Mopar Ready to Bet on Fast Runs at NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas
Mopar takes on the Summit.com NHRA Nationals at Las Vegas after earning four title wins in first three events of the season
Mopar’s ‘Express Lane’ makes debut on Johnson’s Dodge Avenger at NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas
Allen Johnson is the defending Pro Stock winner at Las Vegas
All four Mopar entries among eight Pro Stock drivers qualified for K&N Horsepower Challenge race within a race
Mopar leads Funny Car standings with a tie between Ron Capps and Johnny Gray each with a win
Mopar is 2nd, 3rd, and 4th in Pro Stock Championship standings with Coughlin, Johnson & Nobile
Las Vegas (Friday, April 5) – Plenty of action on the docket for Mopar teams and drivers at this weekend’s SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the fourth of 24 events in the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season. Mopar is riding high and fast after earning four title wins, two in Pro Stock as well as Funny Car, in first three events of the year, all of which had a Mopar versus Mopar final elimination (2 PS and 2 FC).
Defending Pro Stock winner of the fall event, Allen Johnson not only brings a new car to the track after testing it this past week at Rockingham, N.C. but is also sporting a fresh new look with Mopar’s “Express Lane Fast Oil Changes & More” message. Currently more than 800 Chrysler Group dealerships provide a dedicated Express Lane to provide fast service and convenient light maintenance without the need of an appointment.
Heading into this event, Mopar drivers Jeg Coughlin Jr., Johnson & Vincent Nobile are second, third, and forth in Pro Stock Championship standings. Coughlin is hoping to press his Dodge Avenger and his luck in Las Vegas in order to join his teammates in earning a Wally after he finished runner-up to each one in Pomona (Nobile) and Gainesville (Johnson).
So far so good in Friday’s qualifying rounds as Coughlin posted an elapsed time of 6.655 second (207.34 mph) to place second to the low e.t of 6.651 set by rival Mike Edwards (207.98mph). Johnson put his Dodge Avenger third with a run of 6.672 (207.21 mph) with teammate Nobile is in ninth spot (6.697 / 206.54) while HEMI-power had V.Gaines (6.702/206.64) rounding out the top-10.
All four Mopar drivers are among the eight Pro Stock entries that will also be racing for a lucrative payday in the K&N Horsepower Challenge, race-within-a-race bonus event, on Saturday. The eight-racer field features the seven drivers who have accumulated the most points in qualifying since this same event in 2012, along with a final spot for the driver who collects the most fan votes.
For the first time in his career, Johnson will lead the K&N Horsepower Challenge field as No.1 seed while HEMI-powered Vincent Nobile, seeded sixth, is the defending winner of last year’s race. V. Gaines qualifying points gave him the seventh place entry while Jeg Coughlin Jr is the eighth driver thanks to being voted in by NHRA fans. The winner of the event will earn $50,000, and the runner-up will take home $10,000. As the top seed of the event, Johnson will face off against Coughlin in the opening round.
In Funny Car qualifying action, Johnny Gray was the best of the Don Schumacher Racing Mopar entries with a third place effort of 4.107 seconds (309.42 mph) while teammate Matt Hagan put his ‘Magneti Marelli offered by Mopar’ Dodge Charger R/T in fourth spot with a pass of 4.115 sec / 306.53 mph. Fellow DSR driver Ron Capps is currently qualified in fifth place (4.133 /302.55) just ahead of teammate Jack Beckman (4.158 /297.16). Competitor Robert Height paced the field with a low e.t. of 4.053 seconds at 315.19 mph.
Mopar leads the Funny Car Championship standings with a tie between Capps and Gray, who each have a win. Hagan has been off to a strong start with a final-round appearance at Gatornationals and currently sits fourth in standings while 2012 NHRA Champ Beckman is in ninth place.
Television coverage of the NHRA Nationals from Las Vegas will be broadcast on ESPN2 and ESPN2HD with two hours of qualifying highlights airing Saturday, April 6, at 8 p.m. (ET) while on Sunday, April 7, three hours of eliminations action will be featured starting at 11 p.m. (ET).