Provisional No.1 Qualifier by Johnson Bolsters Mopar at NHRA SpringNationals in Houston
· Mopar drivers working to get back to winning form at the 27th annual NHRA SpringNationals near Baytown, Texas
· Johnson takes the provisional No.1 Pro Stock qualifying position
· Gaines debuts new Dodge DART at Royal Purple Raceway
· Coughlin won his very first Pro Stock title in his debut at Houston, has a total of four wins, and qualified No.1 for last year’s event at Royal Purple Raceway
· Hagan earned his first career NHRA Funny Car victory in 2010 at Houston
· Mopar celebrates HEMI Day on April 26 with a video for fans: youtu.be/NcSanOT5OHI and on www.facebook.com/Mopar on Saturday.
Meanwhile, HEMI-powered Johnson & Johnson teammate, Jeg Coughlin Jr. (6.592 / 210.47) drove his JEGS.com Dodge Dart to a fourth place spot after Friday’s qualifying sessions.
Coughlin and Mopar Funny Car driver Matt Hagan both had their first career wins at this event. For Coughlin, not only was it his first professional win, but it came in his Pro Stock debut in 1997 and has a total of four trips (1998, 200, 2010) to the winner’s circle at the sea-level track. Coughlin earned the No.1 qualifier position at this event last season on his way to earn the 2013 NHRA Pro Stock Championship and his fifth career world title. For Hagan, his first career win, earned at the Houston track, set him on track to a runner-up finish in the 2010 Funny Car Championship.
Also looking to earn a Wally trophy this weekend is V. Gaines, who after a strong start to the season with back-to back final round appearances, is hoping to repeat what Johnson did at the Gatornationals; debut a new car by taking it to a national title win. Gaines’ premiered his new Dodge Dart on Friday with a 6.605 sec / 210.21 mph effort to put him in 10th place going into the final two qualifying sessions.
In Funny Car competition, the Don Schumacher Racing Mopars have been noticeably missing from both semifinal and final rounds at the past two events, but with hopes of rectifying that this weekend, Jack Beckman (4.063 / 314.09), Tommy Johnson Jr. (4.068 / 312.21) and Ron Capps (4.079 / 310.34) drove their Dodge Charger R/T machines to the second, third and fourth place spots, respectively, with their preliminary qualifying runs, while the provisional pole went to competitor, Del Worsham. Capps has two wins (2006, 2007) and a runner-up finish (2012) at the SpringNationals, while teammates Johnson (2002) and Beckman (2009) have each have had a final round appearance at the raceway.
While Hagan didn’t quite have the runs he was hoping for when the Mopar Express Lane/ Rocky Boots machine shook the tires upon launch to put him in the No.10 spot heading into Saturday’s qualifying rounds, he’ll have the support of some new fans regardless of that this weekend.
Hagan and Allen Johnson both have a number of new supporters after taking part in an autograph session at Helfman Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep & Ram dealership near downtown Houston on Thursday evening. The Helfman group held a successful pre-race open house party for a second year, where attendees were invited to get their photos taken with the Mopar drivers, as well as the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car, and door prizes included tickets to the NHRA SpringNationals.