Team Mopar® Driver Johnson Hopes Both He and NASCAR Star Kurt Busch Shine at NHRA Gatornationals
Johnson and Busch to take part in Team Mopar autograph session at Gainesville Raceway
Auburn Hills, Mich. — The goal is two-fold for Mopar® Dodge Avenger NHRA Pro Stock driver Allen Johnson this weekend at the 42nd Annual NHRA Gatornationals, March 10–13 at Gainesville Raceway: Bring home his first career win at one of the NHRA’s most prestigious events and also help Dodge Motorsports NASCAR Sprint Cup star Kurt Busch make the show in his NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Pro Stock debut.
Johnson advanced to the semifinals at the 2010 NHRA Gatornationals and scored his first career final-round appearance at the 2009 event. The Team Mopar veteran would love to check off a win at the tradition-rich Gainesville race from his career to-do list this weekend.
“The NHRA Gatornationals is one of the biggest, most important races on the NHRA schedule. It’s one of those historic events that every driver really wants to win; it means a lot,” said Johnson, who is currently ninth in the NHRA Pro Stock standings after one event. “All the hoopla over the NHRA 60th Anniversary celebration begins at Gainesville as well, so that just takes it up another notch.
“We didn’t perform how we wanted to at the Winternationals, losing in the first round, but if we can rebound and go rounds at the Gators, then we’ll be in fine shape. A win here would be huge, both as a career milestone for me and as a needed boost for our Mopar Dodge Avenger/J&J Racing team in the championship standings.”
Johnson will test with NASCAR Sprint Cup star Kurt Busch at Bradenton (Fla.) Motorsports Park tomorrow in preparation for the NHRA Gatornationals. It’s the final of three joint test sessions for the two racing stars. Busch will compete at Gainesville with Mopar HEMI® engines supplied by Johnson’s J&J Racing team in his Shell Dodge Avenger, and Johnson’s crew chief, Mark Ingersoll, will assist the 2004 Sprint Cup champion as he tries to qualify in the always-tight Pro Stock field. Johnson is confident Busch can excel in his switch from mashing the pedal and turning left to mashing the pedal and going straight.
“We’ve got one more day of prep with Kurt, so we can make sure he shines at the Gators,” said Johnson. “Kurt and I have traded text messages, and I know he’s excited to come to Gainesville. His Shell Dodge will be right there with my Mopar Dodge, as far as the quality of the car and engine. As far as the finer points of racing Pro Stock, such as shifting and staging, Kurt has done real well so far, and we’ll have even more time to practice those skills on Tuesday. I really see no reason why he can’t qualify in the top half of the field at the Gatornationals.”
Johnson and Busch to take part in Team Mopar autograph session at NHRA Gatornationals
Team Mopar driver Allen Johnson and Dodge Motorsports NASCAR star Kurt Busch, along with Mopar-powered Pro Stock drivers V. Gaines and Vincent Nobile, will take part in a Team Mopar autograph session from 10:00–10:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 12, at the Mopar display in the manufacturers midway at Gainesville Raceway. The signing is one of three Team Mopar autograph sessions scheduled to take place during the NHRA Gatornationals.
Mopar NHRA racing legends “Big Daddy” Don Garlits and Darrell Gwynn, who will take part in match races at the NHRA Gatornationals to raise money for charity, will participate in a signing session from 1:30–2:00 p.m. on Friday, March 11 at the Mopar display. Don Schumacher Racing NHRA Funny Car stars Matt Hagan, Ron Capps, Jack Beckman and Johnny Gray will also visit the Mopar display on Saturday following the first round of pro qualifying. Fans taking part in the Team Mopar autograph signings will have the chance to enter to win an item autographed by Team Mopar drivers.