Johnson needs to ‘get better on Sundays’
Houston, pre-race: Team Mopar driver Allen Johnson has launched himself to a stout start in the 2008 NHRA POWERade Pro Stock series, claiming the fourth spot in the early points’ battle. But the Greeneville, Tenn., native won’t be content until he becomes a familiar guest in the winner’s circle on Sundays. He plans to pay his first ’08 visit to victory lane at this weekend’s O’Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals in Houston.
“We’ve had a lot better start [than 2007], and we are consistent, but I feel like we’ve already given away two rounds this year, and we should have been in a final, at least,” said Johnson, pilot of the HEMI®-powered Mopar/J&J Racing Dodge Stratus R/T. Johnson added, “We’ve got to get better on Sunday. We’ve had a car that could have won every race this year and we’ve been going out in the second round. It’s just not acceptable.”
Johnson advanced to the finals at the 2007 Houston event, finishing runner-up to Jason Line. The Pro Stock veteran is focused on one-upping his performance from last year.
“We’ve always done well there,” said Johnson. “We’ve got a lot of fans there in Houston. The track is sort of like Gainesville — it’s always fast. It seems like we adapt to it pretty well. We’re happy to go back there and see a lot of old friends and complete what we didn’t complete last year.”
Johnson has been automatic in qualifying, starting no worse than fifth in the first three events and capturing his fourth career No. 1 qualifier award at the Checker Schuck’s Kragen NHRA Nationals in late February. The Team Mopar driver’s troubles, unfortunately, have come at a most inopportune time — on race day.
“When the track is good, we perform really well. On Sunday, when the track gets a little marginal, it seems to be our foe,” remarked Johnson. “We’re going to test this week at a track near Houston, and try to set it up hot and grimy like we had at Gainesville, and get better on conditions like that. That’s what we are working on.”
Johnson is very mindful of the urgent need to meld his consistency in qualifying with successful race set-ups.
“We’ll keep going and hopefully qualify well and put ourselves in a position to win a couple of rounds every race, and hope that consistency pays off,” Johnson said. “My goal this year is to win five races, and I feel like we’ve already let at least one get away from us. I don’t want to do that anymore. We’ve got to step it up.”
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