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December 10th - Busy.

It’s been busy since our championship weekend in Pomona back in early November. Seems like we’ve been going to one party after another. My wife Pam and I spent a day and night with our Pro Stock friends, the Humphries clan, and they had us a big party up there, and invited their whole family over. Virginia, Walter, Justin and Gina had a big get-together at Justin & Gina’s house in Frederick, Md. Following that, the Chamber of Commerce in my hometown of Greeneville, Tenn., had a big function last week, and invited all the businesses that are part of the organization to come out and help honor our championship run. I think half of Greeneville was there! That was huge deal, with a huge turnout.

Then last Sunday I was Grand Marshal for a local Greeneville parade, and earlier this week Dad and I were presented with an honor by the town of Greeneville at a city meeting. So the J&J Racing team has definitely been getting some local recognition. The reaction from my hometown has been amazing. The entire region — the county of Greene, the city of Greeneville, all the people who live here — has really embraced our team and our championship season. It’s been a dream come true.

I also managed to get some hunting in with a bunch of friends. It used to be an annual excursion, but I hadn’t been able to join the boys in recent years. This year I was able to reunite with the gang, and we went deer hunting in the mountains near my home in Tennessee, and had a great time. The boys gave me a plaque with photos honoring our recent championship, and it made up for the fact that we got skunked — no one bagged a thing! Oh well —maybe next year.

Of course, it’s also time to go back to work. I’m already feeling the pressure to continue our success next year. I’m the type of person, I’m not going to dwell on what we’ve accomplished; I’m more worried now about what we’re expected to accomplish moving forward. We have to get to work and make sure we maintain that championship level of performance. That being said, the championship trophy now sits in my office — and I only look at it about ten times a day!

With our recently announced deal with Jeg Coughlin Jr. and his team, we are starting to get that set up. Jeg’s car and crew were at our shop last week and have been there this week, and we’re getting everything fitted in Jeg’s car. We’re actually going testing in Bradenton next week for two days.

It’s an exciting deal. Jeggy is a class act, and his whole organization is a class act. We’re awful big on the family aspect of racing, as he is. We’re going to try to set this thing up as a two-car, open-pit area type atmosphere. It’s not just us two, of course, as Vincent Nobile will also run with Mopar/J&J Racing HEMI power. Hopefully, we’ll have three Mopar cars in the top-five every run down the track, duking it out for wins and the 2013 championship.

Holiday-wise, we visited family on Thanksgiving. We were able to split up the family parties so we didn’t have to eat three times in one day! We spent Thanksgiving Day with my daughters and Pam’s family, and then on Saturday we went to my mom & dad’s and hung with my side of the family. It’s great — there’s always a lot of turkey, and you gain about five pounds.

We’re squeezing in a wedding between the holidays — Pam and I are actually in Houston today to help our friends get hitched, Richie Stevens and Erica Enders. Pam and I are both standing up in the wedding, and we’re honored to help them celebrate their big day. We have a festive house to return to — my mom gave a bunch of pictures of us at the track, even pictures from when Dad and I used to race in the Sportsman class, to the lady who helps us on our Christmas decorations for our home. She gave our Christmas tree a nice “Mopar” blue theme, and trimmed it with the photos, Mopar hats and copies of Mopar Magazine. Very cool! We’ll be staying home in Greeneville for a country Christmas, and we’ll soak in the remainder of what’s been a magical year for us. We have been truly blessed in 2012!
Allen Johnson (3k)
Allen Johnson (3k)
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November 18th - A dream Come True.

Seventeen years is a pretty long time. That’s how long we’ve been racing a Mopar-powered Pro Stock car and after all of the blood, sweat and tears we are finally able to say we are NHRA Pro Stock World Champions. That has a pretty nice ring to it, doesn’t it? It’s been such a long and extended battle and to finally reach this pinnacle is beyond words. I can’t really even describe it, but I’ll try.

We always thought we could do this and this year we learned how to win, and that was the main ingredient we had been missing. It’s magical when you learn how to win and I guess you could call it a dream season. It feels awesome. To do this with my dad and this entire team is such an amazing feeling.

Heading into Pomona, I was more nervous than I think I have ever been going into an event. I knew that all we needed to do was just qualify for the race and we would clinch the championship, but I kept thinking of every scenario possible that might pop up. When qualifying was complete on Saturday at Pomona and our Mopar Dodge Avenger was in the show, we knew that we were officially the champions. But this team is so competitive and so focused that we really wanted to win to put an exclamation point on the season. By winning the last race of the season you give yourself some momentum going into the off-season and the following season, and we were able to do that at Pomona. That was the first win for us at Pomona and that’s a place I’ve had on my “bucket list” of tracks that I wanted to win at for quite a while.

The racing was actually the easy and relaxing part, as next came the banquet and having to make “The Speech.” It was a day full of nerves leading up to that. There were a lot of butterflies in my stomach and emotions from everybody. It was a fun day, but it was also a very, very stressful day. It ended up being a very touching evening at the banquet, as I had dad up on stage with me. I also got to introduce our entire crew and family members, as well as many of the partners of this team. It was very touching for me and something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.

Everyone on the team is on cloud nine right now. To see all of your hard work all year turn into a championship is pretty special. The crew is very proud of that and I am extremely proud of them. They worked their tails off day in and day out, whether we were at the track, at the shop or testing. To be honest, the crew is already thinking about next season and what we can do to be even stronger than we were this year. That’s the type of dedication it takes to be successful in a class as competitive as Pro Stock.

We approached this season in a totally different way than we ever have in the past. We had an analytical and scientific-type approach to how we did things. We made better decisions and that really paid off. I stressed consistency all year, and we really had that after the first couple of races. We made a few mistakes early in the season and went testing and figured out how to not make those mistakes again. It was a total team approach in decision making and that way of thinking really paid dividends.

I really couldn’t have asked for a much better season. The racer and competitor in me says we should have probably won a couple more races, but to set career highs in wins (7), No. 1 Qualifiers (10) and round wins (55) was pretty amazing.

Earlier this week, our friends at Bristol Dragway, Wes and Lori, had a luncheon to celebrate the title with us. They did an awesome job with it. Bristol is such a great partner around the area and have done a lot for us over the years and we’ve done a lot for them as well. They had television and radio stations and newspapers out there and we did a lot of interviews with the media. The spread they had for everyone to eat was great and everyone enjoyed that. They also presented me with a couple of plaques and a really nice picture to commemorate the championship. It was so kind of them to host that event and do all of that for us.

