With just one event now remaining before the 2012 K&N Horsepower Challenge showdown next month, Greeneville, Tennessee native and former K&N Horsepower Challenge Champion, Allen Johnson piloted his Dodge Avenger to the number one Pro Stock spot in front of a hometown crowd, during the 12th annual Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway. The $3,000 K&N Engineering Low Qualifier award became the fourth for Johnson since the new season began in February.
We had tested at Bristol the week before. So we knew the track, we knew the setup and just knew what it all had to be.
During the very first Pro Stock qualifying session of the event, Johnson showed that all the dyno testing his father and engine guru, Roy Johnson, does at their shop in the very similar air conditions is worth its weight in gold. Johnson sailed way in front of the pack during the first hit at the historic Bristol, Tennessee facility with a 6.659. The pass put Johnson nearly four hundredths of a second in front of his closest competitor, Vincent Nobile, who also happens to be Johnson's teammate.
During the second session, K&N's Mike Edwards briefly snatched the top spot from Johnson by making a 6.641 lap in the pair just before Johnson. But Johnson had been far from showing his hand and just moments after he got bumped, he grabbed it back again when he and his 2012 Dodge Avenger blistered their way to a 6.623 before on track festivities ended for the evening.
"We had tested at Bristol the week before," he explained of his Friday numbers. "So we knew the track, we knew the setup and just knew what it all had to be. We went out there for the first and second passes on Friday and just did what needed to be done."
Johnson did go on to lay down another nice 6.636 during the final session, being the only team to dip below 6.64 mark all weekend.
Saturday's first pass would bring warmer track temps than the last hit for the Pro Stock teams the day before. While Johnson was still third quickest of the session with his 6.667, it was nowhere near the times he had put up on the board during the earlier sessions, but he was still able to hold on to the top spot going into the final session later in the day. "We just had a little bit of what you might call a 'blip' during that session," he admitted.
With the outstanding number that Johnson and his team had laid down on Friday, no other team was able to find quite as much horsepower as the Tennessee based Dodge team and Johnson's 6.623 would hold as the quickest of not only the class qualifying efforts, but of the entire event. Johnson did go on to lay down another nice 6.636 during the final session, being the only team to dip below 6.64 mark all weekend.
"We were the quickest three out of the four sessions," he remarked. "So, that was pretty awesome. Between dad dynoing at our shop nearby in very similar conditions, and having a second team car where we can feed off of one another, it is just an awesome thing."
The most recent NHRA Pro Stock number one qualifier for Allen Johnson at Bristol Dragway made it three years in a row for the Thunder Valley Nationals. Johnson is now looking forward to wrapping up the qualifying for the 2012 K&N Horsepower Challenge during the final event at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois, just outside of Chicago.
"Usually we are very-very fast there," said Johnson of the upcoming event at Joliet and the 15th annual O'Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals. "We've been number one [qualifier] there several times. We are in a race right now with Greg [Anderson] for that third spot in the Challenge and we are only separated by five points. So, hopefully we are going to go to Joliet, out qualify him and grab that third spot. We are so looking forward to it. It's one of the major highlights of the year for Pro Stock. The Challenge is certainly one of my personal highlights, that's for sure."
"We are already excited," he continued. "It doesn't matter if we are third, fourth or fifth, just so we are in that top eight. Luckily, we already are secured in the Challenge and we plan to head to Norwalk in a few weeks with all our guns blazin' and get the job done again."
While there could still be some shuffling of positions with one race remaining for the top seven spots in the 2012 K&N Horsepower Challenge and the race-within-a-race for the biggest single payday in all of NHRA Pro Stock with its whopping $50,000 check to the champion, the eighth and final fan voted spot has been selected. Jeg Coughlin Jr. nabbed the fan vote by a landslide, by receiving two-thirds of the total votes cast by tons of fans since voting began in April. Coughlin joins current point leader, Jason Line followed by K&N's Mike Edwards, Greg Anderson, Allen Johnson, Erica Enders along with Vincent Nobile, Ronnie Humphrey and Rodger Brogdon, who are all battling it out for the final two spots.
The 28th annual K&N Horsepower Challenge will be held as part of the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals on Saturday, July 7, at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio.
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