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Mopar Ready to Defend Championships as 2013 NHRA Season Launches in Pomona

Mopar looks to defend two NHRA Championship titles won in 2012 with Johnson (Pro Stock) and Beckman (Funny Car)

A total of eight full-time Mopar-powered entries in Pro Stock (4) and Funny Car (4) classes

Johnson looks to build on career season that saw him earn his first Pro Stock World Championship with 7 wins, 11 final round appearances, and 10 No. 1 qualifying positions

Jack Beckman looking to defend Funny Car Championship; Matt Hagan working to steal it back

Mopar will celebrate 25 consecutive years as title sponsor of the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals in Denver, Colo. this July

NHRA drivers Vincent Nobile, Allen Johnson, and Jeg Coughlin Jr. will look to defend the Pro Stock Championship for Mopar in their HEMI-powered Dodge Avengers.

Jeg Coughlin Jr. and Allen Johnson combine forces in 2013 as Mopar teammates, sharing data and HEMI-powered engine prepared by Roy Johnson of Johnson & Johnson Racing.

2012 NHRA Pro Stock Champion Allen Johnson looks forward to defending his win at Pomona and earning another world title this season for Mopar.

February 14, 2013 , Pomona, Calif. -

This weekend’s Winternationals at the historic Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif., marks the start of the 2013 National Hot Rod Association Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season and Mopar is ready to pick things up right where it left off in 2012. Defending the two championships earned last season in both Pro Stock and Funny Car classes is at the top of that list.

“After earning two NHRA Championship titles, our Mopar drivers have set the bar high for this new season,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group’s service, parts and customer-care brand. “We are looking forward to an exciting and competitive year watching our Mopar drivers and teams highlight the strength of our HEMI®-powered Dodge entries in both Pro Stock and Funny Car, and ultimately battle for win titles at every race event in defense of both championships.“

There will be a total of eight full-time HEMI-powered Dodge entries competing in the NHRA pro classes in 2013.

In Pro Stock, Allen Johnson and Jeg Coughlin Jr. will fly the Mopar banner on their Avengers with Vincent Nobile completing the trio of teammates, and Vieri Gaines rounding out the HEMI-powered entries.

In Funny Car, all four Don Schumacher Racing entries will run the Dodge Charger R/T and iconic HEMI engine, with Matt Hagan sporting the special Mopar scheme at seven events throughout the year. Hagan, winner of the 2011 world title, along with current champ Jack Beckman and fellow teammates Ron Capps and Johnny Gray will attempt to defend Mopar’s World Championship for a third consecutive year.

Pro Stock Rewind and Fast Forward

In the last season’s NHRA finale, Allen Johnson not only earned his first NHRA Pro Stock World Championship, Mopar’s first since 1994, but he did it in commanding fashion with a title win, his first at Pomona, to cap off a career season. Johnson won seven race titles in 2012, led all pro-category drivers in round wins, battled his way to 11 final round appearances including five of six in the Countdown to the Championship, and posted a class-best 10 No. 1 Qualifier positions. Now his Johnson & Johnson Racing team’s goal is to carry that consistency and momentum into the new season starting this weekend at Pomona.

“We just need to maintain the same consistency we had last year, continue to make good decisions, and maintain strong engine and drivetrain reliability,” says Johnson who will sport the No. 1 decal on his Mopar Dodge Avenger this season as defending champion. “The addition of Jeg (Coughlin Jr.), along with Vincent Nobile, will certainly be an extra challenge for me, since all of us will be getting good horsepower from my dad (Roy Johnson). Our goal is to have all three Dodges in the top-five, maybe even in the first three positions, at every event. It will be up to the drivers to determine in which order. I will just have to do the best I can behind the wheel and work hard on earning another championship for Mopar.”

Joining Johnson in that quest is four-time Pro Stock World Champion Jeg Coughlin Jr., who has 52 career victories. Coughlin is looking to improve on a disappointing ninth-place finish in the last year’s standings without a win the JEGS Mail Order team driver knows that is about to change.

