Allen Johnson Crowned King Again In Colorado

| , RacinToday.com Monday, July 22 2013

NHRA Pro Stock driver Allen Johnson loves the high country. (Photo courtesy of the Mello Yello NHRA Drag Racing Series)

Allen Johnson cemented his reputation as the “King of Thunder Mountain” Sunday afternoon, claiming his second consecutive Pro Stock win at Bandimere Speedway – and fifth in seven years – during the 34th annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals in Morrison, Colo.

Johnson defeated Lakewood, Colo., native V. Gaines in an all-Mopar final round during the 25th anniversary of the brand’s title sponsorship of the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event. In a repeat of the 2012 final, Johnson posted his fourth win of the season and 20th of his career with a quarter-mile pass of 6.989-seconds at 196.87 mph.

Spencer Massey (Top Fuel), Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car) and Shawn Gann (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also emerged as winners of the 14th of 24 races in the 2013 season, and first leg of the three-event Western Swing.

“Winning this weekend was very important to me because it was the 25th anniversary of Mopar’s sponsorship of this race,” said Johnson, the reigning NHRA world champion who was the No. 1 qualifier in his Mopar Express Lane/J&J Racing Dodge Avenger. “It’s been a great marriage between Mopar and the Bandimere family, and I can’t think of a better way to acknowledge and honor that relationship than with a win.”

Johnson, of Greenville, Tenn., easily outran Gaines’ Dodge (7.015-seconds at 196.67 mph) in the final. Johnson earlier trailered point leader and former world champion Mike Edwards in the second round and Rickie Jones in the semifinals. Johnson and Mopar teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. also clinched spots among the top 10 drivers in the Countdown to the Championship, joining Edwards for the six-race playoff.

“You know, my crew is the reason for this,” said Johnson, an 18-year Pro Stock veteran who is second to Edwards in the standings. “All the guys at the engine shop, all the guys at the chassis shop, all the things that they put into this event. They’re determined to win every year, and I have to give all the glory to them.”

Johnson, Massey and Pedregon now will try to sweep the last two events of the famed Western Swing, which will continue with the NHRA Sonoma (Calif.) Nationals July 26–28.

“It would be an elite honor, to be in that group of (drivers),” Johnson said. “We go to every race trying to win every round and the race, and that’s what we’ll do heading to Sonoma.”

In Top Fuel, Massey claimed his third victory of the season and 13th of his career by defeating Houston event winner Bob Vandergriff Jr. in the final with his Battery Extender/Schumacher Electric dragster. Massey covered the 1,000-foot distance in 3.974-seconds at 309.27 mph to knock off Vandergriff’s C&J Energy Services dragster, which went 4.029-seconds at 304.67 mph.

Massey, who won for the second time at the facility near Denver, remains third in the Mello Yello Top Fuel point standings. Crew chief Phil Shuler tuned Massey to victories over Clay Millican, Mike Strasburg and point leader Shawn Langdon en route to the final. Langdon and seven-time world champion Tony Schumacher also became the first two drivers in the class to qualify for the Countdown to the Championship.

“I was very surprised to see my DSR teammates Tony Schumacher and Antron Brown not running up to their full potential this weekend,” said Massey, a resident of Fort Worth, Texas, who qualified ninth. “But again, that just shows you how tough racing on The Mountain is, and I’m sure that both teams will be very tough once we return to sea level at Sonoma. The key to winning here was to tune smart and drive smart, and that’s exactly what we were able to do.

“We didn’t perform like we should’ve in qualifying. We knew it was going to be hot. We knew it was going to be a tricky racetrack. You don’t have to have all the horsepower up here on The Mountain, you just have to make sure you get it down the track. Phil did a great job.

“I’m just blessed to be here holding the trophy, and I’m ready to go to Sonoma.”

In Funny Car, Pedregon claimed his third victory of 2013 and 33rd of his career by knocking off Bob Tasca III in the final. Pedregon’s 8,000-horsepower Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry covered the 1,000-foot distance in 4.233-seconds at 295.46 mph while Tasca slowed to 4.408-seconds at 257.04 mph in his Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Shelby Mustang.

