Johnson Earns 35th Career No. 1 Pro Stock Qualifier Position in Preparation for NHRA Northwest Nationals
· Allen Johnson secures his 35th career No.1 qualifier position at 27th annual National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Northwest Nationals
· Johnson posted the quickest elapsed time runs in all four qualifying sessions at Pacific Raceways
· Defending Funny Car title holder Hagan is No. 3 qualifier and top Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) Mopar on the elimination ladder
Kent, Washington (Aug 2, 2014) – Mopar driver Allen Johnson earned his 35th career No. 1 qualifier position at the 27th annual National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways near Seattle, Washington, and was quickest in all four qualifying session in preparation Sunday’s elimination rounds.
Johnson took the “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” Dodge Dart straight to the top of the Pro Stock eliminations ladder with his first qualifying lap on Friday by posting an elapsed time run of 6.535-second at 211.86 mile per hour and then posted the top times in each subsequent session to earn all 12 bonus points and earn his fourth pole position of the season. With just 15 Pro Stock entries qualified for eliminations, the No. 1 qualifier will get a bye in the first round. While Johnson’s only win in Seattle came in 2006, this year’s goal to return to the winner’s circle isn’t merely for a 25th career Wally trophy, but to finish up the three event NHRA western swing with the Pro Stock points lead.
“The Mopar guys did an awesome job to give me a very consistent race car, with low e.t. in all four rounds, to give me some important points heading into eliminations and the chance to take the points lead with round wins, so the rest is up to me,” Johnson said. “That last round the race track was probably more representative of what we will see tomorrow so I feel like we have a real solid race car. If we can be low e.t. every round tomorrow and the driver can do his job we have a real good chance to get it done.”
Runner-up at last year’s edition, reigning NHRA Pro Stock World Champ Jeg Coughlin Jr. will be seeded fourth for eliminations after he drove his Dodge Dart to a 6.553 sec / 210.97 pass on Friday after his JEGS.com crew worked through some issues with the Mopar from the previous race at Sonoma Raceway. Saturday’s first qualifying session didn’t go quite as planned and an engine change was made for the final run.
“It looked very promising the first couple runs but this morning, we tried something a little different and it didn’t like that at all,” said Coughlin. “We ended up putting a fresh motor in for the last run, and it hooked real hard and drove out left and I looked like I was on a Sunday drive. Allen’s (Johnson) car has run really well. It’s been glued to the track. We’ll certainly migrate in that direction and that’s the advantage of having a two-car team. I feel confident we’ll get our hot rod tuned-up and go A to B real efficiently.”
Coughlin will see 13th seed Larry Morgan as his first round opponent.
Fellow HEMI-powered Dodge Dart driver V. Gaines, runner-up finisher at Sonoma Raceway last week, was the sixth quickest run in qualifying with a 6.561 /211.10 pass to find himself matched-up against the Dodge Avenger of Matt Hartford who was 11th with his 6.597/ 210.67 effort. Fellow Dodge Avenger driver Deric Kramer was 12th on the score sheets (6.615 / 209.39) and will face off against fifth seed, Greg Anderson.
Defending Funny Car title winner at the NHRA Northwest Nationals, Matt Hagan put his 50th anniversary HEMI tribute Dodge Charger R/T in the No.3 spot on the eliminations ladder, his best qualifying effort of the season, with the second elapsed time run of 4.100 sec /302.41 mph he posted on Friday. The Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) driver posted a 4.111 (302.69 mph) and a 4.130 second (291.38 mph) run in the final two sessions in preparation for Sunday’s elimination rounds which will begin against 14th seed, Terry Haddock.
“We have a real good hot rod right now,” said Hagan who is looking for a second win this season. “We’ve been down the race track a bunch of times and it’s running good in the heat. The race day conditions are going to be similar to what we saw out here today and I’m really excited. We’re hitting our stride at the right time and getting some momentum going for the Countdown. But first, I’d like to give these guys a trophy to close out the “Western Swing.” Everything is really coming together nice out here so I feel pretty good about our chances on Sunday.”
The No. 1 qualifier position was secured by John Force on his final pass with a 4.057 sec /308.07 mph effort.
Hagan’s DSR teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. put his Make-A-Wish Mopar in the fifth spot with consistent runs and a best e.t. pass of 4.102/ 297.94 mph. He’ll see his other DSR teammate Jack Beckman in the opening round.
Beckman, who was 12th in qualifying with a 4.156 /297.29 run, is currently 11th in points and battling for the final spot in the top-10 with three races left to make the “Countdown to the Championship” playoffs.
Sitting third in the Funny Car standings and ninth in qualifying is DSR driver Ron Capps, who had his first career win at Pacific Raceways in 1995 as a rookie. Capps drove his Dodge Charger R/T to a best pass of 4.131 / 300.53 to face the eighth seed, Cruz Pedregon, in the first round of eliminations.