Allen Johnson and Richie Stevens Jr. Peaking as Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals Draw Near * Allen Johnson remains single minded in quest for the Countdown to 4 * Richie Stevens Jr. will break in a new car at Atlanta Center ...
Allen Johnson and Richie Stevens Jr. Peaking as Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals Draw Near
* Allen Johnson remains single minded in quest for the Countdown to 4
* Richie Stevens Jr. will break in a new car at Atlanta
Center Line, Mich. -- The Team Mopar® NHRA POWERade Pro Stock duo of Allen Johnson and Richie Stevens Jr., have stated their goals for the season clearly and repeatedly: Qualify near the top of the field, get down the track consistently and go rounds. Having met those goals at the events in Houston and Las Vegas, the Mopar Pro Stockers will look to make it three solid outings in-a-row at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals in Commerce, Ga. on April 27--29, 2007.
After qualifying his HEMI®-powered Mopar/J & J Racing Dodge Stratus R/T third and making a finals appearance at Houston, Johnson followed with the No. 4 qualifying spot and a semifinals showing at Las Vegas. Stevens qualified his Team Mopar/Valspar Dodge Stratus R/T sixth and advanced to the quarterfinals at Houston. He posted the same showing at Las Vegas -- sixth in qualifying with a quarterfinals appearance.
The Mopar and J & J Racing teammates' mantra has paid off: Stevens has moved from 14th to 11th in the NHRA POWERade Pro Stock points standings, while Johnson has come from as far back as 16th to currently hold fifth in the points race. With the Countdown to 4 present in their minds, Johnson and Stevens will continue to battle their way up the points ladder this weekend at Atlanta Dragway. NHRA POWERade's new points playoff system cuts the field down to the top eight drivers after the 17th race, and down to the top four drivers for the Countdown to 1 after the 21st event.
Allen Johnson remains single minded in quest for the Countdown to 4 No one can accuse Johnson, Team Mopar's longtime veteran, of lacking focus. For the last few months, Johnson hasn't wavered from his claim of consistent outings for himself and Stevens as the key to making the NHRA POWERade's Countdown to 4.
"We're just trying to qualify in the top eight, get lane choice, and go a couple of rounds, and that puts you in the top eight for every race," said Johnson. "You know, just put our selves in a position of consistency, so we are there when the Countdown to 4 comes. I think we have the tools to make it happen. Each week is just as tough as the last, and you have to do it week in and week out. We just have to get down the track every time and be consistent."
Johnson, who captured his second career NHRA Pro Stock win at Atlanta in 2002, is optimistic about the NHRA Southern Nationals.
"Atlanta can be a really good track to you, or a really bad track to you," Johnson observed. "It's one of those tracks on the circuit that usually isn't very good. Usually, we shine on those kinds of tracks. I'm looking for a very good outing, but, again, we're just going to get down the track every run and try to be consistent."
Another crucial key to Johnson's and Stevens' recent string of solid outings has been Allen's dad, J & J Racing's Roy Johnson, who builds and tunes the engines for both drivers. He suffered two heart attacks during the Phoenix event in February. [Roy] Johnson is back to his old self, working his HEMI magic and squeezing out every last bit of horsepower for his son and Richie.
"I just left the race shop," said [Allen] Johnson. "He [Roy] is feeling very good and working on another new engine. The engine that was in my car at Vegas was new, and he's got a combination that might be a little better. He's trying to get another engine done. He's always looking for more power."
Richie Stevens Jr. will break in a new car at NHRA Southern Nationals With two straight quarterfinals appearances, Stevens hopes his new car will put him in the winner's circle at the NHRA Southern Nationals.
"From a driver's standpoint, moving over to a new car isn't really a big deal," Stevens said. "They kind of built it for me, and I will adapt to it real well. It should be a pretty smooth transition; the car was built identical to the one that Allen is racing now, so it shouldn't be that big of a change. We're going to make some test runs and break it in and see how it fares."
A planned test session earlier in the week at St. Louis was set to get any bugs out of Stevens' Don Schumacher Racing-owned Mopar/Valspar Dodge Stratus R/T before he hits Georgia this weekend.
"By getting about 12-15 runs during the test session, he [Stevens] should be able to get the car where he is happy with it," Johnson said. "It might even pick him up a little bit more. My car, which is new, seemed to be a tad quicker than the one that he had been using."
Like Johnson, Stevens has had past success at this event, taking the runner-up spot at the event in 1999.
"I've done good in the past at the NHRA Southern Nationals," Stevens said. "I had the runner-up spot a few years back, and I've went to the semis a few times. I had a DNQ last year, so it's kind of been one of those up-and-down tracks. We'll go out there and test real well and head on out.
"I feel good. We ran good at Houston, we ran good out there last week in Vegas. We're on an upswing now, and it should continue. I hope this new car will bring some more good luck to us and we'll keep on rising up."
-credit: dodge motorsports