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Hagan, Johnson pace Mopars in Qualifying at the FallNationals

Mopar competing at the 28th annual AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals, the second of six playoff races in the “Countdown to the Championship”

Johnson, defending winner at Texas Motorplex, is top Pro Stock Mopar qualifier with a fourth place run

Hagan, runner-up finisher in Charlotte, leads the Funny Car standings and Mopar contingent with third place qualifying effort and top speed of the weekend


Coughlin, last week’s winner, and second in Pro Stock points, is tenth in qualifying

September 21, 2013 , Ennis, Texas -
After Friday qualifying was cancelled at Texas Motorplex due to persistent rain showers, Mopar drivers refocused their efforts on Saturday with just two sessions available to set the eliminations ladder for the 28th annual AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals, the second of six playoff events in the NHRA “Countdown to the Championship”.

The defending Pro Stock world champ, Allen Johnson, is also the defending winner at the FallNationals where he holds the Pro Stock records for both elapsed time (6.550 seconds) and speed (211.99 mph). In his first qualifying run, Johnson’s Mopar Express Lane Dodge set the fourth quickest run with elapsed time run of 6.564 seconds (211.23 mph) after drifting out of the groove and approaching the centerline near the top end. He did not improve his time in the second session but was the third quickest and earned a bonus point for his efforts. He’ll face Greg Stanfield in the first round of eliminations on Sunday and will hope to help continue Mopar’s streak of nine consecutive final round appearances.

Jeg Coughlin Jr. is looking to repeat his performance from last week when he took the JEGS.com Mopar to the victory circle to get the playoffs started on a winning note which put him second in the championship points standings. After a best run of 6.583 seconds (210.05 mph), Coughlin will start from the second half of the ladder in tenth spot and will see Greg Anderson as his first round match-up.

HEMI-powered Dodges of Vincent Nobile (6.582 / 210.47) and V. Gaines (6.582 / 210.31) were eighth and ninth respectively, and will face each other in first round action. The No.1 qualifying position was taken by Erica Enders-Stevens.

In Funny Car qualifying, Matt Hagan paced his Don Schumacher Racing teammates in his “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar”/ Freightliner machine and found himself in third spot with the second quickest pass in the final session. He did by setting the top speed (312.78 mph) of the weekend and an e.t. of 4.093 seconds to earn two bonus points. Hagan, who has four wins and earned his fourth runner-up finish of the year last week to maintain his lead in the championship points race, will line up his Dodge Charger R/T next to adversary Jeff Arend for a first round battle.

Ron Capps, who is chasing Hagan in the standings from his second place seat, also sits just behind his Mopar teammate in the fourth qualifying spot. He earned it with a pass of 4.096 seconds (306.88 mph) on his final run which gave him a single bonus point for the third quickest time of the session. He’ll face Tony Pedregon as his first round opponent.

Fast Jack Beckman, defending Funny Car World Champ, will start his Mopar from the sixth place position on the eliminations ladder with his 4.122-second (306.12 mph) pass and will be paired up with Alexis DeJoria. Johnny Gray rounds out the top half of the ladder in eighth spot with a 4.154 sec (304.39 mph) run in his Dodge Charger R/T to maintain lane choice over Tim Wilkerson. The pole position was won by Robert Hight.

Qualifying highlights from the 28th annual AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals at Texas Motorplex near Dallas, Texas, is scheduled to be televised on ESPN News commencing at 11:30 p.m. (ET) on Saturday, Sept. 21 with a re-airing on ESPN2 on Sunday morning at 3:30 a.m. (ET). Three hours of elimination rounds coverage will be broadcast on ESPN2 starting at 8:30 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, Sept. 22.

2013 NHRA “Countdown to Championship” Points Standings (following final qualifying at the FallNationals)

PRO STOCK (season wins in parentheses)
1. Mike Edwards (6) – 2230
2. Jeg Coughlin Jr. (3) - Dodge Avenger – 2216
3. Jason Line (1) – 2184
4. Allen Johnson (4) - Dodge Avenger – 2170
5. Shane Gray – 2147
6. Vincent Nobile (3) - Dodge Avenger – 2128
7. Erica Enders-Stevens (1) –2126
8. Greg Anderson – 2116
9. V. Gaines - Dodge Avenger – 2106
10. Rodger Brogdon (1) – 2063

FUNNY CAR (season wins in parentheses)
1. Matt Hagan (4) - Dodge Charger R/T – 2252
2. Ron Capps (3) - Dodge Charger R/T – 2170

3. Robert Hight (2) – 2169
4. Jack Beckman - Dodge Charger R/T – 2156
5. John Force (1) – 2148
6. Courtney Force (2) – 2141
6. Cruz Pedregon (3) – 2141
8. Johnny Gray (4) - Dodge Charger R/T – 2135

9. Tim Wilkerson – 2089
10. Del Worsham – 2068
 

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Mixed Results for Mopar in Championship Battle at Texas NHRA FallNationals

Points battle tightens in both Funny Car and Pro Stock classes following mixed results at 28th annual AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals

Hagan remains in Funny Car points lead with a 51 point advantage over second place despite second round loss at Texas Motorplex

Coughlin still second in Pro Stock standings with four more playoff events left in Countdown to Championship

Johnson only 74 points from Pro Stock points leader despite dropping to fifth place


September 22, 2013 , Ennis, Texas -
It was a tough race day at Texas Motorplex as Mopar teams and drivers ran the gamut of highs and lows only to leave the 28th annual AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals no better but no worse in the battle to defend its two world titles with just four playoff events remaining in the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Series “Countdown to the Championship”. While the results for the Mopar contingent didn’t include any final round appearances, the championship points battle tightened up in both Funny Car and Pro Stock classes to make the upcoming final four events that much more interesting.