A two-time world champion, Pedregon scored his third win in four final-round appearances in 2013. Pedregon also was the No. 1 qualifier and set the track E.T. record at 4.073-seconds during qualifying. “The Cruzer” earned his second win at Bandimere _ 20 years after his first victory at the facility. Pedregon moved to second in the standings, 40 points behind former world champion Matt Hagan of Don Schumacher Racing.

“I got asked what the most gratifying part of the weekend was and I’d have to say that it was breaking our own track record and having low E.T. in three of the four rounds,” Pedregon said. “In the first round we ran a 4.17 but we weren’t trying to. I didn’t care if it ran a 4.30; as long as we did not smoke the tires. We were on a three-race, first-round slide so this couldn’t have come at a better time.”

Pedregon beat Todd Simpson, 2009 Denver winner Ron Capps and 2002 Denver champ Del Worsham to advance to the final. “This was a good race to come back and run well, and it takes a little pressure off us in Sonoma and Seattle,” said Pedregon, referring to the second and third legs of the Western Swing.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Gann ended a nine-year winless drought with his first final-round appearance since 2010, en route to his fifth career victory. Gann covered the quarter-mile in 7.351-seconds at 181.08 mph aboard his Pirana Z Racing Buell to knock off point leader Hector Arana Jr. and his final round time of 7.376-seconds at 182.11 mph aboard his Lucas Oil Buell. Gann’s last win also came at Bandimere in 2004.

“It was a long drought, but if you give up the fight you’re never going to get out of that drought,” Gann said. “This is a big win. My bike has always been fast but I’ve had problems that have plagued me. I’m the heaviest rider out here and I make my own clutches so I have that to deal with. Being up here on The Mountain, with fat people like me, you can only move so much mass so hard but we found a way.”

Gann beat Angie Smith, Steve Johnson and three-time world champion Andrew Hines to reach the final round. Gann moved into the No. 10 spot in the point standings. Arana Jr., meanwhile, became the first rider in the two-wheel class to clinch a spot in the Countdown to the Championship.

Final finishing order (1-16) of the 34th annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, Colo. The race was the 14th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.

Top Fuel _1. Spencer Massey; 2. Bob Vandergriff Jr.; 3. Shawn Langdon; 4. Tony Schumacher; 5. Brittany Force; 6. Doug Kalitta; 7. Brandon Bernstein; 8. Mike Strasburg; 9. Khalid alBalooshi; 10. Antron Brown; 11. David Grubnic; 12. Morgan Lucas; 13. Clay Millican; 14. Terry McMillen; 15. Steve Torrence; 16. Scott Palmer.

Funny Car _1. Cruz Pedregon; 2. Bob Tasca III; 3. Robert Hight; 4. Del Worsham; 5. Jack Beckman; 6. Ron Capps; 7. Tim Wilkerson; 8. Courtney Force; 9. Matt Hagan; 10. Johnny Gray; 11. John Force; 12. Alexis DeJoria; 13. Terry Haddock; 14. Tony Pedregon; 15. Todd Simpson; 16. Jeff Arend.

Pro Stock _1. Allen Johnson; 2. V. Gaines; 3. Shane Gray; 4. Rickie Jones; 5. Mike Edwards; 6. Jason Line; 7. Vincent Nobile; 8. Steve Kent; 9. Jeg Coughlin Jr.; 10. Rodger Brogdon; 11. Greg Anderson; 12. Deric Kramer; 13. Larry Morgan; 14. Steve Kalkowski; 15. Matt Hartford.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 1. Shawn Gann; 2. Hector Arana Jr.; 3. Andrew Hines; 4. Mike Berry; 5. Adam Arana; 6. Steve Johnson; 7. Eddie Krawiec; 8. Matt Smith; 9. Scotty Pollacheck; 10. Hector Arana; 11. John Hall; 12. Angie Smith; 13. LE Tonglet; 14. Jim Underdahl; 15. Michael Ray; 16. Katie Sullivan.

Sunday’s final results from the 34th annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals:

Top Fuel _ Spencer Massey, 3.974-seconds, 309.27 mph def. Bob Vandergriff Jr., 4.029-seconds, 304.67 mph.

Funny Car _ Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.233, 295.46 def. Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 4.408, 257.04.