Even though the season is over, we are busy as ever. This weekend our backup car will be on display up in Baltimore at a Chrysler Group LLC Fleet event. I’ll be there on Saturday signing autographs and greeting folks. When I get back from that, it will be Thanksgiving week and we’ll spend some good, quality time with our family.

I’m also working on something big to reward the team for all of their hard work. Then before we know it, it will be time to go and test. Not too much R&R for the team or me, and that’s a good problem to have, being in demand and busy. That means we did something right this season.

It’s been a great ride this year and the perfect way to help wrap up the Mopar 75th anniversary celebration. It’s definitely an honor to have Mopar on the side of our race car and I thank them from the bottom or my heart for all that they do for our J&J Racing team. Thanks to all of the fans as well for their continued encouragement and support.

Now that we have one title, our goal is to get another. We’re already working hard toward that goal and look forward to defending this year’s title in 2013. Pomona will be here before we know it.
Allen Johnson (5k)
Allen Johnson (5k)
Allen Johnson (3k)
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Allen Johnson (3k)
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Allen Johnson (5k)
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November 4th - The Waiting is the Hardest Part.

When you are battling for a championship and are the points leader, you really don’t want to see any downtime, especially when you have momentum like we have. But we had a little break after the NHRA event at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa., before Las Vegas and also have a weekend off now before we head to Pomona next week.

My wife Pam and I spent some time the weekend after Reading at our vacation spot in Sanibel, Fla. We had our friends Erica Enders and Richie Stevens come down and join us. We hung out at the beach and also visited Key West. It was a great time as always at Sanibel and great to spend time with Erica and Richie. They are dear friends to us.

After that, I went back home to Greeneville and took in a few of my grandsons’ football games and played a few rounds of golf. I always have to make it to a few football games of some sort during the fall. The break was nice and really helped clear my mind, but I was ready to get right back at it and continue our fight to bring home our first-ever NHRA Pro Stock championship. We took our Dodge Avenger testing for a few days in Las Vegas, about a week before the actual race, to make sure we were prepared.

Prior to the race in Las Vegas we got to have a little fun. During the NHRA Press Conference Erica Enders and I rode the Big Shot ride at the Stratosphere and that was quite a rush. When we are in Las Vegas, I always have to make it over to Lawry’s as well and have some prime rib. We got to meet a lot of fans as always in Las Vegas, and it’s such a great atmosphere out there.

Come race time, the testing the weekend before definitely paid off. Anytime you can test at a track you’re getting ready to race at, that just pays dividends for the team and the crew chief. In qualifying for Vegas we had the quickest car in three of four rounds, earning us a bunch of crucial bonus points and also the No. 2 spot on the starting grid. Every point we get now is a step toward the championship, and those 11 markers were 11 more big steps to the title. To start off Sunday eliminations at Vegas, we took the win over a fellow Mopar Dodge driver, Deric Kramer, to set up yet another Mopar vs. Mopar battle, this time with Jeg Coughlin Jr. It’s always a tough battle with Jeggie and we were able to come out on the winning end.

In the final round it was me and my teammate Vincent Nobile, in another all-Mopar match-up. Vincent did me a huge favor in the semifinals by taking out Jason Line, who is second in the points and our closest competitor. Jason lost to Vincent on a red-light foul, and I’m sure the fact that Vince is quick off the starting line helped that to happen. It was the second Vegas race this year with Vincent and me in the final, and just as we did in the spring race, our Mopar Dodge Avenger took the win.

There’s a bunch of facts and stats behind the victory: it’s our sixth win of the season, 15th of my career, and 35th final round appearance ever. But the biggest stat is the 126-point lead in the standings we will take to the season-finale in Pomona. All we really have to do is qualify, and the Mopar/J&J Racing team can celebrate our first Pro Stock championship.

After the race in Las Vegas, I stayed a few extra days and attended the SEMA show where I got to see a lot of the new and exciting products that Mopar has in the pipeline. I also was able to spend some good, quality time with the Mopar executives and many of the other people who are instrumental to the success of our race team.

We’ve preached consistency all year and we’ll continue that heading into Pomona. My crew is doing an awesome job, and to have a cushion in the points lead is great, but I want to go to the final race and close it out with a win. For my dad and me, it will be a dream come true to celebrate that championship. We’ve done it all from our little race shop in Greeneville, along with a bunch of help from Mopar. To work side-by-side with my dad for 17 years, and to be so close to accomplishing a championship with him is something special. Pomona here we come!

Allen Johnson (4k)
Allen Johnson (6k)
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October 11th - It’s Been a Wild Ride.

Wow, it’s been a wild ride the last few weeks, with six straight weekends of racing. You really see what you’re made of in these kinds of situations, and the Mopar Dodge Avenger crew came through the six-week gauntlet in awesome shape. We enter the last two races of the season at Vegas and Pomona with an 82-point lead in the standings.

Since I last checked in, we scored a runner-up finish at St. Louis. The venue was back in action after a one-year layoff, and it was great to return. The whole St. Louis area was fired up to have drag racing back, and there were great crowds. St. Louis has always been one of my favorite venues, and I love the city, which is very nice and clean. My wife Pam and I, along with our good friend Erica Enders, went to a St. Louis Cardinals game at Busch Stadium on Saturday night, before eliminations. Awesome stadium with a great design, and a great atmosphere.

Come Sunday at St. Louis, it was a bit crazy. Against my teammate Vincent Nobile, we both had trouble and had to get off the gas. I was able to get back under control and then beat Vincent to the finish line. We made it to the finals, where we raced Erica for the second weekend in a row. This time she took the win, but it was a good event overall for the Mopar/J&J Racing team, as we left with a 109-point lead.

Next up was the NHRA Reading event, and while I can’t say we got the result we were hoping for, we still have a good size lead with two events left in the Countdown. I made it to the quarterfinals where I lost to Dave Connolly, but even though I didn’t win, the Dodge boys had my back! V. Gaines, another Mopar Pro Stocker and great guy, ended up winning the whole event. I was very glad for V., and also glad he took out Jason Line, who is second in points. Jeg Coughlin Jr., another Dodge boy, took out Erica, who was in third-place, so that was also a big assist. Aside from the help it gave us in the standings, it’s always great to see our fellow Mopar Dodge drivers go rounds.

