Mopar Racing– Johnson Speeds to Sixth Career No. 1 at Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals

Johnson Speeds to Sixth Career No. 1 at Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals

· Allen Johnson will race his “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” Dodge Dart from the pole as he looks to continue his run of victories at Bandimere Speedway
· The “King of the Mountain” has earned five of the last six No. 1 Pro Stock qualifier positions at his sponsor Mopar’s marquee event of the year
· Johnson’s string of success at Bandimere includes three consecutive wins and eight consecutive final-round appearances
· AJ cracks the 200 mph barrier in all four qualifying runs
· No. 3 qualifier Jack Beckman paces the four-car DSR Mopar Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car contingent
· Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car driver Matt Hagan earns five bonus points and jumps to No. 6 seed
· “Mopar Road Ready Powered by Dodge” teen defensive driving program is announced during Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals Saturday qualifying
· The driving program will make seven stops in 2015-2016, including a visit to Bandimere Speedway in the fall

Morrison, Colorado (July 25, 2015) – “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” Dodge Dart driver Allen Johnson kept an iron grip on the top spot at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals on Saturday, wrapping up a majestic qualifying performance. The 20-year NHRA Pro Stock veteran earned his sixth career pole at Bandimere Speedway and collected 11 of a possible 12 bonus points during two days of qualifying. The “King of the Mountain” will attempt to extend his current three-year reign at the drag strip set in the picturesque Rocky Mountains during Sunday eliminations.

The pole was the 37th of Johnson’s career, his first this season and his first since the NHRA Brainerd event last year. The 2012 NHRA Pro Stock world champ has six wins in the last eight years at Bandimere Speedway and has reached eight consecutive Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals final rounds. Johnson will have a bye in the first round on Sunday.

Johnson collected all six available bonus points during Friday qualifying, seizing the provisional pole and setting the elapsed time (ET) track record twice, first with a 6.883- second run and next with a 6.877 ET. Warmer temps on Saturday kept Johnson from further assaults on the record book, but the Greenevile, Tennessee, native was still quickest of the third qualifying session, earning three additional bonus points thanks to a 6.918/200.05 pass.

In his final attempt, Johnson’s 6.894 was second quickest, giving the J&J Racing team owner and driver two more bonus markers. AJ was also fast, clocking speeds of 200-plus miles per hour in each of his four runs — the only Pro Stock driver to do so during qualifying.

“We were really gearing up for race day all day,” said Johnson, winner at the recent NHRA Joliet stop, and a two-time runner-up this season. “The first run, we made a really decent run and were low for the round by a little, but the competition is getting tougher and closer. It’s going to be a knock down drag out tomorrow in eliminations.

“We’ve made up a few points here the last few races, but picking up 11 of 12 points here on the guy behind us is big. But even bigger is coming here and having four consistent good passes at Bandimere, which is what we set out to do, and I think you’ll see that for the remainder of the year from this Mopar Magneti Marelli team.”

Lakewood, Colorado, native V. Gaines (No. 12, 6.934), is still seeking his first win at his home track. The first obstacle in the path of his Mopar-powered Dodge Dart on Sunday will be Shane Gray. Dodge Dart driver Deric Kramer (No. 13, 6.960) meets Johnathan Gray.

Matt Hagan is still looking to cross a Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals victory off his rapidly shrinking bucket list, but the two-time NHRA Funny Car champion showed on Saturday his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T is fast enough to go four rounds at Bandimere Speedway. Qualified eighth after a 4.093 run on Friday, Hagan was quickest in Q3, posting a 4.124 and banking three bonus markers. The defending champ saved his best for last, unleashing a 4.065 to move up to sixth and earn two additional points.

“Up here on the mountain, anytime you can improve is a good day,” said Hagan, the current leader in the standings, who’ll square off with Del Worsham in round one. “(Crew Chief) Dickie (Venables) put together two great runs for this Mopar Dodge Charger. The stands were packed and I’m sure it will be packed again tomorrow. These fans here just love drag racing and its cool to see that. It makes you feel even more excited to put on the helmet to put on a show for Mopar and the fans.

“I haven’t won here. I red lit in the final and gave it away. I won’t do that again. I think we have a really great Mopar Express Lane race car. We’re on the top side of the ladder, we have lane choice, but it is Denver, and while you never know what can happen, I feel really good about it.”

Jack Beckman, a two-time Mopar Mile-High Nationals champ and three-time winner this season, will lead the four-car Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) squad into eliminations on Sunday. Beckman’s 4.035 run on Friday was good for the third spot on the charts, and he’ll post his 2015 Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car against Todd Simpson.

“We’re racing Todd Simpson, and we’re a heavy favorite, but they ran almost as good as we did on that last session,” said Beckman, the 2012 NHRA Funny Car world champ. “You take no one for granted and race as hard as you can when you get up there, and I hope the next interview is at the top end holding the winner’s circle trophy.”

Tommy Johnson Jr., looking for back-to-back wins following his NHRA Joliet victory, claimed the No. 4 qualifier spot on a 4.044 effort and will take on Chad Head. Rounding out the DSR Mopar Dodge quartet is three-time Denver finalist Ron Capps. His 4.078 was good for the No. 8 spot and a date with Cruz Pedregon. Dodge Charger pilot and No. 16 qualifier John Hale will go head-to-head with pole winner John Force.

Elimination rounds for the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals will begin at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday. Three hours of eliminations coverage will air on ESPN2 and ESPN2HD on Sunday, July 26, starting at 9 p.m. EDT.

Mopar Renews Commitment to Teen Driver Safety at Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals

Mopar also announced during qualifying an extension of its commitment to promoting teen safety behind the wheel, with a helping hand from America’s mainstream performance brand. “Mopar Road Ready Powered by Dodge” will feature a slate of seven events scheduled for late 2015 and early 2016, including a fall visit to Bandimere Speedway.

The “Mopar Road Ready Powered by Dodge” program has confirmed two event stops thus far, at Mopar Headquarters in Center Line, Michigan on September 12–13, and Bandimere Speedway on October 24–25.

“Mopar Road Ready Powered by Dodge” is sponsored by the FCA Foundation, in collaboration with the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Motorsports Museum and B.R.A.K.E.S (Be Responsible And Keep Everyone Safe). Tricia Hecker, Head of Marketing, Mopar, was on hand during qualifying to present the NHRA Motorsports Museum with a check for $350,000 on behalf of the FCA Foundation as a show of commitment to the program.

“We are pleased to receive additional support from our sister brand Dodge in fueling our mission to teach teens the importance of safe driving,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO — Mopar Brand Service, Parts and Customer Care, FCA. “Thanks to sponsorship from the FCA Foundation and the Dodge brand, ‘Mopar Road Ready Powered by Dodge’ will help educate and equip hundreds of additional teens with the defensive driving skills they need.”