After Near Tragedy Last Year, Allen Johnson of Team MoparÂ® Sees Checker Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals as a Time to Celebrate Center Line, Mich. -- The 2007 Checker Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals could not have gone worse for Team MoparÂ® Pro...
After Near Tragedy Last Year, Allen Johnson of Team Mopar® Sees Checker Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals as a Time to Celebrate
Center Line, Mich. -- The 2007 Checker Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals could not have gone worse for Team Mopar® Pro Stock driver Allen Johnson. He suffered his only Did Not Qualify (DNQ) of the season. More importantly, his father and engine builder, Roy Johnson, was stricken by a near-fatal heart attack while working at the track.
With his father by his side, Johnson views his return to this year's Checker Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals, scene of one of the worst weekends of his racing career, as a time of rebirth and celebration.
"We've got Dad an appointment early Thursday morning with the people who saved his life. They're going to check him out and give him a physical," said Johnson of his father, who had to be rushed from the track last year to a local hospital and was shocked back to life by doctors. The elder Johnson didn't miss a beat, however, and was back turning the wrenches on his son's Mopar/J&J Racing Dodge Stratus R/T Pro Stock car at the next event, the NHRA Gatornationals.
Johnson, a Greeneville, Tenn., native, added, "We've got the opportunity to turn a really bad weekend last year into a really great weekend this year. It's just more of a celebration that we are able to go back there with Dad. He's been doing great. The stance we're taking is that it happened for a reason, it's a good thing, and we're going to go back there and celebrate it with a win this weekend."
"With a track record of steady and consistent performances, Allen and the J&J Racing team must be considered among the elite squads on the NHRA POWERade Pro Stock Series," said Rob Richard, Director of Global Mopar Parts, Sales and Service Marketing, Chrysler LLC. "On so many levels, it's great they are returning to Phoenix on such a positive note."
Johnson is focused on continuing his strong start for Team Mopar® at the 2008 NHRA POWERade Pro Stock Series If Johnson can follow up his semifinals showing at Pomona with a strong performance this weekend at the Checker Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals, he'll have even more reason to celebrate his return to Firebird International Raceway. Following his DNQ at Phoenix last year, Johnson was shuffled back to 16th in the NHRA Pro Stock points heading into the NHRA Gatornationals. Currently fourth in the Pro Stock points, a continued fast start could go a long way to rocketing Johnson to his first NHRA Pro Stock title.
"I think it would definitely be a plus any time you're doing well," observed Johnson. "It would be nice to be leading the points after Indy [the U.S. Nationals] so we can get the 30-point bonus. That's what we are shooting for [the NHRA Countdown to 10 regular season will end after the 18th event, the U.S. Nationals. The top 10 drivers will then have their points reset in 10-point increments, with the points leader receiving a 20-point bonus. The top 10 drivers will then advance to the Countdown to 1 six-race title playoff]."
Johnson, the 2005 Phoenix winner, has gained confidence through numerous test sessions in his HEMI®-powered Dodge Stratus R/T early this year. The veteran Team Mopar driver feels the long hours on the track are paying off.
"I think we figured some stuff out in testing and at Pomona," said Johnson. "It really helped us on slick tracks. We'll go to Phoenix this weekend and incorporate that into the set up and hopefully knock their socks off. Our strategy is the same, but just a little more aggressive than last year. I want to win at least five races this year."
-credit: team mopar