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Despite Difficult Day at Bristol Mopar Still on Top.

Bristol, Tenn. (Sunday, June 16, 2013) – Eliminations on Father’s Day at the 13th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals did not quite go as planned for the Mopar contingency, but while none of the Dodge entries in either class were able to advance past the second round at Bristol Dragway, a few positives remained. Despite the shortened race day, Matt Hagan and the “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” Don Schumacher Racing machine remain atop the leaderboard in the Funny Car points race, while Allen Johnson and Mopar teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. are tied for the second spot in the Pro Stock standings.

Another top highlight took place prior to first round action, as driver of the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Avenger, Johnson along with his father and engine builder Roy Johnson, were presented with the “Mopar President’s Award” by Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Chrysler Group LLC’s service, parts and customer-care brand. They were recognized in front of their hometown fans and family for their contributions as brand ambassadors, their five decades of loyalty, dedication and service to Mopar, and for bringing home a long sought after 2012 NHRA Pro Stock World Championship. Father and son are the first recipients of this special award.

On track the day started off well enough for the Greeneville, Tenn.-natives after qualifying the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Avenger in second spot on the eliminations ladder. Johnson won his first match-up against Lewis Worden but was defeated on a holeshot by Greg Anderson in the next round. Teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. met the same fate with his own holeshot loss in round two against Erica-Enders Stevens.

The elder Johnson, who tunes the HEMI® engines for both Mopar team entries still felt that there are some positive to come away despite the losses.

“We had low e.t. of both rounds, so at least we didn’t get out run,” said Johnson. “We didn’t execute as well as we would have liked with the driving, but we still showed we have the power. You’ve got to remain positive in this class.”

The good news for the championship battle is that the points leader Mike Edwards also saw his day cut short after being upset in the second round by the eventual title winner Rodger Brogden, who in only his second NHRA final round appearance beat Erica Enders-Stevens by just 0.002 seconds to score his very first career Pro Stock victory.

The HEMI-powered entries of Vincent Nobile and V. Gaines both faltered in the first round and are now seventh and tenth in the rankings.

Johnson Qualifies Second in Pro Stock at Home Track.

Bristol, Tenn. (Saturday, June 15, 2013) – Following four rounds of qualifying, the field is set for the Father’s Day edition of the 13th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway on Sunday. Hometown favorite Allen Johnson qualified his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Avenger second on the strength of his best elapsed time on Friday night of 6.645 seconds and a top speed of 207.85 mph while his nemesis Mike Edwards earned his ninth No.1 qualifier position of the season with a 6.632-second e.t. (208.23 mph).

While Johnson would have liked to have posted a No.1 qualifying position for a fourth year in a row at his home track, he’s keeping things in perspective.

“We were trying to go for it that last run and sort of over powered the track but for the weekend we have to feel good about it as we closed the gap on Mike [Edwards] still a little more and I think we have a great car for race day,” said Johnson who will face Lewis Worden in the first round of eliminations.

A title win at Bristol has eluded Johnson and after finishing runner-up to Edwards last year by less than .0000 of a second in the closest finish in NHRA history, he would love a rematch. Gifting a national title to his dad and engine builder Roy Johnson on Father’s Day on the quarter-mile strip in front of hometown fans, family and friends is definitely the goal.

“It’s Father’s Day (on Sunday) and I’m going to have extra motivation because I have my dad here by my side, but I think we have a great hot rod, we know this track, and the team is doing such a great job so we have high hopes.”

While Johnson would like to put his competitor’s streak of four consecutive wins at Thunder Valley to an end himself, maximum points would also help the defending NHRA Pro Stock World Champion gain some ground in the points battle which is currently at the half way point of the regular season. Following qualifying, Johnson finds himself tied for second place with his Mopar teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr., trailing Edwards in the lead by 164 points.

Coughlin for his part qualified sixth with a best run of 6.661-seconds at 206.73 mph in the third round, putting him up against Rickie Jones for a first round match-up.

"We had three great runs and one good run out of the four sessions," said Coughlin, who showed consistency with consecutive runs of 6.664 seconds (206.67 mph), 6.670 (206.32 mph), 6.661 (206.73 mph) and 6.689 (206.92 mph) . "The fastest session last night, for some reason we were scratching our heads after that run. We couldn't really put a finger on why we didn't perform like we wanted to, but that's the sport of drag racing. You've just got to analyze your data and get to work.”

The HEMI®-powered Dodge of Vincent Nobile was 12th on the qualifying sheets and will face Jason Line in the opening round of eliminations while V. Gaines qualified ninth and matches up with Rodger Brogdon.

Mopar’s Father and Son Team Working Towards a Memorable Father’s Day at Bristol.

Bristol, Tenn. (Friday, June 14, 2013) – This Father’s Day weekend the Mopar contingency will compete in the 13th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway, but for Pro Stock driver Allen Johnson it is anything but an ordinary race weekend. While he and his Mopar team’s engine builder and father Roy Johnson, have a plethora of good memories at the Greenville, Tenn.-native’s home track, they are hoping to add one more special one this Sunday.

While both men have won sportsman races as drivers at Bristol Dragway and their Pro1 Mopar Dodge Avenger has earned three consecutive No. 1 qualifier honors, a Pro Stock win has eluded them. The father and son team came as close to their first professional win at their home track as is actually technically possible in last year’s final round of eliminations by finishing runner-up to Mike Edwards in the closest finish in NHRA history, a race that was decided by less than .0000 of a second.

“I wasn’t horribly disappointed losing last year in the closest side-by-side final round in NHRA history,” said Allen Johnson who will run for the first time in front of hometown fans as the defending NHRA Pro Stock World Champion. “It was certainly a little disappointing, but it was an exciting finish for the fans and teams alike and you can’t be disappointed about that. We were just on the wrong side of the bullet there. It was a great race and we knew it would be. We almost got it done and that fueled us for the rest of the year and we are hoping to do the same thing this year, but come away with a win and fuel us for the championship race."

The elder Johnson has had two big wins in a Mopar as a driver at Bristol Dragway in the early 1970s in IHRA Stock and Super Stock classes. The younger Johnson’s sole victory at Bristol was earned in 1981 competing in the Super Stock class as a teenager aboard his father’s 1971 Dodge Challenger with a 340 cubic inch wedge engine (SS3FA).

“He did that motor all by himself,” Roy Johnson recounted proudly as he reminisced about how he made his son work on his own engine. “Allen ground and fit every bit of it. He worked hard on that car and earned that win but not without a little bit of luck. He actually red lighted in the first elimination round but his competitor failed technical inspection because the car was too light and Allen was back in and went on to win it all. It was his first major win right here at home in Bristol.”

For Christmas four years ago, Johnson bought his father a 2009 Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak which Roy took to Bristol Dragway the following May for his first runs behind the wheel in nearly 30 years posting a best elapsed time pass of 10.65-seconds at 125.95 mph.

After working 17 years alongside his father, Johnson believes celebrating Father’s day at their home track in front of their hometown friends and family is only fitting.

“It's Father's Day and racing with my father and being close to my father, and try to win this race is a special incentive,” said Johnson as he recalled some of his favorite highlights in racing together so far including their first pro win and their crowning achievement, the 2012 NHRA Pros Stock World Championship. “It would have to be the first one in Richmond together in '99, and then the championship last year at the banquet when I brought him on stage and it was pretty emotional for both of us. That's just something you'll never forget. We almost lost him in 2009 [to a heart attack] and to come back and have the success we did last year was incredible and means the world to me. Winning with my father at Bristol is the next item on our bucket list. We almost got it done for the family, friends, employees last year and there is no doubt it would be special for everyone including the hometown fans.”

