Joliet: Mopar's Friday summary

Allen Johnson grabs provisional number one Could be a first for the Tennessee resident JOLIET, Ill. (May 30, 2003) -- Mopar's Allen Johnson has grabbed the provisional No. 1 position after the first day of qualifying for this weekend's Lucas...

Allen Johnson grabs provisional number one

Could be a first for the Tennessee resident

JOLIET, Ill. (May 30, 2003) -- Mopar's Allen Johnson has grabbed the provisional No. 1 position after the first day of qualifying for this weekend's Lucas Oil Products NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway.

Johnson, 43, has never collected the top spot in qualifying, but his Hemi-powered Dodge Neon R/T drove through the traps with a 6.824-second elapsed time at 201.94 mph. His speed is also number one thus far.

"I feels real good about our runs today," Johnson said. "It's the first time I've ever led qualifying after the first day. Weather is supposed to change for tomorrow -- so we're going to see if we can hang on. But we'll take it for now.

"Both runs were awesome and were at the top of the qualifying page," Johnson added. "The engine is really accelerating well this weekend. It's such a great race track and that's why you're seeing the great times. I think these Hemi engines will run well in any conditions -- and it's just been a matter of learning how to tune them. We ran on Monday out in Topeka (Kan.) and it was really fast then. Unfortunately that didn't count."

The Greeneville, Tenn., resident made a final-round appearance at the season-opening Winternationals at Pomona (Calif.) Raceway. Johnson joined Mopar's factory program at the beginning of the 2003 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series season -- and is going after a third career national event victory.

A factory Mopar car also picked up the No. 1 qualifier the last time the NHRA visited Route 66 Raceway, as 2002 Rookie of the Year Gene Wilson nabbed his first-career top qualifier last fall.

Teammate Darrell Alderman, a three-time POWERade Pro Stock World Champion, didn't fare as well. The Morehead, Ky., resident is on the outside looking in after the first two sessions. He ran a 6.922-second elapsed 199.85 mph.

"We were just trying to get data on that second run," said Alderman, who missed the first round of qualifying due to a broken wheelie bar. "We're going to have to tune it up a little bit for tomorrow. The car didn't feel bad out there, but I think we'll lean it down a bit for the third session."

Wilson was positive about his second qualifying effort, despite not placing his Mopar Parts Dodge Stratus R/T into the top 16. The Georgia resident logged a 6.898-second elapsed time at 200.08 mph.

"We made an awesome run on that last one," Wilson said. "It felt really nice, unfortunately, it was done with the air pretty bad. It was three or four hundred feet worse than it was for the first run. It wasn't conducive to making a run good enough to get into the field. Nonetheless, we have the car where it needs to be. We're going to have some nice air tomorrow, so we think we can get into the show. We have a real good baseline for tomorrow and I feel real good."

Larry Morgan and his Mopar Parts Dodge Neon R/T were unable to make the top 16. His best pass of the weekend is at 6.912 seconds and 199.55 mph.

-Mopar.com-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Darrell Alderman , Larry Morgan , Gene Wilson , Allen Johnson