Each season, K&N Engineering provides the Pro Stock teams competing in the NHRA Full Throttle Series a huge opportunity to gain points during each event, rewarding the top qualifier with both the maximum points and the K&N Low Qualifier $3,000 bonus. Since teams began to gather points for the 2012 K&N Horsepower Challenge back in late June of last year, several teams have remained quite dominate at the top of the heap and even more so since the commencement of the official start of the 2012 NHRA season in Pomona back in February.
We are trying to be close to the ragged edge. You have to be that way to outrun the Summit cars. The goal is to be consistent while not shooting ourselves in the foot.
With eight events in the books for the 2012 NHRA season, there have only been three Pro Stock teams that have been able to acquire the K&N Low Qualifier Bonus and the maximum 175 points for the Challenge. K&N's Mike Edwards got the job done during the second event of the year in Phoenix, but the two names that have been strong at the top are Jason Line, who has grabbed the pole four times already this year and 2009 K&N Horsepower Challenge Champion, Allen Johnson has notched the remaining three with his latest coming for him at Topeka.
Although hoping to hang on to his number one spot, no matter what happens over the next three events, current leader Jason Line has secured a spot to compete in the 2012 K&N Horsepower Challenge and it's sure to be fierce battle for the $50,000 check to the champion. Sitting in second is K&N's Mike Edwards, whose strong showing over final three events last season kept him fairly stable in the top part of the ever-changing field.
Next comes Line's teammate and multi-time K&N Horsepower Challenge Champion, Greg Anderson who at this moment holds down the number three spot with 3,185 points, just 265 points behind Line. Allen Johnson sits at number four, Erica Enders holds the fifth spot and a tight battle continues between Ronnie Humphrey, Vincent Nobile and Rodger Brogdon in their hopes to secure one of the remaining two top seven spots.
Fans will again get their say in which NHRA Pro Stock driver will fill the eighth and final spot for the HPC showdown. Voting is still underway and will end Sunday, June 17th, 2012 at 11:59pm ET.
Allen Johnson currently sits in 4th place in the 2012 K&N Horsepower Challenge.
2009 K&N Horsepower Challenge Champion, Allen Johnson obtained his latest number one qualifier during the NHRA Summer Nationals at Heartland Park, Topeka only after first watching Jason Line snag the early bragging rights during the initial qualifying session. Where Johnson seemed to struggle out of the gate for the event, only managing a 6.654 and a fourth position, Line's slightly quicker 6.646 was good enough to set the bar.
With slightly cooler air, and a track that was nearly twenty degrees cooler, Pro Stock teams returned to the track for their second session on Friday to take advantage of some of the best conditions they would have all throughout the four scheduled qualifying sessions. Many teams improved during this session, and after a lot of juggling spots around on the ladder, it would be Allen Johnson making the best lap of the pack of any session during the weekend. Johnson's 6.618 would outpace the nearest time of Greg Anderson by eight thousands of a second and hold him on top of the class for the number one spot.
Johnson's feat during the NHRA Summer Nationals was his third of the season and the fifth $3,000 K&N Low Qualifier Bonus that he and his Dodge Avenger have picked up since the new HPC season started mid-2011.
Leading into Johnson's most recent event, he and his team tested quite extensively at St. Louis' Gateway International Raceway. Johnson made numerous mid-6.50 runs in preparation for the Topeka event as well as the remained of the season. "Every test session we have is valuable. We just peck away at thousandths, not major things, thousandths in the motor, thousandths in the chassis, thousandths in the clutch. Most of all, we preach consistency. We don't want to beat ourselves because we have a car that is capable of winning every race if we do our job."
"We are trying to be close to the ragged edge," admitted Johnson following Friday's sessions. "You have to be that way to outrun the Summit cars and Vincent [Nobile] and Mike [Edwards]. You have to be on the edge, this side of the edge. The goal is to be consistent while not shooting ourselves in the foot."
With just Englishtown, Bristol and Chicago [Joliet] events remaining, Pro Stock teams are beginning to salivate at the thought of winning what they all consider, "The Big One." Many teams consider winning a K&N Horsepower Challenge Championship even bigger than winning Indy. Whether it would be their first, as would be the case for current HPC points leader Jason Line or a new K&N HPC Championship ring to put on another finger for some additional flaunting and ribbing that Allen Johnson has admittingly enjoyed with his fellow classmates over the years, there is not one team that does not want the 2012 Championship more than another.
"What Steve Williams and the entire K&N family continue to provide for our Pro Stock class is just outstanding," said Johnson. "The spotlight they put on our class is much appreciated and the opportunity to race our way into this special shootout, just the prestige of running in the K&N event is very, very important to me and our team."
As past seasons have proven, no matter who earns the 2012 K&N HPC championship, for those in the stands, on the sidelines or watching at home on TV, it will come down to some of the most exciting, nail-biting drag racing of the entire season. The 2012 K&N Horsepower Challenge will take place on Saturday July 7th as part of the 6th Annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio.
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