During a weekend of immense heat and extremely high track temperatures, local Pro Stock favorite Allen Johnson managed to show his team's hard work is paying off as he grabbed the number one qualifying spot for the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at historic Bristol Dragway.
Allen Johnson and his Team Mopar Dodge Avenger
Allen Johnson takes number one qualifying spot for the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals
Johnson, a nearby Greeneville, Tennessee native, has been on the tail of class runaway competitor and reigning champion, Mike Edwards, who held the number one qualifying spot after the second session on Friday, when he posted a 6.725 in the heat.
"We made a pretty bad run on Friday night," reflected Johnson. "We knew we had more in it."
With track temperatures soaring well into the 130 degree range, Johnson and his Team Mopar Dodge Avenger went into Saturday's qualifying pass looking to better their position, but didn't feel they had enough to grab the pole.
"We really didn't think we could run that fast. We thought we could nab second, but we absolutely made a perfect run to grab the number one spot," said Johnson.
Johnson's 6.722 pass during what his team considered a "perfect run", put him at the top of the heap for the second time this season, ninth of his career and just happened to be his very first number one qualifier at his home track of Bristol Dragway.
With the Bristol event being the final chance to grab points for the 2010 K&N Horsepower Challenge, one of Johnson's main goals for the Thunder Valley Nationals was to out qualify as many as possible and move back up on the ladder.
"We had messed up at Englishtown and qualified thirteenth because we had to get in on Saturday after the weather changed real bad," explained Johnson. "We had dropped all the way to fifth and we just made it our goal to qualify well and move back up to third."
The field is now set for the 2010 K&N Horsepower Challenge, Johnson holding the third position which will pit him against number six qualifier Ron Krisher in round one, when the prestigious event unfolds during the NHRA Summit Racing Equipment Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio this week.
As a past K&N Horsepower Challenge Champion, Johnson is more than geared up for the weekend's event and when asked about his thoughts for the 2010 Challenge, his response was very simple.
"Win the damn thing," chuckled Johnson.
"I feel like I left uncompleted business there in 2008," he continued. "That's when I won the K&N Challenge and then didn't double up on Sunday. I lost in a holeshot in first round and I had the car to beat on Sunday."
There are just certain races and events that a driver looks forward to more than others each season, special events with tons of history and prestige, such as the NHRA U.S. Nationals. And in Johnson's book, the K&N Horsepower Challenge is the single biggest event of the year for Pro Stock teams, even bigger to him than winning "Indy".
"What Steve Williams and the entire K&N family continue to provide for our Pro Stock class is just outstanding," said Johnson. "We are really looking forward to the race at Norwalk and we feel that after Bristol we have a great tune-up for the K&N Challenge and the Nationals."
Johnson will join the seven other Pro Stock drivers qualified for the 2010 K&N Horsepower Challenge on Saturday June 26th at high noon for round number one of the three round shootout, during the 4th Annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio.
The last driver standing will walk away with a cool $50,000 and the highly coveted 2010 K&N Horsepower Challenge Championship.
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