Car event in Bristol two weekends ago. “It’s hot and humid. Personally I didn’t think we could do it. But the guys were swinging for the fence, they were going for it.”

The run gave Johnson his first No. 1 of the season and 10th of his career. He will line up against two-time world champ Tony Pedregon in the opening round.

Del Worsham qualified No. 2 with a 4.023 at 289.76 in his DHL Toyota Camry. He will be paired with Bob Bode in round one. Points leader Robert Hight was the top qualifier after Friday and will race against Jeff Arend as the No. 3 seed. 16-time world champ John Force and daughter Courtney Force round out the top five in Funny Car qualifying. J. Force will open with Alexis DeJoria while C. Force goes up against Bob Tasca III.

Kalitta drove his Mac Tools dragster to a 3.767 second pass at 327.43 mph to claim the top spot for the fifth time this season. Kalitta saved his best for last, completing the run during the final qualifying session.

“I was sitting back there in the staging lanes and it was pretty exciting,” said Kalitta, the points leader in Top Fuel. “Everybody that was running seemed to be going low. I think the fans got a good session out of that.”

Kalitta now has 41 career Top Fuel No. 1 qualifiers. Kalitta will race Pat Dakin in the first round of eliminations on Sunday.

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