· Allen Johnson barely misses his fifth straight pole at his sponsor Mopar’s headline event
· Magneti Marelli Quality Auto Parts Offered by Mopar Dodge Dart Pro Stock driver Johnson will open against Tommy Lee and seek his sixth win in eight years at Bandimere Speedway
· Jeg Coughlin Jr. has super Saturday, jumps to No. 4 and earns three qualifying bonus points
· Ron Capps remains the quickest Mopar HEMI-powered Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car in qualifying and will begin Sunday in the fifth position
· Matt Hagan will race on Sunday from the top half of the field at No. 8 in his 426 HEMI 50th Anniversary tribute Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
Morrison, Colorado (July 19, 2014) – Allen Johnson saw his bid for a fifth straight No. 1 spot at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals end on the final pass of the final qualifying session on Saturday at Bandimere Speedway, but a much more important streak remains very much alive for the “Magneti Marelli Quality Auto Parts Offered by Mopar” Dodge Dart Pro Stock driver. Johnson will start strong from the No. 2 position against Tommy Lee in the first round of Sunday eliminations as he seeks his third straight win and sixth in the last eight years at his primary sponsor Mopar’s headline event.
Johnson claimed the provisional pole during Friday’s second session with a 6.928-second elapsed time, paired with a track record speed of 198.90 mph. Johnson, as well as the rest of the Pro Stock field, was unable to improve that run on Saturday until Jason Line nudged Johnson down to the second position on the final pass of the day. The reigning king of Thunder Mountain posted a 6.966/198.41 and 6.982/197.83 in his two attempts on Saturday and feels optimistic about his chances of keeping his crown.
“No. 1 would have been great just to show off a little for Mopar, as that’s one of the reasons we like to do so well here,” said Johnson, who has advanced to seven consecutive final-round appearances at Bandimere Speedway. “We’ve had a few problems up here that have plagued us this weekend. It affected Jeg (Coughlin Jr.) the first two runs and me on that last run, but we’re focused on getting them worked out for race day.
“One of the key differences from past years is that this is a brand new Pro Stock Dodge Dart, and it’s our first time here at Bandimere with it. We’re still learning and haven’t got it all worked out. Still, we’re No. 2 and starting from a good spot. We have some stellar competition, but I guarantee this Mopar crew will go out there fighting tomorrow.”
The JEGS.com/Mopar Dodge Dart crew and defending 2013 NHRA Pro Stock series champ Jeg Coughlin Jr. showed much fight in a rebound day on Saturday at Bandimere. Ranked 13th following Friday qualifying, Coughlin improved to sixth with a 6.953/198.67 in Q3 and then jumped to fourth with a 6.937/198.73, earning three bonus points on the day. Coughlin will face off with another Mopar-powered Pro Stocker, No. 13 starter Derick Kramer, in round one on Sunday.
Hometown favorite and Colorado native V. Gaines (No. 6, 6.944/198.15), runner-up to Johnson at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals in 2012 and 2013, will match up with Dave Connolly to begin eliminations. Mopar HEMI Dodge racer Matt Hartford (No. 12, 6.984/197.31) will battle Greg Anderson, meaning five Mopar-powered Pro Stock cars will race for the money on Sunday.
Based on his 4.087/311.92 Friday run, Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) driver Ron Capps remained the quickest Mopar Dodge Charger R/T at the 2014 Mopar Mile-High Nationals, qualifying No. 5 and setting up a date with Bob Tasca III in the first round. Tommy Johnson Jr. also held his ground from Friday (4.102/308.21) to start No. 6 and was quickest of Saturday’s Q3 (4.186/298.21), earning three bonus points. His opponent will be a familiar one: fellow DSR teammate and No. 11 qualifier (4.153/304.32) Jack Beckman, who earned one bonus point on Saturday.
Matt Hagan, sporting new elephant graphics on his DSR Dodge Charger R/T in tribute to the 50th anniversary of Mopar’s Gen II 426 HEMI engine, nicknamed the “elephant” engine due to its size and strength, motored to a 4.111/311.41 on his final qualifying run to earn two points for posting the second quickest run of the session. Hagan is seeded eighth on the eliminations ladder and will look to take the “elephant” all the way to the winner’s circle on Sunday, with the first obstacle in his path opening-round opponent Alexis DeJoria.