John Collins is crew chief for the Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T NHRA Funny Car driven by Tommy Johnson Jr. The team, fielded by Don Schumacher Racing (DSR), finished a scant 72 points behind eventual NHRA Funny Car Champion Ron Capps Funny Car Crew Chief in 2016. They believe it was a primer for this year’s potential.
MOPAR® MAGAZINE: You just missed a championship last year. What gets you over the top this year?
John Collins: Well, a lot of hard work and preparation. We were disappointed last year for sure, but we won the fi nal race of the season so we left the track feeling good about what we can accomplish. We have a bunch of guys focused on the work, and they know how hard it is to win a single round, let alone a championship.
MM: What’s the secret to winning at this level?
JC: Staying hungry. I’ve won a championship before with Larry Dixon and his Top Fuel dragster so I know what it’s about. It is what we strive for. Tommy is a good friend, because we are both from Ottumwa, Iowa. He’s a very talented driving machine. He can come back from a run and tell me the car did this, or I felt that, and 99% of the time, we look at the data and he’s right. He drives very well and his reaction times are awesome. We’ve got the car, the team and the driver to win.
MM: Anything new this year?
JC: There won’t be a lot of new things in the beginning this year because toward the end of last year we found a couple of things that helped our performance. And I like to just kind of peck away at things to make them a little better and a little better. I think that helps you have good performance. I don’t go out on a limb and try a lot of crazy stuff. We have a car we know we can win with.
MM: What will fans see in funny car racing this year?
JC: It’s going to be exciting for the fans. At any time, anyone in funny car can step up and win. It’s going to be a very competitive field this year, like last year. We saw a big performance gain last year that started the year before. Everyone is now caught up and it should be just really good racing this year.
John Collins, 54
Born: W. Covina, CA
Crew Chief: DSR Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
Prior experience: DSR work with Larry Dixon, Jack Beckman, Ron Capps. Bracket raced in Ottumwa, Iowa. 17 years in drag racing.