Johnson is third in the championship points standings with 698 points, right on the heels of his Mopar teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. who is in second spot with 701 points on the strength of a win and three final round appearances. Coughlin has a Pro Stock win to his credit at the storied race track, earned after securing the No. 1 qualifier position in 2007. HEMI®-powered drivers Vincent Nobile and V. Gaines are sixth and ninth in the points respectively.

Johnson Runner-Up at NHRA Summernationals.

Englishtown, N.J. (Sunday, June 2, 2013) – In Pro Stock action, 2012 NHRA Champion Allen Johnson advanced to his fourth final round appearance of the year in the Mopar Express Lane Dodge to face his nemesis, No. 1 qualifier and current points leader, Mike Edwards. To get to the final elimination face-off, Johnson qualified sixth and disposed of Larry Morgan and Erica Enders-Stevens in the opening rounds. He then lined up beside HEMI-powered teammate Vincent Nobile, against whom he has 10 win - 4 loss record in prior events. Nobile had the starting line advantage with a 0.024-second reaction time to Johnson’s 0.060, but tire shake pitched the car sideways to give Johnson the round win and send him to do battle against Edwards.

Meanwhile, following a win at the previous national event in Kansas, Jeg Coughlin Jr. entered elimination rounds as the top Mopar qualifier with the fifth quickest pass, marking the ninth time this season in as many events that he has qualified in the top half of the field. Coughlin beat his first round opponent Steve Kent to advance and face Jason Line, whom he beat off the start line only to have his Dodge Avenger uncharacteristically shake the tires for the loss.

Mopar Looking to Repeat or Make New History at Summernationals.

Englishtown, N.J. (Friday, May 31, 2013) – Coming away from the previous event at the Kansas Nationals with his own win, Mopar’s Pro Stock driver Jeg Coughlin Jr. would love to start a win streak similar to Gray’s after advancing to three final round appearances so far this season and build on the efforts that have him second in the standings.

"We're excited," says Coughlin who has three Pro Stock wins at Englishtown earned in 1998, 2000, and 2009. "Coming off our best effort of the year, where we not only got the trophy but passed the 500 round-win mark at the same time, has us all feeling pretty good.”

His teammate Allen Johnson, defending 2012 NHRA champion, won at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in 2011 and sits third in the standings. Johnson faced Coughlin in the final elimination round at Topeka and is looking forward to a few more all-Mopar showdowns this season.

“Getting to that final round is what we’re trying to do at every event and it’s especially fun to battle against your own Mopar teammates because that makes you better,” said Johnson who has two wins to date this season and is just 45 points behind Coughlin.

As a resident of Melville, N.Y. just a few miles down the road from one of NHRA’s original seven national events, Vincent Nobile for his part is looking to do well in his HEMI-powered Dodge Avenger at the track he considers home. Nobile won his very first race here aboard a Junior Dragster and has also had class wins, including a King of the Hill victory when he was just eight years old. However, his first Pro Stock appearance at Englishtown in 2011 was certainly memorable as he worked his way to a final elimination round face off against Johnson only to set off the red-light on the start.

“That would have meant the world to win that race in front of my whole family because that would be one pretty good winner’s circle picture to have my whole family in it,” said Nobile of the missed opportunity but quickly adds that he hopes to get the chance again this year. “To win here would mean a lot for me and my dad because we have always wanted to win Englishtown.”

Two Title Wins for Mopar with Coughlin and Gray at NHRA Kansas Nationals.

Topeka, Kansas (Sunday, May 19, 2013) – For a second time this season, two Dodge entries doubled up to take title wins in both the Pro Stock and Funny Car classes at the NHRA Kansas Nationals with drivers Jeg Coughlin Jr. and Johnny Gray taking home special-edition silver Wally trophies in honor of the event’s 25th anniversary. Each driver’s trip to the winner’s circle was notable for number of reasons.

Before the final elimination round came down to a Mopar versus Mopar face-off between Coughlin and his teammate Allen Johnson, his second round victory gave him a milestone 500 career round wins. He becomes the fifth Pro Stock driver to reach that plateau along with Greg Anderson, Bob Glidden, Kurt Johnson, and Warren Johnson.

Coughlin advanced to his 88th career final round appearance to earn a 53rd career win with a 6.680-second pass at 206.20 mph over Johnson’s elapsed time of 6.698 sec (206.57 mph) after both drivers recorded .013 second reaction times. It was the third time this season that Coughlin was involved in an all-Mopar final elimination. Previously, the driver of the Dodge Avenger was defeated by Vincent Nobile for the win in the season opening event at Pomona, then finished runner-up to Johnson at the Gatornationals.

“Any day you are hoisting a Wally at the end of the day is a good thing and it’s what you work for and that final round ranks up there with some of the best races I've ever won,” said Coughlin who maintains his second place spot in the points battle but is closing the gap on the leader Mike Edwards. “Today was extra-special for several reasons. We hadn’t won in a couple of years. To finally get a Wally on Sunday is exactly what the doctor ordered. We have been working hard and trying to work smart, and today was our day and it felt fantastic.”

“All of us at Mopar are excited to see Jeg (Coughlin Jr.) back in the winner’s circle after a strong start to the season and be part of his 500th round win milestone,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group LLC’s service, parts and customer-care brand. “We began a great partnership with Jeg last year and it’s great to see him back on top with this win at the Kansas Nationals. We look forward to seeing him contending for many more wins this year with the powerful Mopar HEMI engine under the hood of his Dodge. “

"We do take trips down memory lane occasionally and this is one of those times," added Coughlin in speaking about the 500 round wins that have helped him earn 52 class wins and four championships. "We've been fortunate to win a lot of great races and win a lot of great championships. It's a testament to everyone who has been behind us all those years. It's been a product of 15 years of dedication from a lot of great teams I have worked with. It's a testament to them from our family teams in the beginning to the Cagnazzi group, Schumacher and now with Allen Johnson."

The defending winner at Heartland Park, Johnson won his match ups against Deric Kramer, Greg Anderson, and Roger Brogdon in the Mopar Express Lane Dodge to make his 39th final round appearance and finish runner-up to Coughlin. Johnson remains third in the Pro Stock standings.

Nobile beat fellow HEMI-powered Dodge of V. Gaines before upsetting no.1 qualifier and points leader Edwards in round two. That put Nobile among the three Mopars to make the semifinals where he was defeated by Coughlin, but earned enough points to move up a spot into sixth place in the championship.

Johnson and Gray Top Mopar Qualifiers at Kansas Nationals.

Topeka, Kansas (Saturday, May 18, 2013) – Under grey skies and humid conditions at Heartland Park near Topeka, Mopar drivers wrapped up two days of qualifying in preparation for Sunday’s 25th annual NHRA Kansas Nationals. Defending Pro Stock winner of the event, Allen Johnson was the top Mopar entry with a third place qualifying spot, while Johnny Gray was fourth quickest to lead the Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car contingency.

Johnson quickest run was made in Friday’s second qualifying session when both he and teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. not only posted the exact same elapsed time of 6.633 seconds, but matched incremental times as well at 60 ft (0.997 sec), 330 ft (2.784), 660 ft (4.272) and 1,000 ft (5.553) marks. Only a 0.16 mph difference put the Johnson’s Mopar Express Lane Dodge in third spot ahead of the Mopar with the quicker speed of 208.62 mph.

Johnson wrapped up qualifying on a high note by setting the quickest elapsed time of the final Pro Stock session to add three more bonus points to his total, but remained third to no.1 qualifier Mike Edwards who posted his seventh pole position in eight events.

“We’re making gains and that’s the goal,” said Johnson who has two wins in the last three years at the higher altitude track. “We were third in two sessions and then quickest in that last one and that gives us a bit of a confidence boost heading into eliminations. We knew Jeg (Coughlin Jr.) and I were pretty close but to see the numbers match up like that on Friday was pretty neat and shows just how consistent we can be. Conditions should be just about the same on Sunday and hopefully the rain will hold off so we can do our best to get through as many rounds as we can.”

