Mopar Set for First NHRA Playoff Elimination Round at Carolina Nationals
· 6th annual Carlyle Tools Carolina Nationals at zMax Dragway is the 19th of 24 NHRA events and the first playoff event of 2013
· Hagan qualified second with his three-second pass to pace the Mopar Funny Cars
· Johnson is top Mopar Pro Stock qualifier in fifth place, Coughlin seeded sixth
· Sunday’s eliminations is the first of the six playoff events as Mopar drivers work to defend championships in both Funny Car and Pro Stock classes
Concord, N.C. (Saturday, September 14, 2013) – The final day of qualifying at the 6th annual Carlyle Tools NHRA Carolina Nationals didn’t produce too many surprises but it set the stage for the first set of elimination rounds in the 2013 edition of the “Countdown to the Championship” with Matt Hagan and Allen Johnson as the top seeded Mopar drivers in Funny Car and Pro Stock classes. Sunday’s eliminations will be the first of the six playoff events as Mopar drivers work to defend world championship titles won in both Funny Car and Pro Stock classes last season.
After Friday evening’s qualifying session, which produced most of the fastest Funny Car runs of the weekend including a three-second pass by Hagan and his Don Schumacher Racing Mopar machine, track conditions weren’t quite as favorable for seeing lower elapsed times. In fact, very few clean passes were made in the first session of the day and while better performances were seen in final qualifying, only a few drivers were able to improve their positions on the elimination ladder. Hagan did grab two more bonus points in the first Saturday session with a 4.105 sec (309.63 mph) which was good for second spot on the time sheets and then another point for the third quickest run (4.082 / 310.48) of the final session.
Hagan’s 3.992-second elapsed time was edged out by No.1 qualifier Cruz Pedregon (3.980 sec / 319.22 mph) on the qualifying score sheets, but the Rocky Boots / “Magneti Marelli Quality Auto Parts Offered by Mopar” entry did however come away with the top speed in qualifying at 320.58 mph. As second seed, Hagan will face fellow Dodge Charger driver Jeff Arend in the first round. Fellow DSR teammates Johnny Gray (4.093 / 308.14), Jack Beckman (4.099 / 309.91) and Ron Capps (4.103 / 308.14) found themselves seeded tenth, 11th and 12th respectively. Gray will see John Force as his first opponent, while Beckman will face off against Del Worsham and Capps will race Alexis DeJoria.
In contrast to their Funny Car counterparts, cooler temperatures for Saturday’s first Pro Stock qualifying session promoted quicker elapsed times than the prior evening’s runs. Allen Johnson’s Mopar Express Lane Dodge had the quickest elapsed time run of all the Mopar entries with a 6.549-second (211.59 mph) pass to take up the fifth place spot on the scoring sheets which were topped by adversary Jason Line who set the low e.t. at 6.541 sec (211.93 mph). Jeg Coughlin Jr. was right behind his Mopar teammate in sixth place on the strength of his 6.554 sec / 211.06 mph run.
In the fourth and final qualifying session, times didn’t improved but HEMI-powered V. Gaines paced the Mopars in that outing, setting the third lowest e.t. of the session (6.558sec / 211.46 mph) to earn a bonus point. Coughlin (6.569 / 210.87) was fourth quickest with Johnson (6.571 / 210.60) in fifth place.
Atop Sunday’s Pro Stock elimination ladder is No.1 qualifier Line who will face Warren Johnson in the first round. Mopar’s top qualifier, Johnson, is seeded fifth and will stage his Dodge against Larry Morgan while Coughlin, the sixth seed, will face Greg Stanfield. Gaines, in eighth spot, will line up next to Buddy Perkinson in a third Summit Racing car while fellow HEMI-powered Vincent Nobile is the tenth seed and will have Greg Anderson as his first round opponent.