Sonoma: Allen Johnson preview

Sonoma Victory Would be Sweeter Than Wine for Team Mopar's Johnson Johnson hopes to go 2-for-3 on NHRA's 2009 Western Swing with Sonoma win Center Line, Mich. -- The famous exhortation "Go West, young man," might well be the mantra of Team Mopar...

Sonoma Victory Would be Sweeter Than Wine for Team Mopar's Johnson Johnson hopes to go 2-for-3 on NHRA's 2009 Western Swing with Sonoma win

Center Line, Mich. -- The famous exhortation "Go West, young man," might well be the mantra of Team Mopar NHRA Full Throttle Pro Stock driver Allen Johnson. The Greeneville, Tenn., native has captured three of his seven career victories during the NHRA's annual three-race Western Swing through Denver, Seattle and Sonoma, including his most recent win at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals on July 12. Johnson will attempt to go 2-for-3 on the 2009 Western Swing with a triumph at the Fram Autolite NHRA Nationals, scheduled for July 24--26 at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.

Johnson has racked up a remarkable 28-8 round win record on the Western Swing dating back to 2006, with six finals appearances, including victories at Seattle (2006) and Denver (2007, 2009). He has also captured two No. 1 Qualifier Awards, last weekend at Seattle, where he made a semifinals appearance, and at Denver in 2007.

Though Johnson's recent Western Swing hot streak hasn't featured a finals berth or a win at Sonoma, the Mopar/J&J Racing Dodge Stratus R/T driver has experienced success at the venue in the past. He scored a runner-up finish at Infineon Raceway in 2000 and has advanced to the semis at Sonoma a number of times. Johnson also enters the event with a 14-4 round win record dating back to his May victory in the NHRA Topeka event.

"We've got a great car right now, and a great crew," remarked Johnson. "And the Western Swing just gives everybody a boost to their confidence level. Everyone on the team is feeling better now than we ever felt before."

Johnson cited loss of lane choice as the biggest factor in his falling short of his fourth straight finals appearance at Seattle last weekend. According to A.J., it's an error he doesn't intend to repeat at Sonoma.

"The little boo-boo we had in the semis at Seattle, the lanes were changing so much between rounds, and in the second round we didn't make a great run and lost lane choice," Johnson explained. "If we had lane choice in the semis, I think I could have been in the finals again. Every track we go to is like that. The lane conditions are constantly evolving, which just goes to show why it's so important to maintain lane choice. That's our goal going to Sonoma, to qualify in the top half of the field and hold lane choice and win the race.

"We're making great power with our Mopar HEMI engines and I'm driving well. We're really looking forward to Sonoma. It's going to be hot and grimy there and should play right into our set up."

-credit: mopar

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Series NHRA
Drivers Allen Johnson