“The stage is set and the time has come to perform and I can tell you that I have not been this excited for a season opener in years,” says Coughlin who partnered with Johnson starting this off-season, sharing data and HEMI engines built by Roy Johnson. “Our Mopar Dodge Avenger has been making great laps in testing and we are stoked to showcase this J&J Racing/Roy Johnson HEMI horsepower.”

Finishing third in the standings with two wins in 2012, Mountain View Racing’s Vincent Nobile is also part of the contingency running under HEMI power supplied by Johnson’s team, adding to expectations that the trio will be both formidable teammates and competitors in the battle for another championship.
V. Gaines rounds out the number of full time HEMI-powered Dodge Avengers after finishing a career best seventh in 2012 with a win in Reading, Pa., where he also recorded the ninth quickest pass in Pro Stock history with a 6.489 second run.

Mopar’s Funny Car Battle No Laughing Matter

The battle for the Funny Car World Championship came right down to final eliminations in the 2012 season finale with Jack Beckman taking the honors over Ron Capps by just two points after an extremely competitive battle between the DSR teammates, including Johnny Gray, in the NHRA Countdown. This season, the competition is expected to be just as fierce throughout the field, making the defense of a championship, especially two in a row for Mopar with Beckman in 2012 and Matt Hagan in 2011, more challenging. But after missing out on the Countdown and winner’s circle, Hagan is approaching the task at hand with renewed confidence after reaching the semi-finals or finals at seven of the final 10 events in 2012 and posting some good results in off-season testing.

“Our season has great potential and that showed at testing last month in Florida when we ran a 4.03,” says Hagan who is in his fourth season flying the Mopar colors on his Dodge Charger R/T. “As long as we stay focused and work hard we have a lot we can accomplish this year. We still have a lot to prove to ourselves but we have all the great tools that Don Schumacher Racing provides.”

“We plan to run up front for Mopar and get back to where we were in 2011 when we won the Funny Car world championship,” adds Hagan. “We know how to do it, we’ve done it before. There’s no reason why we can’t get back to that.”

Tuning It In

This weekend’s season-opener at drag racing’s birthplace at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona is the first of 24 events on the schedule for the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise two hours of qualifying coverage at 10 p.m. (ET) on Saturday, Feb. 16 and on Sunday, Feb. 17, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise three hours of eliminations coverage at 8 p.m. (ET).

Will you be my Valentine?

While the Mopar team will be in Pomona this Valentine’s Day, plans are already underway to mark a milestone in a love affair with the Mile-High city. This July, Mopar will celebrate its 25th anniversary as title sponsor of the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway, near Denver, Colo. Mopar will return to the venue as defending title winners after Allen Johnson posted his fourth win at the scenic track in 2012.

Stay up to speed by following @OfficialMopar on twitter and join Mopar friends on the Mopar facebook page. Press releases and multimedia for media can be found at

About Mopar Motorsports
Mopar’s commitment to professional motorsports competition was established in the 1950s when a partnership ignited with drag racing pioneer Don Garlits, resulting in the breaking of numerous speed and performance barriers in HEMI®-powered vehicles over the next several decades. In 2013, Mopar looks to defend its two NHRA 2012 World Championship titles in Pro Stock and Funny Car categories, and celebrates 25 consecutive years as title sponsor of the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals in Colorado. While Mopar remains involved in a various professional motorsports series, it continues to honor its roots by being a proud supporter of amateur racing within the NHRA with its sponsorship of the HEMI Challenge and Mopar Sportsman Cup.

Mopar-first Features
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 and first to offer complete vehicle-information kits in Spanish
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
Brand-specific customer care telephone lines: first to offer Sunday service hours for customers
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. 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 S.p.A., Mopar’s global portfolio includes more than 500,000 parts and accessories that are distributed in more than 130 countries. Mopar is the source for all genuine parts and accessories for Chrysler Group and Fiat S.p.A. 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.

More than 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.

