K&N Horsepower Challenge Sweepstakes Finalists Meet K&N Horsepower Challenge Pro Stock Drivers in Norwalk, Ohio
Some of the Sweepstakes Finalists Gather in K&N's Private Suite at NHRA Summit Racing Equipment Nationals.
By winning the K&N Engineering Horsepower Challenge Sweepstakes, each finalist was paired with one of eight Pro Stock Drivers competing in the K&N Engineering Horsepower Challenge Race. One of those sweepstakes winners won the grand prize, a new Pontiac G6 GXP coupe, courtesy of Pontiac.
"It was a crazy once in a lifetime trip," said finalist Michael Virtue. "I record NHRA races every weekend. I follow the Pro Stock drivers and want to meet them. The suite K&N put us up in at the Kalahari Resort in Sandusky, Ohio is beautiful and the private suite at Summit Motorsports Park is pure luxury."
Allen Johnson and Greg Anderson in the K&N Horsepower Challenge Final at NHRA Summit Racing Equipment Nationals
The sweepstakes finalists were from all over the United States, some were race fans, some were not, but by the end of the trip they were all on first name basis with the top eight Pro Stock drivers in the K&N Horsepower Challenge shootout. "The whole trip is fantastic, even if I don't win the car it's been great," said finalist Raymond Maxwell. "I don't know much about Pro Stock and I only watch a little NASCAR, but that's all about to change."
The top eight Pro Stock drivers who accumulated the most points while qualifying during the 23 race NHRA POWERade series were (in order of points) Greg Anderson, Allen Johnson, Kurt Johnson, Jason Line, Jeg Coughlin, Dave Connolly, Warren Johnson and Ron Krisher.
Edward Merry, Jr. Dances with Joy After Winning Pontiac GXP Coupe in K&N Engineering Horsepower Challenge Sweepstakes
As the pits started to fill with the pros, the top eight drivers were all hoping for a shot to earn a $50,000 payday as the 2008 K&N Horsepower Challenge winner. Everyone wanted the weather to cooperate on race day. Some of the K&N team gathered in the private K&N suite and did a reverse rain dance to help the track dry out.
Before qualifying, sweepstakes winners were paired with drivers by selecting driver names out of a hat. Dean Treadman selected Greg Anderson, Joseph Soucek selected Ron Krisher. Edward Merry, Jr. selected Allen Johnson and Mike Virtue selected Warren Johnson. Larry Deacon Maccubbin selected Dave Connolly and Mark Strosnider selected Kurt Johnson. Raymond Maxwell selected Jeg Coughlin and Charles Overton selected Jason Line.
All eight Pro Stock drivers competing in the K&N Horsepower Challenge went into the first round of eliminations without one single run down the track. On Friday, each driver should have made two qualifying passes. Drag racers can't compete during rain because when you mix tires with water it's like hitting black ice at high speeds. None of them had the opportunity to gather data from their cars and fine tune them for the K&N Horsepower Challenge on Saturday. As a result the playing field was untested and equal for the top eight.
The K&N Sweepstakes finalist met their drivers on the starting line before driver introductions. At that time the drivers and the sweepstakes finalists exchanged apparel. Bob Frye, the Official NHRA Announcer called each Pro Stock driver and their guests on stage for introductions and short interviews.
The eliminations began. Greg Anderson, Jeg Coughlin, Allen Johnson and Kurt Johnson advanced to the second round. In the semi-finals Greg Anderson took out Jeg Coughlin and Allen Johnson took out Kurt Johnson.
The two K&N Sweepstakes finalists Edward Merry, Jr. and Dean Treadman were shuttled to the end of the track to await the final run. Unfortunately the sky opened up and the rain came down on the open golf-carts soaking the K&N Team and the two finalists.
The dancing began again in the K&N suite. Once the rain stopped, NHRA began the drying process in preparation for the final round and K&N returned Merry and Treadman to the end of the track. Fred Simmonds of Pontiac met everyone there with the new Pontiac G6 GXP coupe. "This activity that K&N put on with retail consumers is the first one done at any NHRA shootout," said Simmonds. "It's always been a super deal for the drivers but today it's about the fans."
Merry and Treadman were nervous and excited, knowing that one of them would get a new car and parade down the return road. When the tree came down, Allen Johnson put a perfect light on the board (.000) which allowed him to beat Greg Anderson on the hole-shot. Merry did his own version of the rain dance when he heard who won. "I don't know where the perfect light came from," said Johnson. "Thanks to K&N, they put up some big money and worked with us all year. To win this means a lot."
Johnson was presented a championship trophy and a check for $50,000. Simmonds presented a key to Merry and everyone paraded down the return road in front of the packed grandstands. Merry called his family and friends as he headed down the track.
"This is incredible," said Merry. "I'm a huge fan of K&N, I've always used their products and this is the icing on the cake. We really needed a new car. Thank you K&N, Pontiac and Allen Johnson."
For more on the 2008 K&N Horsepower Challenge and the K&N Horsepower Challenge Sweepstakes make sure to view the three K&N Horsepower videos on the K&N video page.