Mopar Dodge Avenger Driver Johnson Runs to Provisional Pole at Pomona
Allen Johnson will look to lock down the No. 1 spot in Pro Stock at the 54th Annual NHRA Winternationals on Saturday
Defending Pro Stock champ Jeg Coughlin Jr. places his Dodge Avenger in the No. 3 spot
Ron Capps paces the four-car Don Schumacher Racing Mopar Funny Car squad on Friday by earning the third position
Pomona, Calif. (Friday, Feb. 7) – If the rest of the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing season can go as good as the first day, then Team Mopar driver Allen Johnson is in for a memorable year. The Greeneville, Tenn., native raced his Mopar Dodge Avenger Pro Stock car to the provisional pole position following the first two qualifying sessions on Friday at the season-opening 54th annual NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif.
Johnson, the 2012 NHRA Pro Stock champion, was No. 4 after the first qualifying session, but with the top speed of the round, 212.53 mph. In the second session on Friday the J&J Racing team owner and driver jumped to the No. 1 spot with a 6.517-second elapsed time at the same exact speed as his first run, 212.53, knocking former teammate Vince Nobile from the pole.
“The air got better, and I knew we had a little in the bank if I could get her through second gear,” said Johnson. “The crew chief made the right decision and the motor performed. I’m (hungry) to get that championship back, but in another way if we can keep it in the Mopar camp, that’s a victory for us. But, yeah, I do want to get that (championship) back.”
Reigning NHRA Pro Stock champ Jeg Coughlin Jr., Johnson’s J&J Racing teammate, penciled his JEGS.com/Mopar Dodge Avenger into the third spot on Friday with a best pass of 6.541 for a solid start to the defense of his 2013 series title. Veteran Mopar Pro Stocker V. Gaines was ninth thanks to a 6.554 effort. Deric Kramer and Matt Hartford were 14th and 15th, respectively, in their Mopar-powered Avengers.
In NHRA Funny Car, Ron Capps was the quickest Mopar on the charts, recording a 4.014/304.67 during a wild, fiery run in his Don Schumacher Racing Dodge Charger R/T to claim the provisional No. 3 position on the starting grid. Close behind was his DSR teammate Matt Hagan (4.077/316.01), who was sixth in his debut of the Mopar Express Lane graphics on his Dodge. Newcomer to DSR Tommy Johnson Jr. (4.082/314.75) was eighth, while Jeff Arend (4.104/309.06) clocked in at ninth and Gary Densham (4.199/289.20) 10th in their respective Dodge race cars. The fourth member of the DSR contingent, Jack Beckman (5.409/103.74), was listed 16th during Friday qualifying.
The first of two final Pro qualifying sessions are scheduled to begin on Saturday, Feb. 8, at 12:30 (PT). Two hours of NHRA Winternationals qualifying coverage are scheduled to be televised on ESPN2 and ESPN2HD on Saturday beginning at 11 p.m. (ET). Three hours of elimination rounds coverage will be broadcast on ESPN2 and ESPN2HD starting at 8 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, Feb. 9.