Team Mopar Racers Johnson and Hagan Run to Provisional No. 1 Spots in Friday Qualifying at NHRA Midwest Nationals
Allen Johnson leads a Mopar 1-2-3 sweep of the top three spots in Pro Stock qualifying
Matt Hagan sets both ends of the track record in his Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar Dodge Charger R/T to capture the provisional NHRA Funny Car pole
V. Gaines is No. 2 and Jeg Coughlin Jr. No. 3 in their Mopar-powered Dodge Avengers
Madison, Ill. (Friday, September 27, 2013) – Team Mopar NHRA Pro Stock driver Allen Johnson raced to the provisional pole on Friday at the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park in suburban St. Louis, keying a sweep of the top three spots by Mopar-powered drivers. Meanwhile, in NHRA Funny Car qualifying, Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar Dodge Charger R/T driver Matt Hagan set both ends of the track record en route to the preliminary pole.
After quick exits at the previous two events, Johnson entered the St. Louis race more determined than ever to jump start his title defense, as well as fired up over an engine package honed in previous test sessions at Gateway Motorsports Park. The defending Pro Stock champion wasted no time in demonstrating why he felt so confident about his Mopar HEMI engine, tripping the timing lights with a 6.556-second elapsed time at 210.90 mph in his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Avenger to stake his claim to the No. 1 spot.
With falling track temps in the night session at Gateway Motorsports Park offering better conditions and quicker times, Johnson was pushed out of the top half by the time he made his second run in the final Pro Stock pair of the night. Johnson shrugged off the pressure and reclaimed his position as top dog, ripping off a 6.512/212.29 to take back the provisional pole and earn three more critical bonus points, giving him a total of six for the day.
“The Mopar Express Lane Dodge Avenger hit on something last weekend,” said Johnson, who scored a runner-up finish at the St. Louis event last year. “Our guys have got a combination now that’s going to be pretty bad to the bone the entire Countdown. We’re just a couple of rounds back, and that can turn around real quick. I think we’re really close with the car and the set up.
“We’ve got a great team in Mopar, all the people there are behind us. Our team and Jeggy’s (teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr.) team are working together real nice.”
Mopar-powered Pro Stockers swept the top three Friday qualifying spots, and four of the top six. V. Gaines moved up to No. 2 in the second session with a 6.526/211.96 nighttime run. Johnson’s J&J Racing teammate Coughlin, already a winner in the Countdown playoffs with a “W” at the Charlotte race, posted his JEGS.com/Mopar Dodge third with a 6.527/211.20. The third member of the Mopar-fueled J&J Racing trio, Vincent Nobile, improved from 11th to No. 6 with a 6.535/211.46. Matt Hartford (6.600/209.52) and Derick Kramer (6.608/207.80) were ranked 16th and 17th, respectively, in their Mopar Dodge Avenger Pro Stock cars heading into Saturday.
Matt Hagan, sporting the Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar colors on his Dodge Charger R/T, soared to the No. 1 spot in the first session of NHRA Funny Car qualifying with a 4.112/307.93 pass, but was far from done. Hagan cued up a 4.001/320.20 mph run in the night session, claiming both ends of the track record in the process and running his total to six qualifying bonus points on the day.
“It was just an amazing run,” said Hagan, the current points leader. “I wish I could say I was in there driving the wheels off it, but, man, it was just smooth as silk. It’s just a great feeling and a great deal to be able to go No. 1 for now. Obviously that could change tomorrow, but it’s looking real good for us.”
Hagan’s Mopar-powered Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) teammate Jack Beckman (4.113/310.41) was listed No. 11 after Friday qualifying, with fellow DSR Dodge Charger R/T pilot Ron Capps (4.144/303.84) in the No. 13 spot and another teammate, Johnny Gray (4.475/201.73), No. 15 in his Dodge. Jeff Arend (6.236/106.40) was listed No. 16 in his Dodge Charger R/T.
The first of the final two qualifying sessions will begin tomorrow starting at 11:45 a.m. (CT). Qualifying highlights from the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park in suburban St. Louis are scheduled to be televised from 3:30 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. (ET) on Sunday, Sept. 29, on ESPN2 and ESPN2HD. Three hours of eliminations coverage will be broadcast on ESPN2 and ESPN2HD starting at 8:30 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, Sept. 29.