Team Mopar Driver Johnson Seizes Second Consecutive No. 1 Spot at Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals
Allen Johnson continued to burnish his reputation as “King of Thunder Mountain,” steering his Mopar® Dodge Avenger NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Pro Stock car to a second straight No. 1 spot today at the 32nd Annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals. Johnson will battle Steve Kalkowski in the opening round tomorrow with a third straight Denver win and fourth in five years in his sights.
Johnson moved up from the No. 2 position into the top spot with a superb 6.983-second elapsed time at 197.13 mph in the first Saturday session. Fellow Mopar HEMI®-powered Pro Stocker and Lakewood, Colo. native V. Gaines briefly knocked Johnson off his perch with a 6.982/196.76 run, but the Team Mopar veteran reclaimed the pole with a 6.978/197.65 mark in the final pair of the day to earn his third No. 1 spot at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals, second of the year and 17th of his career.
“We would like to copy this Mopar race and take it to every event,” said Johnson, who is also looking to advance to his fifth straight final round at Bandimere Speedway. “Being here with Mopar and all the executives, and doing this in front of them, that makes it special. V. has been fast the whole weekend, and he’s another Mopar driver who runs the HEMI. If he had taken it that would have been great too, but we take this place sort of special. We’re the flagship for Mopar, and we take it personal.
“We’ve worked really, really hard because it is the Mopar feature event. We’re the Mopar car and we’ve tested our butts off here over the last six, eight, ten years to develop a combination with the HEMI to run fast up here. We want to show out for all the Mopar executives; it’s a lot of extra incentive. Dad (Roy Johnson) tunes those Mopar HEMIs up better every run. It’s a progression. We have a little bit left on the table; we didn’t get it all in that run.”
Hometown favorite Gaines remained pumped despite being edged out of his first career No. 1 spot. “We’re No. 2, and even better than that, out of the first four cars, three are Mopars,” said Gaines, who will face Ronnie Humphrey to start eliminations. “That’s exciting. Allen is still king of the hill, but we’re going to come out firing at him. It’s fantastic, having all our friends and family from the area here cheering us on.”
Mopar-powered Pro Stockers crowded the top of the qualifying charts, with rookie phenom Vincent Nobile scoring the No. 4 spot with a 6.996/196.39 effort. Nobile will face Kurt Johnson in the first stanza tomorrow.
Mopar Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car driver Matt Hagan, sporting special Mopar graphics on his ride for the second straight year at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals, remained No. 3 but recorded the two quickest passes in each session today. The Don Schumacher Racing star notched a 4.283/289.76 effort in his first run today and improved in his final attempt with a 4.238/293.41 pass. He’ll face Melanie Troxel tomorrow in Round One.