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Discussion Starter #2
Mopar Heads into Eliminations with No.2 Qualifiers at NHRA Season Opener in Pomona

Defending 2012 NHRA Funny Car Champ is top Mopar entry with second place position on eliminations ladder

HEMI®-powered Gaines leads Dodge Avengers in Pro Stock qualifying with a second fastest elapsed time

Nobile solid in fifth spot while Mopar teammates Coughlin and Johnson bounce back from rough start to place sixth and tenth in qualifying

All Mopar Funny Car entries qualify in top-10 including Hagan who is breaking in a new crew and new Mopar scheme

February 16, 2013 , Pomona, Calif. -

The 2013 National Hot Rod Association Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season is officially under way as Mopar teams and competitors completed their qualifying runs at the Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif., in preparation for the final eliminations at the Winternationals this Sunday.

V. Gaines’ HEMI®-powered Dodge Avenger was the fastest Pro Stock entry in the first qualifying session of the season with a 6.538- second pass at 2.11.49 mph. That initial effort kept him second on the timing sheets through to the fourth and final session as track conditions got warmer with each pass. Gaines will face off against another Dodge entry, Deric Kramer, in the first round of eliminations on Sunday.

Taking the top spot away from Gaines, after his quick run in the second round of qualifying to eventually claim the No. 1 Qualifier points, was Mike Edwards.

Third place finisher in the standings last season, Vincent Nobile put together a very solid string of four qualifying runs to start the year off strong in his HEMI-powered Dodge Avenger. Nobile kept it in the groove with the quickest elapsed time of the final round of qualifying, positioning him fifth overall to pit him against the part-time Dodge entry Matt Hartford.

For Mopar drivers and teammates Allen Johnson and Jeg Coughlin Jr., it wasn’t the strong start to the 2013 season that they had hoped for as both had set backs in the first two days of qualifying, leaving them at the bottom of the scoring sheets. However, both were back on the right track Saturday, even with warmer temperatures slowing speeds down. A six-time winner at Pomona, Coughlin brushed off his two missed passes to grab the sixth spot on the eliminations ladder with a 6.572-second /210.97 mph on his third run of the weekend in his Dodge Avenger. He’ll face Steve Kent in the first round competition.

"We tested so well and had some big ideas about what we were going to do when we got here, but lo and behold, both of our team cars went out there and shook like crazy on both Thursday and Friday," said Coughlin referring his and Johnson’s Mopar. "I'll be honest, it caught us all by surprise and had us more than a little perplexed, but we're both in now and we have a chance tomorrow so we're happy.”

Johnson, the defending Pro Stock World Champion, improved in his last two runs, posting a 6.594-second / 210.93 mph final qualifying pass to put him tenth in the field, but leaving him without lane choice as he battles Rodger Brogden as his first eliminations match-up.

“We started off behind the eight ball trying things that had worked in testing but didn’t here, but we got back to basics quickly,” said Johnson who is hoping to build on the title win he had posted at Pomona in November. “We were a bit conservative but we’ll get after it a little more in the first round. This crew is solid and we’ll get back to the consistency that helped build our confidence last season which led to success.”

In Funny Car action, Mopar Dodge Charger R/T driver Jack Beckman was bumped from the pole he had earned on Friday by Courtney Force in the third qualifying session, despite running his quickest elapsed time of 4.045 sec / 316.67 mph. While the 2012 defending NHRA Champ posted the best time of final session, he remained second on the eliminations ladder to face Todd Lesenko in his 2010 Charger.

In sixth and seventh spot are Don Schumacher Racing teammates Ron Capps and Johnny Gray, who will respectively face Johns Force and Alexis DeJoria in opening round of eliminations.

Matt Hagan who’s Dodge Charger R/T is sporting a new Mopar paint scheme for the season opener, qualified ninth with his first run of 4.097 sec., 304.46 mph to face first round opponent Tim Wilkerson.

"What we've accomplished so far just in the first couple of days has been huge,” said Hagan who is working with a new crew chief, Dickie Venables, and assistant crew chief, Mike Knudsen. “The whole team already has a lot to be proud of and we'll just keep moving forward and working hard."