Just yesterday, Pam and I, along with my mom and dad, went to a Dining in the Dark event in Charlotte to help raise funds for the Foundation Fighting Blindness. Very cool event for a good cause, with folks like Kasey Kahne, Mike Helton and Richard Childress also in attendance. Now with a break before Vegas, Pam and I are finally going to get some R&R at our second home down in Sanibel, Fla., this week. We haven’t been to our house down there in about eight weeks or so. Erica and Richie Stevens will join us, and it’ll be great to chill and enjoy down time.

Vegas will still be on my mind, though. We won there in the spring and have excellent notes. The Mopar Dodge Avenger team is close to our goal of a first Pro Stock title, but there’s still a lot of work to do, as all those folks behind us right now are great competitors and want the same thing as us. We look forward to the challenge!

Allen Johnson (3k)
Allen Johnson (5k)
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September 27th - It’s a Full-on Countdown.

The NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs are in full swing, and we are already one-third of the way through the six races. We had just about the best start we could have asked for in the Countdown. We made it to the final round at Charlotte and left there with the lead in the standings. Last weekend in Dallas, we were fastest in each of the four qualifying sessions and then won the event. That was my first-ever win during the Countdown, so that’s one I’ll always remember.

It was a picture perfect weekend really. We started out with a couple of decent runs on Friday and were on top, and ran much better on Saturday and remained up there and got all of those little qualifying points, which is really important here in the playoffs. We had to overcome some jitters after the first round on Sunday, as we weren’t the quickest car, nor were we in the second round. We were able to pick it up in the semifinals and had a good Mopar vs. Mopar match-up with my teammate Vincent Nobile. We got the car sorted out at just the right time. When everyone else was going south, we started going north. We were the quickest car in the last two runs on Sunday and that’s what you always want.

We had a little bit of fun after the win, “riding” the car to Victory Lane. Since we were in Texas and each got a cowboy hat for winning, I climbed on my Mopar Dodge Avenger, and that HEMI is a bull to ride. I just wanted to ride it out there and let everyone else see. Everyone really seemed to get a kick out of that, and it helps take the edge off a bit. Someone who has won a bunch of championships called me before the playoffs and told me to just relax, have fun and enjoy it, and that’s what we’re trying to do. Even though it’s stressful and there is some pressure that comes with the territory we are in, we can still kick back and have some fun from time-to-time.

Going back to before Dallas, we flew to New Orleans after the Charlotte race for a business convention and spent three days there. We were able to brush up on some items for my Greeneville Oil & Petroleum operations back home and had a chance to visit with some people that we do business with as well. It was a productive few days and should help us with a few things going forward.

While we were in New Orleans, Richie Stevens and Erica Enders, who live there, took us out on the French Quarter and to some of their favorite places. We did a little sightseeing and went out on the bayou, and I even got to hold a baby gator and saw some much big gators in the water. It was good to spend some time with Richie and Erica. Pam and I are going to be in their wedding in a few months and they are very special people and great friends to us.

Normally I get to Dallas a day early and play in the Greg Morris Memorial Golf Tournament, but this year due to being at the business convention in New Orleans, I wasn’t able to make it over in time. I sure hated to miss it, but I’ll definitely try to make it next year. From what I’ve heard, it was a great event as always this year and they helped raise quite a bit of money. Greg was a former track worker at the Dallas Motorplex, who lost a battle with cancer, and the golf outing benefits his daughter Heather, who also lost her mother a few years ago to a car accident.

This week we’re headed to St. Louis for the first time in a couple of seasons. St. Louis can be a very tricky track if the weather is hot and the rubber does not adhere to the starting line. We seem to excel under those circumstances, though, and that’s always been a pretty good track for us. I’ve never won there but I’ve had a couple of runner-ups. It’s where my crew chief Mark Ingersoll and my clutch guy Mike Gott are from. They’ll have a lot of family and friends there and be able to visit with them, which is always great.

St. Louis is an awesome city. The hotel we stay at has a casino, and I always like to go down there and try my hand at a few games. There are a lot of nice places to eat in the area, and I just always enjoy going there. I can’t wait to climb back in my Mopar Dodge Avenger. I wish the race would have been the day after we left Dallas, but it’s good this week for the crew to get home for a few days to see their wives and families, after all the traveling we’ve done lately. Come St. Louis this weekend, we’ll be locked and loaded and ready to go as the Countdown rolls on.

Allen Johnson (3k)
Allen Johnson (5k)
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September 13th - From the ‘Big Go’ to Go Time.

Time sure flies, especially when you’re having fun. Last weekend marked the 17th time in my career that I was part of the “Big Go” — the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis. It still seems just like yesterday that I made my first trip to Indy in a Mopar-powered Pro Stock car. The U.S. Nationals also marked the end of the regular season and it’s now go time for our J&J Racing team, and I couldn’t be more excited, as we chase our first Pro Stock title.

It may have taken two weekends, but we were finally able to complete the U.S. Nationals last weekend, and this time around Mother Nature cooperated. I just love going to Indy. We always have a chance to go downtown and eat at St. Elmo’s, the Capital Grille and also Mo’s, which has amazing steaks. Downtown Indy is so awesome and I enjoy every minute we get to spend there. It’s definitely one of my favorite races of the year, and is always a thrill for me. It was a little different this year with the race being pushed into a second weekend by rain, but it was still a great event and a lot of the fans were able to stick around all week or come back for Saturday and Sunday.

Unfortunately, the weekend didn’t quite end like we were hoping for. We kind of gave one away in my opinion, and it’s obviously disappointing. As a driver, I just made a mistake while staging the car, that’s all there is to it. This is the first time in a long time that I haven’t made it to the semifinals in Indy. Better it happened there rather than this week in Charlotte during the opening race of the Countdown to the Championship playoffs. I always try to make a positive out of a negative.

We didn’t run quite as good as we should have during qualifying, but we picked it up on Sunday during eliminations and had the fastest car in both of the rounds we ran. I think we have the car back to where it was during previous races. We found a few things after qualifying that were a little bit off and we corrected those. Knowing that makes us all feel good going into the Countdown.

