Mopar Ready to Roll at NHRA Carolina Nationals and the ‘Countdown to the Championship’
· 6th annual Carlyle Tools Carolina Nationals at zMax Dragway is the 19th of 24 NHRA events
· The Carolina Nationals is the first of six NHRA playoff events in the ‘Countdown to the Championship’
· Hagan paces the Mopars with a sub four-second run for the provisional second place spot in Funny Car qualifying
· Hagan, Capps, Gray and Beckman start 1-2-3-5 in the Countdown standings
· Johnson, Coughlin and Nobile get the Countdown started in 2-3-4 in Pro Stock standings
· Gaines in eighth but is on a hot streak with three final round appearances in the last 5 events (Denver, Brainerd, Indy)
· Mopar –powered Pro Stock drivers have advanced to the final round in 8 consecutive events leading up to the playoffs
Concord, N.C. (Friday, September 13, 2013) – A new season begins for Mopar teams and drivers this weekend at the 6th annual Carlyle Tools NHRA Carolina Nationals, the first of the six-event playoff series called the “Countdown to the Championship”. Following the last regular season event of the year at the 59th annual U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, the championship points were reset to help bunch up the top ten candidates in each professional category vying for a NHRA world title and setting the stage for an exciting showdown. Mopar Dodge drivers are at, or very near, the top of those standings in both the Funny Car and Pro Stock classes entering the playoffs.
All four Don Schumacher Racing Mopars begin the battle in the top five Funny Car positions with Matt Hagan leading the fray in his “Magneti Marelli Quality Auto Parts Offered by Mopar” / Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T. His teammates Ron Capps and Johnny Gray are hot on his heels in second and third place, along with defending Funny Car World Champion Jack Beckman rounding things out in fifth spot.
In Pro Stock competition, the 2012 World Champion Allen Johnson is within striking distance of the leader with his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Avenger as second seed in the Countdown, while his teammates Jeg Coughlin Jr. and Vincent Nobile are breathing down his neck in third and fourth place respectively. The HEMI-powered Dodge of V. Gaines, while sitting in eighth place, has been on a hot streak as of late, cutting a perfect 0.00 second reaction time in eliminations at Indianapolis and making three final elimination appearances (Denver, Brainerd, Indy) in the last five events. Mopar –powered Pro Stock drivers have advanced to the final round in 8 consecutive events leading up to the playoffs.
“This is the most pressure-packed time of the season but it’s also the most fulfilling and rewarding if you can find some success,” said four-time Pro Stock champ Coughlin who is hoping to get things going in that direction by taking his JEGS.com Mopar to the winner’s circle at Charlotte for the first time, only one three venues he has yet to earn a victory. “The Countdown does everything a playoff format is supposed to do; it stacks all the fun into the end of the year. We’ve got six races to make it happen.”
To start things off at zMax Dragway, Hagan followed up the second quickest run of the first Funny Car session with a sub four-second pass (3.992 seconds / 320.58 mph) in the cooler Friday evening conditions to pace his Mopar teammates and remain in second place and earn four valuable bonus points after two qualifying runs. Competitor Cruz Pedregon stole the provisional pole from him with a 3.980 e.t (319.22 mph). Gray was tenth on the strength of his first run (4.093 sec / 308.14 mph) after hazing the tires in the evening session. Beckman endured a similar fate and was right behind in 11th (4.099 sec / 309.91 mph), while Capps was on the outside looking in 14th place after his two difficult sessions.
In Pro Stock, Nobile topped the first session to earn three bonus points, but by the end of the day it was Coughlin (6.552 sec /210.31 mph) who led the Mopar contingent with a provisional fourth place spot in qualifying. Johnson was close behind with the fifth quickest run of the day posting an e.t. of 6.555 sec (211.06 mph). Gaines and Nobile ended up seventh and eighth while adversary Jason Line (6.541 sec / 211.86 mph) earned the provisional No.1 qualifier position.