Let the Battle Begin: Team Mopar's Johnson Commences Countdown to 1 Playoffs Fight at NHRA Carolinas Nationals Johnson looks for fast start in six-race NHRA playoffs Auburn Hills, Mich. -- Six races. That's what the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag...
Let the Battle Begin: Team Mopar's Johnson Commences Countdown to 1 Playoffs Fight at NHRA Carolinas Nationals Johnson looks for fast start in six-race NHRA playoffs
Auburn Hills, Mich. -- Six races. That's what the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series boils down to for Allen Johnson. The Mopar/J&J Racing Dodge Stratus R/T driver is fifth in the standings entering the NHRA Countdown to 1 playoffs and would love to kick his title push in gear with a victory at the first playoff stop, the NHRA Carolinas Nationals. The event is scheduled for Sept. 17--20 at zMax Dragway in Concord, N.C.
Johnson ran his Mopar HEMI-powered Pro Stock Dodge through its paces during two days of test sessions last week at zMax Dragway, endeavoring to master the ins-and-outs of the quarter-mile, which debuted in 2008 on the NHRA circuit. The Team Mopar driver says he will enter the first event in the six-race Countdown to 1 playoffs with excitement and confidence.
"We are really looking forward to it. I feel like even though we had a hiccup at Indy [in a first-round exit at the Mac Tool U.S. Nationals], it was my fault and we know why it happened, so it can be easily corrected," Johnson said. "I really believe our Mopar HEMI engines, our J&J Racing Dodge Stratus, myself--we are at the top of our game entering the Countdown to 1, where it really means something. I'm looking forward to the challenge of it, looking forward to getting to it and finishing the year up in a way that will really make everyone at Mopar and Chrysler Group LLC proud."
Johnson earned a playoffs bid for the third consecutive year. The Greeneville, Tenn., native has now qualified for the Countdown in each of the three years since the NHRA adopted the playoff format.
"Our success in the Countdown is very telling in and of itself, of the success our team and of the power and performance of our Mopar parts and Mopar HEMI engines," said Johnson. "To be in the last ladder of the Countdown to 1 in the first season of the playoffs, back in 2007, and to make the playoffs again in 2008 and this year as well, it speaks to the experience, talent and dedication of the Mopar/J&J Racing squad."
The NHRA's recently announced modifications to its point system may help Johnson and his team in their fight for a first Pro Stock title. Teams with the quickest elapsed time (E.T.) during each qualifying session will receive bonus points. A team that records low E.T. all four sessions could receive a total of 12 bonus points during qualifying. Johnson has been extremely consistent in qualifying throughout 2009, placing his Mopar-powered Dodge in the top half of the field in 16 of 18 NHRA events thus far. Johnson also captured the No. 1 Qualifier Award at the Seattle NHRA event in July.
"I think it [the new point system] favors us, maybe not as much as Mike Edwards [winner of nine Pro Stock No. 1 Qualifier Awards in 2009], but it does play into our hands," Johnson remarked. "We've been among the best in the Pro Stock class during qualifying over the last two years. If we can continue or even better our track record during qualifying come the playoffs, the added bonus points will sure help our push to bring home a championship."