Johnson clinches first NHRA Pro Stock championship
Saturday, November 10, 2012

by John Jodauga, National DRAGSTER

Allen Johnson was officially declared the 2012 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Pro Stock champion after the conclusion of Saturday’s final qualifying session at the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals. 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.”