Team Mopar Driver Johnson on the Cusp of First NHRA Pro Stock Championship
Allen Johnson set to clinch first-career Pro Stock title by qualifying at Pomona
Just four points separate Jack Beckman and Ron Capps in Funny Car title fight
Jeg Coughlin Jr. in position to add to accomplishments at Pomona
Mopar-powered Matt Hagan has one more chance to win in 2012
November 6, 2012 , Auburn Hills, Mich. - Team Mopar Pro Stock Allen Johnson was faced with a similar situation at the U.S. Nationals: qualify for the event and lock up the top spot in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs. This week at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona the stakes are a bit higher — qualify for the 48th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals, which are set for Nov. 8–11, and Johnson will clinch the 2012 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Pro Stock championship.
“A little bit of the pressure is off, but we want to go to Pomona and make a statement that we’re the best car this year,” said Johnson. “We want to go there and seal the deal, push just as hard as we have all year and win the race. We are approaching it the same way as we would if we only had a 26-point lead.”
Johnson claimed his series-leading sixth win of the season in the most recent NHRA event at Las Vegas on Oct. 28, in a Mopar vs. Mopar matchup against teammate Vincent Nobile, which helped him extend his points lead to 126 markers over his nearest competitor. Johnson’s six wins are a career-high for the 17-year Pro Stock veteran. The native of Greeneville, Tenn., has also earned a career-high 51 rounds wins in his Mopar Dodge Avenger with a possible four rounds of racing remaining this season.
“I’ve been to the final round at Pomona, but I’ve never been able to get the win,” said Johnson. “Winning there is like a win at Indy or Gainesville — it’s a must-do. It’s still on my ‘bucket list’ to do, and there’s no better time to do it now and put an exclamation point on our season.”
The Team Mopar veteran has reached the final round at Pomona once in his career, and has advanced to at least the semifinals on six occasions. He opened the 2012 season at the venue located just outside of Los Angeles as the No. 4 qualifier and raced his way into the quarterfinals. Johnson has qualified among the top half of the field in 11 of his last 13 starts at Pomona, scoring his first career No. 1 Qualifier award at the venue in the season-ending event in 2010.
“We’ll go at qualifying just like we have all year, trying to be No. 1 each round and get all the little qualifying points we can,” said Johnson. “We’re going to proceed like we’ve got a big hammer in our hands. We learned a few things at Pomona earlier in the year that should help us this week.”
Johnson has earned a career-high 10 No. 1 Qualifier awards this season and has been sixth or better on the clock in all 22 events thus far in 2012. At one point during the summer, the Mopar-powered racer was the quickest qualifier in six straight events.
Johnson has led the Pro Stock standings after each of the first five rounds of the NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs. The current 126-point advantage is the largest lead he has held thus far during the first five rounds of the six-race Countdown.
Jack Beckman and Ron Capps bring one of the closest Funny Car title battles in the history of the series to Pomona. Capps was victorious at the NHRA event in Las Vegas to close to within four points of Beckman, as the pair of Mopar-powered Dodge Charger R/T Don Schumacher Racing teammates squared off in the final round at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Teammate Johnny Gray, who enters the event at Pomona with a pair of wins in 2012, is fourth in points. Matt Hagan looks to end the year with his first win, piloting his Dodge Charger R/T with a special Mopar paint scheme. The native of Christiansburg, Va., was victorious in the season-ending event at Pomona last year en route to claiming the Funny Car championship.
Jeg Coughlin Jr., driver of the Mopar/JEGS.com Dodge Avenger, advanced to the final round in the season-opening event at Pomona, which marked his return to the Pro Stock ranks after a one-year hiatus. In his career, the native of Delaware, Ohio, has won six times in Pro Stock at Pomona in 10 final round appearances. His most recent victory at the venue came in 2007. Coughlin enters the event at Pomona eighth in points, less than 30 markers out of seventh and within striking distance of the top-five.
