Allen Johnson to Start No. 3 in Mopar Dodge Avenger at Vegas
Las Vegas, Nev. — Mopar® Dodge Avenger NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Pro Stock pilot Allen Johnson moved up the qualifying charts today, jumping from the seventh spot to seize the third starting position in the elimination rounds tomorrow of the Big O Tires NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Johnson will face off with Greg Stanfield in the opening stanza tomorrow.
Under a bright Vegas sun and track temps of 96 degrees, the Team Mopar veteran made his move in the first qualifying session today, recording a 6.630-second elapsed time (ET) with a speed of 208.33 mph to place himself among the top three starters. Johnson posted passes of 6.654/208.07 and 6.656/207.62 in his two runs on Friday; in his final effort today, the Greeneville, Tenn. native suffered a transmission malfunction and shut his car down shortly after leaving the starting line.
“We’ve been consistent, aside from that final run, and we moved up some spots, so it was a great day overall,” said Johnson, who will seek his second win of the season tomorrow and first of his career at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. “We had a pretty good hit in that first session today, and I think we’ve got a great set up for tomorrow. I think the conditions tomorrow should be similar to today, and we’ll be ready for it.”
Johnson has also been hosting a most unwelcome visitor this weekend — a persistent flu bug.
“I’m just sucking it up, taking some Alka-Seltzer, and going for it,” said Johnson, who is currently sixth in the Pro Stock Countdown to the Championship standings. “This J&J Racing team is focused on moving up into the top five of the standings by the end of the year, and grabbing as many wins as we can. We’re looking to finish up strong at Vegas, and then Pomona.”
Johnson will be joined in eliminations tomorrow by two additional Mopar-powered Dodge Avenger Pro Stock drivers, Vincent Nobile and V. Gaines. Nobile, looking for his second-straight win after his triumph in the previous NHRA event in Phoenix, will start No. 11 tomorrow and go heads-up with Larry Morgan in the opening round. No. 15 qualifier V. Gaines will battle Jason Line.
In Funny Car qualifying Mopar-powered Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) Dodge Charger R/T driver Ron Capps, who failed to qualify for the first time in four years at the NHRA Phoenix event, rebounded with a vengeance, taking the pole with a 4.080/315.49 effort, and will draw Todd Lesenko in Round 1.
Fellow DSR driver Johnny Gray also had an eventful final qualifying run, with an explosion under the hood of his Dodge Charger sending a portion of the car body high in the air, turning his Funny Car into a convertible. Gray walked away from the incident unscathed and will start No. 10 tomorrow against Melanie Troxel. Matt Hagan will begin fifth in his Mopar-fueled DSR Dodge and line up against Tim Wilkerson, with Jack Beckman, No. 8, squaring off with 15-time Funny Car champ John Force.