Major NHRA Funny Car Shakeup for Tommy Johnson Jr., Cruz Pedregon
Photo credit: Marc Gewertz / National Dragster 2019
Tommy Johnson Jr., who finished runner-up in the 2020 NHRA Funny Car classification, is unemployed after being fired by Don Schumacher Racing.
Cruz Pedregon has hired Johnson's former crew chief John Collins and the entire crew to work at Cruz Pedregon Racing.
DSR says the sponsorship for Funny Car driver Jack Beckman and Top Fuel dragster driver Tony Schumacher will continue until 2021.
The season of the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series is less than three weeks old, and the stupid season is already in full swing.
On Friday, Cruz Pedregon Racing announced that it has hired crew chief John Collins and the entire crew of Tommy Johnson Jr. of Don Schumacher Racing for Pedregon's Snap-on Tools Dodge Charger Nitro Funny Car in 2021.
Collins most recently led the Make-A-Wish Nitro Funny Car team and Johnson to a runner-up in the 2020 season. Johnson made it into four finals and had three wins in 2020. Pedregon took 10th place in the points in 2020.
Johnson confirmed on Friday that he was fired from Don Schumacher Racing last week.
Credit: MARC GEWERTZ
"I'm really excited to come here to Cruz Pedregon Racing and bring a group of people who have done a phenomenal job over the years," said Collins. "I think we can come in, do a few things, build our program, and have a successful team."
"To say that I'm thrilled to have John Collins and his entire crew on board with our Snap-on Dodge would be the understatement of the year," said Pedregon, two-time Funny Car World Champion. "Your record speaks for itself and I will do everything I can to provide you, as owners and drivers, with every tool you need to win."
Collins' first full-time job on a Nitro team was in 2000 while working on Joe Gibbs Racing's Top Fuel Dragster, driven by Cory McClenathan. Collins joined Don Prudhomme Racing with Johnson Jr. in the team's Skoal Funny Car the following year. In 2003, he switched to Prudhommes Top Fuel Dragster, driven by Larry Dixon, and the team won the NHRA World Championship that year.
Collins later worked with Rahn Tobler for five seasons, including two as deputy crew chief in the NAPA Funny Car team, before taking over the duties of crew chief in the Make-A-Wish Funny Car team in 2014.
"Our plans and goals are the same as every new year. We want to fight for wins and drop the chips where they could be afterwards," said Pedregon. "In my opinion, with the newcomers we have all the prerequisites to achieve these goals."
A DSR spokesperson said Schumacher continues to work on sponsorship packages for Top Fuel driver Tony Schumacher, Funny Car driver Jack Beckman and Johnson for 2021.
The stupid season runs in the NHRA. Are you surprised that Tommy Johnson Jr. is looking for a job? Or is it just a sign of the times in a pandemic? If you haven't already, log in to participate in the comments section below and let us know what you think.
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