We’ve been testing everything we can think of to get this car perfect heading into the Countdown, and we’ll continue to do whatever it takes. We have great engines in our HEMI powerplants and a great car in our Mopar Dodge Avenger. We just need to tune the driver up a little bit.

Being in the No. 1 spot to open the Countdown, we received 20 bonus points and have a 30 point lead, which basically puts us a round-and-a-half ahead of the field. We’ll be shooting to get the extra points that are on the line during each qualifying session. Those points are huge during the Countdown with how tight the field is in Pro Stock. Every point matters. If we can do what we’ve done the last six or eight races and continue to get those extra points in qualifying it will really help us.

We need to go down to Charlotte this week hitting on all eight cylinders with everything, including the driver, and I believe we’ll do that. It’s going to be a knock out, drag out battle till the end of the year. There are about five cars that have a legitimate shot at this thing and will be scratching and pawing at it. It’s going to come down to who does the best job in all facets of their program both on and off the track. We’re ready and looking forward to it. We are relaxed going into the Countdown, which I believe is important, and we are going to have fun with it.

Like I’ve said to a lot of people this year, we just need to continue to be consistent and stay focused. We’re going to take it round-by-round over the next six races, whether it’s in qualifying or eliminations. I can’t wait to get to Charlotte this week and get after it. Our goal all year has been to deliver a Pro Stock championship to our friends at Mopar for their 75th Anniversary and that challenge begins now.

Allen Johnson (4k)
Allen Johnson (4k)
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August 12th - Riding the Wave.

In this sport, there are usually far more lows than there are highs, so we are certainly making the most of this amazing wave we are riding this season and enjoying every minute of it. To be leading the points, have four wins and nine No. 1 Qualifier awards at this point of the season, is pretty unbelievable. I’ve been stressing consistency all year and it’s definitely paying off right now, as our Mopar Dodge Avenger is very, very fast.

We began the Western Swing a few weeks ago, with my favorite event of the year, the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway. We’ve have had a lot of success there over the years. It’s a busy week when we are in Denver, but a very fun and rewarding one as well. It all starts with the Mopar Big Block Party on Thursday before the event, which is a great time. We get to meet a lot of fans that we only see once a year, and it’s amazing how passionate they are about the Mopar brand. Another fun part of the Big Block Party is that many of the executives from Mopar are there, and we are able to visit with them as well in a nice, relaxed setting.

Winning the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals during Mopar’s 75th Anniversary year was pretty cool. That ranks right up there as one of the most memorable wins of my career. To be able to give our friends at Mopar the Wally from that event to put in their trophy case in Auburn Hills, Mich., was very special. A lot of people have asked me what makes us so good in Denver, and I am a firm believer that practice makes perfect. We’ve tested a lot there, including the week before the event this year. We had a really good three-day test session and learned a lot that helped us during the event itself.

Sonoma was next up for us and we were fast again there, and had the quickest pass every time we took to the track on our way to the win on Sunday. When the car is that fast, it makes you confident that you can win, and it also helps me to settle down a little bit.

Every mark we are setting now is a career-high. The whole team is on cloud nine in one way, but we are also focused and cautious not to let that hinder our consistency and our plans for the remainder of the year. We have two races until the Countdown and our plan is more of the same. We want to be the fastest car down the track every single run, qualify No. 1 and put ourselves in a position to win the race. We have the car to do it in our Mopar Dodge Avenger, the power with our Mopar HEMI engines and the crew as well.

After our win in Denver, we kind of put celebrating off for a bit, because we had to ship an engine back home to work on it. Pam and I also headed back to Tennessee after that, so we just had a couple of days before heading back out west. After Sonoma, when we came back home, some of the local people who didn’t get to come to the races out west had a party for us. It definitely feels great to get to come home to something like that.

This weekend will be a nice relaxing one here at home. Pam has a ‘honey-do’ list for me, so hopefully I can get caught up on some of that. I can’t wait to get up to Brainerd and back in the Mopar Dodge Avenger next week, as we shoot for our fifth win and try to extend our point lead.

Allen Johnson (5k)
Allen Johnson (5k)
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July 4th - Weathering a Couple of Storms.

Storms and rain have been following me for the last couple of weeks it seems. The weekend after Bristol, Pam and I headed down to Sanibel, Fla., for what was supposed to be just be a one-day trip to pick out some tile for the pool we are redoing, but we ended up staying a couple of days, as we got stuck in the tropical storm that came through and couldn’t get out. It rained about six inches in 24 hours and there was flooding and three or four power outages. We stayed in for about 48 hours and just relaxed with a book on the couch. We made it home on Monday, and I stayed until Thursday, before heading up to Chicago — where it also rained again.

We picked up right where we left off at Bristol on Friday at Chicago, as we took the top spot in qualifying and held it all the way through all four rounds on the clock. Our Mopar Dodge Avenger is just amazing right now, and we are coming to expect every time we hit the track to have low E.T. and collect all those bonus points, which we were able to do each day at Chicago. I have a good feeling right now, as does everyone on our team.

It’s awesome that we have been the No. 1 Qualifier five times already this year, especially in a class as close and tough as Pro Stock. It gives you a lot of confidence when you are the top qualifier. You can work on some new things to make you even faster or you can keep that base set-up, which you already know is the fastest. You have a little bit of a cushion and some leeway to work on things.

We had a rain delay on Sunday, so eliminations started a bit later than originally scheduled. In the meantime, I watched Tiger Woods play some golf on television. I had my motorhome right next to the trailer at the track, so I went in there and relaxed and just tried to get my mind off everything. In situations like that, I usually will watch some golf or a NASCAR race if one is on, and that helps me relax and be ready for when we get back on the track.

We were very fast on Sunday, and unfortunately didn’t quite have the results we were hoping for. It was all my fault on that one. I didn’t do the staging correctly. I got in too deep on the stage bulb by mistake, and was just scared to death I was going to red light. Whenever you think anything when you’re staging, you are usually beat. That was all driver error. That’s the first one I’ve made in a few years, so I’ll chalk that one up as a mistake and move on.