This weekend’s NHRA season-opener at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona is the first of 24 events on the 2013 schedule. ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise three hours of eliminations coverage at 8 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, Feb. 17.

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Discussion Starter #3
Mopar Launches 2013 NHRA Season with Win at POMONA

Mopar starts 2013 NHRA season with peculiar final elimination win by Nobile over teammate Coughlin
Capps appearance in Funny Car final brings total of three Mopar entries to make it to final elimination showdowns in season opener

February 17, 2013 , Pomona, Calif. -

Three Mopar entries advanced to the final elimination rounds, with one of them earning the first title win of the year at the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season opening event. Vincent Nobile earned his sixth career victory in an all-Mopar Pro Stock final showdown against teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr., while in Funny Car, Dodge Charger R/T driver Ron Capps finished runner-up to Courtney Force at Auto Club Raceway.

“Congratulations to Vincent (Nobile) for earning the Pro Stock title win at the NHRA Winternationals at Pomona to start the season off right for Mopar,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group LLC’s service, parts and customer-care brand. “We look forward to seeing our HEMI®-powered Dodge Avengers contending for many more wins this season in defense of the Pro Stock Championship amid such tough competition this year.”

The Pro Stock class elimination rounds at the Winternationals started and even finished in peculiar fashion. First round action began with plenty of upsets as five of the eight winners of the first round were qualifiers from the bottom half of the field, including Mopar’s Allen Johnson who had qualified tenth after a rough start to the weekend. The remaining three winners to advance to the next round were the three Dodge Avengers of V.Gaines, Nobile and Coughlin.

While Johnson had a strong second round run as his faced-off against fellow HEMI-powered driver Gaines, he was unable to continue his quest to defend his Pomona title as Gaines beat him to the finish.

Three Mopars moved on to semi-final match-ups with Nobile winning his race against Greg Stanfield, and Coughlin emerging the victor in his head-to-head battle versus Gaines. That set up an all-Mopar final between Nobile and Coughlin that took a strange turn.

Nobile had trouble backing up from the burnout, which for the sake of sportsmanship had led Coughlin to turn off his ignition. That proved costly as several tense moments passed as the crew scrambled to get the entry re-fired while his teammate and competitor had gotten his own Mountain View Racing car restarted and back in place. With both cars finally in the beams, Coughlin red-lights by -.014-second making his 6.571-second and 211.03-mph pass obsolete, giving Nobile the victory with a 6.584 at 210.05 mph.

“Without a doubt this is pretty awesome to leave here with the points lead and now we just want to stay there, stay consistent and keep the wins coming,” said Nobile who has made three consecutive trips to the finals in his Dodge Avenger going back to last season. “This is my third year and sixth win with this team because I learned early on what a great group of crew, sponsors and car I have, which creates the perfect platform for being successful.”

For Coughlin, it was the second year in a row starting with a runner-up finish.

"The difference this time is that last year we were hoping that result was going to become commonplace, whereas this year we already have a really good idea that we can run with anyone in the class,” said Coughlin. “Things couldn't have started much better for us with this new team configuration with Allen Johnson and J&J Racing. We're very excited about the season."

In Funny Car competition, top Mopar qualified driver Jack Beckman didn’t make it out of first round while Don Schumacher Racing teammate Matt Hagan fell in the second. Fellow DSR Dodge Charger R/T drivers Johnny Gray and Ron Capps faced off in semi-finals, with Capps matching low E.T. of the weekend, 4.036, to make his way to the final. He unfortunately smoked his tires to finish runner-up to winner Courtney Force.

The second of 24 events on the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule will take place at Firebird International Raceway in Phoenix, Ariz., this coming weekend. The Arizona Nationals will be broadcast on ESPN2 and ESPN2HD with 90 minutes of qualifying coverage airing on Sunday, Feb. 24 at 1 a.m. (ET) and again at 8 a.m. (ET). Three hours and 30 minutes of final elimination coverage will be presented Sunday evening starting at 8 p.m. (ET).

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