Johnson and Gray Top Mopar Qualifiers at Kansas Nationals
· Mopar qualifies third in Pro Stock and fourth in Funny Car at the 25th annual NHRA Kansas Nationals
· Johnson is top Mopar Pro Stock entry with a third place qualifying position
· Gray qualifies fourth as top Mopar entry in Funny Car class
· Johnson and Coughlin had exact same e.t. and incremental times on their second qualifying runs with just .16 mph difference
· Coughlin aiming for his 500th round win at Topeka
Topeka, Kansas (Saturday, May 18, 2013) – Under grey skies and humid conditions at Heartland Park near Topeka, Mopar drivers wrapped up two days of qualifying in preparation for Sunday’s 25th annual NHRA Kansas Nationals. Defending Pro Stock winner of the event, Allen Johnson was the top Mopar entry with a third place qualifying spot, while Johnny Gray was fourth quickest to lead the Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car contingency.
Johnson quickest run was made in Friday’s second qualifying session when both he and teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. not only posted the exact same elapsed time of 6.633 seconds, but matched incremental times as well at 60 ft (0.997 sec), 330 ft (2.784), 660 ft (4.272) and 1,000 ft (5.553) marks. Only a 0.16 mph difference put the Johnson’s Mopar Express Lane Dodge in third spot ahead of the Jegs.com Mopar with the quicker speed of 208.62 mph.
Johnson wrapped up qualifying on a high note by setting the quickest elapsed time of the final Pro Stock session to add three more bonus points to his total, but remained third to no.1 qualifier Mike Edwards who posted his seventh pole position in eight events.
“We’re making gains and that’s the goal,” said Johnson who has two wins in the last three years at the higher altitude track. “We were third in two sessions and then quickest in that last one and that gives us a bit of a confidence boost heading into eliminations. We knew Jeg (Coughlin Jr.) and I were pretty close but to see the numbers match up like that on Friday was pretty neat and shows just how consistent we can be. Conditions should be just about the same on Sunday and hopefully the rain will hold off so we can do our best to get through as many rounds as we can.”
Johnson will match up with Deric Kramer in the first round of eliminations while Coughlin, who qualified fourth, will face Greg Stanfield.
“I’m happy with the way we’ve started here at Heartland Park,” said Coughlin who could reach a milestone 500 round victories in his Pro Stock career by reaching the semifinals on Sunday. “We were second in the first session and fourth the other three runs. I’m real confident the car is going to continue to perform well, and I feel great behind the wheel. I like the total package we’ve brought to the track this weekend.”
The HEMI-powered entries of V. Gaines and Vincent Nobile qualified eighth and ninth respectively and will face each other in the first round of eliminations.
In Funny Car qualifying, the top eleven cars were all in the 4.0-second range with John Force lowering the e.t. track record to 4.043 (313.22mph) to earn the pole position. Don Schumacher Racing’s Johnny Gray put his Mopar fourth on the scoring sheets with a 4.053-second (313.37 mph) final run and will meet Alexis DeJoria in the first round of eliminations.
Matt Hagan’s “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” Dodge Charger R/T was sixth with his e.t. of 4.069 seconds and he’ll face Bob Tasca in first round action. Don Schumacher Racing teammate and defending winner at Topeka, Jack Beckman made his quickest pass of the weekend on his final run (4.081 sec /312.42 mph) to keep him ninth on the timing charts. He will face Cruz Pedregon as his first match up while Mopar teammate Ron Capps was tenth (4.087 / 309.77) and has Tim Wilkerson for his first round competitor.
ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will provide coverage of this weekend’s 25th annual NHRA Kansas Nationals, the eighth of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, with a three hour broadcast of the elimination rounds on Sunday, May 19, starting at 8 p.m. (ET) from Heartland Park near Topeka.