Magneti Marelli/Mopar Dodge Dart Driver Allen Johnson Caps 20th Season with NHRA Finals Victory

Magneti Marelli/Mopar Dodge Dart Driver Allen Johnson Caps 20th Season with NHRA Finals Victory

Mopar Pro Stock driver Allen Johnson collects second win of 2015 season and 26th of his career in Auto Club NHRA Finals at Pomona
Johnson and Magneti Marelli Dodge Dart finish to third in final NHRA Pro Stock standings
Tommy Johnson Jr. races Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car to second consecutive runner-up finish
Jack Beckman sets elapsed time NHRA National record in his 2015 Mopar Dodge Charger R/T and finishes second in Funny Car championship battle
2015 Mopar Dodge Charger R/T body that debuted this season posts 23rd final-round appearance in 24 events and numerous records
Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car driver Matt Hagan sets NHRA National record for speed, finishes fifth in standings
All four Mopar-powered Dodge Charger R/T Don Schumacher Racing drivers finish in top-five in the Funny Car championship standings

Pomona, California (Nov. 15, 2015) – Allen Johnson ended his 20th season behind the wheel a Mopar-powered National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Pro Stock car in the perfect spot: winner’s circle. Johnson put on a driving clinic at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona on Sunday, willing his “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” Dodge Dart all the way from the 11th spot on the eliminations ladder to the event win at the season-ending NHRA Finals. In Funny Car, Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) driver Tommy Johnson Jr. scored a runner-up finish, and the 23rd final-round appearance in 24 events overall for the 2015 Mopar Dodge Charger R/T body which debuted this season, while DSR Mopar Dodge driver Jack Beckman set the elapsed time NHRA National record and finished second in the World Championship standings. All four DSR Mopar Dodge Funny Car drivers finished in the top five of the final championship standings and amassed 15 wins aboard the new body.

For Pro Stocker Johnson, the victory was the second for the J&J Racing driver and team owner at the NHRA Finals (the other came in 2012), his second of the season after five final-round appearances, and the 26th overall victory of his career. The triumph makes Johnson the last Pro Stock winner to use a carbureted engine (the class will change to fuel injection in 2016). The win also pushed Johnson, the 2012 Pro Stock World Champion, to third in the final championship standings, his fourth top-five performance in the last five years and his tenth consecutive finish in the top-ten.

“We’re very happy to see Allen Johnson drive the Magneti Marelli Dodge Dart to a win at the NHRA Finals in Pomona,” said Pietro Gorlier, Head of Parts and Service (Mopar), FCA – Global. “It was especially nice to have Allen and Roy end the season in the winner’s circle with a scheme that celebrates their 20 years competing in Pro Stock aboard a HEMI-powered Mopar vehicle.”

Flying a special “Thank You” graphics wrap on his “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar Dodge Dart” to honor his two decades with Mopar, Johnson said “You’re Welcome” to the brand by delivering a Wally trophy in dramatic fashion. The lower seeded Johnson upset No. 6 starter Jonathan Gray to begin his day, displaying his quick reflexes off the starting line with a .005 reaction paired with a 6.571-second elapsed time at 209.23 mph, while Gray was disqualified on a red light foul. In the quarterfinals AJ defeated another Gray family member, Jonathan’s brother Shane, leaving first again with a .018 reaction time to his foe’s .032 and posting a winning 6.548/209.82 to Shane’s 6.551/211.76.

In the semis Johnson faced a huge obstacle — No. 2 qualifier and 2015 NHRA Pro Stock champion Erica Enders. The veteran from Greeneville, Tennessee, rose to the occasion, knocking off the champ on a holeshot win with a quick-twitch .005 second reaction time, reaching the line first with a 6.572/209.17 despite Enders’ quicker and faster 6.542/211.56. Matched against former teammate Vincent Nobile in the final — the 56th of Johnson’s career — AJ crowned his weekend with another holeshot win. Johnson’s .011 reaction time overcame his slower 6.541/210.18 pass, besting Nobile’s .033 reaction and 6.540/211.938 run. In all four rounds on his road to victory, Johnson was first off the starting line.

