After 17 years, Mopar Dodge Avenger driver Allen Johnson and his J&J Racing team can finally claim a long sought after and much-desired label: NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Pro Stock champions.
By qualifying No. 2 for the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals in Pomona, Calif., Johnson clinched the 2012 NHRA Pro Stock title, and will have one last chance to top off a dream year by working towards victory in the elimination rounds of the NHRA Finals on Sunday.
“Allen’s tenacity and competitive spirit is a true testimony to the Mopar DNA. It has been a tremendous season for the J&J team earning six Wallys and 51 round wins in the Dodge Avenger, and we look forward to watching them finish out this championship season by contending for one last win on Sunday.”
Johnson was No. 2 after the first two qualifying sessions with a best pass of 6.537-seconds at 211.56 mph. On his historic day, the Greeneville, Tenn., posted runs of 6.534/211.79 and 6.518/211.99, locking into the field in the second spot and securing his first Pro Stock crown.
“For our whole Mopar team and especially my dad, this is a dream come true after 17 long years, a lot of work, a lot of money and a lot of sweat, and to finally realize it is indescribable,” said Johnson, who brought home the first Pro Stock title for a Mopar driver since 1994, giving the brand a crown during the celebration of its 75th anniversary.
“When we were able to go out there and consistently finish in the top two or three cars, I knew we had a legitimate shot at a championship.
The Mopar Dodge Avenger was the fastest and most consistent car out there and racking up all those little points mid-season made all the difference, and we learned how to win.”
“It’s been quite the journey,” added Johnson. “The first year we started, out of 22 races I qualified only one time, and the second year we qualified just five times.
We started this as a family and built it from there, and to finally reach the pinnacle has taken a long time, but it has been well worth it.”
The championship is the realization of a lifelong dream for Johnson, who began racing in the sportsman Super Stock classes with his father and current engine builder, Roy Johnson, in the late Seventies.
Allen and his father decided to make the leap into the Pro Stock ranks in 1996, beginning a battle for the title filled with many high and lows, a hard-fought, 17-year quest for a Pro Stock championship that ended on Saturday by qualifying for the season finale in Pomona.
“I couldn’t help getting a little emotional, because 44 years ago I started all this, and it’s been 17 years getting here with my son, with a lot of fussing and arguing, but we made it,” said Roy Johnson.
“I had my lights go out in 2007 (Roy suffered a near-fatal heart attack at the NHRA Phoenix event that year), and they shocked me back to life. I’m glad they didn’t leave my lights out, so we could enjoy this moment together.”
“This is just an awesome feeling and everyone has worked super hard for this, and everyone can see that,” said Mark Ingersoll, longtime crew chief for Johnson & Johnson Racing.
“I lost my dad this year, and would have liked to have shared this with him, like Allen and Roy are able to do, but to do this with my racing family is very special.”
“Roy and Allen have put together such a great program here, surrounding themselves with good people who have an unquestionable work ethic, and we made some big gains in the past two years,” said Jim Yates, J&J Racing team engineer, who came onboard last season to provide valuable assistance to Ingersoll and the J&J Racing team. “I think next year is just going to be even better.”
Johnson notched his J&J Racing squad in the NHRA record book as champions thanks to a career season.
Heading into elimination rounds at the NHRA Finals on Sunday, Johnson has earned six wins in 2012, tripling his career best for victories in a season, advanced to a career-best 10 final rounds, claimed 10 No. 1 Qualifier awards, a class-best, and posted a career-best 51-16 round win record thus far.
The Team Mopar veteran will attempt to claim his 16th career win and first ever at Pomona on Sunday.
Elimination rounds for the NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona will begin tomorrow at 11 a.m. PT, with Johnson set to lineup against Greg Stanfield in the opening round.
Mopar-powered Dodge Charger R/T NHRA Funny Car drivers Jack Beckman and Ron Capps (who claimed the Funny Car pole on Saturday) are also favorites for the 2012 NHRA Funny Car championship, as the duo are 1-2, respectively, entering tomorrow, giving the Mopar brand the chance for a two-championship haul this weekend.