As one of the most coveted chases in all of NHRA Pro Stock, the K&N Horsepower Challenge is in the record books for 2012 with the youngest winner to date, Vincent Nobile inking his name in history by grabbing the sought after K&N trophy and the $50,000 single day race championship check. The slate has now been wiped clean and the quest to earn a shot to compete for the next K&N championship is underway with Greenville, Tennessee's Allen Johnson leading the way.
Former NHRA Pro Stock K&N Horsepower Challenge Champion Allen Johnson
With his strong qualifying performance, as of late, Johnson was somewhat of a favorite to do very well during the 2012 running of the K&N Horsepower Challenge event at Summit Motorsports Park, but it was not to be this season for the former K&N Horsepower Challenge champion.
2013 K&N Horsepower Challenge Point Leader after NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series win in Norwalk.
Johnson had a very uncharacteristic first round which turned into an odd loss during the K&N Horsepower Challenge and when asked what happened he responded, "Oh you wouldn't believe it if I told you. Crew chief was backing me up and he was hollering 'Right, go to your right' and I was going right, right, right and I knew I was way out of the groove, but I thought he was trying to keep me out of something on the track or he was trying to keep me from somewhere he didn't want me to be. In all actuality, he meant left. So I had backed up into the clutch dust and the marbles and got them all over my right tire. By that time I had to pull forward and back to get straightened up and I had stuff all over my tires."
"When I dropped the clutch, I about went over the centerline," he added. "Mistakes happen, and you just have to put them behind you and move on."
However, Johnson did manage to put his Mopar Dodge Avenger at the top of the Pro Stock heap for qualifying and did so starting with the very first lap on Friday. With a track temperature of nearly one-hundred fifty degrees, Johnson outran his fellow competitors by being the only car to sneak into the 6.60's range with his 6.699 at 207.18.
"Oh man, it was hell actually," Johnson confessed of the wicked temperatures and humidity. "Putting on and wearing those [SFI] 15 fire suits was certainly something to reckon with."
With the horrific temperatures that plagued the majority of the event, teams knew that the second session on Friday, which was during the slightly cooler evening hours and less sun on the track, would be their best shot to make a move. As track temps settled to a now more manageable one-hundred nineteen, numerous teams made their best runs of all four sessions and once again Johnson powered above the rest by laying down what would remain the number one run for qualifying.
It was no surprise that Johnson's smooth 6.663 from Friday evening held through the final two sessions on Saturday, when air and water grains peaked, pushing the heat index well over one-hundred ten degrees.
By taking full advantage of the conditions on Friday evening, Allen Johnson qualified number one for the sixth time this year and the twenty-fourth time in his career. For his efforts, Johnson grabbed the maximum one-hundred seventy-five points for the kick-off of the 2013 K&N Horsepower Challenge chase, as well as the $3,000 K&N Low Qualifier bonus check.
"Norwalk is an overall great event and a fantastic facility," he noted. "It's all around the K&N people that we focus on and I know I had a bad event for the Challenge, but ended up qualified number one and was able to get a great start on my points for next year's chase. So, we have a little heads up and something in the back on that and hopefully we can take that and run with it."
"The K&N Horsepower Challenge is a very important program for the NHRA Pro Stock class and we take every event and every race very seriously right from the start," he added. "We are looking forward to getting up on the mountain to see if we can do it again in Denver."
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