TJ, Lee Beard announced for Nitro Champs

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Rapisarda Autosport International has confirmed NHRA star Tommy Johnson Jr. will drive the team’s fourth entry in Top Fuel at the Nitro Champs this weekend at Sydney Dragway.

Johnson will join fellow statesider Dom Lagana and the Australian duo of Damien Harris and Wayne Newby.

Johnson currently sits in fourth place in the NHRA Funny Car points. He last drove for the Sydney based team on the NHRA tour in 2013 and forged a close relationship with Santino and Santo Rapisarda Jr.

In an added coup for the team, Johnson will be joined by former Rapisarda team manager Lee Beard who will spanner the entry. Beard has recently been on hiatus from drag racing, focusing on building a flyfishing business.

But don’t let that relaxed hobby fool you, as the three-decade veteran in both Top Fuel and Funny Car categories is one of the most highly decorated NHRA tuners with 53 wins and four US National titles to his credit.

“We are delighted that Tommy will be racing for our team,” said team owner Santo Rapisarda. “He will certainly be racking up the frequent flyer points, leaving Texas on Monday for a quick visit to his home in Indy then catching a flight to Australia is quite a trip.

“He will arrive on Friday morning, go straight to the track, then get a good night’s sleep and be in shape for qualifying on Saturday. We have been toying with the idea of running four cars for some time and this weekend the dream will come true. It will be a real challenge but that’s what drag racing is about – facing challenges.”


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