Johnson will match up with Deric Kramer in the first round of eliminations while Coughlin, who qualified fourth, will face Greg Stanfield.

"I'm happy with the way we've started here at Heartland Park," said Coughlin who could reach a milestone 500 round victories in his Pro Stock career by reaching the semifinals on Sunday. "We were second in the first session and fourth the other three runs. I'm real confident the car is going to continue to perform well, and I feel great behind the wheel. I like the total package we've brought to the track this weekend.”

The HEMI-powered entries of V. Gaines and Vincent Nobile qualified eighth and ninth respectively and will face each other in the first round of eliminations.

Mopar’s 2012 NHRA Champs Johnson and Beckman Look to Defend National Title Wins at Kansas.

Topeka, Kansas (Friday, May 17, 2013) – Not only will Mopar take on the 25th annual NHRA Kansas Nationals as the defending winner in both Pro Stock and Funny Car categories, but last year’s two title victors also went on to earn their first career NHRA Championships, so you’ll have to forgive Allen Johnson and Jack Beckman for hoping that their defense of those victories might have a similar ending this season as well.

“Every single title the J&J racing team won last year was very important in our chances to become number one at the start of the Countdown and take a run at the championship but Topeka win gave us the confidence that we were headed down the right path,” said Johnson who had a near perfect weekend at the 2012 edition of the Kansas Nationals by securing the top qualifier position, taking almost every bonus point and working his way through the elimination rounds to post his second win of the season on his way to his first world championship title with a total of seven wins and 11 final-round appearances.

“We need a little bit of that right now as our focus has been a bit off in the last three weeks,” admitted Johnson who after posting wins at the Gainesville and Las Vegas, hasn’t made it past the second round of eliminations in the last three events. “We’re shooting to bounce back in Topeka and doing everything we can to get back to fine form. It’s an altitude track at which the HEMI-powered Mopar Dodge Avenger normally does really well at, just like Vegas and Denver. The key to doing well at here is having the tune-up correct at altitude.”

Both he and Mopar teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. tested at Tulsa Raceway Park in Oklahoma as preparation for this weekend’s event to try and close the gap to rival Mike Edwards in the both the points battle and on the track.

“We’re working on getting more consistent and getting a better combination for our Mopars,” said Johnson who has two ‘Wallys’ at Topeka in the last three years and would like to add another as quickly as possible. “I think we’ve gained a little on Mike (Edwards) in the past few weeks, cutting his advantage a bit at a time. He’s been quickest qualifier every weekend but Atlanta, when Jeg got it. He’s the front runner right now but I think we cut the deficit in half on what he was leading on everybody since the start of the year.”

For his part, Don Schumacher Racing’s Jack Beckman is looking forward to returning to the place where his own drive for the 2012 Funny Car world title began and getting back to winning more elimination rounds to move up from his seventh spot in the points standings.

"We haven't been horrible; we have six round wins but we expected much bigger things by now,” said Beckman. “This could be a big shot in the arm for us, emotionally going back to the place where our run to the championship kind of officially took off last year."

Meanwhile two other Mopar drivers have a bit of momentum and good results both finding themselves in second place in their respective classes; Jeg Coughlin Jr. and Matt Hagan.

Hagan has the ‘Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar’ Dodge Charger R/T second in the Funny Car points standings on the strength of a title win at Charlotte, one No. 1 qualifier position, two runner-ups and a semifinal finish in seven events.

Coughlin for his part jumped into second place in the Pro Stock points with a No. 1 qualifier position at Houston and two final round appearances and posting three semifinal finishes in the first seven events of the season. He now has his sights set on taking the Mopar Dodge Avenger to a semifinal appearance in Kansas to help mark his 500th round win in NHRA Pro Stock competition. Only 11 other drivers have achieved that milestone; Joe Amato, Greg Anderson, Kenny Bernstein, Larry Dixon, John Force, Bob Glidden, Kurt Johnson, Warren Johnson, Cory McClenathan, Tony Schumacher and Tony Pedregon.

Top Mopar Pro Stock finish in eliminations by Coughlin with semifinal appearance.

Commerce, Ga. (Saturday, May 11) – In Pro Stock action, Jeg Coughlin Jr. was the highest finishing Mopar by reaching the semi-finals, losing on a holeshot by Shane Gray who cut a 0.002-sec light to defeat him with an e.t. of 6.62 to 6.60-second run.

2012 NHRA Champ Allen Johnson was upset in first round action, also losing on a holeshot, by Greg Stanfield who reached the finish line with an e.t. of 6.64-seconds (207.37 mph) to Johnson’s 6.63-sec (208.84 mph) in the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Avenger.

The SouthernNationals title was won by Mike Edwards who wins his second ‘Wally’ of the year to extend his lead in the championship.

Mopar remains second and third in the Pro Stock points standings but has Coughlin jumping into second spot with 530 points and a no.1 qualifier position, ahead of Johnson’s 501 points with two title wins in 2013.

Mopar’s Allen Johnson Recognized as a Champion on and off the Drag Strip.

Auburn Hills, Mich. (Saturday, May 4) – Winning the 2012 NHRA Pro Stock World Championship was a goal and a dream that Mopar’s Allen Johnson was able to achieve in grand style with years of hard work, dedication and determination. While the defense of his world title is already underway, with two national title wins already posted in the first quarter of the 2013 NHRA season, the impact of the championship combined with both his on and off-track accomplishments have garnered Johnson recognition outside of the world of drag racing and motorsports.

Johnson’s Greeneville, Tenn., based Pro Stock category drag race team will be presented “Team of the Year” honors by the Tennessee Hall of Fame for representing their state with excellence and a distinct Tennessee flavor in winning a career best seven national titles and the NHRA World Championship title. Johnson’s team will be recognized as honorees during the Hall of Fame’s annual banquet on May 4 at the Renaissance Hotel Nashville. Part of an ceremony also will be celebrate the induction of a great class that includes basketball coach Rick Byrd, basketball player Penny Hardaway, and country music’s Vince Gill.

“I’m so honored to accept this award from the Tennessee Hall of Fame on behalf of my team because this is a true team award,” said Johnson as the team owner and driver of the Pro 1 Dodge Avenger. “What can I say about the accomplishments of the Johnson & Johnson racing team in 2012 except that they were certainly perfect or as close to perfect as you could get, especially in the Countdown to the Championship. We worked as a team and built a great game plan during the year to achieve a lofty goal. I am proud to be part of the team as they get this very well deserved recognition from our home state.”

Johnson is due to accept an award from Junior Achievement, not just for his on-track accomplishments, but also for his contributions to society and specifically young members of his community through his race team and business, Greeneville Oil & Petroleum. Junior Achievement is the world’s largest organization dedicated to educating young people about work force readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy through experiential, hands-on programs that in turn help students put these lessons into action and learn the value of contributing to their communities.

“The prestigious Junior Achievement award is a personal award that recognizes what you have done for the juniors and others in your area.” Johnson said. “It really is a humbling award because they go back to birth and recognize your life and what you have done. To be able to include my daughters, my parents, my in-laws and certainly my wife to share in this award is really humbling.”

While Johnson and his engine builder and father, Roy Johnson along with his team are being recognized by others for their accomplishments last season, the accolades and recognition are helping to shine the spotlight on what Mopar has always known.

“Allen Johnson has always been a champion, only now it is officially in record books and others are beginning to take notice, ” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group LLC’s service, parts and customer-care brand. “What these awards demonstrate is that the qualities differentiating him, both on the drag strip as a competitor but also away from the race track as a valued member of society, are now rightfully being recognized by other organizations outside our automotive and motorsports world. That recognition is well deserved.

