Sonoma: Team Mopar Saturday notes

STEVENS CLAIMS NO. 7 IN SONOMA QUALIFYING Richie Stevens Jr. drove the Team Mopar/Valspar Dodge Stratus R/T into the No. 7 slot in qualifying for the Fram-Autolite NHRA Nationals at Infineon Raceway, recording a 6.640-second pass at 207.21 mph...


STEVENS CLAIMS NO. 7 IN SONOMA QUALIFYING

Richie Stevens Jr. drove the Team Mopar/Valspar Dodge Stratus R/T into the No. 7 slot in qualifying for the Fram-Autolite NHRA Nationals at Infineon Raceway, recording a 6.640-second pass at 207.21 mph in this morning's third qualifying session.

His other passes included a 6.698/205.29 (No. 4 at the time), 6.652/206.48 during the night session (for No. 9), and finally a 6.672/206.80 in his final attempt in the heat of the Northern California sun.

He will face Kurt Johnson in the opening round of eliminations on Sunday.

"We're in the top half, we've got lane choice, now we have to go the distance," said Stevens, who is 10th in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series point standings and is aiming to move up into the top eight for the Countdown to the Championship, which begins at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis on Labor Day weekend.

"We had a bunch of good runs in qualifying," he added. "It shook a little bit in the last one. We were kind of looking to go a little quicker, but that gave us a good baseline for tomorrow. That's about how the track's going to be for tomorrow (in temperature). We can tune from it, going into first round.

"A.J. (teammate Allen Johnson) made a pretty good run, so we can definitely learn from his too. We've got two good cars, we're both in the top half, we both have lane choice. We need to go some rounds. I need to get myself back up in the points deal and gain some ground on some of those guys ahead of me (V. Gaines in ninth, Larry Morgan in eighth, and Warren Johnson in seventh. There's a 19-point separation between seventh and 10th).

"Allen's got Larry Morgan first round, so hopefully he can do me a favor and take him out. And if I can do my job and go on to round two and keep gaining ground, that will be good."

A.J. HOOKS NO. 2 IN SONOMA QUALIFYING

Allen Johnson hooked himself a No. 2 in Pro Stock qualifying for the Fram-Autolite NHRA Nationals at Infineon Raceway.

The driver of the Mopar/J&J Racing Dodge Stratus R/T set his quickest time of 6.612 seconds at 207.21 mph in the Friday-night session under ideal conditions. It matched Greg Anderson's 6.612-second pass, but Anderson was awarded the No. 1 spot that evening by virtue of his faster speed.

Anderson then went on to establish an even quicker pass of 6.605/208.20 in today's earlier session to solidify his No. 1 position.

Johnson's other passes included a 6.672/206.54, a 6.625/207.56 and a 6.647/207.15.

"It's funny to hear myself say this, but we're a little disappointed we didn't get the pole," said Johnson. "I can't even hardly fathom thinking like that. But we're happy. Same goals as always: get in the top half, get lane choice tomorrow, win first round, then maybe go a couple of more rounds and build some points.

"The Mopar Dodge Stratus has just been flawless all weekend. Richie's is a little bit here and there. They made a run there (in the last session) that will be good to tune on for tomorrow. He'll be fast tomorrow too. We got something for them."

Johnson faces Larry Morgan in the opening round of eliminations on Sunday.

-credit: dsr/mopar

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Series NHRA
Drivers Richie Stevens Jr. , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Greg Anderson , Larry Morgan , Allen Johnson