'Going Rounds' the Goal for Team Mopar Driver Johnson as NHRA Pro Stock Title Fight Hits Vegas
Allen Johnson in position to claim back-to-back wins in Vegas in his Mopar Dodge Avenger
Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car drivers Jack Beckman and Ron Capps continue championship battle in Las Vegas
Jeg Coughlin, Jr. primed to continue success at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Mopar-powered Matt Hagan closing in on first Funny Car win of 2012
October 23, 2012 , Auburn Hills, Mich. -
All season long, Team Mopar NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Pro Stock driver Allen Johnson has had a pretty simple approach — be consistent, go rounds and let the points fall where they may. That mantra will remain intact heading into the final two rounds of the NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs. Johnson, the current points leader, continues his bid for his first Pro Stock title as he returns to the track this week in the 12th annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Oct. 25–Oct 28.
“Las Vegas is a track I’ve always enjoyed racing at and I’m really looking forward to this week’s event,” said Johnson. “We’ve always had a pretty good setup and notes for Vegas and have run well there over the years. Having won there earlier this year definitely boosts our confidence going back for the second time.”
Johnson has claimed a career-high five NHRA event wins this season, and scored his first victory of the 2012 campaign in his Mopar Dodge Avenger at Las Vegas in April. The native of Greeneville, Tenn., won in a Mopar vs. Mopar matchup in the final against teammate Vincent Nobile, who uses HEMI® engines supplied by Johnson’s J&J Racing shop. Johnson has reached the final-round at Las Vegas in two of his last three starts at the venue and has advanced to at least the semifinals five times.
“We tested at Las Vegas last weekend, which I think helped quite a bit,” said Johnson. “That’s a track that we have tested at a lot at over the years. I would say behind Denver, we have tested the second-most at Vegas. Usually all of that prep work helps you be more prepared, and most times pays off.”
The Team Mopar veteran has been near the top of the Pro Stock class in qualifying all season, leading the way with 10 No. 1 Qualifier awards, including six in a row at one point. Johnson has started the weekend sixth or better in qualifying at each of the 21 events contested thus far in 2012. At Las Vegas in the spring, he began his march to the win as the No. 3 qualifier.
“We are really focusing on each run in qualifying and on Sunday in eliminations, and just taking it round-by-round,” said Johnson. “That’s the approach that has gotten us to where we are right now and we aren’t going to change that. If you’re successful in those rounds, you’ll be successful in the points.”
Johnson opened the six-race NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs as the No. 1 seed, has been on top of the standings following each of the first four rounds, and currently holds an 82-point advantage on his nearest competitor. The native of Greeneville, Tenn., has advanced to the final round in three of the first four races of the Countdown, winning in the second round at Dallas.
Jeg Coughlin Jr., driver of the Mopar/JEGS.com Dodge Avenger
, has five Pro Stock wins at Las Vegas in six final round appearances. The native of Delaware, Ohio, also won a special-event in his Pro Stock car at the venue in 2008. Coughlin has been the No. 1 Qualifier at Las Vegas twice in his career as well. The four-time Pro Stock champion enters this weekend eighth in the Countdown and is less than 30 points out of the seventh spot.
In Funny Car, Jack Beckman and Ron Capps will continue their title fight at Las Vegas. The pair of Mopar-powered Dodge Charger R/T drivers out of the Don Schumacher Racing stable are separated by just 23 points with Beckman out front with two races remaining. Teammate Johnny Gray, who has won twice this year, heads to Las Vegas fourth in points. Matt Hagan, the defending Funny Car champion, has reached the final round at Las Vegas twice and also has earned a No.1 Qualifier honor at the venue. The native of Christiansburg, Va., has reached the final round four times this season as he chases his first win of the year.
Johnson’s Statistics of Note
At The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Claimed win in April in an all-Mopar final against Vincent Nobile
Has advanced to at least the semifinals five times
Was the No. 1 Qualifier in fall of 2010
Qualified for Countdown to Championship in all six years since NHRA adopted playoff format in 2007
Claimed 14 career NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Pro Stock wins
Captured 28 career No. 1 Qualifier Awards
Recorded 34 career final round appearances
Claimed more than 300 career round wins
Has a career best elapsed time of 6.486-seconds and a career best speed of 212.53 mph
Competed in 300th race at 2009 NHRA St. Louis event
Has won the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals four times and reached the final round six times in his sponsor’s event
Won the K&N Horsepower Challenger in 2008, recording a perfect .000 reaction time in the final round
Seized first career win in 1999 at Richmond and went on to claim first top 10 finish in standings
Made NHRA Pro Stock debut in 1996, driving a Mopar-powered Dodge Avenger
Coughlin’s Statistics of Note
At The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Earned five Pro Stock wins
Six final round appearances
No. 1 Qualifier in 2007 and 2008
Four-time NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Pro Stock champion (2000, 2002, 2007, 2008)
Has qualified for the Countdown to the Championship playoffs four times
Claimed 52 career Pro Stock wins
Earned 17 No. 1 Qualifier Awards
Recorded 85 career final round appearances in Pro Stock
Has earned over 450 career round wins in Pro Stock
Has a career best elapsed time of 6.520-seconds and a career best speed of 212.29 mph
Only driver in the 60 year history of NHRA to win in six different categories (Pro Stock Comp, Super Stock, Super Comp, Super Gas, Top Dragster)
NHRA Rookie of the Year in 1998
Three-time winner of K&N Horsepower Challenge (1999, 2000, 2009)
Only driver in history to win national events in four categories in one season – Pro Stock, Super Stock, Competition, and Super Gas (1997)
Two-time Mopar HEMI® Challenge winner (Indianapolis, 2004 and Las Vegas, 2006)
12th annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals
The 12th annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals is scheduled to take place Oct. 25–Oct. 28 at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas, Nev.
One hour of qualifying coverage will air on Sunday, Oct 28, beginning at 1:30 a.m. and again at 4 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2 and ESPN2HD.
Three hours of eliminations coverage will air on Sunday, Oct. 28, starting at 8 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2 and ESPN2HD
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