Team Mopar® Driver Johnson Hopes Both He and NASCAR Star Kurt Busch Shine at NHRA Gatornationals

By Auto News Log • March 9th, 2011

Johnson and Busch to take part in Team Mopar autograph session at Gainesville Raceway

Auburn Hills, Mich. – The goal is two-fold for Mopar® Dodge Avenger NHRA Pro Stock driver Allen Johnson this weekend at the 42nd Annual NHRA Gatornationals, March 10–13 at Gainesville Raceway: Bring home his first career win at one of the NHRA’s most prestigious events and also help Dodge Motorsports NASCAR Sprint Cup star Kurt Busch make the show in his NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Pro Stock debut.

Johnson advanced to the semifinals at the 2010 NHRA Gatornationals and scored his first career final-round appearance at the 2009 event. The Team Mopar veteran would love to check off a win at the tradition-rich Gainesville race from his career to-do list this weekend.

“The NHRA Gatornationals is one of the biggest, most important races on the NHRA schedule. It’s one of those historic events that every driver really wants to win; it means a lot,” said Johnson, who is currently ninth in the NHRA Pro Stock standings after one event. “All the hoopla over the NHRA 60th Anniversary celebration begins at Gainesville as well, so that just takes it up another notch.

“We didn’t perform how we wanted to at the Winternationals, losing in the first round, but if we can rebound and go rounds at the Gators, then we’ll be in fine shape. A win here would be huge, both as a career milestone for me and as a needed boost for our Mopar Dodge Avenger/J&J Racing team in the championship standings.”

Johnson will test with NASCAR Sprint Cup star Kurt Busch at Bradenton (Fla.) Motorsports Park tomorrow in preparation for the NHRA Gatornationals. It’s the final of three joint test sessions for the two racing stars. Busch will compete at Gainesville with Mopar HEMI® engines supplied by Johnson’s J&J Racing team in his Shell Dodge Avenger, and Johnson’s crew chief, Mark Ingersoll, will assist the 2004 Sprint Cup champion as he tries to qualify in the always-tight Pro Stock field. Johnson is confident Busch can excel in his switch from mashing the pedal and turning left to mashing the pedal and going straight.

“We’ve got one more day of prep with Kurt, so we can make sure he shines at the Gators,” said Johnson. “Kurt and I have traded text messages, and I know he’s excited to come to Gainesville. His Shell Dodge will be right there with my Mopar Dodge, as far as the quality of the car and engine. As far as the finer points of racing Pro Stock, such as shifting and staging, Kurt has done real well so far, and we’ll have even more time to practice those skills. I really see no reason why he can’t qualify in the top half of the field at the Gatornationals.”

Johnson and Busch to take part in Team Mopar autograph session at NHRA Gatornationals

Team Mopar driver Allen Johnson and Dodge Motorsports NASCAR star Kurt Busch, along with Mopar-powered Pro Stock drivers V. Gaines and Vincent Nobile, will take part in a Team Mopar autograph session from 10:00–10:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 12, at the Mopar display in the manufacturers midway at Gainesville Raceway. The signing is one of three Team Mopar autograph sessions scheduled to take place during the NHRA Gatornationals.

Mopar NHRA racing legends “Big Daddy” Don Garlits and Darrell Gwynn, who will take part in match races at the NHRA Gatornationals to raise money for charity, will participate in a signing session from 1:30–2:00 p.m. on Friday, March 11 at the Mopar display. Don Schumacher Racing NHRA Funny Car stars Matt Hagan, Ron Capps, Jack Beckman and Johnny Gray will also visit the Mopar display on Saturday following the first round of pro qualifying. Fans taking part in the Team Mopar autograph signings will have the chance to enter to win an item autographed by Team Mopar drivers.

Johnson’s Statistics of Note

At Gainesville Raceway

• Advanced to the semifinal round in 2010, falling to Mike Edwards
• Scored a runner-up finish at the 2009 NHRA Gatornationals, his best career finish at the event, losing to Jason Line in the final by a mere one-hundredth of a second

2011 Season

• Qualified No. 3 at the season-opening NHRA Winternationals
• Currently ninth in the NHRA Pro Stock point standings
• Fellow Mopar-powered Pro Stockers Kurt Busch and Vincent Nobile will compete with HEMI engines supplied by Johnson’s J&J Racing team at the NHRA Gatornationals
• Broke the 6.50-second barrier in a February test session at Bradenton Motorsports Park, uncorking a 6.498-second elapsed time, an unofficial record for a Pro Stock car

2010 Season

• Finished sixth in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship Pro Stock playoff standings
• Claimed four consecutive No. 1 Qualifier Awards (Dallas, Reading, Las Vegas, Pomona 2) to end the season
• Scored a victory at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals, his second straight win and third in four years at his primary sponsor’s race
• Advanced past the first round at 21 of 23 events
• Posted a 37-21 round win record, the most round wins of his career
• Advanced to at least the semifinals in 12 of 23 events
• Advanced to the final round at the NHRA event in Norwalk, Ohio
• Scored his second final-round appearance of the season at the NHRA event in Topeka
• Claimed his 200th career round win at the NHRA St. Louis race
• Advanced to four straight semifinals to start the season in his new Mopar Dodge Avenger
• Banked his first final-round appearance of the year at the NHRA Houston event