“Allen, his father Roy, as well as his team and family have been loyal friends and amazing representatives for our brand,” Gorlier added. “The qualities that have made them champions on the drag track also epitomize the core values of Mopar. They live the experience as true ‘Mopar motorheads’ just like many of our fans, starting from the heart of the engine build, to the driver, to working as a team.

“Allen and Roy’s loyalty to Mopar is commendable as they have lived the ups and downs along with our brand. It is only fitting that, as we too began to see an upswing, that they were rewarded and recognized for their own perseverance, determination, hard work and dedication with a championship as well as all the accolades and attention that goes with it. Everyone at Mopar is excited to cheer them on as they work to defend that world title through this season.”

Johnson and the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Avenger are currently second in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing series championship points standings with two wins in the first six events of the 2013 season.

Rain Postpones NHRA Southern Nationals Until May 10–11.

Commerce, Ga. (Saturday, May 4) – Mother Nature kept Mopar off the drag strip this weekend, as persistent rainy weather forced the postponement of the NHRA Southern Nationals. The Team Mopar contingent will return to Atlanta Dragway next weekend, May 10–11, for another shot at completing the seventh of 24 events on the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing schedule.

Eight Pro Stock cars were able to make qualifying passes on Friday before rain returned, forcing the cancellation of the first two qualifying sessions. Wet conditions on Saturday, and in the forecast for Sunday, gave NHRA officials no choice but to postpone the race, located in Commerce, Ga., just outside Atlanta.

“We were a few pairs away from making our first run of the weekend on Friday before the rain returned, and then with the forecast looking like it did, we kind of expected this postponement,” said Mopar Express Lane Dodge Avenger driver Allen Johnson, the defending NHRA Pro Stock champion and currently second in the point standings. “So many fans stuck around on Friday to try to see us run, and I hope they can make it back next weekend, when the weather should hopefully be better. We’ll cross our fingers.

“One good thing for us, the Atlanta event is like a second home race, with it being so close to our J&J Racing shop in Greeneville, Tenn. That eases the burden a bit on the team having to return next week. We’ll be rested and ready to hit the track next weekend, for sure.”

Two qualifying sessions are scheduled at Atlanta Dragway for Friday, May 10, at 2 and 4 p.m. Eliminations are set for 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 11. ESPN2HD will air one hour of qualifying coverage on Saturday, May 11th at 10 a.m. (ET). Three hours of eliminations coverage will air starting at 6 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, May 12th.

Tough Track Conditions Yields Disappointment for Mopar at NHRA SpringNationals.

Houston, Texas (Sunday, April 28) – Tricky conditions at Royal Purple Raceway near Houston proved to be a bit more of a challenge for the Mopar contingency than was expected for the 26th annual NHRA SpringNationals presented by Super Start Batteries. The semifinals were as far as Pro Stock’s No. 1 qualifier Jeg Coughlin Jr. and Funny Car driver Ron Capps got for Mopar, bringing a streak of 13 wins in 11 events, dating back to September 2012, to an end.

The rain that fell and washed out most of qualifying on Saturday continued through the night and proceeded to wash away much of the rubber that had been laid on the racetrack. That made track conditions for eliminations an unknown entity with lack of traction becoming a concern for all sending teams scrambling to make adjustments to their car set-ups in order to compensate.

Coughlin was looking fast and strong as the top Pro Stock qualifier with consistent runs through the first two rounds but saw his Mopar get squirrely at the 200 feet mark in a semifinal loss to eventual title winner Jason Line.

"Two more win lights would have made this weekend extra special but anytime you can get multiple round wins on race day, it's pretty hard to be upset," Coughlin said. "The Dodge Avenger is running great and earning that No. 1 qualifier was a nice feather in our caps. It proves just how much horsepower Roy (Johnson, engine builder) is making. We're still very pleased with how we're running and I don't expect any letdown next weekend in Atlanta."

After having a motor expire during a burnout in Saturday qualifying, Allen Johnson had his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Avenger back it top shape for his first round elimination matchup, running his quickest pass of the event with a 6.566-second (211.99 mph) elapsed time run. Things didn’t go quite as well in the second round when Johnson was out of the gate first, but ended up turning the car off after strong tire shake brought his efforts to a end.

“I didn’t back it down far enough and the track got hot and we didn’t adjust enough to it,” Johnson said. “I couldn’t get it back in gear after it shook or it would have been a good drag race because it looked like he (Shane Gray) did the same thing on the other side, but he just got his back in gear and I didn’t. Overall it was a decent weekend for the Mopar contingent. We’re normally a bit better than this on big-power hot-weather tracks but we lost a run there yesterday with a broken motor and that got us behind and in a bad qualifying spot. We just didn’t overcome it this weekend but we’ll be ready to make another run at a title in Atlanta next weekend.”

Two-time defending winner at the SpringNationals, Vincent Nobile faced his own premature exit after a second elimination round loss. Fellow HEMI-powered Dodge, V. Gaines also fell out of the running early with tire shake in the first round.

Despite the difficult weekend, Johnson remains second in the NHRA Mello Yello series points standing with two wins in the first six events. Mopar teammate Coughlin is right behind him in a third place tie with Erica Enders-Stevens while Nobile drops out of the top-5 into sixth spot, dislodged by the SpringNationals title winner Jason Line. Gaines also falls one position into eighth place.

Mopar’s Coughlin No.1 in Rain Shortened Qualifying at NHRA SpringNationals.

Houston, Texas (Saturday, April 27) – Mopar’s Jeg Coughlin Jr. earned his first No.1 qualifier position since 2010 after qualifying was cut short by intermittent rain delays at the 26th annual NHRA SpringNationals presented by Super Start Batteries. Coughlin remained on top of the scoring sheets based on his efforts in Friday’s second session with an elapsed time run of 6.569 seconds (211.20 mph) and without getting a chance to make another pass at the Royal Purple Raceway near Houston.

"To get our first pole in a couple of years is fantastic, and we'd like to perform well tomorrow,” said Coughlin who has four title wins at the Houston SpringNationals. “It speaks volumes to where our team has come this year. We owe a lot of credit to Allen and Roy Johnson. We put a two-car team together, literally with one team (crew), and we communicate extremely well. Between him (Allen) and I and the addition of Vincent (Nobile) we’ve become a great threat thus far.”

While Coughlin never got a chance to improve his time, there had been enough of a break in the weather to allow a handful of Pro Stock runs, including the HEMI-powered Dodges of V. Gaines (6.590 sec/ 210.87mph) and Vincent Nobile (6.606 sec/ 210.01 mph). Both made slight improvements on their passes and will start eighth and 11th respectively.

Allen Johnson was set to make his third qualifying pass in the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Avenger when, following his burnout, he lost power and team headed back to the pits to replace the motor. Rain began to fall just moments later and washed out the rest of the day’s schedule.

“It was a stroke of luck really because had rain come just a few minutes earlier we would never have known we had a problem then would’ve probably lost the motor in our first round of eliminations, so we’re kind of happy with how it all worked out,” said Johnson who ended up seventh in qualifying and will face off against Rodger Brogden in a first round match-up. “We thought maybe something was up at the end of our second run yesterday but we looked everything over didn’t find anything. I’m happy things happened the way they did and now we know the Mopar Express Lane machine is all good for going rounds on Sunday.”

Coughlin Leads Mopar in Qualifying at NHRA SpringNationals in Houston.

Houston, Texas (Friday, April 26) – Mopar spent the day, widely known to enthusiasts as ‘HEMI® Day’, a day to celebrate the 426 HEMI engine (as it falls on April 26th or 4/26), on track for two rounds of qualifying with their Pro Stock and Funny Car HEMI-powered Dodge entries preparing for the 26th annual NHRA SpringNationals presented by Super Start Batteries, the 6th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.

