Gainesville: Team Mopar Saturday summary

Richie Stevens Jr. failed to qualify today for the ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals, the first time this season. His last DNQ came at the Auto Club NHRA Finals in Pomona, Calif., in 2006. After two solid runs on Friday (6.688/205.63 and...

Richie Stevens Jr. failed to qualify today for the ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals, the first time this season. His last DNQ came at the Auto Club NHRA Finals in Pomona, Calif., in 2006.

After two solid runs on Friday (6.688/205.63 and 6.681/207.02), Stevens was in No. 10. Cooler conditions in the final two sessions resulted in track-record-breaking runs, but Stevens, driving the Team Mopar/Valspar Dodge Stratus R/T, was unable to take advantage and struggled to get down the quarter-mile, veering out of the groove in each run, resulting in 9.575/96.08 and 10.399/85.71 passes.

"I wish we knew what was wrong," said Stevens. "We test all last week and make good runs and come to the race track and we look just like we looked in Phoenix. It's not a power issue, we definitely have power. We have a car problem. And it's on both sides. Allen (Johnson, his J&J Racing teammate) also had a car problem in that last session. We have to figure out what's wrong."

***

Allen Johnson qualified No. 9 for the ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals, driving the Mopar/J&J Racing Dodge Stratus R/T.

His first two passes (6.663/206.83 and 6.644/206.67) were strong, placing him in the No. 2 spot. He fell to No. 8 following the third session (6.602/208.42), then finally into ninth when he experienced similar problems to Stevens' in the final pass, posting a 14.856/57.80.

"We just continue to struggle with these cars," said Johnson. "I don't know how to work any harder or any smarter. This is a time when the big boys know what to do and work a little harder, I guess.

"We qualified well, but we just barely got in. We didn't get down the track the last run either. The car continues to plague us. I guess we just have to work a little harder.

"The positive thing is we're making decent power early in the season, but we can't give up much more or we're going to find ourselves really in a bad position."

Johnson faces Jeg Coughlin in first round of eliminations on Sunday.

-credit: tm/dsr

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Richie Stevens Jr. , Allen Johnson