This week we have the K&N Horsepower Challenge at Norwalk, Ohio, and that is always one of my favorite events of the year. I’ve won it once, and really want to win it again. You have to be physically and mentally in tip-top shape to be in contention in a special event like that. I’ll work out a couple of days this week at the gym, and also relax a couple of days. The main thing is to just have fun. When I’m at Norwalk, I’ll look up at the stands and think how lucky I am to get to be here and how lucky we are to be running as good as we are. We’ll go in there with the eye of the tiger, and try to double up with a win in the K&N Horsepower Challenge and a win on Sunday.

Our Mopar Dodge Avenger is on a rail right now, and our Mopar HEMI engines are putting out some amazing horsepower. The crew if working hard and doing a fantastic job and now it’s up to the driver to do his job each time he gets in the car. I can’t wait to get to Norwalk, and we’ll give it everything we got all weekend long.

Allen Johnson (4k)
Allen Johnson (2k)
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June 24th - Oh So Close.

Bristol week is always a special one for us, since that’s our home race. I’ve been wanting to win at Bristol for a long, long time and just about got one last weekend on Father’s Day.

While the drive from the shop to Bristol is the shortest one we make all season, the days leading up to the Thunder Valley Nationals are some of the busiest of the year. We have the chance to entertain family, friends and employees at the track, which is always enjoyable. A lot of effort goes into the behind-the-scenes details for Bristol, especially making sure you have enough tickets for everyone. It’s all worth it though, because you are paying people back who support you all year. It’s a lot of fun for the people that follow us to get to come out to the track and see firsthand what we do.

One of the highlights off the track during Bristol week is getting to hit the links for the Speedway Children’s Charities golf outing. They had another great turnout this year and a picture-perfect day as well. It’s always a special event, as Speedway Children’s Charities helps so many unfortunate kids and does such great work. On the course, we didn’t do too bad. I think we shot about a 12-under par. While we weren’t quite in first-place, we had a ton of fun and helped a fantastic cause.

At the track, we started the weekend off as the No. 1 Qualifier in our Mopar Dodge Avenger, and got to do a few extra media interviews thanks to that. Anytime you can do good at Bristol, it’s awesome. We’re just tickled to death to do well there, and to qualify No. 1 three straight times there is a victory to dad (Roy Johnson) and the Mopar HEMI engines he builds. Vincent (Nobile) and I were first and second for a couple of the rounds. We had a good strong performance in qualifying there, as we have for most of the season.

We made a really nice run in the final and did everything correct. It just wasn’t our day to win. We made some history by finishing in a dead heat, but unfortunately we were on the wrong side of it. We had a great day and weekend for that matter, it just wasn’t meant to be. You can’t get mad about it. We gave it everything we had and any other day that would have been a win. Mike Edwards did a great job as well, and my hat’s off to him and his team.

Racing on Father’s Day is always special, especially since my dad is at the track with us each week. I had a lot of people come up to me over the course of the weekend that don’t have fathers anymore and they say how fortunate I am to have my father at the track with me and to savor every minute of it, and I certainly do. To be able to see him doing what he loves is very special.

This week I’ve gotten to enjoy the beautiful weather we are having here in Tennessee, and came down to the lake with the grandkids and some friends for a couple of days of tubing and fishing and just having fun. I’m headed home tonight, and Pam and I are flying down on Saturday morning to Florida to spend the weekend in Sanibel.

Next week we’ll go up to Chicago with our Mopar Dodge Avenger and try to pick up where we left off at Bristol. Our goal is to be the fastest car every round in qualifying, open eliminations from that No. 1 position, and then win the race. We have a lot of momentum right now and it feels really good.

Allen Johnson (4k)
Allen Johnson (5k)
Allen Johnson (4k)
Allen Johnson (4k)
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May 31st - Two Great Weekends.

Blogs after a win are always my favorite ones to write. We picked up our second victory of the season in our Mopar Dodge Avenger at Topeka on May 20 and also gained some ground in the standings on the two drivers currently ahead of us.

You can’t have much better of a weekend than we had at Topeka, unless you set the national record and get those 20 points. We were the No. 1 Qualifier, set a new track speed record, set a new track elapsed time record and won the final on Sunday. We were very consistent all weekend and everyone was calm and did their jobs. In the final, we knew it was going to be a real hard race against Greg Anderson, and we came out on the winning end.

It really means a lot to our entire J&J Racing team to have two wins this early in the season. I’ve never done that before. We definitely want to get four or five wins under our belt this year. Hopefully we can pick up another one or two more before the Countdown and then a couple during the Countdown. That’s what our goal is and we definately have the package and personnel to accomplish that.

Before Topeka we did some testing in St. Louis and that really paid big dividends. The conditions were very stable and that allows you to try a number of different things. We were able to go through six or eight different scenarios of chassis set-up and things like that, and we really gained some valuable data and learned quite a bit that should help us throughout the rest of the season, especially during the Countdown.

We had a chance to visit with a lot of fans during a Fan Fest in Topeka on the Thursday before the event. The whole town of Topeka really gets behind the race and comes out. It was a great event and they plan on doing it each year, so they certainly have a good foundation to build on. Anytime we can introduce more people to our sport and get them to come out to the track is exciting.

This past weekend, we had a great Memorial Day, as Pam and I went to Sanibel, Fla., to relax a little bit and enjoy the great weather. Pam’s mother and brother visited for the first time this week. They’ll stay through the coming weekend with Pam, while I head up to Englishtown to race. We are really enjoying our home there in Sanibel, along with all of the sights and sounds.

I’ve been able to do a fair amount of fishing down here as well this year. I caught the biggest redfish I’ve ever seen the other day, so that was a lot of fun. My buddy Kevin, who has been doing some work on our house, invited me fishing. It’s nice to know someone down here with a boat who loves to fish. He’s a huge race fan as well and keeps up with us on that end too. I’ve had him out to a couple of races already this year and he’s had me out on the water fishing a few times.

I’m headed up to Englishtown tomorrow and I can’t wait to get there. That’s one of my favorite tracks. We’ve done well there and if the weather doesn’t get us, it should be a great weekend. I’ve been watching the weather up there every day and hopefully the rain and storms move out. We feel real good right now and have plenty of confidence in our Mopar Dodge Avenger with how well we’ve been running.

Allen Johnson (2k)
Allen Johnson (2k)
Allen Johnson (4k)
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May 16th - Fans First.

Without the fans, we would not get to do what we do. I’ve been pretty fortunate to have gained a very loyal following over the years, and being associated with Mopar has certainly helped, as Mopar fans are some of the most passionate in all of racing. With the technology that is available nowadays via email, Facebook and Twitter, we’re able to interact and stay connected with more fans than ever.