Pro Stock _ Allen Johnson, Dodge Avenger, 6.989, 196.87 def. V. Gaines, Avenger, 7.015, 196.67.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ Shawn Gann, Buell, 7.351, 181.08 def. Hector Arana Jr., Buell, 7.376, 182.11.

Competition Eliminator _ Todd Patterson, Chevy Cobalt, 8.520, 160.04 def. Clint Sallee, Dragster, 7.084, 192.17.

Super Stock _ Dan Fletcher, Chevy Camaro, 11.113, 115.52 def. Justin Lamb, Chevy Cobalt, 9.346, 145.14.

Stock Eliminator _ Justin Lamb, Chevy Camaro, 11.622, 110.91 def. Jeff Cunningham, Chevy Corvette, 12.153, 108.69.

Super Comp _ Chris Bombard, Dragster, 9.475, 154.05 def. Lindsey Cramsey, Dragster, 9.458, 153.02.

Super Gas _ Trevor Larson, Chevy Corvette, 10.520, 140.71 def. Robert Powledge, Ford EXP, 10.496, 133.72.

Top Dragster _ Jeff Koron, Dragster, 7.121, 191.00 def. Phil Unruh, Dragster, 6.778, 202.55.

Top Sportsman _ Jim White, Chevy Cobalt, 7.046, 185.66 def. Greg Lair, Chevy Camaro, 7.107, 198.12.

Final round-by-round results from the 34th annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals:

Top Fuel

Round One _ Spencer Massey, 3.970, 311.99 def. Clay Millican, 4.011, 304.74; Brandon Bernstein, 3.949, 307.16 def. Khalid alBalooshi, 3.967, 309.49; Brittany Force, 3.947, 310.13 def. Scott Palmer, 4.186, 292.01; Shawn Langdon, 3.921, 310.34 def. Antron Brown, 3.974, 310.34; Mike Strasburg, 4.062, 281.13 def. Steve Torrence, 4.114, 268.81; Doug Kalitta, 3.974, 305.42 def. Morgan Lucas, 4.004, 296.89; Bob Vandergriff Jr., 4.032, 292.52 def. Terry McMillen, 4.061, 297.61; Tony Schumacher, 3.953, 314.39 def. David Grubnic, 3.984, 301.40;

Quarterfinals _ Massey, 3.996, 305.91 def. Strasburg, 5.213, 138.77; Schumacher, 4.159, 289.63 def. Kalitta, 4.270, 252.99; Vandergriff Jr., 4.014, 304.19 def. Force, 4.043, 297.88; Langdon, 4.090, 270.81 def. Bernstein, 4.895, 157.78;

Semifinals _ Vandergriff Jr., 4.057, 294.82 def. Schumacher, 4.091, 299.33; Massey, 3.966, 309.98 def. Langdon, 3.975, 309.20;

Final _ Massey, 3.974, 309.27 def. Vandergriff Jr., 4.029, 304.67.

Funny Car

Round One _ Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.214, 305.15 def. Jeff Arend, Dodge Charger, 7.724, 67.90; Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 4.245, 296.18 def. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.641, 192.93; Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.245, 295.46 def. Terry Haddock, Dodge Stratus, 4.376, 277.60; Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.188, 295.46 def. Todd Simpson, Chevy Camaro, 4.879, 206.70; Courtney Force, Mustang, 4.195, 302.28 def. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.328, 287.78; Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.268, 296.76 def. John Force, Mustang, 4.313, 288.33; Robert Hight, Mustang, 4.213, 299.00 def. Johnny Gray, Charger, 4.263, 282.36; Ron Capps, Charger, no time def. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.258, 296.31;

Quarterfinals _ Hight, 4.205, 299.06 def. Beckman, 4.276, 295.40; C. Pedregon, 4.178, 297.35 def. Capps, 4.282, 296.18; Worsham, 4.336, 292.14 def. C. Force, 4.371, 286.98; Tasca III, 4.237, 303.03 def. Wilkerson, 4.307, 274.22;

Semifinals _ Tasca III, 4.221, 302.89 def. Hight, 4.434, 230.13; C. Pedregon, 4.232, 292.84 def. Worsham, 5.261, 155.90;

Final _ C. Pedregon, 4.233, 295.46 def. Tasca III, 4.408, 257.04.

