Team Mopar Driver Johnson Moves to No. 3 in Final NHRA Winternationals Qualifying
Pomona, Calif. (Feb. 26, 2010) -- Team Mopar driver Allen Johnson's wish came true. He was given a chance to move his Mopar Dodge Avenger NHRA Pro Stock car up the qualifying ladder at the Kragen O'Reilly NHRA Winternationals on Saturday and he took full advantage, jumping from the No. 4 to the No. 3 starting position.
Considering Friday qualifying was rained out and today began with the unfamiliar sight of large hail at the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, Johnson was thankful to make a run. The Team Mopar veteran recorded a 6.561-second elapsed time (ET) at 201.80 mph to claim the No. 3 position, bettering his Thursday qualifying mark of 6.568/211.36 mph. Johnson was poised to take the more favorable left lane for his final qualifying pass, but the session was cancelled by NHRA due to cold track temperatures well below 60 degrees.
"We have to be happy. The new chassis seems to be performing like we hoped," said Johnson. "It's very consistent. That run we laid down in the right lane in our Mopar Dodge Avenger, I'm pretty proud of that. I would have loved to been able to make our final qualifying run tonight. I think we could have got the pole."
Johnson's No. 3 starting spot has one distinct drawback--his first-round eliminations foe tomorrow will be Mopar-powered Mountain View Dodge Avenger rookie Vincent Nobile, who qualified No. 14 to make his first Pro Stock field. Nobile competes with Mopar HEMI engines supplied by Johnson's J&J Racing team, setting up a Mopar vs. Mopar veteran-rookie showdown.
"It's a great start to the year, and we'll look to bring home the win for Mopar tomorrow," Johnson said. "I hate that we have to run our teammate in the first round, but that's how the ladder filled out. It is what it is."
"I'm ecstatic," said Nobile of making the show in his first Pro Stock event. "This is the opportunity of a lifetime, and I can't thank (team owners) Nick and Irene Mitsos enough for the chance. It stinks that we have to race our team car, but you've go to do what you've got to do. It's a race, just like you would have to race anyone else."
Rounding out the Mopar-powered Pro Stockers in the field tomorrow is Dodge Avenger driver V. Gaines, who will start No. 6 and face Jason Line in the first round.