A fan that I’ve known since my early days in Pro Stock has been Sarah Blumhardt from the Dallas area. I recently received a photo of Sarah when I first met her in 1996 at her school, while she was in first grade. Sarah’s dad had gotten in touch with me and asked if I would come to the school for a “show and tell” day. Through the years, her family has come to the track in Dallas when we are there. They’ve cooked us dinner at the track and had us over at their house. Sarah raced a Junior Dragster for a number of years and even has driven Super Gas and Super Comp cars. Right now she is in college and concentrating on that, so she doesn’t have a race car, but her dad said she is dying to get back in a car. It’s pretty neat to have fans that have been with you since the early days and still come out to the track and cheer for you.

We’ll have a chance to hopefully make some new fans this week, as there will be a Fan Fest in Topeka on Thursday night. The track organized a Fan Fest in the past, then it went away for a bit, and now it’s coming back. I’m glad it’s back, because that gives us a chance to meet and greet people and try to get them to come out to the race track and see what NHRA racing is all about.

Looking back since the last time I blogged, we raced at Atlanta and reached the semifinals, while turning the fastest speed and lowest elapsed time of the weekend in the first round. That was the second straight weekend we had the fastest speed. Every race we’re getting more consistent and learning a few more things that will make us even faster as the season goes on. I’m very happy with our Mopar Dodge Avenger right now and we have just a few small bugs we are trying to work out. We are third in points, which is great, and that’s a testament to my whole J&J Racing crew and how hard they work day in and day out.

In Atlanta we stayed pretty close to the track and focused on the task at-hand. I did have a chance to go eat some very good prime rib though. Everyone knows how much I enjoy prime rib, so anytime I have a chance to visit somewhere that traditionally has good prime rib, I have to stop. Last weekend was Mother’s Day and we had an awesome time. My mom was over and my wife Pam’s mom and her grandmother as well. We took everyone to the lake in Newport, Tenn., which is right near our hometown of Greeneville. We were planning a boat ride, but it rained, so we couldn’t do that. It was great getting to have our families together and just being able to relax and enjoy the company.

We headed out early for this week’s event at Topeka and made a stop in St. Louis on the way to do some testing on Tuesday and Wednesday. Our main goal is to just keep honing in. We aren’t chasing anything big, just the little bitty glitches, trying to catch and fix what bit us at Atlanta. We want to make sure that next time we are in that situation we know what to do.

At Topeka this weekend, we have to be consistent and qualify in the top-two or three cars. Then it’s up to the driver to go out on Sunday and do his job. If we can do all of that, then we can pick up another win in our Mopar Dodge Avenger.

Allen Johnson (3k)
Allen Johnson (4k)
Allen Johnson (5k)
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May 4th - Fishing, Golfing and Racing.

Golf is certainly my favorite hobby, but recently I had a chance to do a little fishing while down in Sanibel, Fla., and had a great time out on the water. My wife Pam and I took some of our friends from Greeneville, Tenn. down to Sanibel and spent five quality days there.

We caught a bunch of redfish and I even got a snook, though I had to throw that one back, because they’re not in season right now. I also hooked a 20-pound stingray, but we cut it loose before it got to the boat. At the end of the day, we cleaned the redfish, took them home and grilled and ate them. Nothing is better than eating fresh fish that you’ve just caught. It was a great time as always in Sanibel. We are really enjoying our vacation house down there.

I left Sanibel on Thursday morning to fly to Houston and played in the Darrell Russell Memorial Golf Tournament that afternoon with fellow Mopar driver Jeg Coughlin Jr. and his crew. That was a fun outing, as all of the charity golf tournaments usually are. Jeg is a pretty good golfer. He gave me a little competition, and we’ll have to play head-to-head sometime. I didn’t realize he was as good as he is. We both enjoyed it a lot. The Darrell Russell Tournament is for a really good cause, and everyone involved does a great job.

On Thursday night I had a chance to visit one of one of my best friends growing up, Brian Combs, who lives in Houston now. He took me to Chinatown there and we went to a restaurant where we ate using chop sticks. That was quite an experience and it was a lot of fun getting to see Brian and spend some time with him.

We had a pretty good weekend on the track in Houston. I would have liked to have been in the final against our teammate Vincent Nobile, but at least one of us was in the final and picked up a win for Mopar. Going rounds and having our Mopar HEMI engines in the final round is certainly a great accomplishment. It’s a really good feeling for Dad (Roy Johnson) and the engine guys, and it shows that all of their hard work and dedication is paying off. Our engines have the consistency and reliability to help us run at the front of the field. My Mopar Dodge Avenger has been very consistent as well. If we can keep it going, we’ll be someone to contend with week in and week out.

Following Houston, we brought everything home this week and worked on it. Vincent lost an engine in the semifinals and we had to swap in a new one in his Avenger before the final run, so we brought that engine home and had to rub on it a little bit. We have all the engines up to snuff and we’ll go into Atlanta on a high note. Every single run we’ll try to be consistent and get from point A to B and build on it every round. Hopefully on Sunday, we’ll be the fastest car there every single round, like we were last week. I’ve won at Atlanta before and that track is very special to me, as it used to be our home track before Bristol, so it would be great to pick up another win there in our Mopar Dodge Avenger this weekend.

Allen Johnson (3k)
Allen Johnson (2k)
Allen Johnson (2k)
Allen Johnson (2k)
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April 18th - Home Away from Home.

Tennessee will always be home, but Florida is quickly becoming a home away from home for my wife Pam and I. Last time I blogged, we were down in Sanibel, Fla. and we are getting ready to head back this weekend. It’s such a beautiful place and we really enjoy our new house. After Las Vegas, we were able to spend a full week in Sanibel and had a great time. We went out on the boat for a day, went to a birthday party and had some company as well. It was just an awesome time. The weather was perfect and we were able to celebrate my Las Vegas win a little as well.

The week in Florida went by fast and it was time to head home to Greeneville on Saturday night for Easter. We got up early to go to church on Sunday and then had our family over for the whole day. It was great to have everyone in the same place and get to spend time together.

