Pro Stocker Johnson To Go For Sweep From Pole
Pro Stock points leader Allen Johnson secured his sixth straight No. 1 qualifying position at the 25th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries at Pacific Raceways.
Don Schumacher Racing teammates Spencer Massey (Top Fuel) and Ron Capps (Funny Car) also led their qualifying fields at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event.
Johnson powered his Mopar Dodge Avenger to the No. 1 position with his 6.554 second pass at 211.66 mph Friday evening. He earned the maximum amount of qualifying bonus points during the Western Swing by making the quickest run of every qualifying round since the Denver event.
“It was warm today and we hurt a motor early, but in the fourth qualifying session we went out there and ran well so I think we have a good race day tune-up for the hot track tomorrow,” Johnson said. “I thought we’d run a little better and we missed the tune-up a little bit, but we were still able to go low of the round. This Hemi is running awesome.”
Not only has Johnson secured the No. 1 qualifying position for the past six races, he’s also won the first two stops of the Western Swing in Denver and Sonoma and has his sights on becoming just the eighth driver to even sweep the elusive Western Swing.
“Anytime you can put your name in the record books of any kind is awesome,” Johnson said. “The Western Swing has some sort of aura about it, so it would be great to become the eighth guy to ever sweep the Swing but we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”
Johnson isn’t the only one who hopes to add their name to the record books during eliminations Sunday. Top Fuel driver Antron Brown also has a shot to become the first driver to ever sweep the Western Swing twice.
“We’ve had a great Western Swing so far no matter what happens Sunday,” Brown said. “My Matco boys have been killing it out here, they’ve been digging deep. You have to dig deep just to even win one race out here, let alone try and sweep the Swing. I know I have a great race car behind me. Tomorrow is going to be a tough, hot day so we just have to take it one round at a time.”
As much as Brown would like to sweep the Swing with a win at Pacific Raceways, he knows that he’s got an uphill battle in the ultra-competitive Top Fuel class.
“We’ve got Clay Millican first round and that will be a tough match up. That team has been running very well,” Brown said. “We’ll take it one round at a time and if we get past them then we’ll see what happens in round two. We’re hoping for a very long Sunday but we’ll have to wait and see what happens.”
Brown’s DSR teammate Massey earned the No. 1 spot in Top Fuel thanks to his Friday evening qualifying session when his Top Fuel dragster laid down a 3.837 second pass at 319.60 mph.
“Our goal in qualifying was to get data for raceday and we ran great Friday and ran pretty good in the heat today,” Massey said. “The conditions should be about the same tomorrow and we have a race car that can get down the hot track so I think we’re ready for raceday.”
The 29-year old driver, who is also the point leader in Top Fuel, has never won at Pacific Raceways but is hoping that will change tomorrow. Massey will face Washington-native Ron Smith in the opening round of eliminations Sunday.
“We have Ron Smith tomorrow and he’s a guy that comes out once a year; we have to watch out for guys like that,” Massey said. “We have to make sure we don’t let him play spoiler. We’re going to stick to our game plan and try not to beat ourselves and hopefully that will get us to go some rounds tomorrow.”
In Funny Car, Capps also maintained the top spot in his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger thanks to his 4.119 second pass at 298.47 mph during the second qualifying session Friday, which held up as the quickest Funny Car pass of qualifying.
“Being number one is always nice but you can never take anyone for granted on race day,” Capps said. “Anything can happen, but I’ve had great mojo here in the past and I’m hoping that continues.”
The veteran driver loves coming to Pacific Raceways thanks to all of the success he’s had at this track throughout his 17-year driving career. It is the home of his first career win back in 1995, and he has two other wins here in seven final-round appearances.
“I feel good,” Capps said. “I’ve been here as the 14th or 15th qualifier and won from the bottom before so I know we can win from any position here. We got down the track today on the hot track so we’ll sleep good tonight, and I’ll be on my game tomorrow.
Sunday’s eliminations start at 11 a.m.
Sunday’s first-round pairings for eliminations for the 25th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals presented by SuperStart Batteries at Pacific Raceways, the 15th of 23 events in the NHRA FullThrottle Drag Racing Series. Pairings based on results in qualifying, whichended Saturday. DNQs listed below pairings.
Top Fuel — 1. Spencer Massey, 3.837 seconds, 319.60 mph vs. 16. Ron Smith, 5.088, 235.35; 2. Tony Schumacher, 3.837,318.02 vs. 15. Scott Palmer, 4.259, 214.79; 3. Steve Torrence, 3.838, 319.37 vs. 14. Steven Chrisman, 4.176, 281.30; 4. Shawn Langdon, 3.842, 316.23 vs. 13. Terry McMillen, 4.036, 299.20; 5.Antron Brown, 3.842, 316.23 vs. 12. Clay Millican, 3.912, 312.78; 6. Khalid alBalooshi, 3.857, 317.34 vs. 11. Bob Vandergriff, 3.906, 310.77; 7. Doug Kalitta, 3.859, 312.57 vs. 10. Brandon Bernstein, 3.893, 313.44; 8. Morgan Lucas, 3.864, 318.62 vs. 9. David Grubnic, 3.873, 312.42.
Funny Car — 1. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.119, 298.47 vs. 16. Jeff Diehl, Chevy Monte Carlo, 4.337, 271.35; 2. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.121, 302.82 vs. 15. Gary Densham, Charger, 4.324, 289.20; 3. Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.125, 300.53 vs. 14. Courtney Force, Ford Mustang, 4.237, 262.44; 4. Johnny Gray, Charger, 4.147, 300.86 vs. 13. Robert Hight, Mustang, 4.226, 292.27; 5. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.157, 296.89 vs. 12. Jeff Arend, Camry, 4.222, 295.85; 6. Mike Neff, Mustang, 4.161, 297.16 vs. 11. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.213, 298.47; 7. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.165,293.54 vs. 10. John Force, Mustang, 4.193, 291.57; 8. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.174, 296.18 vs. 9. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.186, 284.75. Did Not Qualify: 17. Joshua Crawford, 4.398, 274.89; 18. Todd Lesenko, 4.416, 271.73.
Pro Stock — 1. Allen Johnson, Dodge Avenger, 6.554, 211.66 vs. 16. Matt Hartford, Avenger, 6.685, 208.55; 2. VincentNobile, Avenger, 6.564, 210.87 vs. 15. Mark Wolfe, Ford Mustang,6.674, 207.62; 3. Mike Edwards, Pontiac GXP, 6.573, 210.97 vs. 14. JR Carr, Mustang, 6.637, 207.27; 4. Erica Enders, Chevy Cobalt, 6.573, 210.73 vs. 13. Ron Krisher, GXP, 6.630, 209.56; 5. Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.577, 210.97 vs. 12. Kurt Johnson, GXP, 6.629, 209.04; 6. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.587, 210.54 vs. 11. Jeg Coughlin, Avenger, 6.612, 210.05; 7. V. Gaines, Avenger, 6.599, 210.70 vs. 10. Larry Morgan, Mustang, 6.606, 209.65; 8. Warren Johnson, GXP, 6.599, 209.95 vs. 9. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.603, 210.01.No Comment