Johnson and Beckman Lead Mopar Efforts in Provisional Friday Night Qualifying at NHRA Sonoma Nationals
· Mopar drivers and teams compete at 27th annual National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Sonoma Nationals, the 15th of 24 national events
· Last weekend’s winner at Mopar Mile High Nationals Allen Johnson provisionally No.3 after two Pro Stock qualifying runs at Sonoma
· Jack Beckman leads his DSR teammates with No. 4 provisional spot in Funny Car qualifying
· Defending Funny Car title winner Ron Capps is third in points coming into this weekend’s event
· Matt Hagan drives the HEMI 50th Anniversary tribute Mopar to provisional place fifth spot and will continue to run scheme for rest of the NHRA western swing
Sonoma, California (July 25, 2014) – Following the mile-high challenge of altitude racing in the Rocky Mountains last week near Denver, the Mopar contingent is now back to running at sea-level amidst the vineyards of Northern California and ready to make a return to the winners circle at Sonoma Raceway for the 27th annual National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Sonoma Nationals, the second stop on the three race NHRA western swing.
Pro Stock driver Allen Johnson picked up right where he left off last weekend after conquering Thunder Mountain for a sixth time at the Mopar Mile High Nationals, by setting the quickest pass in the first round of qualifying with a 6.606-second run at 209.69 mph. The “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” Dodge Dart was then was provisionally No. 3 after posting a 6.558 second / 210.97 mph pass on his second qualifying run as competitor Jason Line took the provisional pole position with a 6.550 second / 210.93 mph lap.
The HEMI-powered factory hot rod entries, tuned by Roy Johnson, swept the western swing last season with wins by his son at Denver and then Johnson & Johnson teammate Vincent Nobile with wins in Sonoma and Seattle. After Johnson’s victory at Bandimere Speedway last weekend, the Mopar driver would like nothing more than to repeat that feat along with his teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. at the next two events. The pair is battling one another for the second and third place spots respectively in the Pro Stock standings behind points leader Erica Enders-Stevens who is not competing this weekend.
Winner at Sonoma in 2003 and 2010 as well as runner-up in 2008 and last year, reigning NHRA Pro Stock World Champ Coughlin Jr. took his JEGS.com Mopar Dodge Dart for a 6.574 sec /210.64 mph lap to post the sixth quickest run in Friday qualifying.
Fellow HEMI-powered Dodge Dart driver V. Gaines was eighth quickest with a 6.602 /209.98 pass. The Dodge Avenger of Deric Kramer was 10th on the score sheets with a 6.621 /209.49 pass and Matt Hartford, also aboard a Dodge Avenger, was right behind him in 11th place with a 6.621/ 209.49 elapsed time run.
In Funny Car action, Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) driver Jack Beckman drove his Dodge Charger R/T to the No. 4 spot in the provisional qualifying to lead his Mopar teammates with a 4.075 second / 314.83 mph effort. The provisional No.1 position is currently being held by competitor Courtney Force with a 4.045/319.22 pass. Beckman and his crew are making every effort to break back into the top-ten in the category standings with only four events left before the NHRA Countdown to the Championship begins and only those within that range will advance to a playoff berth.
In the fifth qualified position is Mopar Express Lane driver Matt Hagan who is looking for a second win this season and hoping to do it with the 50th anniversary of the 426 Race HEMI tribute paint scheme that his Dodge Charger R/T will don for the balance of the NHRA western swing. Hagan, who ran a 4.075 / 307.30 on his second pass, was No.1 qualifier at this event last season with a track record 3.986-second run and finished runner-up in 2012.
Defending title winner at his home event, Ron Capps, who currently sits third in the Funny Car standings, is looking to repeat last year’s performance after coming off a semifinal appearance at last weekend’s Mopar Mile High Nationals. Capps is provisionally seventh after his two qualifying passes, posting a 4.093/ 314.61 with his second run.
Right behind his DSR teammate in fourth place in the points standings is Tommy Johnson Jr. and his Make-A-Wish Mopar which was third quick in the first session with a 4.214-second elapsed time pass at 270.48 mph and ended up 12th based on his first run after losing traction on his second attempt.