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Nov 09, 2012 - 01:54 PM
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Mopar Driver Johnson Starts Hot At NHRA Finals, Grabs Preliminary Pole
Posted by: newsla on Nov 09, 2012 - 01:51 PM
NHRA
2012 NHRA: Mopar Driver Johnson Starts Hot At NHRA Finals, Grabs Preliminary Pole And Edges Closer To Title


Mopar Dodge Avenger driver Allen Johnson hasn’t officially clinched the 2012 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Pro Stock championship — the key word being officially. Needing only to qualify to secure his first career Pro Stock title, the Team Mopar veteran raced to the preliminary No. 1 spot during the first qualifying session on Thursday at the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif., and is well on his way to celebrating a title when the eliminations field is set on Saturday.

 

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With rain in the area (the Top Fuel qualifying session was washed out), Pro Stock competitors were luckily able to make their qualifying runs, with Johnson leading the pack thanks to an elapsed time of 6.565-seconds at 210.47 mph. Three qualifying sessions remain as Johnson attempts to secure a class-best 11th No. 1 spot of the season, 29th of his career and second at Pomona — and most importantly, the 2012 NHRA Pro Stock title.

“The Mopar Dodge Avenger made a really good run,” said Johnson, who also gained three bonus points with the No. 1 spot, widening his already huge lead over his closest competitor. “Fortunately, we’re No. 1, and if weather conditions hold like they are supposed to, I think that (qualifying run) should put us in the top three or four.”

Following his recent win at the NHRA event in Las Vegas, his sixth of the year, Johnson has received an abundance of attention on his championship hopes. The Greeneville, Tenn., native has went to great pains to not lose focus on the fact that he still needs to qualify at Pomona to seal the deal.

“It’s hard, because everyone who comes up to you is asking about it,” said Johnson, who is in his 17th year of Pro Stock competition. “We’re coming in here the same way we come into every race. We want to put the Mopar Dodge on the pole and win the race.”

Regarding his emotions as he lined up for his qualifying run, knowing that a solid effort virtually assures him of the Pro Stock title, Johnson said, “Our mindset was, we’re going to get one run, then it’s going to rain for three days, and then they’re going to set the field and we aren’t going to make it! So I had it in mind that if that thing (the car) starts to shake at all, I’m grabbing gears and we’re going to get down the track and at least be sixteenth. When I put it in high gear and that HEMI was hummin’ down at the finish line, that was a pretty good feeling.”

A trio of Mopar-powered Pro Stockers joined Johnson in the top twelve on the qualifying charts on Thursday. V. Gaines (6.599) was No. 4, Johnson’s teammate Vincent Nobile (6.610) was seventh and Mopar/JEGS.com Dodge Avenger driver Jeg Coughlin (6.616) was tenth. Deric Kramer (6.639) was 14th in his Dodge,

In Funny Car, where Mopar-powered Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) Dodge Charger R/T drivers Jack Beckman and Ron Capps are separated by just four points in the fight for the championship, it was DSR teammate Johnny Gray (4.065) who led the way on Thursday in the third spot. Beckman (4.117) was fifth, Dodge driver Josh Crawford (5.103) was eighth, Capps (7.675) was 13th, Grant Downing (8.158) was 16th in a Dodge, Mopar Dodge Charger R/T pilot Matt Hagan (8.279) clocked in 18th, while Tommy Johnson (9.073) and Paul Lee (10.369) were listed 20th and 22nd, respectively, in their Mopar-powered Dodge Funny Cars.


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