National: Johnny Ahten Pomona summary

Career Best Accelerates Ahten to Second Round Finish Pomona, Calif. -- Johnny Ahten, the flame-chasing fire fighter from Santa Clarita, Calif., ended his 2009 NHRA season recording a career best elapsed time and speed in qualifying at the season...

Career Best Accelerates Ahten to Second Round Finish

Pomona, Calif. -- Johnny Ahten, the flame-chasing fire fighter from Santa Clarita, Calif., ended his 2009 NHRA season recording a career best elapsed time and speed in qualifying at the season ending NHRA Auto Club World Finals held this past weekend in Pomona. His 5.256 second blast at 269.78 miles per hour was good enough to place him in the number two qualified position heading into final eliminations.

"That was one heck of a ride," noted Ahten the driver of the Headman Headers/Lucas Oil 'Stump Puller' A/Fuel Dragster. "As soon as I smacked the throttle, I knew it was on one heck of a pass. When I got to half track it kept pulling. And when I crossed the finish line I shouted 'Yee Haw'. We've found some exceptional performance with this old car and we believe it's a sign of better performance to come."

Ahten began eliminations on Saturday evening versus the number 15 qualifier Derek Flynn, who traveled to Southern California from Alton Hampshire, UK to drive an A/Fuel Dragster owned by Larry Meirsch. The race was over before it began as Flynn left the starting line -0.123 seconds too early and triggered the red light and handing Ahten a round one victory. "We got lucky on that pass as Flynn had us beat," Ahten said. "The car left well but then shook very violently about 100 feet past the starting line. I saw the red light in his lane and clicked it early to save some parts for Sunday."

In the second round, Ahten matched up against Brittney Force, driving the potent A/Fuel Dragster of Jerry Darien. Ahten grabbed a huge 0.077 second advantage in reaction time over Force as the two cars left the starting line. His car continued charging down the Pomona quarter mile until about 330 feet when a mechanical issue with the ignition system caused the car to drop a cylinder. The car continued to lose horse power and cylinders, permitting Force to pass him in the last 100 feet of the 1320 foot track which handed the college student from Yorba Linda the round two win. Her 5.294 second E.T. was good enough to eclipse Ahtens 5.388 second 248.93 MPH run.

"The car was on a 5.20 elapsed time run until the ignition system let us down," noted Ahten. "I could be upset about this, but we have made tremendous strides this season. I am so proud of the work that Howard Katano, my Dad Al, Uncle Bob, Todd "Rocky" Rockwell and Kevin "Shark" Colvell have put forth this season. Without the support of Lucas Oil, Headman Headders and Island Renovations there is no way I could be lucky enough to drive this car. I am blessed to be surrounded by great people and I am truly excited for 2010."

-credit: jaPR

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