Mopar’s Father and Son Team Working Towards a Memorable Father’s Day at Bristol

Mopar’s Father and Son Team Working Towards a Memorable Father’s Day at Bristol
·         Mopar competes at 13th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, the tenth of 24 national events
·         Johnson has earned three consecutive No. 1 qualifier honors at Bristol Dragway, his home track, but a Pro Stock win has eluded him
·         In 2012, Johnson finished runner-up in the closest finish in NHRA history, decided by less than .0000-second
·         Johnson hoping to celebrate Father’s Day with the gift of a win for his father
·         Ron Capps is defending Funny Car winner for Mopar at Bristol
·         Hagan leads Funny Car Championship points; All four DSR entries now in Top-5 in points


Bristol, Tenn. (Friday, June 14, 2013) – This Father’s Day weekend the Mopar contingency will compete in the 13th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway, but for Pro Stock driver Allen Johnson it is anything but an ordinary race weekend.  While he and his Mopar team’s engine builder and father Roy Johnson, have a plethora of good memories at the Greenville, Tenn.-native’s home track, they are hoping to add one more special one this Sunday.


While both men have won sportsman races as drivers at Bristol Dragway and their Pro1 Mopar Dodge Avenger has earned three consecutive No. 1 qualifier honors, a Pro Stock win has eluded them. The father and son team came as close to their first professional win at their home track as is actually technically possible in last year’s final round of eliminations by finishing runner-up to Mike Edwards in the closest finish in NHRA history, a race that was decided by less than .0000 of a second.


“I wasn’t horribly disappointed losing last year in the closest side-by-side final round in NHRA history,” said Allen Johnson who will run for the first time in front of hometown fans as the defending NHRA Pro Stock World Champion. “It was certainly a little disappointing, but it was an exciting finish for the fans and teams alike and you can’t be disappointed about that. We were just on the wrong side of the bullet there. It was a great race and we knew it would be. We almost got it done and that fueled us for the rest of the year and we are hoping to do the same thing this year, but come away with a win and fuel us for the championship race.”


The elder Johnson has had two big wins in a Mopar as a driver at Bristol Dragway in the early 1970s in IHRA Stock and Super Stock classes. The younger Johnson’s sole victory at Bristol was earned in 1981 competing in the Super Stock class as a teenager aboard his father’s 1971 Dodge Challenger with a 340 cubic inch wedge engine (SS3FA).


“He did that motor all by himself,” Roy Johnson recounted proudly as he reminisced about how he made his son work on his own engine. “Allen ground and fit every bit of it. He worked hard on that car and earned that win but not without a little bit of luck. He actually red lighted in the first elimination round but his competitor failed technical inspection because the car was too light and Allen was back in and went on to win it all. It was his first major win right here at home in Bristol.”


For Christmas four years ago, Johnson bought his father a 2009 Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak which Roy took to Bristol Dragway the following May for his first runs behind the wheel in nearly 30 years posting a best elapsed time pass of 10.65-seconds at 125.95 mph.


After working 17 years alongside his father, Johnson believes celebrating Father’s day at their home track in front of their hometown friends and family is only fitting.


“It’s Father’s Day and racing with my father and being close to my father, and try to win this race is a special incentive,” said Johnson as he recalled some of his favorite highlights in racing together so far including their first pro win and their crowning achievement, the 2012 NHRA Pros Stock World Championship. “It would have to be the first one in Richmond together in ’99, and then the championship last year at the banquet when I brought him on stage and it was pretty emotional for both of us. That’s just something you’ll never forget. We almost lost him in 2009 [to a heart attack] and to come back and have the success we did last year was incredible and means the world to me. Winning with my father at Bristol is the next item on our bucket list.  We almost got it done for the family, friends, employees last year and there is no doubt it would be special for everyone including the hometown fans.”


Johnson is third in the championship points standings with 698 points, right on the heels of his Mopar teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. who is in second spot with 701 points on the strength of a win and three final round appearances. Coughlin has a Pro Stock win to his credit at the storied race track, earned after securing the No. 1 qualifier position in 2007. HEMI®-powered drivers Vincent Nobile and V. Gaines are sixth and ninth in the points respectively.


Don Schumacher Racing’s Mopar Funny Car driver Ron Capps is the defending winner with a total of three wins at Thunder Valley. His teammate and new points leader Matt Hagan is looking for his first victory at Bristol to add to his stats sheet after earning two No. 1 qualifier spots and two wins in four final round appearances this season in the “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” Dodge Charger R/T.  


Challenging Hagan in the second spot of the championship rankings is another Mopar teammate Johnny Gray, who has three wins in what has already been a highly-successful 2013 retirement tour. Gray has dedicated his final year behind the wheel to honoring his father, the late John R. Gray, and carries his father’s likeness on the quarter panel of his striking Pitch Energy Dodge. This Father’s Day weekend, the longtime drag racer sees no better way to honor his dad’s memory than to put the car in the winner’s circle on Sunday.


Also looking to score his first win at Bristol is defending Funny Car World Champion Jack Beckman who is fifth in the points, just one point behind teammate Capps, which puts all four Don Schumacher Racing Mopar entries in the top-five in the hunt for the 2013 NHRA championship.