Johnson Qualifies Second in Pro Stock at Home Track;
Beckman, Hagan Second and Third in Funny Car at Bristol
· Johnson second in Pro Stock qualifying at Bristol Dragway in front of hometown fans at 13th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals
· Beckman and Hagan qualify second and third for Mopar in Funny Car
· Beckman sets track record at Bristol with a speed of 317.05 mph and his best run of the year
· Last year at Bristol, 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 and engine builder Roy Johnson
· Johnson and Coughlin Jr. tied for second in points heading into final eliminations on Sunday
Bristol, Tenn. (Saturday, June 15, 2013) – Following four rounds of qualifying, the field is set for the Father’s Day edition of the 13th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway on Sunday. Hometown favorite Allen Johnson qualified his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Avenger second on the strength of his best elapsed time on Friday night of 6.645 seconds and a top speed of 207.85 mph while his nemesis Mike Edwards earned his ninth No.1 qualifier position of the season with a 6.632-second e.t. (208.23 mph). In Funny Car, Don Schumacher Racing teammates Jack Beckman and Matt Hagan were the top Mopar Funny Car qualifiers in second and third place respectively.
While Johnson would have liked to have posted a No.1 qualifying position for a fourth year in a row at his home track, he’s keeping things in perspective.
“We were trying to go for it that last run and sort of over powered the track but for the weekend we have to feel good about it as we closed the gap on Mike [Edwards] still a little more and I think we have a great car for race day,” said Johnson who will face Lewis Worden in the first round of eliminations.
A title win at Bristol has eluded Johnson and after finishing runner-up to Edwards last year by less than .0000 of a second in the closest finish in NHRA history, he would love a rematch. Gifting a national title to his dad and engine builder Roy Johnson on Father’s Day on the quarter-mile strip in front of hometown fans, family and friends is definitely the goal.
“It’s Father’s Day (on Sunday) and I’m going to have extra motivation because I have my dad here by my side, but I think we have a great hot rod, we know this track, and the team is doing such a great job so we have high hopes.”
While Johnson would like to put his competitor’s streak of four consecutive wins at Thunder Valley to an end himself, maximum points would also help the defending NHRA Pro Stock World Champion gain some ground in the points battle which is currently at the half way point of the regular season. Following qualifying, Johnson finds himself tied for second place with his Mopar teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr., trailing Edwards in the lead by 164 points.
Coughlin for his part qualified sixth with a best run of 6.661-seconds at 206.73 mph in the third round, putting him up against Rickie Jones for a first round match-up.
“We had three great runs and one good run out of the four sessions,” said Coughlin, who showed consistency with consecutive runs of 6.664 seconds (206.67 mph), 6.670 (206.32 mph), 6.661 (206.73 mph) and 6.689 (206.92 mph) . “The fastest session last night, for some reason we were scratching our heads after that run. We couldn’t really put a finger on why we didn’t perform like we wanted to, but that’s the sport of drag racing. You’ve just got to analyze your data and get to work.”
The HEMI®-powered Dodge of Vincent Nobile was 12th on the qualifying sheets and will face Jason Line in the opening round of eliminations while V. Gaines qualified ninth and matches up with Rodger Brogdon.
In Funny Car, defending NHRA World Champ Beckman earned the No. 2 qualifier position for the Don Schumacher Racing team with a 4.012-second pass on Friday night to post his best run of the year in his Mopar and set a Bristol track record with a speed of 317.05 mph. He’ll face Blake Alexander as his first round opponent.
Hagan, who is coming off the his second title win of the season with a victory at the preceding event in Englishtown aboard the “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” Dodge Charger R/T and is the current Funny Car championship points leader, secured the third spot in qualifying on Friday evening with a 4.049-second pass at 317 mph to face off against Tony Pedregon. His fellow DSR teammate Ron Capps was fifth quickest for a match-up against Chad Head, while Johnny Gray, second in points, qualified his Mopar tenth and will see Bob Tasca in the opening round of eliminations.