Pro Stock

Round One _ Mike Edwards, Chevy Camaro, 6.977, 196.96 def. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Dodge Avenger, 7.012, 196.47; Jason Line, Camaro, 7.022, 195.76 def. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 7.016, 196.02; Vincent Nobile, Avenger, 7.022, 196.07 def. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 7.031, 194.91; Steve Kent, Camaro, 7.036, 194.72 def. Deric Kramer, Avenger, 7.047, 194.41; V. Gaines, Avenger, 7.009, 196.33 def. Steve Kalkowski, Pontiac GXP, broke; Allen Johnson, Avenger, 6.981, 197.10 was unopposed; Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.990, 196.79 def. Larry Morgan, Ford Mustang, foul; Rickie Jones, Camaro, 7.020, 196.22 def. Matt Hartford, Avenger, DQ;

Quarterfinals _ Jones, 7.013, 196.39 def. Kent, 7.109, 192.03; Gaines, 7.001, 196.62 def. Line, 7.019, 196.56; Gray, 6.981, 196.96 def. Nobile, 7.020, 196.44; Johnson, 6.982, 196.90 def. Edwards, 6.989, 196.67;

Semifinals _ Gaines, 7.011, 196.53 def. Gray, 7.000, 196.79; Johnson, 6.993, 196.96 def. Jones, 7.034, 195.96;

Final_ Johnson, 6.989, 196.87 def. Gaines, 7.015, 196.67.

Pro Stock Motorcycle

Round One _ Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 7.329, 180.89 def. Hector Arana, Buell, 7.304, 182.82; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 7.332, 179.97 def. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 7.301, 180.36; Shawn Gann, Buell, 7.289, 182.55 def. Angie Smith, Buell, 7.341, 180.02; Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 7.309, 181.72 def. Michael Ray, Buell, 7.597, 173.61; Hector Arana Jr., Buell, 7.265, 183.72 def. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, foul; Adam Arana, Buell, 7.281, 182.33 def. Katie Sullivan, Suzuki, 7.833, 138.71; Mike Berry, Buell, 7.320, 180.69 def. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 7.362, 181.47; Matt Smith, Buell, 7.307, 182.11 def. John Hall, Buell, 7.316, 179.59;

Quarterfinals _ Berry, 7.383, 178.59 def. M. Smith, 7.354, 181.08; Gann, 7.315, 181.94 def. Johnson, 7.312, 181.37; Hines, 7.347, 180.62 def. A. Arana, foul; Arana Jr., 7.276, 1

Point standings (top 10) following the 34th annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway:

Top Fuel _1. Shawn Langdon, 1,093; 2. Tony Schumacher, 1,074; 3. Spencer Massey, 1,034; 4. Doug Kalitta, 867; 5. Antron Brown, 831; 6. Khalid alBalooshi, 809; 7. Clay Millican, 735; 8. Bob Vandergriff Jr., 692; 9. Morgan Lucas, 670; 10. Steve Torrence, 647.

Funny Car _1. Matt Hagan, 991; 2. Cruz Pedregon, 951; 3. Johnny Gray, 893; 4. Ron Capps, 887; 5. John Force, 860; 6. Jack Beckman, 851; 7. Courtney Force, 837; 8. Tim Wilkerson, 770; 9. Del Worsham, 768; 10. Bob Tasca III, 743.

Pro Stock _1. Mike Edwards, 1,271; 2. Allen Johnson, 1,192; 3. Jeg Coughlin Jr., 1,054; 4. Shane Gray, 883; 5.Jason Line, 870; 6. Vincent Nobile, 804; 7. Greg Anderson, 746; 8. Erica Enders-Stevens, 743; 9. V. Gaines, 688; 10. Rodger Brogdon, 628.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _1.Hector Arana Jr., 671; 2. Michael Ray, 559; 3. Matt Smith, 543; 4. John Hall, 503; 5. Scotty Pollacheck, 492; 6. Hector Arana, 473; 7. Adam Arana, 427; 8. Eddie Krawiec, 412; 9. Shawn Gann, 397; 10. Steve Johnson, 392.

| , RacinToday.com Monday, July 22 2013
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