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Johnson takes Pro Stock Wally in all-Dodge finals

by Bill Cawthon on

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After a disappointing finish in qualifying, Team Mopar driver Allen Johnson collected Dodge’s first win of the 2014 Mello Yello NHRA drag racing season by defeating V. Gaines at the 30th Annual Carquest Auto Parts NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Motorsports Park in Chandler, Arizona.

Gaines was making his second consecutive final-round appearance this year and was 0.026 seconds faster out of the gate than Johnson but got the shakes and had to shut down.

In the semi-final round, Johnson was again last out of the gate, but Mopar/J&J Racing Dodge Avenger was able to chase down Dave Connolly’s Gray Motorsports Camaro by 500 feet and tripped the timing lights 0.0308 seconds, about 10 feet, before the Chevy. Gaines eliminated Vincent Nobile after Nobile got loose and moved toward the center.

“We fought the car all weekend,” said Johnson. “I’m only here because we have a great crew. I can’t say enough about my guys. They worked and got it right, and this is a great way to send this Mopar Express Lube Dodge Avenger out on a winning note.”

Johnson rebounded from a disappointing first-round exit at the season opening races at Pomona.

“Pomona was probably the worst performance by me in 18 years in Pro Stock,” Johnson said.  “It made me want to get it right this time. I still didn’t do my best here. I was responsible for one round-win, and my crew was responsible for the other three.”

Johnson and Gaines were the only Dodge drivers to make it past the first round. Jeg Coughlin was sent to the showers after his car got loose and lost to Connolly in the second of the day’s matchups which makes his teammate’s victory over Connolly in the semi-finals even sweeter. Mat Hartford fell to Erica Enders-Stevens who posted the top speed of the round in her pass.

In Fuel Funny Car, another Johnson, Tommy Johnson, Jr., was the top Dodge of the day. Johnson made it to the semifinals where he was outrun by Robert Hight. Hight lost to Alexis DeJoria, who nailed her career-first Wally, in the final round.

Hight also eliminated Jack Beckman, the only other Dodge driver to make it past the first round. Both cars ran strongly, but the Mustang was just hotter today.

Beckman eliminated Matt Hagan in the day’s opening matchup and Ron Capps lost to Bob Tasca III in the last matchup of the first round. In between, DeJoria ended Jeff Arend’s racing day on her way to the championship.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for just-auto.com, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.


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