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Richie Stevens Jr. and Allen Johnson Look to Heat Up Houston With HEMI(R) Power * Stevens comments on Nationals and Eric Medlen's passing * Allen Johnson will appear in his 250th race this weekend Center Line, Mich. -- The beginning of the...

Richie Stevens Jr. and Allen Johnson Look to Heat Up Houston With HEMI(R) Power

* Stevens comments on Nationals and Eric Medlen's passing

* Allen Johnson will appear in his 250th race this weekend

Center Line, Mich. -- The beginning of the NHRA POWERade Pro Stock season has been a challenge for Richie Stevens Jr. and Allen Johnson. The Team Mopar(R) duo is confident the HEMI(R) engines powering their Dodge Stratus R/Ts have what it takes to put them in the winner's circle. Johnson and Stevens will look to get on track and harness that HEMI power effectively this weekend at the O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals in Houston.

Stevens on Eric Medlen's passing and the O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals

With a heavy heart, Stevens and Johnson will head to the track this weekend. The NHRA community is in mourning following the death of John Force Racing Funny Car driver Eric Medlen, who succumbed to injuries suffered after a test session accident at Gainesville Raceway last Monday.

"You never want to see anything like that happen. It's been awhile since we've had anybody in the sport that was seriously injured," said Stevens, driver of the Team Mopar/Valspar Dodge Stratus R/T. "You know the possibility for it to happen is there. Every time you get on the track, something can go wrong. It hits every body hard."

Difficult as it may be, the NHRA drivers will be back to work at Houston. Stevens enters the event focused on improving the consistency of his Dodge Stratus R/T.

"We need to get consistent. That's what wins races," said Stevens, who drives under the Don Schumacher Racing/J & J Racing banner. "Those DNQs and those first round losses hurt. If you can go rounds and keep it alive, that's how you rack up points. That's my goal, to build up points and be there for the Countdown to 8 [NHRA's new points system, which cuts the field down to the top eight drivers after the 17th race]."

Despite his early season struggles, Stevens knows the HEMI engines tuned by J & J Racing's engine guru and co-owner, Roy Johnson, make more than enough power to put him and teammate Allen Johnson among the top eight in points.

"That's the hardest part to swallow, is knowing that we have the power," Stevens said. "I believe we're on an equal playing field with the front-runners right now. We just have to get [the power] to the ground. It's like having a steak and not having the fork or the knife to eat it with. Mark [Ingersoll, Stevens' and Allen Johnson's crew chief] is trying to figure it out, and I have faith in him. He's a hard worker, and we'll get it figured out and start to shine."

250 is the magic number for Allen Johnson at Houston

Allen Johnson, driver of the Mopar/J & J Racing Dodge Stratus R/T, will reach one career milestone at Texas, with another in sight. The event will mark his 250th race appearance. If Johnson reaches the semifinals, he will have competed in his 250th round of NHRA POWERade drag racing. The career milestones have Johnson feeling a bit more "mature."

"We've had a ball and have been very fortunate to compete in as many races as we have," said Johnson. "I still feel like a rookie out there, but now I get Richie and others calling me 'old man.'"

Johnson's father, engine tuner and co-owner, Roy Johnson, continues his remarkable recovery after suffering a heart attack in late February at the Checker Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals in Phoenix. Johnson returned to work at the NHRA Gatornationals, less than two weeks after his heart attack.

"He's [Roy] right back to himself," said Johnson. "You wouldn't think anything had happened to him. You wouldn't believe he was sick."

With his father healthy, Johnson has his mind set on a close encounter with a Wally trophy at the O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals this weekend.

"I think we're right on target, although I know we haven't shown it yet," Allen Johnson said. "We're going to go to Dallas and test, and then go down to Houston and try to prove it."

-credit: tm

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Richie Stevens Jr. , Allen Johnson , Eric Medlen , Don Schumacher , Roy Johnson