Johnson, Capps Quickest Mopar Entries in Provisional Qualifying at NHRA Southern Nationals
· Mopar drivers and teams are back on track at NHRA Southern Nationals near Atlanta after a two week break
· Johnson is the top Mopar in provisional Pro Stock qualifying with fifth quickest run
· Capps leads the DSR Funny Cars with his fifth place provisional spot in qualifying
Commerce, Georgia (Friday, May 16) – Following a two week break from National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) drag racing action, Mopar teams are back on track at the 34th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals near Atlanta, Georgia. Coming off final elimination appearances at the SpringNationals in both Pro Stock, with Allen Johnson, and Funny Car, with Jack Beckman, Mopar teams and drivers are now looking to get on a roll starting this weekend at Atlanta Dragway for the first of three national events in as many weeks.
For Friday’s two qualifying sessions, the track that normally boasts a “Hot-lanta” moniker saw cool temperatures in the 60 degree Fahrenheit range set up the opportunity for quicker lap times, but instead the Mopar contingent saw mixed results in both categories.
Aboard the “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” Dodge Dart Pro Stock, Johnson, who has one win at this event earned in 2002, improved his time with his second qualifying run to move into the provisional fifth spot with a 6.541 second pass (211.83 mph).
V. Gaines also had a good second pass aboard his new Pro Stock Dodge Dart, which he premiered at the last event in Houston, to move up the ladder into eighth place with a 6.555 second (211.96 mph) run.
Jeg Coughlin Jr., who has won twice at Atlanta (2000 and 2010), saw his JEGS.com Mopar make a sudden move toward the wall on his second run and sits in the 10th spot based on his first attempt with a 6.560 second (210.83 mph) elapsed time. Competitor Erica Enders-Stevens holds the provisional pole with her first pass after setting a track record 6.506-second (212.53 mph) low elapsed time run.
Last year’s Southern Nationals saw an all-Mopar Funny Car final elimination between Don Schumacher Racing teammates with No.1 qualifier Matt Hagan finishing runner-up to Johnny Gray. After finishing second in the 2013 Funny Car championship and starting the year with a runner-up finish in his Mopar Dodger Charger R/T, Hagan is still on the hunt for his first win of the season and looking to get back on track after four first-round losses in six events. He began the weekend with a solid 4.204-second / 291.63 mph pass in the first session and then struck the tires on his second pass to put him 11th.
The highest Mopar on the provisional ladder at the end of the day was Ron Capps, a winner at Atlanta in 2012, who posted the third quickest time in the first session to earn a single bonus point, but after traction problems in the evening session, ended up fifth on the merit of his 4.095 sec./ 309.20 mph run.
DSR teammate Tommy Johnson Jr., put the Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T seventh on the score sheets with a solid 4.145 second (304.39 mph) run in the first session after striking the tires on his second qualifying attempt.
Coming off his runner-up finish in Houston, Beckman, who has two wins at the Southern Nationals (2009 and 2011), wasn’t able to get cleanly down the race track in either qualifying attempt without hazing the tires and sits 14th heading into the final two sessions scheduled for Saturday afternoon.
Competitor Alexis DeJoria holds the provisional No.1 qualifier position after running a track record low e.t. of 4.012-seconds (313.95 mph) in the evening session.