Two Provisional Top-Five Qualifying Runs for Mopar at Gateway Motorsports Park
· Mopar drivers are racing for title wins this weekend at the third annual AAA Insurance National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Midwest Nationals near St. Louis
· Allen Johnson paces the HEMI-powered Mopars with a provisional fifth place spot in Pro Stock qualifying aboard the Magneti Marelli Dodge Dart
· Tommy Johnson Jr. is the best of the Don Schumacher Racing Dodge Charger R/T drivers with the fifth quickest pass in Funny Car qualifying at Gateway Motorsports Park
· Mopar Express Lane Driver Matt Hagan is provisionally sixth following an explosive end to his first pass in Funny Car qualifying
Madison, Illinois (Sept. 26, 2014) – The third stop for the six-event playoff series known as the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) “Countdown to the Championship” has the Mopar’s drivers and teams racing this weekend in the shadow of the Gateway Arch at the third annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals near St. Louis, Missouri.
Allen Johnson, No.1 Pro Stock qualifier at Gateway Motorsports Park in 2013, was the quickest Mopar after two qualifying sessions aboard his “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” Dodge Dart to put him in the provisional fifth spot. Johnson posted a 6.549 second lap at 211.43 miles per hour on his first pass and improved to a 6.537/212.13 on his second. With his first qualifying lap of the event in the JEGS.com Dodge Dart, Jeg Coughlin Jr. was within one-thousandths of a second from his Mopar teammate in sixth spot with a 6.550/211.73 but wasn’t able to improve on it with his second lap and dropped to the eighth spot.
Mopar driver V. Gaines, racing his Dodge Avenger after a racing incident to start the Countdown in Charlotte, North Carolina, destroyed his Dodge Dart, had trouble on the launch on both his Friday qualifying runs and sits in the 16th spot with a 7.097/203.16. The fourth HEMI-powered driver in the field, Deric Kramer posted a 6.602/208.88 and sits 15th behind the wheel of his Dodge Avenger. The provisional Pro Stock top spot is being held by Erica Enders-Stevens who set the low elapsed time pass at 5.513 /212.90 with her first run.
Friday’s Funny Car qualifying efforts by the quartet of Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) Dodge Charger R/T drivers saw Tommy Johnson Jr. lead his Mopar teammates with a 4.053-second pass at 315.78 mph for the fifth position on the qualifying time sheets. Johnson Jr. is working to score a second win this season in his Make-A-Wish Mopar in order to move up from his current fifth place standing in the points and make a run for the top spot in championship.
DSR’s Matt Hagan, who kicked off the Countdown with a Carolina Nationals title win, was last year’s No.1 Funny Car qualifier at Gateway Motorsports Park and was looking to start the weekend off with a bang in his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T. The HEMI-powered driver may have taken that expression a bit too literally with an explosive end to his first venture down the track in qualifying. Hagan lost the body of his racecar near the finish line after losing power, but had a strong return for his evening run with another Mopar Express Lane body and ran a 407.5/313.95 to put him in the provisional sixth spot.
Right behind his two Mopar teammates in the seventh spot is Jack Beckman with his best effort of 4.078/311.49 in the second session. In the provisional tenth place qualifying spot sits Ron Capps who is third in the Countdown points standings coming in this weekend’s event. He had the fourth quickest time of the first session with a 4.138/293.73 pass, but after a move towards the center line on his second run, he’ll look to Saturday’s two remaining qualifying session to make some improvements.
The final Dodge Charger R/T trying to make the field is Jeff Arend who sits 16th with a 5.178/147.01 after two passes. The provisional Funny Car No.1 qualifier position was earned with a 4.022 elapsed time run at 319.52 mph by John Force.
An hour and a half of qualifying highlights from the third annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals will be broadcast on ESPN2 on Sunday, Sept. 28, at 3:30 a.m. (ET). Three hours of elimination round coverage from Gateway Motorsports Park, the third stop in four consecutive weekend NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series national events and the third of the six-event playoff series referred to as the “Countdown to the Championship”, will air Sunday evening starting at 8:30 p.m. (ET).