J&J Mopar Moves to the Verge! 

Mopar brand powerhouse racers Allen & Roy Johnson have moved to the cusp of giving Mopar/Dodge fans a coveted NHRA Full Throttle Pro Stock World Championship…..

That duo were lightening fast and consistent while winning for the 6th time this season during NHRA’s Big O Tire Nationals held at “The Strip” at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last weekend.

Johnson emerged triumphant in an all Mopar class final-round duel knocking out teammate Vincent Nobile to earn a sweep of both 2012 NHRA Vegas events. It was his 15th Pro Stock win of his career but more importantly, moved Johnson to 126 points ahead of the second-place Jason Line, a nearly insurmountable margin.  The Team Mopar veteran needs only to qualify at the season-ending NHRA Finals in Pomona, Calif., to clinch his first title.

It was all Mopar Hemis in the Pro Stock final round with Allen Johnson winning over teamate Vincent Nobile.

Johnson, starting No. 2, beat fellow Mopar-powered racers Deric Kramer and Jeg Coughlin in the first two rounds before beating Ron Krisher’s GXP in the semi final round.  That win set up a HEMI vs. HEMI fight with Nobile, in a repeat of the spring final round at Vegas, which Johnson won.

In the final round, Johnson left the starting line with a 0.20 reaction time, just a tad behind the always-quick Nobile, who recorded a .013 launch, but at the finish, Johnson and his Mopar Dodge had enough to edge out Nobile, 6.637 secs 208.17 mph to 6.670 secs 204.39 mph.

“The Mopar Dodge Avenger has just been so consistent and that’s what we’ve preached all year long,” said Johnson, “That showed today with four 6.3s, and in the heat of the day we made our best run. My crew is doing an awesome job and to cushion that points lead there so that we breathe a little easier going toPomona is great.”

In the NHRA Funny Car class it was all an all-Mopar final round affair as well, with Mopar HEMI-powered DSR teammates Beckman and Capps meeting for the event title. 

Capps powered his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger to a performance of 4.070 seconds at 315.12 mph to hold off Beckman’s Schumacher Electric Charger in a dramatic final round. Capps also defeated Tony Pedregon, top qualifier Cruz Pedregon and Johnny Gray in earlier rounds to claim his 38th career victory and move ever closer (4 points) to earning that elusive first world championship title.  The veteran driver has finished second three times in his career.  

Ron Capps’ win in fuel FC sets up a truly dramatic FC title season finale at Pomona…

“Qualifying was tough,” Capps said. “Rahn Tobler, our crew chief, was like, ‘OK, we’re alright. We’re alright. We’re sneaking up on it. We’re just trying to get down the track,’ until today. Oh man, he unleashed that 4.09 in one of the biggest rounds of the year because we didn’t have lane choice — Cruz Pedregon went 4.06 first round. We were taking a pistol to a gunfight. I don’t think we were very comfortable that we could go up there and run that in that right lane. To throw down that 4.09 like he did was unbelievable, and then we come back with a 4.08 and 4.07. It’s a fun car to go toPomonawith and actually have a shot at a championship.” 

In Top Fuel, Georgia’s Bob Vandergriff Jr  earned his second career Top Fuel victory with a run of 3.832 at 324.75 in his C& J Energy Services dragster, defeating seven-time world champion Tony Schumacher in the final round.  

Bob Vandergriff and his Canadian tuner/crew chief Rob Flynn won for the 2nd time this season in Top Fuel

“We’ve had a great race car all weekend,” Vandergriff said. “It’s been a year since my last win, and we certainly didn’t think it would take that long to win again,” Vandergriff Jr. said. “Everybody said this next one comes easy. Well, I think they’re full of it because they don’t come easy. That’s just a great job by the guys. We had a great car all weekend. It ran good. We made four great runs today. First round was a little tough. It got hot out there, but other than that, our car was pretty flawless.” 

The Top Fuel championship landscape changed a bit when series points leader Antron Brown lost to Al-Anabi Racing’s Khalid alBalooshi in round one after his Matco Tools dragster encountered engine issues midway down the track. FRAM/Prestone dragster driver Spencer Massey, who is currently third in points, was defeated by Vandergriff in the quarterfinals.  With the runner-up finish Schumacher moved to second overall, 65 points back of leader Brown. 

