Hole Shot Win by Gray in All-Mopar Final at Norwalk
· Mopar advanced to final eliminations in both Pro Stock and Funny Car classes at seventh annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals
· Gray scored a hole shot win in a Mopar versus Mopar final elimination against DSR teammate Capps
· No.1 qualifier Johnson finished runner-up in his 42nd Pro Stock final elimination appearance
· Hagan remains Funny Car points leader with Mopar teammate Gray moving into second spot
· Johnson and Coughlin are second and third in Pro Stock points standings
Norwalk, Ohio (Sunday, July 7, 2013) – In an all-Mopar final elimination showdown, Johnny Gray earned his fourth Funny Car national title of the season on a hole shot win against his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps at the seventh annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, the 13th of 24 national events on the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series circuit. Mopar Pro Stock pilot Allen Johnson also advanced to the final elimination at the Norwalk track finishing runner-up to current points leader Mike Edwards.
“Congratulations to Johnny (Gray) from all of us at Mopar on his title win at Summit Motorsports Park and his fourth victory of the year,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group LLC’s service, parts and customer-care brand. “It great to see the Mopar-powered Funny Car package competing so strongly, leading the standings, and back in the winner’s circle for the eighth time this year. It’s great to seeing all four Don Schumacher Racing teammates contending for wins in defense of the championship title nearly every week throughout what continues to be an exciting and incredibly competitive season.”
Gray’s fourth final round appearance and series-leading fourth win of the season followed three consecutive first round losses. After last weekend’s event in Chicago, the DSR Pitch Energy team returned to their Indianapolis based shop to rebuild the front end of chassis in less than a day. Not only did the driver appreciate the efforts but he took full advantage by defeating Alexis DeJoria, Chad Head and then his DSR teammate, defending Funny Car world champion, Jack Beckman, on his way to the final Mopar versus Mopar showdown against Capps.
Both Gray and Capps posted identical 4.103-second passes, but with a quicker 0.061 reaction time Gray’s Dodge Charger R/T beat his teammate by just 0.006 seconds.
“Everybody said it was back-and-forth all the way down the track, and it was just a great drag race,” said Gray who also posted wins at Gainesville, Atlanta, Topeka this season to bring his career total to seven national titles. “You just can’t say enough for what my crew does for me and this was my day. We came to Norwalk and the car never missed a step. When I get a race car like this, it’s really hard to screw it up.”
Capps’ runner-up finish came in his 80th career appearance in a final elimination at his 400th national event and puts him fourth in the standings.
Matt Hagan started off strong in his “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” / Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T by making his best run of the weekend in his first round match up against Tony Pedregon only to lose the battle against his DSR teammate Capps. Hagan does however remain in the Funny Car championship points lead on the strength of three wins and two no.1 qualifier positions with just five races to go in the regular season.
In Pro Stock action, bolstered by his first No.1 qualifier position of the season, Johnson advanced to his 42nd career final elimination appearance to face off against Edwards. While the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Avenger had the starting line advantage with a 0.015-second reaction time, not having the critical lane choice had its consequences. Loss of grip and violent tire shake early in the run ended Johnson’s chances of gaining some ground on the track and in the points battle against his opponent. Edwards scored his fourth win of the year and the 38th of his career and remains the leader in the Pro Stock standings.
“We had a great day but lost critical lane choice with our semifinal run and that ended up hurting us for the final,” said Johnson who has had six final round appearances this year and jumps into second place in the points with his runner-up finish. “We hurt a motor and had to swap out the engine before that semifinal but didn’t have a good enough run to maintain lane choice and that made the difference. We’re on a good run right now, feel like we’re doing things right and we have some momentum heading into Mopar Mile High Nationals. We have guarded optimism heading to Mopar’s signature event but it’s an event we love and have a lot of confidence going into.”
Ohio native Jeg Coughlin Jr. was upset on his home turf in the second round by fellow HEMI-powered teammate and defending Norwalk title winner Vincent Nobile. They had each won three times against one another in prior events but in this Mopar showdown, Nobile had the starting line advantage and never trailed for the win. Coughlin remains third in the points chase close behind Johnson, while Nobile, who was unable to defeat Edwards in the semifinals, jumps into sixth spot.
V. Gaines drove his Dodge Avenger to the second round where he fell victim to the dreaded left lane and hazed the tires against Shane Gray but remains tenth in points.