Alan Johnson Added To John Force’s Stable

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, January 30 2016
Alan Johnson is bringing his tuning talents to John Force Racing.

Alan Johnson is bringing his tuning talents to John Force Racing.

Drag racing tuning guru Alan Johnson has added the role of “technical consultant” for Brittany Force’s Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster to his 2016 to-do list, beginning with next month’s season-opening Circle K NHRA Winternationals.

The owner of Alan Johnson Racing (AJR) in Brownsburg, Ind., Johnson also will continue to work as technical consultant for Steve Torrence Racing during the 24-race NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule. The 56th annual Winternationals are set for Feb. 11-16 at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif.

Former AJR crew chief Brian Husen joined John Force Racing during the offseason and will serve in that capacity on Brittany Force’s single-car Top Fueler. Husen won NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel world championships as crew chief for Del Worsham (2011) and Shawn Langdon (2013) while working with Johnson at AJR.

Richard Hogan will continue as crew chief of Steve Torrence’s CAPCO Contractors Top Fuel team. Through this innovative arrangement, Johnson will work as consultant to both Husen and Hogan to create an informal strategic alliance designed to help both teams increase performance and consistency.

“I’m excited to be working with these two quality teams in 2016,” Johnson said in a statement. “The alliance we have formed, which includes two very qualified and experienced crew chiefs, should make both teams legitimate championship contenders. These teams have all the ingredients for success _ proper budgets, excellent crews and very committed owners in John Force and Billy Torrence. It will provide plenty of excitement, and I’m pleased to be a part of it.

“With Brian Husen already in place at John Force Racing, we’ve made some dramatic changes to the car, engine combination and clutch. But I think equally important will be our experience with a variety of different drivers over the years and what we can do to help Brittany mature as a driver. She’s very smart, goal-driven and committed to doing what it takes to win.

“With evident signs already of the crew’s rededication toward superior preparation and attention to detail, I’m confident we can improve the entire team’s performance and strive to get Brittany her first win very soon.”

John Force, the 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion, is delighted to add the Johnson braintrust to his daughter’s team. “When the opportunity arose to work with Alan Johnson, a proven champion, and his crew chief Brian Husen, how could I resist?” team-owner Force said. “Husen said it the best when he told me he’s the quarterback and Alan is the coach. To be able to share technology with Steve Torrence Racing, a great young racer from a racing family, that made it all make sense and feel like a blessing.

“With Alan Johnson hoping to return in 2017 bringing a third car to the program, this could only strengthen our multi-year programs and help all involved turn on more win lights and contend for the championship. Enough said.”

The sponsorship search at AJR, which unexpectedly lost its funding prior to the 2015 NHRA season, is ongoing, with the team planning to resume competition in 2017.

Brittany Force is set to begin her fourth season behind the wheel of the Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster. Last season, Brittany made two final-round appearances, claimed a No. 1 qualifier and climbed to third place in the Top Fuel point standings before finishing seventh in the final rankings. Brittany compiled a 25-24 won/lost rounds record, including 5-6 in the six-race Countdown to the Championship.

Should Brittany win a race in 2016, she would become the sixth driver to capture a first-career victory under Johnson’s tutelage. Other drivers whose first-career wins came with Johnson’s help were Blaine Johnson (1995), Gary Scelzi (1997), Bruce Sarver (2000), Langdon (2012) and Khalid alBalooshi (2012).

During Johnson’s six-race consultancy with Steve Torrence Racing last season, the Texan emerged as the No. 1 qualifier in the Midwest Nationals at Madison, Ill., near St. Louis. Torrence also posted his career-best elapsed time of 3.717-seconds and speed of 329.99 mph at the season-ending Auto Club Finals in Pomona. He qualified in the top-eight positions at all six races and was runnerup during the AAA Texas FallNationals at Texas Motorplex in Ennis.

“We’re glad to have Alan back consulting with Torrence Racing in 2016,” Billy Torrence said. “At the end of last year, Alan and Richard collectively were able to take the performance of our team to the next level. I feel like there’s no reason that we can’t be a legitimate contender this year.

