Mopar Teammates Top Pro Stock Qualifying at Inaugural NHRA New England Nationals
· Mopar competes at Inaugural Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals in Epping, New Hampshire this weekend, the 11th of 24 national events
· Coughlin Jr. earns Pro Stock No. 1 qualifier position for second time this season
· Johnson second to Mopar teammate in qualifying
· Hagan second on qualifying score sheets and posts top speed from Funny Car at new venue
Epping, N.H. (Saturday, June 22, 2013) – Mopar teammates topped the Pro Stock qualifying score sheets at the Inaugural Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals as Jeg Coughlin Jr. earned the No. 1 qualifier honors and Allen Johnson had the second quickest elapsed time in the factory hot rod category. Matt Hagan was the best of the Mopar Funny Car contingency posting the second lowest elapsed time and the top speed at New England Dragway to end up qualifying in second spot.
Coughlin’s Friday night run of 6.533 seconds at 212.43 mph in the JEGS.com/Mopar Dodge Avenger dislodged Mike Edwards, the current leader in the Pro Stock standings, from the top qualifying position for only the second time in 11 opportunities this season. His first pole of the year was earned in Houston and this weekend’s efforts give Coughlin his 19th career No.1 qualifier position.
“On our first run this (Saturday) morning we thought we had an outside chance of improving on that 6.53 from last night,” said Coughlin who is looking for a win this weekend to add to the Wally earned at Topeka and gain some ground on the points leader. “I owe a lot to the JEGS.com team and also to the Johnson & Johnson Mopar team. They’ve done a great job of providing horsepower, and I feel fortunate to have such a great group in my corner. We’ve had a great season so far. We’re second and third [Johnson] in the points and there is only one team [Edwards] that is doing better than we are. We just need to take this momentum and carry it through the summer and hopefully keep the world championship in the J&J camp.”
Johnson posted a 6.547-second pass at 212.26 mph in the cooler Friday night conditions aboard his Mopar Express Lane Dodge to secure the second spot behind his teammate. He also had the best e.t. of the final session and is pleased with the efforts and gains the Mopar team has made at New England Dragway, a new venue on the NHRA Mello Yello Series circuit, to find themselves first and second in final qualifying for the first time this year.
“Having the Mopar teammates go one-two is a good way to go into Sunday eliminations at a track we’ve never raced on,” said Johnson who has two wins this season to date and is looking to defend his 2012 NHRA World Championship. “We both had pretty good runs in each session and while the left lane seemed to be the best lane on Friday and the right lane seemed to be better on Saturday. Any time you can have two of the three cars on top of the sheets that’s a pretty good weekend. The challenge of racing at this new venue for us is adapting the cars to the lanes. When the sun is out the lanes get pretty bald. They have a heavy rock surface and no concrete surface so there’s no way to get rubber to stick to it. What we’ll be challenged with tomorrow is getting a lot of grip in the cars.”
With only 15 Pro Stock entries qualified this weekend, Coughlin gets a bye in the first round of eliminations while Johnson will face Josh Gaydosh Jr. The HEMI-powered entry of V. Gaines had the seventh quickest e.t. and will face Tom Martino for his first Sunday match up while the third Johnson & Johnson teammate, Vincent Nobile, qualified his Dodge Avenger eighth and will race against Rodger Brogden.
Lack of grip was also a factor on the all-concrete track surface for the Funny Car class but Hagan’s “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” crew found the right balance to take the Dodge Charger R/T to the top of the scoring sheets in the first session of qualifying on Friday with a 4.139 second (304.87 mph) run. Later that evening, the current points leader followed up that pass with a 4.057-second and 317.49 mph run that put him in the No. 2 and gave him the top speed of the category at the new venue. That effort held up to stay second to No.1 qualifier John Force, giving Hagan a first round of elimination match-up against Blake Alexander.
Defending Funny Car world champion Jack Beckman had a rougher time on Friday but made his DSR crew made the necessary adjustments to his Mopar in order to post the third quickest elapsed time in Saturday’s first session and second quickest in the final qualifying session. Beckman ended up tenth in the final qualifying tabulation with an elapsed time of 4.131 seconds (308.85 mph) and will face Bob Tasca III in the first round.
With his best e.t. of 4.083 seconds at 309.91 mph, Ron Capps put his DSR Dodge Charger R/T fourth on the timing sheets to face-off against Tony Pedregon. Teammate Johnny Gray, who has three wins this season in his Mopar, qualified sixth overall with a 4.090-second (312.64 mph) run and will go up against Tim Wilkerson in the first round on Sunday.