Epping, N.H. – Allen Johnson drove the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Avenger to the winner’s circle and a third national title this season after two key holeshot wins in the eliminations rounds of the Inaugural Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals giving him sole possession of second place in the Pro Stock championship points standings.
In order to advance to his fifth final round eliminations appearance of the year, Johnson defeated points leader Mike Edwards in the semifinals on a holeshot with a 0.0270-second reaction time.
“Both those guys were tough but this Mopar Express Lane Dodge Avenger team is bad to the bone,” Johnson said. “We had a great day and we just kept adapting to the track.
Our team really worked hard and that was a fantastic run we put together in the finals. We made a radical change after the semifinals to get ready for the finals, and it really worked. We found something that will help the rest of the year.”
“We’ve done a lot of testing and now the testing is over,” Johnson added. “We’re in race form for the rest of the regular season and heading into the Countdown. Working with Jeggy (Coughlin Jr.) and Vincent (Nobile) has made us all stronger. We’re all clicking and working together and we’re going to start our championship march here.”
“All of us at Mopar are excited to see Allen (Johnson) earn a third national title this season and to see him do it in that manner at the new venue at the New England Nationals is fantastic,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group’s service, parts and customer-care brand.
“Allen and the Mopar Express Lane team are working hard and getting good results amongst some tough Pro Stock competition and we’re looking forward to seeing them contend for more wins in their quest to defend the Championship.”
Jeg Coughlin Jr. earned the No. 1 qualifier honors at New England Dragway and had a first round bye before defeating fellow HEMI®-powered teammate Vincent Nobile. The driver of the Jegs.com Mopar was hoping to make his 43rd birthday celebrations a little bigger with a trip to the final round in elimination.
However, even with a near perfect 0.001-second reaction time in his semifinal match-up against eventual runner-up Gray, Coughlin shut down early with an e.t. of 6.927 seconds (198.38 mph) to his competitors clean 6.638-second run (210.24 mph).
"It's not the way I dreamed of celebrating my birthday," said Coughlin who now sits third in the standings. "But, we went some rounds and earned some points, so it wasn't all bad. I'm just hungry for another win."
In Funny Car action, Matt Hagan was upset in the first round after losing traction while in the lead and getting nipped at the finish by Blake Alexander. Despite the loss, the driver of the “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” Dodge Charger R/T retains the championship points lead. Teammate Johnny Gray also lost in the first round to Tim Wilkerson but also remains third in the standings.
Defending world title holder Jack Beckman and his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps both drove their Mopars to the semifinal round to face the father and daughter duo from the Force Racing camp. Beckman had the lead on Courtney Force with the finish line in his sights before he saw his race and a shot a final round appearance go up in flames.
Capps’ match up with John Force was their 68th and, for only the second time in the last ten meetings, he suffered a loss to the 15 time NHRA World Champ after hazing the tires off the start. Beckman and Capps both slide a little in the standings to the sixth and seventh place respectively in the tight Funny Car points chase.
The next stop for Mopar teams and drivers is Chicago’s Route 66 Raceway for the 16th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries, the 12th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, on June 27-30.