The prize is near, but Team Mopar driver Allen Johnson knows plenty of work remains in order to reach the ultimate goal: the 2012 NHRA Pro Stock championship. Johnson will start No. 2 and face fellow Mopar-powered driver Deric Kramer in the opening round of eliminations at the NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Johnson enters the Sunday money rounds with an 86-point lead over the second-place Jason Line, with just eight rounds of eliminations remaining: four at Vegas and four at the season-ending event in Pomona, Calif.
“It seems like when the track gets a little warmer it comes into our arena, so we made some changes for the afternoon run and they worked on our Mopar Dodge,” said Johnson, who took the victory in the spring Vegas race, one of a career-best five wins he has earned thus far this year. “That will be a really good race day set up, because the track should be a little warmer tomorrow. I really don’t mind who I’ll be paired up against in eliminations, as I’m going to drive the best I can run every round. Hopefully it’s good enough, and we’ll continue to go rounds.”
The Pro Stock field will be thick with Mopar HEMI-power, as all six Dodge Avenger race cars on the entry list will vie for the Vegas win. Johnson’s young J&J Racing teammate, Vincent Nobile (No. 5, 6.635) will take part in a Mopar vs. Mopar matchup with Chris McGaha (No. 12, 6.653). Veteran Mopar-powered racer V. Gaines (No. 8, 6.639)., searching for back-to-back wins after his recent NHRA Reading triumph, will meet up with No. 9 Warren Johnson. Four-time NHRA Pro Stock champion and Mopar/JEGS.com Dodge Avenger driver Jeg Coughlin Jr. (No. 10, 6.647) will take part in a critical duel of former Pro Stock champs, as he fights it out with Jason Line’s teammate, No. 7 starter Greg Anderson.
The talented quartet of Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car drivers seized prime spots on the Funny Car starting grid. Mopar Dodge Charger R/T DSR pilot Matt Hagan (No. 4, 4.077) will face the Dodge of No. 13 starter Jon Capps. Rounding out the DSR Dodge foursome, Johnny Gray (No. 5, 4.089) will battle No. 12 Tim Wilkerson, current points leader Jack Beckman (No. 7, 4.091), who holds a 24-marker advantage over teammate Ron Capps, will duke it out with John Force. Ron Capps (No. 8, 4.098) will tussle with Tony Pedregon. In addition to the DSR gang, Paul Lee (No. 14, 4.125) was briefly bumped out of the show before racing his Dodge back in on his final attempt. He’ll face No. 1 qualifier Cruz Pedregon.