Jeg Coughlin Jr. took full advantage of his HEMI power and went straight to the top of the timing charts on his second qualifying pass with a low elapsed time of 6.569 seconds (211.20 mph. But as great as his run was, he quickly had a bit of peddling to do after the finish line when his parachutes didn’t deploy.

"You've got to be ready for anything and to be quite honest with you, I wasn't ready for that,” said Coughlin who is currently fourth in the Pro Stock points with two final round appearances so far this year. “Our parachutes always work and work well. We made a fantastic run, but my attention was quickly called away by just trying to get stopped.”

Once Coughlin got his car stopped just before the runoff area without any damage, he was able to reflect on finally dislodging competitor Mike Edwards from the top spot for the first time this year.

“It's our first time at the top with the JEGS/Mopar Dodge Avenger with J&J horsepower and let me tell you, it feels pretty nice. We're going to do our best to peck away at this thing and see if we can have a better racecar tomorrow."

Of all the Mopar drivers, Pro Stock driver Vincent Nobile is likely the one most looking forward to this weekend’s event as the two-time defending winner at Royal Purple Raceway, and the site of his first career victory. Nobile and his Mountain View Tire Dodge Avenger team have had a good start to 2013 with a win in the season opener and a fifth place spot in the standings after five events. Working with the Mopars of J & J Racing’s Allen Johnson and Coughlin as teammates has helped keep his confidence up.

“I have a hard working team who doesn’t give up and we’re hoping to get back on track this weekend,” said Nobile who was 11th in qualifying with an e.t. of 6.614 seconds (209.98 mph). “We’ve never qualified in the top-3 here but for whatever reason Royal Purple Raceway treats my team well. We are currently not running up to our par, but I feel confident we can make a run at the Championship by the time it really counts, the Countdown to the Championship.”

Winner of titles at both the GatorNationals and Las Vegas, Johnson is working to get back to the winners circle. While he posted the second best run of the first session with a 6.680 second e.t. (211.49 mph), Johnson’s Pro 1 Dodge Avenger did not improve on his second pass, putting him seventh on the qualifying charts. HEMI-powered V.Gaines (6.602 sec / 210.57 mph) is in 10th spot.

AJ Drops to second in Points Standings.

Concord, N.C. (Sunday, April 21) – The event’s purposely built four lane zMAX Dragway at Charlotte Motor Speedway, provided a bit more of a challenge to Mopar’s Pro Stock contingency. All four HEMI-powered Dodge entries had their elimination rounds end in disappointment as none made it past the second quad.

The first to fall was No.2 qualifier Jeg Coughlin Jr. who had great 0.005-second reaction time to take the lead off the start in the Dodge Avenger until it suddenly got loose and he lost his chance to advance. Teammate Vincent Nobile had a similar fate after also coming out the gate first, but was beaten to the line by both Mike Edwards and fellow Mopar driver V. Gaines.

Coming off wins at the previous two National events, Allen Johnson drove his Mopar Express Lane Dodge to the finish in second place to make it through the first round.

Johnson and Gaines second round quad eliminations appearance didn’t go quite as planned as both saw their red lights come on, disqualifying their run at making the final four.

“It’s disappointing not to make it to the final and it hasn’t been our best weekend but the four wide is fun for the fans and mixes things up a bit,” said Johnson. “It’s kind of unusual for me to foul out and for both me and V. (Gaines) to both do it at the same time is really odd. It’s just not something we normally do. The good news is the Mopar Express Lane Dodge isn’t too far back in the points in second spot.”

The Pro Stock Four-Wide National title was won by Mike Edwards who takes over the points lead. Runner-up finisher Erica Enders-Stevens slips into third sport behind Johnson. The final-four semi-finalists were Shane Gray and Greg Anderson.

Shortened Qualifying Provides Mixed Results for Mopar at Four-Wide Nationals.

Concord, N.C. (Saturday, April 20) – Mopar drivers in both Pro Stock and Funny Car classes had just two runs to make their mark in qualifying for this weekend’s fourth annual Dollar General NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, after rain washed out Friday’s sessions at Charlotte Motor Speedway's zMAX Dragway. Those two passes left little room for error and had mixed results for Mopar entries in both classes as they prepared for Sunday’s contest.

The unique Four-Wide Nationals format for Sunday’s eliminations will see the field of 16 qualifiers in each class split into four waves of drag racing (instead of the usual eight) for the opening round. With competitors facing-off simultaneously in four lanes, the top two finishers of each round will advance. As a result, only three eliminations rounds will be necessary, with the final run determining the winner, runner-up and two semi-finalists.

In Pro Stock qualifying, Mopar’s Jeg Coughlin Jr. run of 6.496 seconds (212.93 mph) came closest to stealing top spot from Mike Edwards (6.471sec / 213.64 mph), who posted a National elapsed time record and his fifth consecutive No.1 qualifier position of the season.

“We’ve had some great runs this year and we’ve been qualifying extremely well as evidenced by today’s No. 2 effort, but it’s game day where we want to perform to help mark this fantastic turn-around season for us in grand style,” said Coughlin who has two runner-up performance and a semi-final finish thus far in the first four events of the year. “There are some extra challenges when going four-wide but this race is Bruton (Smith's) baby and it's a lot of fun for us and the fans, as you can see by the packed grandstands. We have a fast racecar and I like our chances, but really the top eight cars here are separated by only a few hundredths of a second, give or take, so I know it's going be a dog fight."

Winner of the last two National title events, Allen Johnson qualified the Mopar Express Lane Dodge in fourth spot with his best pass of 6.500 sec /213.30 mph despite the limited track time.

“We didn’t have great qualifying runs but we’re still in the top half of the field and we’ll take that,” said Johnson. “Having a new car here and losing two sessions kind of hurt us. That might be true at any track but on this track especially since the start line’s uphill qualities make it a bit more of a challenge. But we have a confident and experienced Mopar Express Lane Crew and we’ll bounce back when it counts.”

Fellow HEMI® powered teammate Vincent Nobile didn’t improve on his first run of 6.534 sec (211.83) and ended up eighth, while the Dodge of V. Gaines claimed ninth place with a 6.545 sec (212.13 mph) effort. Both will be part of the first foursome running against Edwards and Frank Gugliotta. Meanwhile, Johnson and Coughlin will be the sole Mopars to battle in their respective first round quads with the hopes of advancing through two more in order to battle for the coveted Four-Wide National title.

Mopar Ready to Run Four-Wide at Charlotte.

Concord, N.C. (Friday, April 19) – While Mopar drivers and teams were ready to run the first two qualifying sessions of this weekend’s fourth annual Dollar General NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, Mother Nature had other plans as rain and inclement weather forced the cancellation of Friday’s activities at Charlotte Motor Speedway's zMAX Dragway. The event features an unusual format that has entries in each pro class compete against each other using four lanes instead of the usual two. This will be the fifth event on the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing series schedule.

Weather permitting, qualifying should resume on Saturday with two sessions to set the field for Sunday’s Four-Wide elimination rounds where Mopar is hoping to continue a win streak that spans 10 events. It began here in Charlotte in Sept. 2012 and is currently at 12 title wins (Pro Stock and Funny Car) which includes the five victories in the first four races of this season. Contributing to that total are five Pro Stock wins by Allen Johnson, three Funny Car titles by Ron Capps, and individual victories by Jack Beckman (FC), V. Gaines (PS), Vincent Nobile (PS), and Johnny Gray (FC).

Friday’s action did see the first ten Pro Stock entries post times before rain began to fall just prior to runs by the Dodge Avengers of Johnson, Jeg Coughlin Jr., Nobile and Gaines. Shane Gray holds the provisional No. 1 qualifier position following the cancellation of the rest of qualifying for Pro Stock, as well as Funny Car and Top Fuel classes.

