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Keeping Pace

Thu., Oct. 1, 2009, 12:30 a.m.

Fruitful Memphis outing crucial for Johnson’s Countdown hopes

Allen Johnson's NHRA Full Throttle Mopar Pro Stock launches off the line. (Photo courtesy of NHRA) (The Spokesman-Review)
Allen Johnson's NHRA Full Throttle Mopar Pro Stock launches off the line. (Photo courtesy of NHRA) (The Spokesman-Review)

Allen Johnson’s Mopar/J&J Racing Dodge Stratus R/T team, captained by co-crew chiefs Mark Ingersoll and Jeff Perley and J&J engine builder Roy Johnson, Allen’s father, has been among the elite in qualifying throughout the year, which made the team’s uncharacteristic No. 13 start last week in Dallas rather surprising.

Courtesy: NHRA Media Relations

Memphis, Tenn.-Team Mopar® driver Allen Johnson has moved from fifth to fourth in the NHRA Countdown to 1 standings after two races in the six-race playoffs. Despite his recent improvement in the standings, the Mopar HEMI®-powered NHRA Full Throttle Pro Stock driver grasps the fact that he’s entering a pivotal race this weekend at the O’Reilly NHRA Mid-South Nationals. The Greeneville, Tenn., native will look for a win in his home state at the event, scheduled for Oct. 2–4 at Memphis Motorsports Park.

 

“It’s real important to do well at Memphis,” said Johnson, who advanced to the semifinals in the first Countdown event in Charlotte and to the quarterfinals in Dallas last weekend, losing to Greg Anderson by a mere one inch. “I need to go to the final, and it would also help if someone could take out Mike [Edwards, the current leader in the standings] in the first or second round.”

 

Johnson’s Mopar/J&J Racing Dodge Stratus R/T team, captained by co-crew chiefs Mark Ingersoll and Jeff Perley and J&J engine builder Roy Johnson, Allen’s father, has been among the elite in qualifying throughout the year, which made the team’s uncharacteristic No. 13 start last week in Dallas rather surprising. Considering the NHRA’s recent decision to begin awarding points to the low elapsed time of each qualifying round, the J&J team is working hard to get back in top qualifying form at Memphis.

 

“It’s crucial to do better in qualifying,” said Allen Johnson. “We stubbed our toe a little bit at Dallas due to some mechanical issues. We had some really bad luck. It’s very important to do better, because we could gain at least 10 points if we knocked Mike [Edwards] out of the top qualifying position for a few runs.”

 

Johnson expects some help in the Countdown from his teammate Johnny Gray, who advanced to the final round in Dallas.

 

“We’ve had the same setup in his car for about six races now, and it’s finally settled down to where it’s making consistent runs,” said Johnson of Gray’s Mopar-fueled Dodge. “It says a lot to see him come together and maybe he can be in a position to take some of the top 10 players out of the Countdown, for himself and for us.”

 

Johnson enjoyed a strong run in front of his home state fans last year in Memphis, capturing the No. 1 Qualifier Award and advancing to the semifinals. The Team Mopar veteran says he’s confident he can duplicate that effort this weekend.

 

“We’ve had a good setup at Memphis,” Johnson remarked. “We hope it will hold true this year. We’re redoing one race motor I hope to have in my car. Plus we have a lot of Tennessee fans there. It’s quite a ways away from Greeneville [about six hours], but it still feels like home. Normally, it’s hot and the track gets grimy there. The weather isn’t going to be real hot this weekend, but we feel real good heading into Memphis.”




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Keeping Pace

Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.