Johnson hangs on to No.1
Denver, Saturday: Today, for the first time since the Reading, Pa., NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event of last year, a Pro Stock car other than the dominant Summit Racing Equipment cars of Greg Anderson and Jason Line and the "yellow" Victor Cagnazzi-owned cars of Jeg Coughlin and Dave Connolly qualified on the pole for a national event.
Allen Johnson drove the Mopar/J&J Racing Dodge Stratus R/T to his first No. 1 position of the year, the third of his career, at the Mopar Mile-High Nationals after posting a track-record-setting 7.032-second lap at 195.73 mph on Friday evening. His Mopar teammate Richie Stevens Jr. came in second, holding on to the 7.035/195.05 mark he established also on Friday evening.
In the final qualifying round today, Johnson posted the quickest run of that round, a 7.049/195.25, while Stevens' 7.054/195.08 was second quickest.
"I was just talking to my dad (Roy, team engine builder, age 65). It's just a dream come true for us, and for him especially. He's worked his whole life to try to build good engines and do good, and this year, [we've] just really jelled and come together. The deal in Phoenix with his heart and everything we went through, it's just real special for him, and especially to do it here for the Mopar event.
"In Phoenix he had a mild heart attack at the track and we got him to the hospital very hurriedly and [he] had a major one there as soon as we got there and died on the table, actually, and they just shocked him and all that. Three days later he's back in the shop working and [has] been going strong ever since."
As for mastering the mile-high altitude, "Last year we were No. 1 Friday night and then Jason (Line) last run knocked us off of No. 1 by a thousandth (of a second), so Mark (Ingersoll, crew chief) has had the tune-up on the cars and the chassis and Dad's been sneaking up on the motors here for the last couple of years, so we really expected to do well here ... The whole weekend has just been magical. I hope we can keep it up tomorrow."
Johnson faces Greg Stanfield in the opening round of eliminations on Sunday.
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