Mopar Express Lane driver Johnson (354 points) heads into this weekend’s event as the points leader following two consecutive National title victories at the Gatornationals and Las Vegas, as well as the K&N Horsepower Challenge. His teammate Coughlin Jr. (330 points) is third in class after taking Mopar to the semifinals in three of the last four events while Nobile (276), who also runs Johnson & Johnson supplied HEMI engines, rounds out the top-five with a win in the season opening race. The fourth full-time HEMI®-powered Dodge driver, Gaines (232 points) is in seventh place.

Johnson Earns Second Consecutive NHRA National Title and Third Win at Las Vegas; Fifth Victory of the 2013 Season for Mopar.

Las Vegas (Sunday, April 7) – Mopar driver Allen Johnson will be leaving Las Vegas a big winner. Not only did he defend his two previous NHRA National titles at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but by earning his 18th career Pro Stock victory in the new look Mopar Express Lane Dodge, he claimed the jackpot of a $25,000 “Sweep Bonus” to go with his $50,000 win in Saturday’s annual K&N Horsepower Challenge.

It is the fourth consecutive national event in which a Mopar has advanced to the final round of eliminations in either Pro Stock or Funny Car categories. The Nationals win also brings Mopar’s title victories total to five in just the first four races of the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Series season.

Johnson’s weekend success comes on the heels of his victory at the Gatornationals, and propels him to the top of the leaderboard in the Pro Stock Championship points standings.

In a repeat of Saturday’s final match up in the annual K&N Horsepower Challenge, Johnson faced Erica Enders-Stevens as his final round elimination opponent with the same result and an elapsed time of 6.713 seconds (206.76 mph). In previous rounds, Johnson had to defeat his own Mopar teammates, Vincent Nobile and Jeg Coughlin Jr., in order to earn his second win of the year and his third consecutive at the Las Vegas dragstrip.

“It seems like our car really likes altitude tracks, and hats off to my Mopar Express Lane guys for pulling off the sweep today,” said Johnson whose two wins this weekend made it the second year in a row that a HEMI-powered Dodge won both the K&N Horsepower Challenge and the National title after Nobiles’ sweep at Norwalk in 2012. “It’s awesome to win both races. I was asked if this just became my favorite track and I still have to answer that another high altitude track, Denver, is still tops in my books. Not just because it’s Mopar’s title race but probably because I’ve won there four times. But Las Vegas is quickly becoming a favorite after winning it three times now, along with our sweeping the K&N Challenge.”

“All of us at Mopar are thrilled to see Allen (Johnson) return to the winner’s circle for the second consecutive event and defend his titles at Las Vegas,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group’s service, parts and customer-care brand. “Allen and the Mopar Express Lane team haven’t stopped working and building on the successes of last year and have set the bar even higher this season. It’s great to watch him continue to contend and take the Championship lead amid some tough Pro Stock competition.”

Coughlin Jr. took the Dodge Avenger to the semifinals for the third time in four races and stands third in the championship points race. Nobile rounds out the top-five on the strength of his win in the season opening race while the HEMI-powered Dodge of V. Gaines is in seventh place.

Johnson Takes Mopar Express Lane to Victory in K&N Horsepower Challenge Win; Qualifies Second for Sunday Eliminations.

Las Vegas (Saturday, April 6) – The new look Mopar Express Lane Dodge Avenger made its debut this weekend in grand style as Allen Johnson drove it straight to victory lane in Saturday’s K&N Horsepower Challenge. The Mopar driver’s efforts also put him second in final qualifying for Sunday’s elimination rounds at the NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The K&N Horsepower Challenge is an annual race-within-a-race bonus event at Las Vegas, in which all four Mopar drivers were among the eight Pro Stock entries for this year’s edition. As the top seed, Johnson faced off against his teammate and fan vote favorite, Jeg Coughlin Jr. in the first round to treat fans to an incredibly close race. Although the driver had the starting line advantage with a 0.019 second reaction time versus a 0.039, Johnson’s Dodge Avenger ran him down and beat him to the stripe by just 0.0031 seconds, also giving the Mopar Express Lane car the quickest pass in the third round of qualifying.

Last year’s winner of the All-Star event, HEMI-powered Vincent Nobile, lost his match-up against Erica Enders-Stevens, while Mopar driver V. Gaines fell to Jason Line. In semi-final action, Enders-Stevens disposed of Line to set up the K&N Horsepower Challenge final showdown against Johnson’s Mopar following his defeat of Greg Anderson.

Facing off on a slick track following a Top Fuel session, Johnson and Enders-Stevens found themselves in a near Funny Car style pedalfest that saw the Mopar reach the finish first with e.t. of 7.188 seconds (200.62 mph) over its rival’s 9.602 / 110.96. It is the fourth time a Dodge has won the K&N Horsepower Challenge since it was first held in 1985.

“Any time you can stack up against the eight drivers that were in that thing, just to be there is an honor, and to beat them is an even bigger honor,” said Johnson who last won the K&N Challenge in 2008. “The new Mopar Express Lane Dodge Avenger got it done today. We did everything at the track as fast as the guys working the Mopar Express Lane do changing your oil. It was a lot of fun. I appreciate K&N. Man, what an awesome company to sponsor this thing. We’ve been out here with them for many years now, and they’re quality people and a quality company.”

As the winner of the Challenge, Johnson and his Mopar Express Lane crew earned the $50,000 purse but are now eligible for the "Sweep Bonus" of $25,000 if they also make it to victory lane in the Nationals on Sunday.

After four rounds of Pro Stock qualifying, those Vegas odds look a bit better for the Johnson as the defending winner and the top Mopar seed with a second place e.t. of 6.652 seconds (207.53 mph) putting him just behind No.1 qualifier Mike Edwards with a low e.t of 6.642 seconds (208.26 mph). Coughlin was third on the score sheets on the strength of his best effort of 6.655 seconds (207.34 mph).

“Qualifying No. 3 is nice, and it took the sting out of getting nipped there in the first round of the K&N Challenge,” said Coughlin who has claimed five titles at the National in Las Vegas. "We made four good qualifying runs and got some bonus points to boot. That's extremely exciting because it means we were one of the top three cars every session. That consistency gives myself and the rest of the team a lot of confidence going into Sunday."

The HEMI-powered entries of Gaines and Nobile are sixth and tenth respectively heading into Sunday’s elimination rounds.

Mopar Ready to Bet on Fast Runs at NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas.

Las Vegas (Friday, April 5) – Plenty of action on the docket for Mopar teams and drivers at this weekend’s NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the fourth of 24 events in the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season. Mopar is riding high and fast after earning four title wins, two in Pro Stock as well as Funny Car, in first three events of the year, all of which had a Mopar versus Mopar final elimination (2 PS and 2 FC).

Defending Pro Stock winner of the fall event, Allen Johnson not only brings a new car to the track after testing it this past week at Rockingham, N.C. but is also sporting a fresh new look with Mopar’s “Express Lane Fast Oil Changes & More” message. Currently more than 800 Chrysler Group dealerships provide a dedicated Express Lane to provide fast service and convenient light maintenance without the need of an appointment.

Heading into this event, Mopar drivers Jeg Coughlin Jr., Johnson & Vincent Nobile are second, third, and forth in Pro Stock Championship standings. Coughlin is hoping to press his Dodge Avenger and his luck in Las Vegas in order to join his teammates in earning a Wally after he finished runner-up to each one in Pomona (Nobile) and Gainesville (Johnson).

So far so good in Friday’s qualifying rounds as Coughlin posted an elapsed time of 6.655 second (207.34 mph) to place second to the low e.t of 6.651 set by rival Mike Edwards (207.98mph). Johnson put his Dodge Avenger third with a run of 6.672 (207.21 mph) with teammate Nobile is in ninth spot (6.697 / 206.54) while HEMI-power had V.Gaines (6.702/206.64) rounding out the top-10.

