As the race to earn as many possible points in the 2012 K&N Horsepower Challenge sets into high gear with only a handful of events left to before the main event run-off in July, Allen Johnson sailed to the top of Pro Stock qualifying during the 25th annual O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals in Baytown, Texas to earn the maximum points and grab up the low qualifier $3,000 bonus from K&N Engineering.
It got about fifteen or twenty degrees cooler when sun went behind the clouds. Man that was good.
The weather for the NHRA national event, just outside Houston, proved to be some of the stickiest weather conditions the teams have had to deal with since last season, with muggy air and higher water grains during both Friday and Saturday's qualifying sessions. Johnson's tune-up came to him right off the bat during session number one on Friday when he posted a 6.554. The pass put Johnson on top by not the thousandths that usually separate drivers in NHRA Pro Stock but over three hundredths of a second better than Greg Anderson's number two position and his 6.586.
For the second session on Friday, Mother Nature gave teams a little something better to work with when some clouds rolled in which helped to considerably cool track temperatures. Not only did it help Johnson and his team pick up nearly a hundredth of a second when they sailed to a 6.546 but it also tightened the field as Jason Line moved way up the ladder to within four thousandths of Johnson with his 6.550. "It got about fifteen or twenty degrees cooler when sun went behind the clouds," said Johnson. "Man that was good. We gave it all it would take and [the run] was perfect."
With the sudden change to the track temp, Johnson admitted that he felt they could have gone a 6.53 if the team had been a little more aggressive in their setup. "We left a little on the table," Johnson continued about Friday's second session. "All in all, we were very consistent and that's what we're shooting for."
During Saturday's two qualifying sessions many Pro Stock teams seemed to struggle to get all the power down to the racing surface and while they shoot for a certain amount of tire spin to get the cars going, most were experiencing more than hoped for. Jason Line managed to make another strong hit that was only four thousandths off the pace from his best run the session before. His 6.554 would be the quickest of the session, but still nowhere near enough to bump Johnson from the top.
All in all, we were very consistent and that's what we're shooting for.
Johnson stayed rather steady and consistent throughout the remainder of qualifying, posting a 6.563 in session three and a 6.560 in the fourth and final lap, both runs the scoring the second quickest of each session. As it would play out, Johnson's 6.546 effort on Friday would hold as the number one spot. "We left maybe a hundredth and that could have been enough to be low in both rounds," admitted Johnson following qualifying. "We're happy with that and as long as you can be consistent to within a hundredth, I don't think you can ask for much more than that. We've been preaching hard the consistency thing," continued the former K&N Horsepower Challenge Champ. "We ran .56, .55, .55 and a .54. No big moves, just small steps, just tinker."
The number one qualifier was the second for the Tennessee based racer this season and his fourth since the K&N Challenge points were reset last season. While Johnson currently has a strong tally that holds him in the number four spot on the top seven list, every competitor knows that even with only five events remaining before the championship race later this summer, there is absolutely no room for error and by no means is the field set in stone as anything could happen in the coming weeks.
The teams still have NHRA events in Atlanta, Topeka, Englishtown, Bristol and Chicago to earn as many points as possible and set the field for the 2012 K&N Horsepower Challenge. The top seven along with a fan voted driver will comprise a field of eight elite teams that will vie for the $50,000 championship prize during the running of the special event at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio.
Fans are encouraged to vote for their favorite NHRA Pro Stock driver to make sure that they have a chance at competing for the prestigious single largest payday in all of NHRA Pro Stock. Voting closes Sunday, June 17th, 2012 at 11:59pm ET.
The eight NHRA Pro Stock racers competing in the 2012 K&N Horsepower Challenge will once again be paired up with one of the eight lucky finalists in the 2012 K&N Horsepower Challenge Sweepstakes. The eight sweepstakes finalists will all get to experience the excitement of the event firsthand as they cheer on their driver in hopes of them both becoming big winners. The finalist whose Pro Stock driver wins the K&N Challenge will become the K&N Sweepstakes grand prize winner and the proud owner of a new K&N Horsepower Challenge Edition TOYOTA Tundra.
Deadline for entry into the 2012 K&N Horsepower Challenge Sweepstakes is fast approaching and all entries must be received by 6:00 p.m. ET on June 4, 2012.
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