Mopar’s Johnson Earns No.1 Qualifier for Second Consecutive Year at Norwalk
· Mopar is competing at seventh annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals this weekend in Norwalk, Ohio. the 13th of 24 national events
· Johnson earns first No.1 qualifier honors of the season; second at Norwalk in consecutive years
· Capps is third as top Mopar Funny Car qualifier in his 400th NHRA national event
Norwalk, Ohio (Saturday, July 6, 2013) – Mopar’s Pro Stock driver and defending NHRA world champion, Allen Johnson has earned his first No.1 qualifier honor of the 2013 season in the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Avenger at the seventh annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals. Johnson’s second top qualifier position at the Norwalk track in consecutive years was posted with an elapsed time pass of 6.592 seconds (209.75 mph) on his second qualifying run in Friday evening’s unseasonably cool track conditions, a time that held through two more qualifying sessions on Saturday in warmer and more humid conditions, to give him his 29th career pole position.
“Last year we ran really well here and our Mopar Express Lane Dodge just loves this track,” said Johnson who has three wins this season and who’s previous No.1 qualifying effort was last fall in Dallas during the Countdown to the Championship. “More importantly we’re gaining on [points leader] Mike Edwards a little bit and I think we made some progress performance-wise as well. The last few races we’ve pretty much matched him engine-wise and we’re figuring out some things on the car. We had one good run and one not so great today but I think you’ll see pretty close to the same conditions on Sunday. We’ve got a pretty good set-up and we feel good about it.”
With only 15 entries qualified for eliminations at Summit Motorsports Park, Johnson will get a ‘bye’ in the first round but he knows that every single run is going to be important if he is going to defend his championship crown.
It’s going to be a knockdown, drag-out battle through to the end of this season,” Johnson added as this weekend’s event launches the second half of the season with just six more titles up for grabs before the start of the Countdown to the Championship. “This is what I call ‘getting after it’ time. Hopefully we can do well and keep pushing to try and secure that No. 1 position going into the playoffs.”
Johnson’s Mopar teammate and winner of last week’s national title in Chicago, Jeg Coughlin Jr. has never won at Norwalk, his home track, but is hoping to change that this weekend after qualifying third with a 6.614-second run (208.91mph).
“I feel great running here,” said Coughlin who had also qualified third on route to winning the “Wally” trophy last weekend. “I love racing at this track. The fans are great, and I have made a lot of runs here in my career. There’s nothing more I’d like to do than make four rounds here tomorrow and turn the win light on in the final to boot.”
Coughlin’s JEGS.com /Mopar Dodge Avenger, which is sporting a unique JEGS Racing for Cancer Research Foundation ribbon on the hood this weekend to mark their 10th anniversary and their recent $10 million gift to the Ohio State University Foundation’s Project One, will line up in the first round of eliminations against Steve Spiess.
V. Gaines was fourth overall with his Dodge entry on the qualifying scoring sheets after posting a 6.616 second e.t. (209.56 mph) to put him up against first round opponent Kenny Delco.
Last year’s Pro Stock title winner at Norwalk, Vincent Nobile, qualified his HEMI-powered Dodge in sixth spot with a 6.629 second pass (208.75 mph) and will face Steve Kent in the first round of Sunday’s eliminations.
In Funny Car action, Don Schumacher Racing’s Ron Capps was the top Mopar qualifier with his third place effort in qualifying for his 400th career NHRA national event. The top position was held by John Force with track record run on Friday night of 4.021 seconds (317.72mph) while Capps set his best time of 4.040 seconds (316.82 mph) in the same session but held on to that third spot through Saturday qualifying to face Jeff Arend as his the first round opponent in eliminations.
DSR teammate Johnny Gray qualified his Dodge Charger R/T fourth with a 4.061-second, 312.64 mph run to face Alexis DeJoria in the opening round.
Last week’s national title winner in Chicago, Matt Hagan, continued to produce consistent runs in his “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar”/ Rocky Boots machine to qualify sixth with an e.t. of 4.071 seconds (313.29 mph) and will battle Tony Pedregon in his first round match. Defending NHRA Funny Car world champion, Jack Beckman was ninth with a 4.100 second (308.92 mph) pass to set him up against Cruz Pedregon.