LOCAL FAVORITE ALLEN JOHNSON SECURES NO. 1 QUALIFIER Force Hood, Brown also top respective qualifying fields BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Local-favorite Allen Johnson from nearby Greeneville, Tenn. moved around Mike Edwards on Saturday with a 6.722-second...
LOCAL FAVORITE ALLEN JOHNSON SECURES NO. 1 QUALIFIER
Force Hood, Brown also top respective qualifying fields
BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Local-favorite Allen Johnson from nearby Greeneville, Tenn. moved around Mike Edwards on Saturday with a 6.722-second pass at 205.10 mph to secure the No. 1 qualifier in Pro Stock at the 10th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals.
The other No. 1 qualifiers at the 12th of 23 races in the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season were Antron Brown (Top Fuel) and Ashley Force Hood (Funny Car).
Edwards was the only overnight qualifying leader to get bumped on Saturday and it's only the third time this season that the driver of the Penhall/Interstate Batteries Pontiac GXP has failed to lead the Pro Stock qualifying field.
Of the three No. 1s not won by Edwards, Allen Johnson and the second-place Mopar Dodge Avenger team have two of them (Jeg Coughlin and the third-place JEGS.com Chevy team have the other).
He'll face the 97-time winner Warren Johnson (no relation), the winningest Pro Stock driver in NHRA history, in the first round of Sunday's race, which begins at Noon.
"It's been awhile since we've had our whole family here, but this weekend, family, friends, employees, everybody is here and Dad (crew chief Roy Johnson) worked so hard and has for 20-something years at this. To come out here and do this, it's just so emotional for me," Johnson said.
Force Hood set the top-qualifying mark in her Castrol GTX Ford Mustang -- her second this season -- with a 4.151-second pass at 296.70 mph in Friday's night qualifying session and it held up through the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday.
"Today definitely is setting everyone up for tomorrow just because the conditions will be similar, so we'll take what we learned from our two runs," said Force Hood. "It was kind of both ends of the spectrum. One run we didn't get down, and the other we basically got down almost the whole way until it started to spin. That will help us for (Sunday), kind of give us boundaries for how much the track will take without pushing it too much."
Force Hood will open with Jeff Diehl and if she wins would face the winner of the Tim Wilkerson-Melanie Troxel first-round matchup.
"I think it's going to be exciting for the fans (Sunday) because it's going to be very unpredictable what's going to happen. This is not a race that goes along on paper what you think is going to happen. I think people that either can recover from tire smoke and get their car down or even people that just get A to B are going to have the best shot at winning the race tomorrow, so obviously we'll try to get A to B but if that doesn't happen, I'll do my best to pedal it and get it down there, but this is a very tricky track."
There are several intriguing first-round matchups including Bob Tasca-Ron Capps, Robert Hight-Del Worsham and Cruz Pedregon-Tony Pedregon.
No change in Top Fuel either as Brown secured the No. 1 with a 3.856-second pass at 314.24 mph on Friday night and it held up Saturday. It was Brown's fourth No. 1 this season in his Matco Tools dragster, tying him with Cory McClenathan for most in Top Fuel.
"The track today is as hot as it has been all weekend long, and it's just tricky," said Brown. "That last run, it was actually spinning out there before the finish line, so it popped a little early, and we still went a 4-flat. I think if tomorrow we can run anywhere between a 3.97 to a 4-flat or 4.01, that's what it's going to take to win rounds tomorrow. I've got all the confidence in the world in my team, and when the weather gets like this, we can definitely get our car A to B. I feel confident for tomorrow, but we've just got to take it one round at a time.
Brown will certainly have no easy ones as he will open with Doug Kalitta, who's ahead of him in the point standings.
"We've got Doug Kalitta first round tomorrow. He qualified 16th, but he's no 16th qualifier. Tomorrow they could be on their P's and Q's, and it will be like a final-round match-up first round. Nobody in a million years thinks you'd qualify No. 1 and have to race Doug Kalitta first round. It's going to be a tough one for sure tomorrow, but we're looking forward to that challenge."
Two of the other must-see first-round matchups in Top Fuel are Tony Schumacher vs. Doug Herbert and Larry Dixon vs. Morgan Lucas.