Mopar Scores No.1 Qualifiers Honors in Both Pro Stock and Funny Car at NHRA Route 66 Nationals
· Allen Johnson earns third Pro Stock No.1 qualifier position of the season at 17th annual Route 66 NHRA Nationals
· Tommy Johnson Jr. drive to his first career three-second pass on route to his first No.1 Funny Car qualifier position of the year
· Defending Pro Stock title holder, Jeg Coughlin Jr. qualifies Dodge Dart third and goes for a record sixth win at Route 66 Raceway
Joliet, Illinois (Saturday, June 28) – It was a strong qualifying effort for Mopar at the 17th annual Route 66 National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Nationals near Chicago, that saw Allen Johnson earn his third Pro Stock No.1 qualifier honor of the season, and had Tommy Johnson Jr. drive his Funny Car to his first 3-second run for the pole position.
Allen Johnson followed up the Friday qualifying performance that put him atop the time sheets with an elapsed time run of 6.574-seconds (209.43 miles per hour), with two more strong passes in his “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” Dodge Dart to give him a total of 11 all-important bonus points for his efforts and provide him his 34th career pole position.
“Conditions today weren’t as favorable as they were last night; it was a bit warmer and more humid but the track stayed awesome,” said Johnson, who second quick on his third run and then fastest on his final run. “Our Magneti Marelli Mopar team did a heck of a job with consistency and we were No. 1 in three out of the four runs, so that speaks volume of their talents.”
“We’re feeling more comfortable with the new car after having run in great conditions and bad conditions,” said Johnson who has three wins to date this season and two aboard the new Dodge Dart. “We’ve gotten good notes on it and we’re feeling very comfortable.”
Mark Hogan will be Johnson’s opponent in the opening round of eliminations on Sunday.
Defending winner of this national event, Jeg Coughlin Jr., remained third on the score sheets behind his Mopar teammate with his e.t. of 6.604 seconds (209.04 mph) in the JEGS.com Dodge Dart, and will be looking for his sixth win at Route 66 Raceway, where he already has more wins than any other NHRA driver. He’ll face Larry Morgan as his first opponent on the eliminations ladder.
“We’ve put one of our team cars (Allen Johnson’s Magneti Marelli Dodge Dart) on the pole and we’re No. 3, so I’d have to say we’re pretty pleased,” said Coughlin who has two wins and is second in Pro Stock standing, just one point ahead of his teammate. “Hopefully, Allen and I can race through the ladder tomorrow and meet each other in the final round. That’s always the plan and so far it’s set up that way with us being on opposite sides of the ladder. We’ll see how it goes; one round at a time.”
Fellow HEMI-powered driver, V. Gaines, who had two runner-up finishes early in the year, qualified his Dodge Dart 12th with his best e.t. run of 6.643 seconds (209.01 mph) and will see Shane Gray in the first round.
Tommy Johnson Jr. drove his Don Schumacher Racing Mopar machine to his first career 3-second pass, becoming the tenth Funny Car driver to do so. His 3.999-second run at 317.19 mph put the Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T atop the qualifying sheets to earn his first No.1 qualifier honor of the season and the tenth of his career.
“The conditions out here are difficult,” said Johnson in reference to the heat and humidity that were still prevalent for the final Saturday night qualifying session. “To be honest, I didn’t think we could do it – but the guys were swinging for the fence. I’m extremely happy for all the guys on the team. Our crew chief John Collins and all the guys have been working for this for a long time.”
“Our car has been really consistent no matter what conditions we are running in,” added Johnson who took home his first Wally of the season two events ago at Bristol Dragway. “In the heat in Bristol, we were able to run really well and now to get out here where the conditions get good, we improved. Right now, my confidence in the team is really high. No matter what the conditions are tomorrow, I’m positive they have a tune up for it. The car is running well.”
The six bonus points he earned in qualifying helped put him third in the Funny Car standings just ahead of his DSR teammate Ron Capps heading into tomorrow’s first round where Johnson will meet Tony Pedregon.
Last weekend’s title winner, Capps will be seeded sixth for Sunday’s eliminations on the merit of his Friday evening 4.040 seconds (312.50 mph) run that had initially put him in the provisional third spot. He will put his Dodge Charger R/T to the test against Tim Wilkerson in the opening round.
Qualifying in the seventh spot was Jack Beckman with his 4.048 seconds pass at 315.64 mph which set him up for a first round match-up against his teammate Matt Hagan. It is the second time this season that the two HEMI-powered teammates are battling each other in the first round.
Hagan’s Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T was the quickest Funny Car in the third qualifying session, giving him three of the five bonus points earned in qualifying, but unfortunately that didn’t help improve his tenth place seeding. Hagan is still chasing his first title win of the year after finishing runner-up in the 2013 NHRA championship.