“We dug down deep and got it done to give my family, the team and Mopar the win in the final race of the year and to cap off twenty years like this is special,” said Johnson, who has now advanced to the money round at the NHRA Finals in three of the last four seasons (2012, 2013, 2015). “I had to step up my game for this race day after being up and down through the entire Countdown and I wanted to finish the year on a high. We struggled to get traction in our car through qualifying and even the first three rounds. Right before the final round we found that we had a bent piece on the car and fixed it and ran straight down the track to win it. The Magneti Marelli Mopar team doesn’t ever give up. We’ve been out here for 20 years with Mopar and what a great sponsor they are. The Mopar fans are fanatics and they’ve always been here with us. It’s been an unbelievable ride with my dad (Roy Johnson) for 20 great years. We’re not sure what next year holds for us, but we hope to be out here racing again in the Dodge Dart.”

Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car driver Tommy Johnson Jr. (no relation to Allen Johnson) raced to his second consecutive final round, knocking off a trio of Mopar-powered Dodge Charger drivers before meeting new Funny Car champ Del Worsham in the final round. Johnson Jr. used a 4.010/310.84 to end Gary Densham’s day, and then advanced to another Mopar vs. Mopar battle in the quarterfinals against DSR teammate Matt Hagan. He then motored down the track to take the win with a 3.926/321.58, while Hagan scrambled to corral his Dodge and keep it from heading towards the wall, slowing to a 7.451/86.63.

It was an all-HEMI, DSR intra-squad tussle in the semis as well, with Johnson Jr.’s 3.891/326.08 ending Ron Capps’ day; Capps pedaled his Dodge, resulting in a 4.052/323.50. In his eighth final round of the year, it was Johnson’s turn to pedal, with his Dodge coming close to the centerline and Worsham scoring the event win with a 3.900/328.14 to his 4.023/305.42. Johnson Jr. notched two wins and six runner-ups to finish third in the final Funny Car championship standings, with Capps fourth.

“This season was very exciting. We came out here for our second year together and built on the momentum; we didn’t falter and only did better,” said Johnson Jr. “In a 24-race season, you hope to have a shot at the championship, so when we showed up at the track this morning with even a slim shot, it was still great because we were one of just three teams who had a chance. That championship is why you race – it’s what you strive for, and we had a chance today.”

Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T driver Jack Beckman fell 56 points shy of claiming his second career Funny Car World Championship on a day in which he reset his own National Record.
Beckman kicked off his race day by running a 3.897/328.38 to defeat Chad Head (4.115/248.66), backing up his 3.890-second elapsed time from qualifying and earning him the new National Record.

That record was short lived, as teammate Ron Capps snatched it away in the quarterfinals with a 3.885-second pass in his defeat of Alexis DeJoria. Running in the very next pair, Beckman grabbed the record right back by just .001, blistering the Pomona quarter-mile with a 3.884 second run (326.16 mph) to best Cruz Pedregon (8.101/84.25) and set up a semifinal battle for the world title with Worsham. Beckman grabbed the lead off the line with a .055 reaction time to Worsham’s .086, but had to pedal the car soon after, slowing to a 4.088/324.83 as Worsham motored away with a championship-clinching 3.928/327.35 run.

“We said whoever would win it earned it, but nobody is holding their head down here,” said Beckman, who posted career numbers this season in the Infinite Hero 2015 Dodge Charger with a class-best seven wins, nine finals rounds, five No.1 Qualifier positions, and lowered the elapsed time national record an incredible four times. “We did amazing things on the racetrack and amazing things for our injured vets with Infinite Hero. We’ve had by all standards a career year for the entire team. The points just didn’t come out in our favor with the Countdown and the points being reset.”

While the 2014 NHRA Funny Car Champ was unable to defend his title this season, Matt Hagan drove his Mopar Express Lane 2015 Dodge Charger R/T to four wins, two-runner-up finishes, four No.1 Qualifier honors this year, and posted all of the top-five speeds ever run by a Funny Car. As if to reinforce the strength of those accomplishments, in the first round against competitor Paul Lee, Hagan paired his 3.902 second pass with a NHRA National record speed of 331.45 mph, the fastest ever recorded in the class.
“We finished up the 2015 season and I’m really looking forward to next year,” said Hagan, who wrapped up the season fifth overall. “We have a lot of work ahead of us. It’s cool to hold all five of the fastest runs ever in NHRA history. That’s all (Crew Chief) Dickie Venables. The guy is making horsepower. All of the extra work they put in the shop is paying off on the racetrack. We had an incredible year we just didn’t finish as strong as we would like.”