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Screamin’ Eagle/Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson rider Krawiec earned his ninth win of the 2012 season after defeating Matt Smith with a performance of 6.959 at 194.10. 

“I’m just really excited, really happy, and very proud to be part of the Harley-Davidson team,” Krawiec said. “You know these guys support me 100 percent and give me awesome equipment to make sure I get up and down the track. You know, I have to do my job, and I tried that this weekend. I knew I was going to have a tough round and a tough opponent against Matt Smith in the final. I really had to step up my game and I didn’t want to leave a whole lot of leeway.”  

Eddie Krawiec continued his amazing season in PSM — he in fact won two titles during the Las Vegas event.

With the victory, Krawiec increased his series lead to 111 over Andrew Hines, who lost in the second round.  Krawiec in fact claimed two event wins atLas Vegas.  Prior to winning Sunday’s event he prevailed in the rain-deferred final round from NHRA’s Auto Plus Nationals atReadingPA.  He beat his teammate Andrew Hines in that showdown. 

Event Essentials:   NHRA Big O Tires Nationals (Oct. 25-28th, 2012) Las Vegas, NV.

TOP FUEL Name ET MPH Career Win
Winner: Bob Vandergriff 3.832 324.75 2nd
R/UP: Tony Schumacher 5.543 124.75  
Low ET: Tony Schumacher 3.773    
Top Speed: Doug Kalitta   327.11  
Bump Spot:   3.893    
FUNNY CAR       Career Win
Winner: Ron Capps 4.070 315.12 38th
R/UP: Jack Beckman 8.455   74.33  
Low ET: Cruz Pedegron 4.064    
Top Speed: Robert Hight   317.27  
Bump Spot:   4.136    
PRO STOCK       Career Win
Winner: Allen Johnson 6.637 208.17 15th
R/UP: Vincent Nobile 6.670 204.39  
Low ET: Jason Line 6.590    
Top Speed: Jason Line   209.72  
Bump Spot:   6.693    
PRO STOCK BIKE       Career Win
Winner: Eddie Krawiec 6.959 194.10 9th
R/UP: Matt Smith 6.967 192.28  
Low ET: Eddie Krawiec 6.902    
Top Speed: Eddie Krawiec   195.11  
Bump Spot:   7.079    
GSA PRO MOD        
Winner: Troy Coughlin 5.830 253.52 2nd
R/UP: Don Walsh 7.602 140.90  
Low ET: Don Walsh 5.824    
Top Speed: Don Walsh   255.29  
Bump Spot:   6.085    
LUCAS OIL        
Sportsman Winners:        
TA Dragster Jim Whiteley 5.340 270.80  
TA Funny Car Tony Bartone 5.546 259.26  
Competition Bo Butner 8.540 158.39  
Super Stock Dan Fletcher 10.47 122.98  
Stock Bo Butner 9.212 146.97  
Super Comp (9.05) Luke Bogacki 9.081 174.47  
Super Gas (10.05) Steve Apted 10.05 164.62  

Final Round Dramatics!

Veteran driver Troy Coughlin faced long odds of winning his first NHRA championship at the start of this weekend’s 12th annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals, and he made the ultimate gamble by switching to a brand-new racecar before the race began. Now, he’s part of drag racing immortality.

After winning the last race inSt. Louis, Coughlin found himself 42 points behind Pro Mod class leader Mike Castellana in third place. Although the racecar he had been driving got him to that point, Coughlin decided to switch to a 2013 Corvette in an last-ditch effort to gain two-plus rounds of racing with only four left on the table.

Needing everything to fall into place, Coughlin expertly rode his new mount to a second consecutive victory that ultimately earned him the NHRA Pro Mod Series presented by ProCare Rx title by the slenderest of margins.

Troy Coughlin’s very talented Jegs Racing team clinched the ProCare RX Pro Mod 2012 series title in truly dramatic style.