Johnson’s Statistics of Note
At Auto Club Raceway at Pomona
No. 1 Qualifier in 2010
Reached final round in 2003
Advanced to the semifinals six times
2012 Statistics of Note
Pro Stock point leader
Six Pro Stock wins
10 final round appearances
10 No. 1 Qualifier awards
51 round wins
Qualified for Countdown to Championship in all six years since NHRA adopted playoff format in 2007
Claimed 15 career NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Pro Stock wins
Captured 28 career No. 1 Qualifier Awards
Recorded 35 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 Auto Club Raceway at Pomona
Earned six Pro Stock wins
10 final round appearances
No. 1 Qualifier in 2001
2012 Statistics of Note
One final round appearance
Eighth in points
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)
48th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals
The 48th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals is scheduled to take place Nov. 8–11 at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Pomona, Calif. One and a half hours of qualifying coverage will air on Saturday, Nov. 10, beginning at 10:30 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2 and ESPN2HD. Three hours of eliminations coverage will air on Sunday, Nov. 11, starting at 7 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2 and ESPN2HD. For more information on the NHRA, log on to NHRA.com
About Mopar Motorsports
Mopar’s commitment to professional motorsports competition was established in the 1950’s when a partnership ignited with drag racing pioneer, Don Garlits. Combined efforts between Garlits and the Mopar brand resulted in the breaking of numerous speed and performance barriers in a HEMI-powered car over the next several decades. Mopar has remained a fixture on the racing scene in the North America ever since and is currently involved with the NHRA, NASCAR, USAC and TORC series. Mopar also sponsors many motorsports events, including title sponsorship of the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals in Colorado for nearly 25 consecutive years; and it is a proud supporter of amateur racing within NHRA and USAC.
Mopar has introduced numerous industry-first features including:
Vehicle-information apps: first to introduce smartphone vehicle-information applications, a new channel of communication with consumers
Electronic owner manuals: first to introduce traditional owner manuals in a DVD and brief user-guide format
Wi-Fi: first to offer customers the ability to make their vehicle a wireless hot spot
Wireless charging: first to introduce in-vehicle wireless charging for portable devices
Electronic Vehicle Tracking System (EVTS): first to market with a new interactive vehicle tracking device that sends owner a text when vehicle is driven too fast or too far based on pre-set parameters
2011 Mopar Challenger Drag Pak: first to introduce a 500-plus cubic-inch V-10 drag-race package car
Camper trailers: first to introduce off-road camper trailers
WiTECH: first to support vehicle diagnosis and software updates leveraging off-the-shelf personal computers and a dedicated wireless tool network
About the Mopar Brand
Mopar is Chrysler Group LLC’s service, parts and customer-care brand and distributes 280,000 parts and accessories. With the creation of the Chrysler Group and Fiat S.p.A. partnership, Mopar is extending its global reach, integrating service, parts and customer-care operations in order to enhance dealer and customer support worldwide. Combined with Fiat SpA, Mopar’s global portfolio includes more than 500,000 parts and accessories that are distributed in more than 120 countries. Mopar is the source for all genuine parts and accessories for Chrysler Group and Fiat SpA brands.
Mopar parts are unique in that they are engineered with the same teams that create factory-authorized vehicle specifications for Chrysler Group and Fiat S.p.A.vehicles — a direct connection that no other aftermarket parts company can provide. A complete list of Mopar accessories and performance parts is available at Mopar Parts ? Buy Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Fiat Parts & Accessories Online
75 Years of Mopar
Mopar (a simple contraction of the words MOtor and PARts) was trademarked for antifreeze product in 1937. The Mopar brand made its mark in the 1960s — the muscle-car era. The Chrysler Corporation built race-ready Dodge and Plymouth “package cars” equipped with special high-performance parts. Mopar carried a line of “special parts” for super-stock drag racers and developed its racing parts division called Mopar Performance Parts to enhance speed and handling for both road and racing use. The brand has expanded to include technical service and customer support.