Johnson Drives Mopar to Provisional Pro Stock No.1 at NHRA Route 66 Nationals
· Allen Johnson is provisional No.1 Pro Stock qualifier at 17th annual Route 66 NHRA Nationals in Joliet, Illinois, near Chicago
· Defending Pro Stock title holder, Jeg Coughlin Jr. puts his Dodge Dart third in Friday qualifying and has most wins (5) of any active driver at Route 66 Raceway
· Tommy Johnson Jr. continues hot streak as top Mopar and second quickest in Funny Car qualifying
Joliet, Illinois (Friday, June 27) – With either a Pro Stock or Funny Car title win at each of the last five National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) national events, Mopar teams and drivers seemed particularly motivated to keep that streak alive with their efforts in Friday qualifying for the 17th annual Route 66 NHRA Nationals in Joliet, Illinois, near Chicago.
Allen Johnson drove his “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” Dodge Dart to the top of the time sheets in both Friday Pro Stock qualifying sessions to take the provisional No.1 qualifier position with the quickest elapsed time run of 6.574 seconds at 209.43 miles per hour.
“The track cooled off 25-30 degrees and this track is one of the best racing surfaces on the tour, and that parlayed into just really ‘getting after’ it down in first gear,” said Johnson who has two No.1 qualifier positions this season and hoping to hold on to his provisional one through Saturday. “The Mopar Magneti Marelli team just hit it perfect on that run. There was nothing left. We made two of probably the best runs we’ve made this year. We’ve been a little inconsistent from time to time so maybe we are starting our run of consistency.”
While weather conditions call for heat and humidity throughout the weekend, Johnson won’t be complaining.
“The HEMI (engines) seem to come to life in the humidity and we like these kinds of conditions. It’s going to be hot and muggy all weekend and we’ll take it.”
The defending title holder at Route 66 Raceway, Jeg Coughlin Jr. was close behind his Mopar teammate posting with the third quickest run of the day at 6.604 seconds (209.04 mph) in the JEGS.com Dodge Dart. Coughlin qualified third last year and went on to drive to his fifth win at this track, the most of any active NHRA driver for this national event.
Coming into this event, Coughlin and Johnson are second and third, respectively, in the Pro Stock championship standings with just 13 points separating them, and chasing their opponent and category leader Eric Enders-Stevens, who has a 187 point lead.
Fellow HEMI-powered driver, V. Gaines, who has two runner-up finishes so far this season, rounded out the top-12 provisional spots with an e.t. of 6.643 seconds (209.01 mph) aboard his Dodge Dart.
Funny Car title winners at the last two NHRA national events, Don Schumacher Racing drivers Tommy Johnson Jr. and Ron Capps, were the top Mopars in Friday qualifying with the second and third quickest runs overall.
Johnson earned a bonus point with his first pass and then bettered his time on the cooler evening track surface by posting a 4.038 second elapsed time run at 318.32 mph for a provisional No.2 qualifier position and two extra points.
Last week’s title winner, Ron Capps took his Dodge Charger R/T for a 4.040-second ride at 312.50 mph for the third spot on the timing sheets, while DSR teammate Jack Beckman joined him in the top-five by taking his HEMI-powered machine on an e.t. run of 4.048 seconds at 315.64 mph for the provisional fifth place position.
After the first session, Matt Hagan was second quickest in the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T with a 4.095-second pass at 311.92 mph to take home two valuable bonus points. In his second attempt, Hagan was ahead of eventual provisional No.1 qualifier, Robert Hight (4.026/317.64) at the 300 ft. mark in the adjacent lane, but had to back off the throttle and settle for a tenth place provisional spot.