With only two NHRA Nationals events remaining in the 2010 season, Tennessee based Pro Stock driver Allen Johnson has been doing all he can to earn every precious point, many of those as of late coming during qualifying.
NHRA Pro Stock driver Allen Johnson
Allen Johnson and his Mopar Dodge Avenger
Johnson came into the latest NHRA National event at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway fifth in the Full Throttle Series championship standings.
While the 2010 championship may be very close to top-of-mind for any team who still had a mathematical shot at grabbing it, all Pro Stock teams continued to vie for points during qualifying for in the 2011 K&N Horsepower Challenge and Johnson slowly continuing to claw his way to the top of the heap.
Drivers earn points for the K&N Challenge based on final event qualifying position, with a max of one-hundred seventy-five points awarded to the pole sitter along will a $3,000 bonus from K&N Engineering.
Johnson and his Mopar Dodge Avenger have become quite familiar with the accolades of late, after back-to-back low qualifiers over the last two NHRA events in Dallas and Reading, respectfully.
After the first Pro Stock qualifying session on Friday during the NHRA Las Vegas Nationals, Johnson found himself and his 6.671 E.T sitting in third on the sheet, just a mere thousandth behind Rodger Brogdon’s at number two 6.670 and well within reach of Mike Edwards’ 6.667 pole.
When Johnson lined his Hemi power up for the second session on Friday evening, he soared back to his familiar number one spot, posting a 6.660 to bump Edwards from the top spot.
"The first run, we didn't make a very good run at all, so we knew we had a little bit left in the car," said Johnson after the second session on Friday. "The left lane is the lane of preference here for Pro Stock, and we had it there that session. The sun went down about halfway through that session, and it helped us out a lot. We made a very, very good run. The guys got the Hemi power, and now they're just putting it down. I'm telling you this is a strong engine."
For the first session on Saturday, teams would find very similar weather and track conditions to what they had to work with the previous day, including mid-ninety degree track temps.
Johnson continued show he and tuner Mark Ingersoll were “on kill” and were going to “be aggressive” each and every round as they posted an even quicker 6.651 at 207.82 MPH, easily hanging on to the number one spot.
And Johnson wasn’t done yet.
After what one may consider a tremendous amount of downtime due to numerous oil downs in the earlier Saturday session for the nitro ranks, which pushed the events final qualifying session well into the darkness, Johnson was actually looking forward to what the track conditions would bring he and his team.
"We knew that this run was going to be the best one after over four hours of down time," said Johnson. "The sun goes down, and the track gets awesome here. We knew we had to get after it to keep [the pole], and that's what we did, we stepped it up."
Other Pro Stock teams did their best to take advantage of the conditions, with several bettering their E.T.”s and qualifying positions, including V. Gaines who matched Johnson’s previous E.T. effort, but not good enough in the MPH department to steal away the pole position.
With a now mid-seventy degree track temp and the final Pro Stock pair on the track for the day, Johnson’s Mopar Dodge Avenger sailed down the quarter mile posting a 6.646 at 207.75 MPH and put a stronghold on the number one spot. This would be his seventh pole of the season and the fourteenth of his career.
Johnson was able to rack up some nice bonus points during qualifying, after being number one in three of the four qualifying sessions, but after an early exit on Sunday, Full Throttle Championship hopes will have to be put off for another season.
It’s a little different story in the 2011 K&N Horsepower Challenge where Johnson continues to be a terror. Should he be able to keep up his string of low qualifiers, he could easily be holding down the top spot when the eight elite Pro Stock teams some together to do battle for the $50,000 winner purse next year in Norwalk, Ohio.
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