2009 Season

• Clinched a spot in the 2009 NHRA Countdown to 1 six-race playoffs
• Captured wins at Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals in Denver and O’Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals in Topeka
• Finished seventh in NHRA Full Throttle Pro Stock point standings
• Made three finals appearances, scoring a runner-up finish at NHRA Gatornationals
• Captured seventh career No. 1 Qualifier Award at NHRA event in Seattle, reaching semis
• Made eight semifinals appearances
• Posted a 30-20 round win record for the season

2008 Season

• Finished seventh in NHRA Pro Stock standings
• One of only 10 drivers to qualify for NHRA Countdown to 1 six-race playoffs
• Won K&N Horsepower Challenge bonus event at Norwalk, recording perfect .000 reaction time to defeat Greg Anderson for victory
• Powered to three No. 1 Qualifier Awards
• Made eight semifinals appearances
• Posted two straight runner-up finishes at Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals and Schuck’s Auto Supply NHRA Nationals
• Racked up 28-24 round win record

2007 Season

• Finished career-best fourth in NHRA Pro Stock point standings
• One of only four Pro Stock drivers to qualify for inaugural NHRA Countdown to 1 playoff
• Claimed win at Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals in Denver

2006 Season

• Finished sixth in NHRA Pro Stock standings, scoring win at Seattle

Career

• Qualified for Countdown to Championship in all four years since NHRA adopted playoff format in 2007
• Claimed eight career NHRA Full Throttle Pro Stock wins
• Captured 15 career No. 1 Qualifier Awards
• Claimed more than 200 career round wins
• Has a career best elapsed time of 6.545-seconds and a career best speed of 211.73 mph
• Recorded 21 career final round appearances
• Competed in 300th race at 2009 NHRA St. Louis event
• Scored second career win at Atlanta in 2002 and finished eighth in point standings
• Seized first career win in 1999 at Richmond and went on to claim first top 10 finish in standings
• Made NHRA Pro Stock debut in 1996, driving a Mopar-powered Dodge Avenger

Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals

The 42nd Annual Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals is scheduled to take place March 10–13 at Gainesville (Fla.) Raceway. One-and-a-half hours of qualifying coverage will air on Sunday, March 13 beginning at midnight (ET) on ESPN2 and ESPN2HD. Three hours of eliminations coverage will air on Sunday, March 13, beginning at 6 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2 and ESPN2HD. For more information on the NHRA, log on to http://www.nhra.com.

Mopar-First Features

Mopar has introduced numerous industry-first features including:
• Camper trailers: first to introduce off-road camper trailers
• Vehicle-information apps: first to introduce smartphone vehicle-information applications, a new channel of communication with consumers
• Electronic owner manuals: first to introduce traditional owner manuals in a DVD and brief user-guide format
• Electronic Vehicle Tracking System (EVTS): first to market with a new interactive vehicle tracking device that sends owner a text when vehicle is driven too fast or too far based on pre-set parameters
• 2011 Mopar Challenger Drag Pak: first to introduce a 500-plus cubic-inch V-10 drag-race package car
• Wi-Fi: first to offer customers the ability to make their vehicle a wireless hot spot
• WiTECH: first to support vehicle diagnosis and software updates leveraging off-the-shelf personal computers and a dedicated wireless tool network

About the Mopar Brand

Mopar is Chrysler Group LLC’s service, parts and customer-care brand.

Mopar distributes approximately 280,000 parts and accessories in more than 90 countries and is the source for all original-equipment parts for Chrysler, Jeep®, Dodge and Ram Truck vehicles. Mopar parts are unique in that they are engineered with the same teams that create factory-authorized vehicle specifications for Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and Ram vehicles—a direct connection that no other aftermarket parts company can provide. A complete list of Mopar accessories and performance parts is available at http://www.mopar.com.

More than 70 Years of Mopar

When Chrysler bought Dodge in 1928, the need for a dedicated parts manufacturer, supplier and distribution system to support the growing enterprise led to the formation of the Chrysler Motor Parts Corporation (CMPC) in 1929.

Mopar (a simple contraction of the words MOtor and PARts) was trademarked for a line of antifreeze products in 1937. It also was widely used as a moniker for the CMPC. The Mopar brand made its mark in the 1960s—the muscle-car era. The Chrysler Corporation built race-ready Dodge and Plymouth “package cars” equipped with special high-performance parts. Mopar carried a line of “special parts” for super-stock drag racers and developed its racing parts division called Mopar Performance Parts to enhance speed and handling for both road and racing use.

ON THE INTERNET

Visit Chrysler’s Media Services Web site at http://www.media.chrysler.comfor additional Chrysler and Mopar news. For additional information about Mopar, log on to http://www.mopar.com or http://www.moparspeed.com.

Source: Dodge Motorsports

 

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