Team Mopar driver Allen Johnson posted a solid start in the first race of the NHRA Countdown to the Championship, advancing to the semifinals today in his Mopar Dodge Avenger Pro Stock car at the 56th Annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals.
Johnson took the No. 2 spot and set the track speed record (210.28 mph) during qualifying at O’Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis. The J&J Racing driver and team owner began eliminations at the first event in the six-race NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs by dispatching Steve Spiess with a 6.605-second pass at 209.56 mph.
Johnson was relegated to the subpar right lane in his second-round match against Ron Krisher. The Team Mopar veteran’s 6.631/208.55 pass was slower than Krisher’s, but luck was on Johnson’s side as Krisher fouled out on a red light. A.J.’s luck would run out in the semis against Greg Stanfield. His car shook the tires and slowed shortly after takeoff as Stanfield pulled away for the round win.
“We qualified well, but that right lane was tough,” said Johnson, who made his 11th semifinal round appearance of the season. “We lost lane choice early and it just killed us. It was hard to do anything with that right lane.
“All in all, it was a solid start to the Countdown playoffs. We’ll take it. Hopefully, we’ll get the car back right. Just when we think we’ve got the darn thing perfect, it goes away a bit. We’ll go work over at Charlotte and test on Wednesday, and see if we can hit on a setup for that track. We’ll try to get that edge back.
“The points deal worked in our favor, aside from Mike (Edwards). He’s the one we’re chasing, so we need to match up with him each week.”
V. Gaines defeated Kurt Johnson in the first round and played spoiler in the quarterfinals by knocking off Jeg Coughlin, third in the Countdown playoffs standings entering Indy, with a 6.620/208.91 run. Gaines, who ran low elapsed time in the first two rounds, had defending Pro Stock champion Mike Edwards covered in the semis with a 6.622/209.14 run to Edwards’ 6.656/207.94 mark, but the Denver native left too early and his red light foul gave Edwards the win.
Johnson remains second in the Pro Stock Countdown to the Championship standings. Next up is the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals, scheduled for Sept. 16-19 at zMAX Dragway in Charlotte, NC.
About the Mopar Brand
Mopar is Chrysler Group LLC’s service, parts and customer-care brand.
Mopar distributes approximately 280,000 parts and accessories in more than 90 countries and is the source for all original-equipment parts for Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram Truck vehicles. Mopar parts are unique in that they are engineered with the same teams that create factory-authorized vehicle specifications for Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram Truck vehicles — a direct connection that no other aftermarket parts company can provide. A complete list of Mopar accessories and performance parts is available at http://www.mopar.com.