All four Mopar drivers are among the eight Pro Stock entries that will also be racing for a lucrative payday in the K&N Horsepower Challenge, race-within-a-race bonus event, on Saturday. The eight-racer field features the seven drivers who have accumulated the most points in qualifying since this same event in 2012, along with a final spot for the driver who collects the most fan votes.

For the first time in his career, Johnson will lead the K&N Horsepower Challenge field as No.1 seed while HEMI-powered Vincent Nobile, seeded sixth, is the defending winner of last year’s race. V. Gaines qualifying points gave him the seventh place entry while Jeg Coughlin Jr is the eighth driver thanks to being voted in by NHRA fans. The winner of the event will earn $50,000, and the runner-up will take home $10,000. As the top seed of the event, Johnson will face off against Coughlin in the opening round.

In Funny Car qualifying action, Johnny Gray was the best of the Don Schumacher Racing Mopar entries with a third place effort of 4.107 seconds (309.42 mph) while teammate Matt Hagan put his ‘Magneti Marelli offered by Mopar’ Dodge Charger R/T in fourth spot with a pass of 4.115 sec / 306.53 mph. Fellow DSR driver Ron Capps is currently qualified in fifth place (4.133 /302.55) just ahead of teammate Jack Beckman (4.158 /297.16). Competitor Robert Height paced the field with a low e.t. of 4.053 seconds at 315.19 mph.

Mopar leads the Funny Car Championship standings with a tie between Capps and Gray, who each have a win. Hagan has been off to a strong start with a final-round appearance at Gatornationals and currently sits fourth in standings while 2012 NHRA Champ Beckman is in ninth place.

Television coverage of the NHRA Nationals from Las Vegas will be broadcast on ESPN2 and ESPN2HD with two hours of qualifying highlights airing Saturday, April 6, at 8 p.m. (ET) while on Sunday, April 7, three hours of eliminations action will be featured starting at 11 p.m. (ET).

Pro Stock Driver Johnson to Sport Mopar’s ‘Express Lane’ for 2013 NHRA Season.

Auburn Hills, Mich. (Friday, April 5, 2013) – Defending 2012 Pro Stock Champion Allen Johnson will race his Dodge Avenger through the rest of the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing season sporting a fresh new look with Mopar’s “Express Lane Fast Oil Changes & More” message.

It’s only fitting to have the new Mopar Express Lane paint scheme unveiled at the NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas this first weekend of April as it is designated National Car Care month and a way to remind drivers to get their vehicles inspected and properly maintained.

Currently more than 800 Chrysler Group dealerships provide dedicated Express Lane service for light maintenance like fast oil changes for all make and model cars, along with a world-class inspection, provided by highly trained Chrysler Group dealership technicians. Express Lane provides fast and convenient service without the need for making an appointment.

“I’m really excited to debut our new car with the Mopar Express Lane scheme at Las Vegas where I’m looking to defend our win there,” said Johnson whose decisive win at Las Vegas last fall during the Countdown helped secure his 2012 championship title. “I took part in Mopar’s promotion of Express Lane in 2010 and it’s great to be able to tell people about what a great service they offer. Just like my team, they have highly trained technicians ready to get to work and get you back on the road in no time. That’s the kind of service that gets you into the winner’s circle and that’s what I’m hoping to do quite often this year.”

“Allen Johnson and his team have been great ambassadors for the Mopar brand and we’re excited to now have him help increase awareness of our world-class Express Lane service,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group’s service, parts and customer-care brand. “Allen and his dedicated Mopar team personify the kind of fast, professional service that our Express Lane provides everyday drivers to maintain their own Chrysler Group vehicles in top shape. It’s important to note that thanks to our relationship with Magneti Marelli and Shell Lubricants, Express Lane also permits our dealerships to service all makes and model vehicles.”

Available Express Lane services include oil and filter changes, multipoint vehicle checkup, tire rotation with brake inspection, air and cabin filter replacement, wiper blade replacement, headlight and light bulb replacement and battery testing. Mopar Express Lane Service isn’t limited to Chrysler Group vehicles — with the Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar program, fast service also is available for all other makes and models.

Johnson Back in Pro Stock Winner’s Circle.

Gainesville, Fla. (Sunday, March 17) – Mopar drove its way to the winners circle for a third consecutive NHRA national event, this time posting notable wins in both Pro Stock and Funny Car classes at the 44th Annual Gatornationals. Allen Johnson earned his first victory since the Mopar team’s Pro Stock Championship and title win in the 2012 season finale, and he did it on a holeshot over his teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. in an all Mopar final. Meanwhile, Funny Car driver Johnny Gray helped Don Schumacher Racing reach the 200-win milestone by posting his fourth career title in his Dodge Charger. Both wins were firsts for each driver at the historic Gainesville Raceway.

“All of us at Mopar are very proud of Allen Johnson and Johnny Gray on doubling up today with wins at the NHRA Gatornationals to continue the strong start to the season,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group LLC’s service, parts and customer-care brand. “After winning both Pro Stock and Funny Car Championships in 2012, these two wins send a clear message that Mopar HEMI®-powered teams and drivers are once again going to be a force to reckon with in both classes as they work to earn more wins and defend the world titles.”

After both Johnson and Coughlin put up career numbers in their Dodge Avengers with their qualifying runs, improving each of their marks for both quickest elapsed time and top speeds, they battled their way through eliminations only to set up a Mopar versus Mopar final showdown. Johnson’s quicker reaction time helped defeat his teammate with a 6.535-second elapsed time (212.59 mph) ahead of the Coughlin’s quicker 6.514 E.T. (212.25 mph). It was Johnson’s first Gatornationals title win and the 17th of his career after 37 final round appearances, and Coughlin’s second runner-up finish of the year.

“I think we’re one of the premier teams in Pro Stock now, and I think anyone would tell you that,” said Johnson after earning Mopar’s second Pro Stock title in three races this year after fellow teammate Vincent Nobile’s season-opening win over Coughlin. “We’ve got a crew that makes great decisions based on scientific methods and data, and we keep improving those decision-making tools. We’ll be right there again (for the championship).”

The three HEMI®-powered teammates are now second (Coughlin), third (Johnson) and fourth (Nobile) in the championship points standing behind Mike Edwards who took the lead on the merits of bonus points earned during the weekend as No.1 qualifier, setting the national event low E.T. and a new top speed track record.

“I’ve said all along, everybody asks me why I hired my two assassins, two of the best drivers in the class,” said Johnson about battling his own teammates. “I said that they make me better. Last year in the last six races, I ran Vincent (Nobile) every race, and beat him in all six. I beat him because he challenges me and makes me better. That makes me better as a driver overall. Same thing with Jeggy (Coughlin)as I knew that I would have to do my ultimate best to beat him. I hope we can go head-to-head a bunch.”

Strong Qualifying Effort and Career Numbers for Mopar at Gatornationals.

Gainesville, Fla. (Saturday, March 16) – It’s been a solid start to the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing season for Mopar who is looking strong after posting career numbers in qualifying at the 44th Annual Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla. to follow-up on two title wins in the first two events of the year.

Good clean air helped the Pro Stock class put up some record numbers at the season’s traditional east coast opening event, but it proved difficult to dislodge no.1 qualifier Mike Edwards from the top spot after he set national record time of 6.473-seconds and a track record speed 214.31 mph in the first qualifying session of the weekend.

Defending Pro Stock World Champ Allen Johnson qualified second in his Team Mopar Dodge Avenger, posting the quickest elapsed time of his 17 year career with a 6.481-second pass in the first session on Friday. He then improved his fastest career pass for a second time this weekend with a 213.70 mph top speed, setting the fifth fastest pass in the history of Pro Stock. Johnson was no.1 qualifier last year at Gainesville where he set the previous mark for his career-best E.T.

