Mopar Ready to Roll in Las Vegas with Two Provisional No.1 Qualifiers at NHRA Nationals
Mopar drivers and teams compete this weekend at 15th annual Summit.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Johnson hoping to add third consecutive Pro Stock title win this season, and repeat last year’s sweep of the K&N Challenge and Las Vegas National title win
Johnson and Coughlin are seeded No.1 and No.2 for the Pro Stock edition of the K&N Horsepower Challenge race within a race on Saturday
Coughlin earns provisional No.1 qualifier with second Pro Stock qualifying pass on Friday
Hagan tops both qualifying sessions to earn Funny Car provisional pole position
DSR Mopar drivers looking to turn their luck around in Las Vegas after just one final round appearance in the first three races of the season
Las Vegas (Friday, March 28) – The Mopar contingent of HEMI®-powered Dodge vehicles rolled into the staging lanes at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the SummitRacing.com National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Nationals event with the same anticipation of getting on a winning streak as most visitors hope to have at the other Strip for which the city is best known.
The one Mopar driver heading into this weekend’s action already riding a winning streak is Pro Stock driver Allen Johnson who comes in on the heels of consecutive title wins at the NHRA Nationals in Phoenix and Gainesville. Not only would he love follow up the debut victory of the “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” Dodge Dart at the Gatornationals with another trip to the winner’s circle, but he’s hoping to continue a number of streaks at a track where he has had some good success.
Johnson, the current leader in the factory hot rod standings, is also the defending winner of both the Las Vegas national title and the K&N Horsepower Challenge race-within-a-race bonus event, as well as the additional “Sweep Bonus” of $50,000 for his efforts. Johnson has won the challenge twice and is once again seeded No.1, while HEMI-powered teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. is seeded second and fellow Mopar driver V. Gaines’ qualifying points put him in the sixth spot on the ladder.
All three Mopar drivers are among eight Pro Stock entries racing for a lucrative payday in the K&N Horsepower Challenge on Saturday. The eight-racer field features the seven drivers who have accumulated the most points in qualifying since this same event last year, along with a final spot for the driver added in by a fan vote. The winner of the event will earn $50,000, and the runner-up will take home $10,000.
Adding to his odds, Johnson also holds the distinction of being the only driver in the challenge’s history to win the final round on a hole-shot using a perfect 0.000-second reaction time. That 2008 win was aboard a Dodge Stratus, while his victory, in a Dodge Avenger, at the 2013 edition was only the fourth time a Dodge had ever won the challenge (Darrell Alderman’s 1991 win was in a Dodge Daytona, while Vincent Nobile won in a Dodge Avenger in 2012). Johnson would love to add the new Dodge Dart to that list of winners at this year’s challenge.
In preparation for that battle, Coughlin, who has five wins at this track, came away with the provisional No.1 qualifying position in his new JEGS.com Mopar Dodge Dart by posting a low elapsed time pass of 6.625 seconds (208.78 mph) in Friday’s second qualifying round. Johnson put his Dodge Dart sixth with his second pass (6.632 /208.94) while HEMI-power had V. Gaines (6.657/209.07), who is second in the Pro Stock standings following two runner-up finishes to start the year, rounding out the top-10.
Looking to turn their luck around this season is the Don Schumacher Racing quartet of Dodge Charger R/T drivers who have only seen a single final round appearance this year with “Mopar Express Lane” driver Matt Hagan in the season opener. Things were looking up as Hagan (4.131 seconds / 306.74 mph) and teammate Ron Capps (4.164 / 306.19) topped the first qualifying session of the weekend. Hagan upped the ante in the second session by setting the low e.t at 4.063 seconds and fastest run of the weekend at 317.05 mph to take the provisional No.1 qualifier honours. Capps dropped to the third spot with his 4.075/ 314.61qualifying effort while Mopar teammates Jack Beckman (4.115 / 310.13) and Tommy Johnson Jr. (4.116/305.98) sit in the ninth and tenth positions with two sessions left on Saturday to set the ladder for eliminations.
Television coverage for the fourth of 24 events in the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season will be broadcast on ESPN2 with ninety minutes of qualifying highlights airing Saturday, March 29 at 8 p.m. (ET) while on Sunday, March 30, two and a half hours of eliminations action will be broadcast starting at 11 p.m. (ET).