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2014 NHRA: Provisional No1 Qualifier By Johnson Bolsters Mopar At NHRA Springnationals In Houston
Posted by: newsla on Apr 26, 2014 - 03:21 PM
2014 NHRA: Provisional No1 Qualifier By Johnson Bolsters Mopar At NHRA Springnationals In Houston

After an uncharacteristic absence from the final elimination round at the last two National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) national events, drivers and teams are working to get a Mopar back to the winner’s circle at the 27th annual SpringNationals near Houston, Texas, this weekend. Allen Johnson got things going with the right foot by taking the “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” Dodge Dart to the top of the Pro Stock score sheets to earn the provisional No.1 qualifying position, while three HEMI-powered drivers are hoping to have repeat victory performances at Royal Purple Raceway, and another hopes to debut his new Dodge Dart with a win.


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Johnson earned the provisional pole on his second run in the cooler evening air posting a 6.555-second elapsed time run at 211.63 mph to dislodge Erica Enders-Stevens (6.563 sec./ 211.59 mph) from the top spot and improved on his second place pass in the first session.
“We usually do good in humidity and the team prepared well for it because you know we are still adapting to the new Dodge Dart,” said Johnson, who drove to consecutive national wins this year in Phoenix, with the Dodge Avenger, and Gainesville for the debut of the new Dodge Dart. “We’ve got just three races under our belts with it, so each track and each situation presents a new set of difficulties with the new car. We’ve adapted well here with it and made a great run on that last pass.

“We’ve been fortunate to win at a lot of tracks but this is one that has slipped through our fingers many times,” Johnson added. “It presents a challenge to us and we want to win. Tomorrow is 4-26 (April 26) and that’s HEMI Day and this is a good start towards a happy HEMI Day.”

In tribute to the Gen II 426 Race HEMI, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this season, Mopar has designated April 26 (4-26) as “HEMI Day” and will once again share a video featuring all the Mopar drivers wishing enthusiasts a “Happy HEMI Day”. The video will be available on the Mopar YouTube channel at http://youtu.be/NcSanOT5OHI and on www.facebook.com/Mopar on Saturday.
Meanwhile, HEMI-powered Johnson & Johnson teammate, Jeg Coughlin Jr. (6.592 / 210.47) drove his JEGS.com Dodge Dart to a fourth place spot after Friday’s qualifying sessions.

Coughlin and Mopar Funny Car driver Matt Hagan both had their first career wins at this event. For Coughlin, not only was it his first professional win, but it came in his Pro Stock debut in 1997 and has a total of four trips (1998, 200, 2010) to the winner’s circle at the sea-level track. Coughlin earned the No.1 qualifier position at this event last season on his way to earn the 2013 NHRA Pro Stock Championship and his fifth career world title. For Hagan, his first career win, earned at the Houston track, set him on track to a runner-up finish in the 2010 Funny Car Championship.

Also looking to earn a Wally trophy this weekend is V. Gaines, who after a strong start to the season with back-to back final round appearances, is hoping to repeat what Johnson did at the Gatornationals; debut a new car by taking it to a national title win. Gaines’ premiered his new Dodge Dart on Friday with a 6.605 sec / 210.21 mph effort to put him in 10th place going into the final two qualifying sessions.

In Funny Car competition, the Don Schumacher Racing Mopars have been noticeably missing from both semifinal and final rounds at the past two events, but with hopes of rectifying that this weekend, Jack Beckman (4.063 / 314.09), Tommy Johnson Jr. (4.068 / 312.21) and Ron Capps (4.079 / 310.34) drove their Dodge Charger R/T machines to the second, third and fourth place spots, respectively, with their preliminary qualifying runs, while the provisional pole went to competitor, Del Worsham. Capps has two wins (2006, 2007) and a runner-up finish (2012) at the SpringNationals, while teammates Johnson (2002) and Beckman (2009) have each have had a final round appearance at the raceway.

While Hagan didn’t quite have the runs he was hoping for when the Mopar Express Lane/ Rocky Boots machine shook the tires upon launch to put him in the No.10 spot heading into Saturday’s qualifying rounds, he’ll have the support of some new fans regardless of that this weekend.

Hagan and Allen Johnson both have a number of new supporters after taking part in an autograph session at Helfman Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep & Ram dealership near downtown Houston on Thursday evening. The Helfman group held a successful pre-race open house party for a second year, where attendees were invited to get their photos taken with the Mopar drivers, as well as the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car, and door prizes included tickets to the NHRA SpringNationals.
For those that can’t attend the event in person, television coverage for the 27th annual O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA SpringNationals, the sixth of 24 events on the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season schedule, will be broadcast on ESPN2(HD) with two hours of qualifying highlights airing Saturday, April 26 at 6 p.m. (ET) and three hours of eliminations coverage on Sunday, April 27, beginning at 7 p.m. (ET).

2014 NHRA Points Standings

(Following Four-Wide NHRA Nationals Race in Charlotte FINAL)

PRO STOCK (season wins in parentheses)
1. Erica Enders Stevens – 426 (1)
2. Jason Line – 384 (1)
3. Allen Johnson – Dodge Dart – 370 (2)
4. Vincent Nobile – 339
5. Shane Gray – 334
6t. Dave Connolly – 308
6t. V Gaines – Dodge Avenger – 308
8. Jimmy Alund – 282
9. Jeg Coughlin Jr. – Dodge Dart – 270
10. Chris McGaha – 258

FUNNY CAR (season wins in parentheses)
1. Robert Hight – 488 (2)
2. John Force – 453 (1)
3. Alexis DeJoria – 375 (2)
4. Ron Capps – Dodge Charger R/T – 282
5. Del Worsham – 277
6. Tommy Johnson Jr. – Dodge Charger R/T – 257
7. Matt Hagan – Dodge Charger R/T – 244
8t. Courtney Force – 264
8t. Tim Wilkerson – 244
10. Jack Beckman – Dodge Charger R/T– 234

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