Johnson makes NHRA history with Sunday win
Jul 23, 2012 at 7:08 PM
Allen Johnson has a hard time imaging his dream weekend getting any better.
The Greeneville driver won on the NHRA Pro Stock circuit for the third time this season on Sunday at Denver’s Bandimere Speedway. It was the first time in his 17-year career he’s won three times in the same season after earlier victories at Topeka, Kans. and Las Vegas.
“This has been an awesome weekend,” said Johnson after his 12th career Pro Stock victory. “When we’re out here, everything comes together. The whole Mopar crew, we test and practice, and pour everything out of our guts into this race for our sponsors. It just worked out.”
Johnson beat fellow Dodge Avenger driver V. Gaines in the final to win his sponsor’s race, the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals, for a fourth time. Johnson blasted down the track with an elapsed time of 6.951 seconds (197.31 mph) to beat Gaines’ run of 7.144 seconds (160.35).
With the victory, Johnson took over the points lead past the halfway point of the season for the first time in his career. He now holds a 19-point lead over four-time NHRA World Champion Greg Anderson.
Johnson emphasized to grab the points lead he had to beat Anderson in the quarterfinals, then defeat Anderson’s Summit Racing teammate Jason Line in the semifinals.
“To lead the points this late in the season, it’s really exhilarating,” Johnson said. “But, we earned it. We took out the Summit cars to earn it. We’re learning how to win, and now we want to win the championship. That’s what our focus is.”
Johnson’s record at Bandimere Speedway is truly remarkable. Sunday marked the sixth straight year which he made the final round at the Denver track. It is no accident as Johnson freely admits it’s just like his home race at Bristol, an event which his J&J Racing Team, led by Johnson’s father Roy as the engine builder, puts forth extra effort.
“It’s our sponsor’s race and practice makes perfect,” he said.
“This year, we tested really hard with it being the 75th anniversary of Mopar. We really wanted to give them the trophy from this race and we were able to do it.”
It wasn’t just Sunday, however, when Johnson dominated the action.
Johnson led every round of qualifying on Friday and Saturday, setting a new track record of 6.951 seconds (198.29 mph) to earn his seventh No. 1 qualifying award of the season and the 25th of his career.
It was a track record short-lived as Johnson broke it in the first round of eliminations, going down the track with a pass of 6.916 seconds (198.70 mph) to beat Paul Pittman.
Denver was the fourth consecutive race, starting with Bristol and including races at Chicago and Norwalk, Ohio, which Johnson led qualifying throughout the weekend.
“We’re proud of everything we’re doing right now,” Johnson said. “We’re leading qualifying at every race and this weekend we were the fastest car every qualifying round and every race round. I don’t know how we could do any better than we are right now.”
With the strong weekend, the 52-year-old driver wrapped up a berth in the NHRA ‘Countdown to the Championship’ four races before the playoffs begin. In addition, the Denver victory was the ninth time in the last 10 national events which he has at least reached the semifinals of eliminations.
“We’ve got the mojo going on right now,” Johnson said. “Dad and the engine guys are making great power and we’re making great runs. I really feel we have the team to beat this season.”