“They told me we won the championship by three points,” Coughlin said. “That’s just a ‘wow’ thought. How hard did we work for each of those points? How many ups and downs were there? It’s just crazy to have it end up so close, especially when we’re here on the good side of the equation. We came into this race with a brand-new car. We tested here with it a week ago and it was running well so we decided to enter it in the race. Of course, everyone else said we were crazy, but Steve Petty (crew chief) and all the guys worked so hard to give me a perfect car and, bottom line, it’s so much easier to drive than anything I’ve had in the past. It worked perfectly all weekend and we needed every bit of it to get this title.”

After qualifying third on the grid, Coughlin erased first-round foe Mike Janis Saturday evening with a stellar 5.827 at 253.75 mph. That set-up a second-round date Sunday morning with Castellana that put destiny in Coughlin’s hands. All he had to do was beat the best driver in the class and then hold it all together for two more rounds and the championship would be his.

“We approached the day thinking, ‘Let’s just run the best that we can without over-powering the track and giving it away,'” Coughlin said. “We just focused on cutting good lights, making laps and turning on win lights.”

With pressure at its highest, Coughlin coolly responded with a huge, half-a-second victory over Castellana, then made light work of a red-lighting Danny Rowe and an out-of-shape Don Walsh to don the crown.

“My brother Jeg started this deal where each of (the four Coughlin brothers) have rings with a stone in it for each national championship we’ve won,” Coughlin said. “I added one in 2009 when I won theNMCA Pro Streettitle and now this one, combined with the five Jeg has won, will put us up to seven stones. It’s just incredible to think about it. To be a piece of the history of JEGS Racing, considering the guys I’m racing with, is pretty awesome.”

Marquee List Sportsman Winners!

Jim Whiteley and Tony Bartone led the star studded list of  Sportsman winners for the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Big O Tries NHRA Nationals and Bo Butner scored the elusive double taking home the trophy in both Comp and Stock Eliminator.

Soon to be crowned NHRA World Champion Jim Whiteley scored again in TAD

Whiteley, Grand Junction, Colo., added a win to his championship season when he knocked out Joey Severance in a close Top Alcohol Dragster final round. Whiteley clocked in at 5.340 seconds at 270 mph to Severance, Woodburn, Ore., at 5.363, 266 mph.  Whiteley, who has already clinched the 2012 National Championship, has six national event wins on the season along with three regional wins. 

Whitely was hoping to share the winner’s circle with his wife Annie who faced off withLong Island,N.Y., racer Tony Bartone both driving Ford Mustangs in the Top Alcohol Funny Car class.  Bartone had other thoughts, qualifying No. 1 and marching through eliminations posting both the low elapsed time and top mph of the event at 5.538 seconds and 253.51 mph.  Bartone defeated Whiteley for his third win of the year with a 5.546 second lap at 261.78 mph to Whiteley’s 5.576, 259.26.

Tony Bartone claimed the event’s TAFC title

Butner drove his Mustang to a 9.212 second, 146.97 mph pass to defeat Jeff Tueton in Stock Eliminator for his first win of the day, then came back around to race Lou Ficco for the Comp Eliminator title.  Butner’s Cobalt went 8.540 seconds at 158.39 to hold off Ficco and secure the rare double win and add his name to the list of just 13 drivers in history to accomplish the feat.

Dan Fletcher scored his 80th NHRA National event win beating former Lucas Oil National Champion Larry Stewart in Super Stock.  Fletcher, who has three championships of his own, clocked in at 10.476 at 122.98 mph in his Camaro to Stewart’s 10.224, 125.95 with his Challenger.

Stalwart Sportsman racer Dan Fletcher claimed his 80th career NHRA event win

 Luke Bogacki and Steve Apted completed the list of winners as Bogacki out ran Greg Boutte and his K&N Filters entry in Super Comp while Apted won over Boutte’s teammate Steve Williams in Super Gas for his first national event win of his career.  Bogacki, who is still in the hunt for the national championship, went 9.081, 174.41 to Boutte’s 9.087, 177.42.  Apted posted a 10.052 second, 164.63 mph pass to Williams’ 10.047, 165.50. 

Photos by:  Bruce Biegler 

Posting with files from:  Pat Caporali, Scott Woodruff, Eric Lotz and Michelle McCulloch 

To view DragRaceCanada’s Las Vegas Event photo gallery click:  HERE