Team Mopar Driver Johnson’s Bid for Hometown Bristol Win Ends in Semis
Tennessee native and Mopar® Dodge Avenger NHRA Pro Stock driver Allen Johnson fell short in his quest for a much-desired victory at his home track of Bristol Dragway, running to the semifinals today at the 11th Annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals. Johnson advanced to his second straight semifinal at the quarter-mile he calls home, losing to Erica Enders by a margin of approximately five inches.
The crowd favorite and Greeneville, Tenn. native qualified No. 1 at Bristol for the second year in a row, matching up with No. 16 starter Steve Kent in the opening stanza after an hours-long rain delay. Johnson eliminated Kent with a 6.706-second pass at 206.32 mph, coupled with a .034 reaction time, to his opponent’s 6.758/203.61 run and .051 mark off the starting line.
The Team Mopar veteran lacked lane choice in his quarterfinals fight with Jason Line, but it was no matter. Johnson took the win on 6.679/206.45 effort and .027 reaction time after Line fouled out on a red-light and recorded a slower 6.694/204.63 pass. The stellar run earned A.J. lane choice honors in his semifinals showdown against Erica Enders.
Johnson and Enders engaged in a lengthy staging duel before launching, with Johnson recording a .020 reaction time, not far behind Enders’ .014 mark. Unfortunately, the Team Mopar star’s 6.692/205.41 pass, the quickest and fastest of the session, wasn’t enough to run down Enders on her 6.697/205.26 run.
“We got over against the center line for some reason, and the car got to bouncing and bumping,” said Johnson, who matched his career best performance at Bristol with his semifinals showing. “We had it nailed other than that. I don’t know why it moved over there; there must have been something on the track. It definitely got to bouncing, and that’s what beat us.
“We’ve got a really good race car right now. We’re going to be the car to beat, or one of the top two cars to beat, for the rest of the year. You’re going to have breaks like today and get beat by a thousandth of second. That’s just racing. We’re happy. It was a good weekend here at Bristol. We may have that monkey off our back here.”
Johnson’s teammate, Vincent Nobile, took out Ronnie Humphrey in the first round, posting a 6.715/204.88 run paired with a scorching .009 reaction time. Nobile barely let up in the quarterfinals with a .012 mark off the starting line anchored to a 6.708/205.19 run, but it wasn’t enough to best Mike Edwards’.010 reaction time and 6.697/205.91 mark. Mopar-powered Dodge Avenger pilot V. Gaines was a bit too quick off the start, bowing out to Ron Krisher in the first round on a red-light foul after he left the starting line too early.
Next up for the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series is the 5th Annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, June 23–26, in Norwalk, Ohio.