“We’ve always used AJPE (Alan Johnson Performance Engineering) parts and have a long-standing relationship with Alan. When he and Richard get together, it seems like good things happen. We’re excited about the opportunities this unique alliance with JFR brings and look forward to a big year.”

Steve Torrence finished the 2015 season in eighth place in the final Top Fuel point standings. He compiled a 20-23 won/lost rounds record, including 6-6 in the Countdown.

“It was a pleasure working with Richard Hogan again at Steve Torrence Racing during the last six races of the 2015 season,” Johnson said. “I thought we made solid progress and began to see some results from our work together. Richard has assembled a very solid team and created an excellent game plan for the car. We plan to pick up right where we left off last season and get Steve in the most competitive position possible to contend for a return to the winner’s circle very soon.”

Johnson has won 11 NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel world championships with five different drivers _ Scelzi, Tony Schumacher, Larry Dixon, Worsham and Langdon.

Pro Stock driver Allen Johnson has secured primary sponsorship from Marathon Petroleum Corporation, a deal that will allow the 2012 NHRA world champion to run the entire 24-race Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

“My dad (Roy) and I, along with the entire Johnson & Johnson racing team, are setting our sights on another championship thanks to the support of the Marathon brand,” Johnson said from his team’s shop in Greeneville, Tenn. “We’re grateful for our partnership with Marathon Petroleum both on and off the track.”

Johnson finished third in the 2015 final standings, only 49 points behind runnerup and four-time world champion Greg Anderson. Johnson scored a pair of victories, including the season-ender at Pomona, Calif., where the hood of his Dodge Dart featured likenesses of himself and father/engine-builder Roy and the message “Thank You for 20 Great Years.”

Johnson went into the record book as the last Pro Stock driver to win a national event with a car powered by a carbureted V8. NHRA has mandated a sweeping series of rules changes for the “Factory Hot Rod” class in 2016, including the introduction of fuel injection.

A second-generation racer, Johnson’s 20-year run of backing from Mopar officially ended when the company announced in December it was transferring its financial support to the Dodge Darts to be fielded by Jeg Coughlin Jr., a five-time NHRA Pro Stock world champion, and new Elite Motorsports teammate Erica Enders, the two-time/reigning world champion.

Johnson racked up a 31-22 overall won/lost rounds record last season in his Magneti Marelli Dodge, including 10-5 during the six-race Countdown to the Championship.

Johnson also owns Greeneville Oil and Petroleum, consisting of 37 Quick Stop Markets and three Lube X-Press oil change facilities, all carrying the Marathon brand. “Allen and his racing team strongly compliment the Marathon brand, and we’re proud to be aligned with such a great role model and champion in this sport,” said Bill McCleave, MPC brand marketing director.

Pro Stock racer Alex Laughlin will return behind the wheel of the Gas Monkey Garage Chevrolet Camaro in 2016 in a full-season partnership between Laughlin Motorsports and Dallas-based GMG.

Led by Fort Worth native Richard Rawlings, Gas Monkey Garage is a successful car restoration business featured on the reality TV series “Fast N’ Loud” on the Discovery Channel. The Gas Monkey Garage staff, featuring master mechanic Aaron Kaufman,  travels throughout Texas and surrounding states in search of forgotten classic cars to buy, restore and flip. GMG also will use Laughlin’s Camaro to market the energy drink it will introduce this year.

Laughlin qualified for six NHRA national events last season in a Camaro purchased from Gray Motorsports.

“The move into the Pro Stock class felt a little crazy last year,” said Laughlin, a 27-year-old Texan who qualified 13th in his NHRA debut during last summer’s NHRA Sonoma (Calif.) Nationals. “I had absolutely zero experience in the car before the Sonoma race. I had driven a lot of things, and you have to just start getting to where you can slow everything down, then actually process what you’re doing one step at a time. But now I’ve been able to gain the needed experience for 2016.”
| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, January 30 2016
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