Johnson Begins Final Two Races of Countdown to 4 While Stevens Looks for Repeat as Defending Champ at O'Reilly NHRA Fall Nationals Center Line, Mich. -- Allen Johnson, the Team MoparÂ® Pro Stock veteran, has only two races remaining in the ...
Johnson Begins Final Two Races of Countdown to 4 While Stevens Looks for Repeat as Defending Champ at O'Reilly NHRA Fall Nationals
Center Line, Mich. -- Allen Johnson, the Team Mopar® Pro Stock veteran, has only two races remaining in the Countdown to 4 playoffs as he heads into the O'Reilly NHRA Fall Nationals in Dallas this weekend. Currently fourth in the NHRA POWERade Pro Stock standings, Johnson needs to maintain at least the fourth position in the last two events of the playoff in order to qualify for the next step, the Countdown to 1. The Countdown to 1 whittles the field of drivers from eight to four. With just a two-point lead on the fifth-place driver Kurt Johnson, every qualifying spot and every round win this weekend in Dallas is crucial to Johnson's championship hopes.
Johnson's Mopar/HEMI®-powered teammate, Richie Stevens Jr., enters the O'Reilly NHRA Fall Nationals as defending champion. Stevens had an encouraging outing at the previous event in Memphis, scoring a round win and moving up to ninth in points. The Louisiana native will look to ride that recent round win and his successful Dallas track record into his first victory lane appearance of the season.
Two races remain in Countdown to 4 for Allen Johnson Johnson enters the O'Reilly NHRA Fall Nationals with little room to spare in his championship quest. Only the top four drivers in the points will have the chance to move on to the Countdown to 1 two-race battle for the championship. The championship begins at the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals that is scheduled for Oct. 25-28. Johnson and his Mopar/J&J Racing team are working hard to ensure a strong Dallas outing so their title dreams will be alive when the Las Vegas event rolls around.
"We haven't got any room to spare now. We're sort of in a 'got to do it' situation," Johnson said. "We aren't going to be very, very aggressive, but we do have to get down the track in the first round and second round. We've got the motor and we've got everything else."
To that end, Johnson and company have held test sessions in the Dallas area to fine-tune the set-up on the Mopar/J&J Racing Dodge Stratus R/T.
"We just weren't happy with the last two or three races," remarked Johnson. "The car was shaking when the track was hot and grimy. We did some testing at a hot and slick track and tested some chassis components to try to fix that because we can't afford another boo-boo. We just haven't been making good runs since Reading. Our approach is the same. We just have to have a set-up for a hot, slick track."
With just two races before the Countdown to 1 kicks off, Johnson knows the time is now to solidify his position in the title battle.
"We've got the set-up for it," said Johnson. "We just need to do our thing."
Richie Stevens Jr. aims for second-straight win at O'Reilly NHRA Fall Nationals Last year, Stevens' win at the O'Reilly NHRA Fall Nationals began a stretch of two wins in the last five races. His 2006 Dallas performance is one the Don Schumacher Racing driver would love to repeat.
"Heading into this race in Dallas I'm the defending champ. It feels good," Stevens said. "It's the first time I could say that in a long time. Hopefully we can go out there and repeat our performance from last year. We had a real consistent car and that's what led us to win the race. We're just going to try to go back with that same mind set. Hopefully we can qualify in the top-half on Sunday and have lane choice. We just want to go out there and have a consistent car that can get down the track every time."
Stevens also tested with Johnson earlier this week, working out any bugs that may hinder his goal of repeating as the Dallas champion.
"We worked on the first 300 feet of the track. That's where we have had the most problems," Stevens observed. "We worked on those issues to try to find the happy spot."
Although out of the Countdown playoffs, Stevens continues to chase his goal of a sixth career top 10 NHRA Pro Stock points finish.
"We're going to try to keep gaining ground," said Stevens. "It's going to be between V. Gaines, Jim Yates and myself, fighting for the last two spots in the top 10. I just need to keep ahead of them."