Following Easter, it was time to climb back in my Mopar Dodge Avenger for the NHRA 4-Wide Nationals in Charlotte. That is a very challenging event in a number of ways. As a driver, you have to really get focused and change how you’re used to doing things, especially at the starting line. The level of concentration that it takes is amazing. Every single driver screws up at least once during the weekend. Whether it’s looking at the wrong bulb on the tree or having something crazy happen, everyone gets bitten at least once. Several of those instances happened in all three classes over the weekend. Fortunately, nothing like that happened to us on Sunday.

We started the weekend very strong and came pretty close to topping the charts in qualifying and ended up second on Saturday. Dad and the engine guys are making great power with these Mopar HEMI engines that we run. My crew chief, Mark Ingersoll and our team engineer, Jim Yates, have our Mopar sorted out and it’s very fast right now. We have a great package right now. We had one of the two cars to beat at Charlotte and just didn’t get the job done. We made a boo-boo in the second round and shook the tires.

We stayed over in Charlotte on Monday to test and worked through a few of the issues we were having. We had a little blip in the car that we wanted to figure out and what we learned testing will benefit us when we go back to Charlotte in the fall, as well as at all the tracks we are going to the rest of the season. Everyone on the crew is working so hard right now and doing such an amazing job.

After a couple of days home this week, we’ll head back down to Sanibel on Friday. We will be taking some of our friends from Greeneville with us, and it will be their first time down there, so we’ll do our best to help them get the full Sanibel experience. I think they’ll have a great time and will want to go back again for sure.

I’ll fly from Florida to Houston next Thursday, as I’ll be playing in the Darrell Russell Memorial Golf Tournament with the Mopar/JEGS team later that day. I’m really looking forward to that. I’ve golfed a couple of times since the surgery on my right bicep last fall and I’m getting the hang of it back, but my swing and game are still not quite where they need to be. I’ll get to play a little more now, so I’ll get back to where I was in time.

Speaking of my surgery, it’s been a while since I’ve given an update on my arm. The doctors say it will probably take a year to fully heal, so it’s probably 80 percent right now. I can work out with it and do just about anything I did before. I just have to make sure to not fall on it or yank any super heavy weights or anything like that, which could tear it back loose.

After some R&R this weekend, we’ll put our game face back on and head to Houston, as we look for our second win of the season in our Mopar Dodge Avenger.

Allen Johnson (5k)
Allen Johnson (5k)
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April 4th 2012 - A Complete Weekend.

It always feels great to write a blog after a win, and words can’t describe how happy we were to have an all-Mopar final against Vincent Nobile in Las Vegas. Our Mopar Dodge Avenger has felt amazing this year and we’ve been fast every single race and were able to put a complete weekend together at Las Vegas.

To win early in the season shows that our consistency is coming together and we are hitting our marks. It meant a lot to Dad and the engine guys to have both cars in the final. They can stick their chests out a little bit. It’s great they are able to do that and it’s fun to see, because that means we were able to beat up on the competition. We feel like we are on top of our game right now and I can’t wait to get back in the car at Charlotte. I wish it was tomorrow to be honest.

When I am in Las Vegas, I always have to make a trip or two to Lawry’s. That is my favorite place in the entire world to eat. They have the best rare prime rib and that’s what I ordered as always. While we were pretty focused on the task at hand at the race track, we were able to get out a little bit and play a few games while in Las Vegas.

We had to put our victory celebration on hold for a day, since we all had 6 a.m. flights on Monday morning after the race. Pam and I headed from Las Vegas to our new house in Florida, and were able to get out with some of our friends on Monday night and enjoy the win.

The week before Las Vegas, Pam and I went on a cruise in the Caribbean which was absolutely awesome. The ship we were on was amazing and all the places we went and saw were just incredible. We stopped three times and were able to get off the ship, in Nassau, St. Martin and St. Thomas. We went to the beach in St. Martin. In St. Thomas and Nassau we cruised around the streets and checked out the shops and everything. The food on the whole trip was great. In St. Martin, we found a place at the marina called the Tropicana Restaurant that we had been told about it and it was awesome. The food on the ship was amazing as well. We had a lot of lobster and crab legs. I just loved every bit of it. It was a relaxing and really fun cruise.

Just before that trip, I went up to Illinois for Buddy Ingersoll’s funeral. I’m glad I was able to make it there to remember and honor him, as well as spend time with Mark and their whole family. Buddy had been sick for a long time, so it was more a blessing than you’d think. He was a great man and did so much for the sport and will be truly missed.

We are going to stay down here in Florida though Saturday this week and then head back to Tennessee on Saturday night to spend Easter with the family, which will be nice. Then it will be time to get ready for Charlotte and like I said, I can’t wait to climb back in my Mopar Dodge Avenger and see if we if we can get our second straight win.

Allen Johnson (5k)
Allen Johnson (5k)
Allen Johnson (3k)
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March 18th 2012 - New House and New Career-Best ET.

Since the last time I’ve blogged, Pam and I have closed on a house on Sanibel Island in Florida, and I also recorded a new career-best elapsed time at Gainesville. We headed down to Florida a little early to get some R&R before the NHRA Gatornationals and ended up doing some early spring cleaning at the new house as well.

After settling into the house, I headed up to Bradenton to test, and while I was at the track, Pam was cleaning out cabinets and washing and getting everything together and in place. I had a few things to do around the house as well. It was my job to get all the bicycle tires pumped up, so we could do some riding and also I had to change the batteries in the golf cart to make sure it was ready to run. We spent a lot of time getting the house ready to utilize, and we look forward to spending time there when we can.

The nice thing about testing at Bradenton is it’s proximity to Sanibel Island. I drove back and forth each day and was able to sleep in our new bed at night. We spent three quality days testing at Bradenton and were very happy with how things went. Mark Ingersoll, my crew chief and Jim Yates, our team engineer worked on a number of things during the test, and we left there with a very fast race car. We showed what our Mopar Dodge Avenger was capable of at Gainesville by locking up the No. 1 Qualifying position.

I knew we were going to be fast at Gainesville. We had made a run at Bradenton in similar conditions to what we had at Gainesville, and that test run was a 6.49-second pass. We knew when we left the pits at Bradenton that we could run a 6.48, if we did a couple of things just a little better. We ended up running a 6.486, which was a new career-best E.T. for me. I kind of called it, in an interview with Alan Reinhart from NHRA. He asked me before the run what number we could put up and I told him a .48, and we were able to go out there and run it. Anytime you can qualify No. 1 in Pro Stock is a big achievement.

