Allen Johnson in Pro Stock and Eddie Krawiec in Pro Stock Motorcycle locked up NHRA Full Throttle season championships at the conclusion of qualifying Saturday at the Auto Club NHRA Finals in Pomona. The championship is the first of Johnson's career while Krawiec won his second straight and third overall.
Johnson clinched the title by qualifying his Team Mopar/J&J Dodge Avenger in the No. 2 position with a time of 6.518, which mathematically eliminated the only remaining contender, 2011 Pro Stock champion Jason Line.
This is the first national title for Johnson and his father and engine builder, Roy, who have raced together in Pro Stock since 1996. Johnson posted his first top 10 showing in 1999, and he has finished in the top 10 in eight of the previous 10 campaigns; his best outings were No. 4 efforts in 2007 and 2011. Johnson, who entered the 2012 season with 18 No. 1 qualifying efforts, has always enjoyed ample power from his father’s engines, but the team had lacked the consistency to win on race day until this year.
Said Johnson, “First of all, I want to thank God for helping us make this happen. And it means a lot more to me to bring this championship to my dad, this crew, our family, and our many friends in Greeneville, Tenn.”
Johnson gave Mopar fans a hint of things to come near the end of 2011, when he recorded runner-up finishes in Phoenix and at the second Las Vegas event after hiring two-time Pro Stock champion Jim Yates as a consultant to longtime crew chief Mark Ingersoll and the rest of the team.
The 2012 season started slowly, however, with just one round-win in the first three races, and their plight was typified by a first-round loss after qualifying No. 1 in Gainesville.
But Johnson rebounded at the spring Las Vegas event with his first win, which was capped by a final-round victory over his teammate Vincent Nobile, who also uses engines prepared by his father. The win moved Johnson from seventh to fourth in the standings, and he elevated himself to third place following his semifinal finish in Atlanta.
Johnson scored his second win of the year at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals in Denver, an event where he has reached the final five consecutive times with three wins, and he moved into first place to stay. He came within two rounds of sweeping the three-race Western Swing before losing the Seattle semifinal to his close friend and intense rival Erica Enders, who affectionately tagged Johnson with the “Brutus” nickname.
Enders beat Johnson again in the Brainerd final, and Johnson suffered a second-round loss at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus. But at the beginning of the Countdown to the Championship, Johnson came out swinging with a runner-up in Charlotte, a victory in Dallas, and another runner-up in St. Louis. His only Countdown race without a final-round appearance was in Reading, where he lost in the second round. Johnson came back with a victory in Las Vegas, which all but clinched the title for his Mopar team.
“When we scored our third win of the year at Denver, I thought that was a pretty big deal because I had never won more than two races in a single season before,” said Johnson. “But now we’re coming into Pomona with six victories, which has tripled our previous record, and we also qualified No. 1 10 times. Our goal is to close out our championship season with an iron fist by winning the NHRA World Finals.
NHRA President Tom Compton, left, and Coca-Cola's Al Rondon congratulated Eddie Krawiec on winning his third Full Throttle championship.
After securing his qualifying position for eliminations, Krawiec officially put the wraps on his third NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Pro Stock Motorcycle title.
"All three of my championships are special, so I can't say this one means any more or less than the others,” said Krawiec. “For me, the championship I didn't win is the most special. I won the title in 2008 without winning a race, and then in 2009, I went on a tear and won nine times. I didn't win the championship that year, but it validated the first one, and I'll always remember that.
"These Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidsons have been great all year, and that's a statement about the strength of our team. Terry Vance and Byron Hines have been at this a long time, and they know how to build a winning team. I'm just happy to be a part of it."
Krawiec, who is at the end of an incredible season that already includes nine victories in 10 final rounds, rode his Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson to a 6.811, which is good for the No. 2 spot. He now holds an insurmountable 102-point advantage over teammate Andrew Hines.
Incredibly, Krawiec has been the points leader following 14 of the 15 events this season, losing the top spot only briefly after a round-two loss in Houston. With victories in Gainesville, Atlanta, Englishtown, Denver, Sonoma, and Brainerd, Krawiec glided into the Countdown playoffs as the top seed in the class. During the six-race playoffs, he has been virtually unbeatable with a 17-2 round-win record that includes three consecutive wins in St. Louis, Reading, and the most recent event in Las Vegas. Overall, Krawiec boasts a 47-6 round-win record, easily the best in the history of the Pro Stock Motorcycle class.
Krawiec joins teammate Hines and crew chief Matt Hines as a three-time NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle champion. Angelle Sampey and the late John Myers also won three titles, and late Hall of Famer Dave Schultz remains the class’ all-time leader with five championships.