It was a definite mix of good news and bad news in the early Pro Stock elimination rounds. The first bit of good news came from Larry Morgan’s first round upset of Mike Edwards, who had led the standings since the Charlotte Four-Wide Nationals in April. That loss combined with Jeg Coughlin Jr.’s first round win against Greg Anderson, temporarily gave the Jegs.com Mopar driver the lead in the championship standings.

That advantage was short lived however, as Coughlin lost his semifinal matchup with an elapsed time run of 6.601 seconds (210.47 mph) and a 0.066 second reaction time to Shane Gray’s 0.029 second start and a 6.620 sec. (210.01 mph) pass for a holeshot victory.

"Being ten points behind the points leader coming into the race, when Mike Edwards went out first round, that gave us an opportunity to make up some ground," Coughlin said. "To bow out in the semis was untimely. We felt like we had a great car, and I felt great behind the wheel."

Benefitting from Coughlin’s loss was Jason Line who defeated Gray in the final elimination round to steal the lead in the points from his previous third place position in the standings. The good news is that Coughlin is just eight points behind Line in second place heading into the third of six playoff events next week in St. Louis.

The defending winner of the FallNationals, Allen Johnson, wasn’t able to take full advantage of Edwards’ loss to gain ground in the standings after he saw his day come to a premature end with a second round loss to eventual title winner Line despite having two very strong runs and elapsed time passes of 6.550 seconds (against Greg Stanfield) and 6.578 seconds (against Line). On a more positive note, the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Avenger didn’t lose too much ground either as Johnson is just 74 points from the new leader despite a drop down to fifth place.

“We’re leaving here with the Mopar Express Lane Dodge just about the same amount of points behind the leader as we did coming into it, just with a different leader now. The stars just haven’t aligned yet for us because we had a really good car here and I’m really disappointed with that second round loss. We’re beating all around it but we’re going to hit it in the middle in the next race. We only won three races last year in the countdown, maybe we’ll have to go for four in a row and go out with a big exciting finish.”

A strong performance was seen from the HEMI-powered Dodge of V. Gaines who won the first round battle of the Mopars by eliminating Vincent Nobile from competition and then had an outstanding second round run against No.1 qualifier Erica Enders. While Gaines had a great 0.010-second reaction time, Enders left first with a 0.008 but the Mopar driver chased her down and edged her at the finish line by just 0.0061-seconds to advance to the semifinals against Jason Line. A red light start against Line ended his hope of a final round berth, but now has him tied in sixth place with Enders-Stevens and ahead of eighth place Vincent Nobile.

In Funny Car action, Matt Hagan won his first round match up against Jeff Arend by posting an e.t. (4.081) that was even quicker than his third place qualifying effort (4.093) but saw his day go up in tire smoke against his Mopar teammate and defending world champion Jack Beckman in the second round. Despite the loss, Hagan will take his “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” Dodge Charger R/T and a 51-point lead into the third playoff event of the Countdown.

"It's like anything; you can't get your head down," said Hagan who has been in first place since his win at the NHRA Nationals in Englishtown, N.J. in June. "You win as a team, you lose as a team and you move forward as a team. I'm looking forward to getting to the next race. This one is behind us now and we just have to keep digging deep and working hard."

Beckman, for his part, carried the Mopar banner through to a semifinal round loss against Cruz Pedregon, the eventual title winner at the FallNationals, cutting down his points deficit to the leader to 76 points. Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps, who started the weekend off with a second place spot in the standings, saw his day spoiled by Tony Pedregon in the first round, dropping him all the way down to sixth place and 102 points from Hagan. Johnny Gray’s Dodge Charger R/T is right behind Capps in seventh place after his second round loss to Robert Hight.

The next stop for Mopar drivers and teams is the third of six playoff events in the NHRA “Countdown to the Championship” next weekend in St. Louis, Mo., at Gateway Motorsports Park.

2013 NHRA “Countdown to Championship” Points Standings (following final race results at the FallNationals)

PRO STOCK (season wins in parentheses)
1. Jason Line (2) – 2264
2. Jeg Coughlin Jr. (3) - Dodge Avenger – 2256
3. Mike Edwards (6) – 2230
4. Shane Gray – 2207
5. Allen Johnson (4) - Dodge Avenger – 2190
6. Erica Enders-Stevens (1) –2146
6. V. Gaines - Dodge Avenger – 2146
8. Vincent Nobile (3) - Dodge Avenger – 2128

9. Greg Anderson – 2116
10. Rodger Brogdon (1) – 2063

FUNNY CAR (season wins in parentheses)
1. Matt Hagan (4) - Dodge Charger R/T – 2272
2. Cruz Pedregon (4) – 2221
3. Robert Hight (2) – 2209
4. John Force (1) – 2208
5. Jack Beckman - Dodge Charger R/T – 2196
6. Ron Capps (3) - Dodge Charger R/T – 2170
7. Johnny Gray (4) - Dodge Charger R/T – 2155

8. Courtney Force (2) – 2141
9. Tim Wilkerson – 2089
10. Del Worsham – 2068
 
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