We didn’t have the Sunday we were hoping for at Gainesville. We definitely made a boo-boo going into the first round. We were too conservative with the car and I was too conservative as a driver. You can always take away things from a weekend like that and turn it into something good that will help you and motivate you down the road. I said to my crew, let’s put this little boo-boo in our databank and move on. That’s been my thing all year, is that we have to do away with the boo-boos. We’ll put it behind us and the rest of the year will be positive.

It will be a somber trip up to Illinois tomorrow for Mark’s father, Buddy Ingersoll’s funeral. Buddy passed away last weekend following a long struggle with pulmonary fibrosis. He was a great driver and ambassador for drag racing for many, many years. He’ll certainly be missed.

On Sunday, Pam and I will be leaving for a six-day cruise of the Caribbean. We are going with some friends and I’m really excited for it. We’ll have a great time and enjoy the weather and all the sights and sounds. It will be good to relax a bit, and then we’ll begin getting focused for Las Vegas. We have a very fast Mopar Dodge Avenger right now and we’ve done well in Las Vegas in the past, so we are looking forward to heading out there.

Allen Johnson (4k)
Allen Johnson (4k)
Allen Johnson (3k)
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February 22nd 2012 - Back in the Saddle.

I sure am glad the season is here and we are back racing again. It was a very different off-season after having my bicep surgery and not being able to test until right before Pomona.

I’m happy to report that my arm is doing great. I am tickled with how well it has healed. There is no swelling or soreness or anything. My doctor wants me to be careful for about a year or so, and not do anything that could re-aggravate it. I feel great shifting and driving while in my Mopar Dodge Avenger. I continue to work out every day, doing a lot of stretching and exercises for range of motion.

Before heading to Pomona to start the season, we made a stop in Las Vegas, so I could do some testing and shake off the rust and get the feel of the car back again. It took a run or two to get the feel of everything back. My shifting points were a little erratic in the first test run, but by the second one, I felt right back at home in the car. I’m very happy that everything healed so well and I am back at full strength.

At Pomona in the season opener we were pretty fast right out of the box in qualifying and showed some consistency. We made some good runs, just not great runs. Right now with how close the competition is in Pro Stock, you need to make great runs every time you hit the track. We reached the quarterfinals, which gave us something to build on to start the year.

Phoenix, we were not happy at all with our performance there. We were not as fast as we wanted to be in qualifying and burned the clutch up on the first run on Sunday. A first-round loss always makes you that much more hungry and motivated next time you get in the car, especially early in the season when you’re looking to build momentum.

I was pretty focused on the racing at Pomona and Phoenix, so I really didn’t do much away from the track. I did have a chance in Phoenix to go to Shula’s Steakhouse. They have some of the best rare prime rib I’ve ever had, so I made sure to make it over there to partake in that.

We are going to test in Bradenton, (Fla.) on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before the NHRA Gatornationals, try to improve on what we have and go to Gainesville with our guns firing. We have a great team here at J&J Racing. Mark Ingersoll (crew chief) and Jim Yates (Team Engineer) work great together, sharing ideas, and that makes us very strong. We are confident in our decision-making process and the strategy we have used so far this year. Mark and Jim really got to know each other over the off-season and are able to communicate pretty easily. Our goal is to be the fastest car on the property at each race and the whole team is certainly working hard to achieve that goal this year.

Our Mopar Dodge Avenger is pretty close to where we want it to be right now, but we are not in the top two or three yet, and that’s our goal. We’re not satisfied with being fourth, fifth or sixth. We want and expect to be in the top two or three and to be fast every Sunday.

With a couple of weekends off, there is plenty to get done before we head to Florida. The crew will go through the engines and everything on the car, while I’ll have a chance to get my feet on the ground and get caught up on things in the office. I’ll be spending time with my daughters and grandkids and just enjoy a little time away from the track. We are going to go to Florida a few days early for some R&R before we test at Bradenton and then head to Gainesville. I can’t wait to get to Gainesville and climb back in our Mopar Dodge Avenger and go after our first win of the year.

Allen Johnson (4k)
Allen Johnson (5k)
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Allen Johnson (5k)
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January 19th 2012 - Almost Time.

While it’s pretty chilly back home in Tennessee right now and in a lot of the country, we are down here in sunny Florida at Bradenton doing some more testing, as we prepare our Mopar Dodge Avenger for the 2012 Pro Stock season.

Before I get into the testing, I just want to mention what a great holiday season I had. We spent Christmas at home and had all the family over. There was plenty of good food and it was great to visit with a lot of people and just enjoy the time. For New Year’s, my wife Pam and I went to Sanibel Island in Florida. We had a great time down there and it was an amazing place to ring in the New Year. With the season almost here, it was nice to slip away for a little R&R and enjoy some nice warm weather as well.

My arm is feeling pretty good right now, after my recent surgery. I started rehab a couple of weeks ago and am able to lift some weights with it now and continue to get it stretched back out. I have five exercises that I do every day. It’s getting better and better, and I just have to be careful with it for a few more weeks, not to overextend it or do anything that could cause any damage to it.

This week is the second time we have tested so far this off-season. The first test session before the holidays went really well. We had both of our cars at that test, with Richie Stevens doing the driving. We had a number of scenarios we wanted to work on and things we wanted to learn, and we came away with a lot of good information that we took back to the shop.

For this test session, we brought just one car and Richie is driving again, as I continue to heal up. We’ve made about 12 runs so far and will finish by putting in a few more. We’ll take what we learned with a couple of different engines and combine it all into our race engine and get everything freshened up and ready to head west. We want to be at the top of our game right out of the box at Pomona.

It’s definitely been different watching the testing and not being in the car. It’s been a great experience to watch the crew and see what they do behind the scenes. Those are things I never really get to see when I am in the car and focused on driving and it has been pretty interesting. We’ll test once more before the season starts. On the way to Pomona we’ll stop in Las Vegas for a day or two there, so I’ll get a chance to be back in our Mopar Dodge Avenger and test out my arm and get back into a rhythm for Pomona. I can’t wait for the season to get started, as we look to build on the strong ending we had to last season. Just a few more weeks and it will be time to race!

Allen Johnson (4k)
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