Mopar Drivers Motivated for NHRA Midwest Nationals
· Mopar drivers and teams are racing this weekend at Second Annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals, the 21st of 24 NHRA events
· This will be the third of six NHRA playoff national events in the “Countdown to the Championship”
· Hagan leads the Funny Car standings with 2272 points, 51 point lead over second place
· Coughlin is second in Pro Stock standings, eight points behind the new leader Jason Line
· Defending Pro Stock world champion, Johnson is just 74 points behind in fifth place
Madison, Ill. (Friday, September 27, 2013) – In the hunt for the NHRA championship world titles in both Pro Stock and Funny Car classes, the battle intensifies this weekend for Mopar drivers and teams as they get set to contest the third playoff event in as many weeks at the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals near St. Louis, Mo.
Matt Hagan has kept his “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” machine atop the Funny Car standings since June following his win at the NHRA Nationals in Englishtown. Heading into Friday qualifying at Gateway Motorsports Park, the Don Schumacher Racing driver has a 51 point lead over second place Cruz Pedregon but knows that the battle will be intense in this final stretch of four nationals.
“We need to have a little luck along the way,” said Hagan who has four wins and eight final round appearances thus far this season. “The biggest thing is you can’t count points. I know we are, but we can’t concentrate on them. You can’t worry about points until the end of Vegas [next-to-last race]. At the end of that race, you’ll know if you’re in it or you’re not. I just look at it that way. It’s tough to do and everyone handles things in their own way and that’s just the way I’m handling it. If I need to worry about the points after Vegas I will and if I don’t then I know that we still had a great season.”
In the battle for the Pro Stock title, things got a little more interesting at the last event in Texas where the points battle tightened up and Jason Line dislodged Mike Edwards from the No.1 spot in the standings, a position he had held since the Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte last April. Mopar’s Jeg Coughlin Jr. is within eight points of the new leader in second place and knows that the battle for the championship will likely go right down to the wire at the finale in Pomona.
“It’s a dogfight, without question,” said Coughlin, who has three wins this season with the latest coming in the first of the six playoff events. “We really have a lot of good teams fighting for this championship, including two of my Mopar teammates, Vincent Nobile and Allen Johnson. We’ve got a lot of data with the three cars, so I feel like our opportunities to do well are certainly good.”
While the 2012 Pro Stock Champ, Allen Johnson, he hasn’t driven into the winner’s circle since the Mopar Mile High Nationals in Denver, he and the team head into St. Louis motivated and with a little more confidence after having tested at Gateway International Raceway last month.
“We ain’t quitting; the Mopar Express Lane team is going to dig, dig, dig, and work to defend our 2012 championship,” said Johnson who has four wins so far this year and is just 74 points from the leader in fifth place. “We’ve tested at St. Louis, tested really well there, and I think we hit on something in the engines. I think we’ve got the best package we’ve had. We scored a runner-up finish at St. Louis last year on our road to the title, and I can’t wait to get to the track and show off what we got.”