Mopar Staged for the First Eliminations Battle of the “Countdown to the Championship” at the NHRA Carolina Nationals
Sunday’s eliminations rounds at the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Carolina Nationals is the first of the six-event playoff “Countdown to the Championship”
Matt Hagan paces the Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) Dodge Charger R/T Funny Cars as No.3 qualifier for NHRA Carolina Nationals
Allen Johnson Racing leads the HEMI-powered Dodge Dart factory hot rods with a fifth place spot on the Pro Stock eliminations ladder
Sportsman racer Dave Thomas scores Stock Eliminator class win with his 2011 Challenger Drag Pak
Concord, North Carolina (Sept. 13, 2014) – Mopar drivers and teams completed final qualifying at the seventh annual Pep Boys National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Carolina Nationals, the first national event of the six-race playoff series called the “Countdown to the Championship”, with Matt Hagan pacing his Don Schumacher Racing teammates as No.3 qualifier in Funny Car while Allen Johnson led his HEMI-powered Dodge Dart colleagues with a fifth place spot on the Pro Stock eliminations ladder.
After Friday’s Funny Car qualifying sessions saw the DSR Mopars sweep the top three provisional spots with Hagan, Ron Capps and Jack Beckman, Saturday’s two sessions mixed things up a bit. The Mopar Express Lane /Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T wasn’t able to improve on its 4.114-second run at 304.25 mph from the previous day, dropping Hagan into the third spot on the eliminations ladder as competitor Alexis DeJoria posted a 4.090/300.53 to steal away the No.1 qualifier position. Hagan had the third quickest run in the final session with a 4.164/300.66 to give him a total of four qualifying bonus points in his efforts to move up from his seventh place spot in the Countdown standings. He will have lane choice over Tony Pedregon for the first round of eliminations at zMax Dragway.
Capps, who gained two valuable bonus points in qualifying and sits third in the Countdown, will start Sunday’s eliminations from the fifth place spot on the ladder after he was unable to improve on his best run of 4.123/297.35. That will put him in a first round eliminations match-up against his HEMI-powered teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. who is ranked fifth in the Countdown standings.
Johnson Jr. was quickest of the DSR Mopar machines in final qualifying by posting a 4.437/204.11 lap to put him eighth in the session, but his best effort of 4.185/292.77 put him 12th overall on the ladder.
Beckman, who missed making the playoffs when he failed to dislodge Tim Wilkerson from the tenth and final spot for the Countdown, will face his nemesis in the first round of eliminations after ending up sixth on the ladder with his best qualifying pass of 4.124/305.22.
The final two Pro Stock qualifying sessions saw Allen Johnson pace his fellow Dodge Dart drivers by improving his elapsed time to a 6.595/209.79 on his first pass of the day to put him fifth on the eliminations ladder below No.1 qualifier Erica Enders-Stevens (6.591/210.11) who posted the lowest elapsed time run in every session. Johnson and his “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” factory hot rod will see fellow HEMI-powered driver V. Gaines, who qualified 12th with a best run of 6.632/208.78, as his first round opponent.
Fellow Johnson & Johnson HEMI-powered teammate and defending Pro Stock title winner at the Carolina Nationals, Jeg Coughlin Jr. posted the second quickest time in the final qualifying session with a 6.604/209.23 run, but wasn’t able to improve on his 6.602/209.33 pass from Friday, putting him seventh on the eliminations ladder for Sunday’s battle for the Wally trophy. The JEGS.com Mopar will have lane choice over competitor Greg Anderson in the opening round of eliminations.
A notable victory in Sportsman racing at the NHRA Carolina Nationals was earned by Dave Thomas of West Chester, Pennsylvania, who drove his 2011 Mopar Challenger (512) Drag Pak to a Stock Eliminator class win with a 9.835 second elapsed time run at 140.91 mph by defeating the COPO Camaro of Jeff Myers of Decatur, Indiana and his 9.993/142.10 pass.