Track Record Runs by Tommy Johnson Jr. Put Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T on Provisional Pole at Las Vegas

Track Record Runs by Tommy Johnson Jr. Put Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T on Provisional Pole at Las Vegas

Tommy Johnson Jr. tops both qualifying sessions with track record runs aboard Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T to earn provisional No.1 qualifier position at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
All four DSR Mopars are positioned in the top-five for the “NHRA “Countdown to the Championship” with two race days left in the season
A top-ten provisional qualifying spot for Allen Johnson and his Magneti Marelli HEMI-powered Dodge Dart
Magneti Marelli Dodge Dart sports a new look to celebrate Allen and Roy Johnson’s 20 years of competing in NHRA Pro Stock class aboard HEMI-powered Dodge vehicles
Roy Johnson returns to the track after missing three NHRA “Countdown to the Championship” events after back surgery

Mopar Sportsman racers take their Dodge Challenger Drag Paks to five wins during individual class eliminations

Las Vegas, Nevada (Oct. 30, 2015) – Starting the penultimate National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) “Countdown to the Championship” national playoff event as the provisional No.1 qualifier with two track record runs is exactly the kind of roll that you want to be on in Las Vegas, especially if you want to improve your odds of vying for a championship in the season finale. Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) driver Tommy Johnson Jr. did exactly that aboard his Make-A-Wish 2015 Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car, topping the timing sheets in both Friday qualifying sessions by setting, then resetting, the elapsed time track record at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and collecting six very valuable bonus points to improve his chances of catching up to Funny Car points leader Del Worsham and second place DSR teammate Jack Beckman from his third place spot in the standings.

“This was a little shot in the arm because you need every point you can get,” said Johnson Jr. who is looking to prolong his spell of success through Saturday’s two qualifying sessions to earn a few more bonus markers and hoping his 3.931 seconds laps at 320.43 miles per hour (mph) will hold to give him his third No.1 qualifier position of the year and the eight extras points that come with it.

“We have our backs against the wall because we have quite a lot of points to gain in two races, but anything can happen,” added Johnson who earned two wins during the regular season. “I’m very proud of my team. They’re just rising to the occasion. They’re not quitting. We have a team capable of gaining those points and we came in here kind of with a carefree attitude because everybody has counted us out. That’s fine. Let’s just go out and have fun at these last two races and try to get two more trophies.”

With all four DSR Mopars battling in the top-five for the Funny Car crown with just two race events left, all bets are off.

While the championship odds might not be in Matt Hagan’s favor as he sits fifth in the Countdown standings with four nationals titles this season and 159 points behind the leader, the two-time and defending Funny Car champion will roll dice the “hard way” by trying to finish his season in the manner he started it; with two wins. His drive for that goal started with taking the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T for a 4.010/322.58 run on his first lap for the fifth spot on the timing sheets. His second pass stalled and dropped him to the eighth place in the provisional standings

Within striking distance of the leader, Beckman, who is second in points with seven national titles this season to date including one during the Countdown, had his Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T ninth in provisional qualifying with his best lap at 4.011 sec/ 316.30 mph.

DSR teammate Ron Capps, who sits fourth in the Countdown, wasn’t able to get in a clean lap and will look to use both qualifying opportunities on Saturday to better the 4.145/242.71 pass that currently puts him 14th on the provisional ladder.

The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway has been kind in the past to “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” Dodge Dart NHRA Pro Stock driver Allen Johnson, with the Team Mopar veteran earning three of his 25 career wins at the quarter-mile. Johnson’s weekend at the fall Vegas stop began with a solid 6.607/208.39 to grab the provisional No. 5 spot. In the second Friday qualifying session AJ was unable to improve on that time with a 6.618, falling to the provisional ninth spot.

The Vegas race also marked the debut of a special “Thank You” graphics wrap on the “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” Dart, celebrating Allen and Roy Johnson’s 20 years of competition in Mopar–powered Dodge NHRA Pro Stock cars. Vegas also saw the return to the strip of Roy Johnson, Allen’s father and engine builder, following delicate spinal surgery in early September.

“The first run was awful good, but that (second) run was really loose down track, for some reason,” said Johnson who sits fourth in the Pro Stock Countdown standings. “It hurt us a hundredth, maybe two (hundredth). That 6.55 (by provisional pole-sitter Erica Enders), that hurts. We have to go out there and dig and do the best we can.”

On having his dad back at the track just in time for the special graphics wrap, Johnson said, “It’s very special to have him out there in front of the car, and to give me the thumbs up before I go down the track. It brings a smile to my face, because I know it brings a smile to his. Anytime we can put him on pedestal, he certainly deserves that.”

V. Gaines recorded a best run of 6.645 in his Dodge Dart, ending Friday No. 13. Deric Kramer drove his Dodge Dart to a 6.681/207.06 for the 15th spot while rookie Alan Prusiensky sits 18th after a 6.928/195.39 in his 2012 Dodge Avenger.

October has been a stellar month thus far for Mopar-powered NHRA Sportsman racers (with accomplishments including David Barton crushing the existing record in the NHRA’s FS/B class with a 8.541-second run in his V-8 Drag Pak earlier this month at the Pennsylvania Dutch Classic in Reading, Pa.), and Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak racers in particular continued to shine on Thursday at Vegas, claiming five wins during individual class eliminations.

Keith Lynch earned the Factory Super Stock/K (FSS/K) class win in his 2009 Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak powered by a 5.7-liter HEMI engine, Kevin Helms triumphed in Factory Stock/B (FS/B) behind the wheel of his 426 Gen III HEMI 2010 Drag Pak, Helms struck again in Factory Super Stock/F (FSS/F) this time driving his V-10 engine 2011 Drag Pak, and Barton claimed the Factory Stock/X (FS/X) victory in his 426 Gen III HEMI engine-powered ’15 Drag Pak.

Add in the Super Stock/AH (SS/AH) class win by Gary Wolkwitz in his 1968 Dodge Dart (with a Gen II HEMI under the hood) and all Mopar package cars from 1968 on, as well as all common engine types, were represented in the winner’s circle during class eliminations on Thursday. Mopar Sportsman will look to build on their respective class accomplishments by claiming overall wins in both Stock and Super Stock this weekend.