Mopar Racing–Mopar Drivers Geared-Up for NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Home on Father’s Day

Mopar Drivers Geared-Up for NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Home on Father’s Day

Allen Johnson and “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” Dodge Dart follow up two runner-up finishes with provisional fourth place spot in qualifying for 15th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals
Johnson looking to win at home with his engine tuner and dad Roy on Father’s Day at Bristol Dragway
Reigning Funny Car Champ and points leader Matt Hagan puts Don Schumacher Racing 2015 Mopar Express Lane Dodge third in provisional qualifying at his home race
Richie Stevens and his Dodge Dart back on track as teammate to Allen Johnson at Bristol Dragway

Bristol, Tennessee (Friday, June 19, 2015) – Coming off two runner-up finishes at the last two National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) events, Allen Johnson came home to Bristol Dragway and kicked off the Thunder Valley Nationals with a better start to a race weekend than he has had in the first ten races this year, making two passes that have him in the provisional fourth place spot on the Pro Stock eliminations ladder.

The local favorite, whose Mopar team had been battling issues stemming from a change of fuel and tires for the class since the start of the season, is feeling good about the improvements they have made and the two final round appearances at Englishtown, New Jersey, and Epping, New Hampshire in the last two weeks. And it couldn’t have come at a better time — He’s racing in front of his home crowd this Father’s Day weekend and working to give his dad Roy a win that has eluded them for 15 years.

Johnson and the HEMI-powered Dodge Dart, tuned by his dad Roy, was fourth quickest in both Friday qualifying sessions with an elapsed time run of 6.678 seconds at 206.83 mile per hour (mph) on the first run, and a 6.658/205.94 on the second.

“That’s the best start we’ve had all year, so it’s something to build on,” said Johnson. “The guys are doing a great job on the Magneti Marelli Dodge Dart. Dad and the engine guys are doing a great job getting this thing adapted to the new fuel, and the car guys are getting it down the track correctly. We’ve gained on it a bunch the last two races, and I’m not sure we’re 100 percent, but we’re getting close.”

For a sixth straight year the Thunder Valley Nationals take place on Father’s Day, and Johnson would like nothing more than to give his dad that win as a gift. While both father and son have won at Bristol Dragway as sportsman racers, a Pro Stock win at their home track has eluded them. Roy had two wins in the early 1970s in Stock and Super Stock classes, while Allen won a Super Stock race at home in 1981.

This is the 20th season that the duo has been racing in the NHRA pro ranks and this will be their 15th attempt at a title win at their home track. They came as close as you can possibly get to a win without leaving with a Wally in 2012 on their way to their first NHRA Pro Stock World Championship when they were part of the closest finish in NHRA history, finishing runner-up by less than .0000 of a second to Mike Edwards.

“We’ve gotten close,” Johnson said. “First and foremost it would be a great way to give your father a present, but there’s a lot more history here at Bristol, our home track, than anyone knows. It’s where my dad got his first big win and it’s where I got my first big win in the sportsman ranks growing up. It’s where he really got his teeth into racing while racing stock eliminator back in the late ’60s and early ’70s. I was just playing around on wagons and bikes on the pits watching him. There’s a lot of rich history here, also.

“It would be special to do it together here and to enjoy the benefits of having our family and friends here to see it,” added Johnson who is also looking to score his first win of the season. “This year has been a tough year so far, and it even brings out some more feelings there, you know, trying to get back to where you were.”

Johnson has some company this weekend with teammate Richie Stevens back on track in his Dodge Dart to be able to compare data and reinforce efforts. Stevens posted a 6.694/206.16 in the first session with the sixth quickest pass of the session, and then a 6.685/205.76 in the second session to put him provisionally tenth.

The Thunder Valley Nationals are also considered a home event by reigning Funny Car world champion Matt Hagan who lives just two hours away in Christiansburg, Virginia. He was third on the provisional qualifying sheets after two sessions and the quickest of the four Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) 2015 Mopar Dodge Charger R/T entries with a best run of 4.035 seconds at 318.09 mph in the second session.

“We had a great Rocky/Mopar Dodge tonight and we really wanted to win our first pole here,” said Hagan who has three national title wins this season, leads the points standings, but has not yet earned a Wally trophy at this event. “We have a lot of friends out here and my family will be here on Sunday and that’s when we want to turn on four win lights.”

DSR teammate Jack Beckman, who has two wins this season in the new 2015 Mopar Dodge Charger R/T, was close behind posting a 4.038/313.80 run for the fourth provisional spot. Fellow teammate Ron Capps, with two wins of his own, posted the third quickest run of the first session at 4.137/299.80 and sits fifth on the timing sheets with a 4.048/317.49 pass.

The defending Funny Car winner at Bristol Dragway, Tommy Johnson Jr., who has thus far been shut out of the winner’s circle this year, would love to see that streak come to an end, especially after coming close last week when he finished runner-up at the New England Nationals. Johnson Jr. was tenth in qualifying after posting a 4.117/303.16 pass in the second qualifying session.