“It’s good, but we can do better,” said Johnson even after posting the fastest passes of his career. “It’s our best start of the season thus far, but we always want to be No. 1 in our Mopar Dodge Avenger. We gained a few bonus qualifying points, maybe four or five, and that’s always important. All three of the Johnson & Johnson Racing team cars made solid runs with a good chance to win it all, and that’s what we want to do every Sunday.”

“The Gatornationals is one of the most prestigious events on our schedule, and every driver wants to take home the trophy from this race,” added Johnson whose best finish at this national event was runner-up in 2009. “It would be huge to get a win tomorrow, not only to check it off my career to-do list but also to gain some early momentum as we work to defend our Pro Stock title.”

Jeg Coughlin Jr. also improved steadily throughout qualifying, posting his own career numbers in three of four passes, ending up fourth with a career best 6.487-second E.T and 213.40 mph top speed.

"It would be nice to get another win here," said Coughlin who has two Pro Stock title wins in Gainesville (2001, 2008) and finished runner-up three times (2002, 2003, 2004). "It's what every team yearns for and I know the guys in this pit have earned it. We'll get up on the wheel tomorrow, take them one at a time, try to limit our mistakes and we'll see how it turns out. Hopefully one of our three Dodges ends up in the winner's circle."

The third member of the J&J HEMI®-powered team and title winner at the season opening event in Pomona, Vincent Nobile, qualified eighth with a 6.513 sec / 212.86 mph effort. Fellow Dodge Avenger entry Vieri Gaines was sixth with a pass of 6.504 sec (213.47 mph).

With the addition of qualifying bonus points, Nobile still leads the Pro Stock Standings with 204 points, while Coughlin (187 points) is fourth, Gaines (178 points) is fifth and Johnson (151) is in seventh place.

All four Pro Stock Mopars win first elimination round; falter in quarterfinals.

Phoenix, Ariz. (Sunday, Feb. 24) – In Pro Stock competition, all four full-time HEMI-powered Mopars advanced from their first elimination match-ups with Jeg Coughlin Jr. setting the lowest elapsed time for the round with a 6.537 sec and 212.49 mph pass. The quarterfinals, however, were a different story as all four saw their race day cut short.

Defending NHRA World Champion, Allen Johnson’s quarterfinal run elapsed time of 6.549 seconds was beaten on a holeshot by Greg Anderson’s 6.551 pass. Coughlin had an identical .022 second reaction time to his competitor Jason Line but lost the round with a 6.538 to 6.581 difference.

V. Gaines was defeated by Erica Enders who won with a .033 to .074 holeshot after both cars posted identical runs of 6.553 seconds. Vincent Nobile’s .025 second reaction time was beaten by No. 1 qualifier Mike Edwards’ .013 and then at the line by a 6.505 to 6.582 second difference.

Enders went on to earn her fifth career Pro Stock title by defeating Edwards with a holeshot win in the final round to move into second place in the standings.

Nobile still leads the Pro Stock Standings with 171 points, while Coughlin (149 points) is fourth, Gaines (142 points) is fifth and Johnson (107) is tied for seventh place.

It has been a solid start to the 2013 NHRA season for Mopar with wins in the first two races with Capps’ Funny Car victory this weekend in Phoenix and Pro Stock HEMI-powered Nobile’s title win at Pomona. Mopar will work to make it three in a row as teams and drivers prepare for the 44th Annual NHRA Gatornationals, the traditional east coast opening event and the third of 24 events on the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule slated to take place in Gainesville, Fla. on March 14-17.

Solid Qualifying Performances for Mopar at Phoenix.

Phoenix, Ariz. (Saturday, Feb 23) – Mopar drivers and teams rolled out solid qualifying performances for the Arizona Nationals at Firebird International Raceway, the second event on the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule. Don Schumacher Racing’s Johnny Gray drove his Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car to the top of the scoring sheets in a dominant manner with the two best runs of qualifying, posting a pass of 4.034 seconds at 313.80 mph to earn the top qualifier honors. It is the second consecutive year Gray has earned the pole position at Phoenix and the fourth time of his career.

DSR teammate Matt Hagan put his Mopar into the No. 2 spot with a best run in Friday qualifying of 4.062 sec / 311.20 mph. Fellow DSR driver Ron Capps, currently second in the Funny Car standings on the basis of his runner-up finish in the season opener last weekend, posted the fifth quickest pass, while another Mopar teammate, Jack Beckman, has qualified tenth. Jeff Arend (13th) and Todd Lesenko (14th) bring the total to six Dodge Charger R/T entries in the sixteen qualified positions for the elimination rounds.

In Pro Stock qualifying, all four full-time Mopar entries earned spots in top half of 16-car field for final eliminations with a total of seven Dodge Avengers moving on to compete on Sunday.

V. Gaines led the HEMI®-powered contingency in both Friday qualifying sessions by posting the second quickest elapsed time run of 6.529 sec / 212.63 mph which was good enough to keep him in the No. 2 qualifier position. The No.1 qualifier moniker went to Mike Edwards who set a track record low e.t and top speed of 6.498 sec /213.13 mph.

Mopar’s Allen Johnson posted the best run of the third qualifying session with a 6.542 second, 212.03 mph pass to earn a three point bonus and secure a fifth place spot. Jeg Coughlin Jr., runner-up in the season opener, qualified right behind his teammate in sixth spot.

“We’re steadily making ground with both Mopar cars and the things we tried on mine in the third round, we put on Jeggy’s (Coughlin) car in the fourth round so he picked up a little there,” says Johnson. “We have very raceable cars for tomorrow. We’re not quite as fast as we want to be but we’re close and still leaving a little on the table. Having lane choice is going to be really critical for tomorrow’s racing as the right lane is much better than the left, so we want to maintain lane choice at all costs.”

Last week’s winner at Pomona and Pro Stock points leader Vincent Nobile claimed the eighth quickest qualifying run of the weekend, which means all four Mopar drivers will be given the all-important lane choice for first round of final eliminations. Nobile, Coughlin and Gaines currently hold the top three positions in the points standing while Johnson is in sixth place.

Three additional Dodge Avengers have made the field with Chris McGaha, Matt Hartford and Deric Kramer securing the 12th, 13th and 14th spots respectively.

Mopar All Fired Up for Phoenix.

Phoenix, Ariz. (Thursday, Feb 21) – After a strong showing by Mopar entries at the opening event of the 2013 National Hot Rod Association Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season last Sunday, which included a title win after three Dodge entries battled their way to the final elimination rounds at the Winternationals, teams and drivers are anxious for a repeat performance at the Arizona Nationals at Firebird International Raceway near Phoenix this weekend.

Vincent Nobile posted the first victory of the season after a final round face-off against fellow HEMI®-powered teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. in Pro Stock, to put the pair 1-2 in the Pro Stock standings. The Dodge Avenger of V. Gaines is close behind in third spot on the basis of a strong qualifying performance that saw him equal his best start as no. 2 qualifier, and a second round win against Allen Johnson. Johnson’s Pro1 isn’t too far behind sitting fifth in the standing, putting all four full-time Mopars in the top-5 in points heading into qualifying at Phoenix.

All four also have experience winning at Firebird International Raceway. Nobile beat Johnson in final eliminations to earn a title win in 2011, while Johnson’s last win at Phoenix was in 2005. Gaines’s victory in 2008 ended a seven-year winless streak for him, while Coughlin is hoping to take home a third title win from the event to build on his runner-up performance to start the 2013 season.

"The last six runs we made in Pomona, the two during Saturday qualifying and four we made on race day, gave us so much confidence and that feeling is leading us into Phoenix with a lot of positive attitudes," Coughlin said. "The only thing we could have done better was win the race so we'll try to take that final step this weekend. Phoenix would be a great place to put the Dodge Avenger in the winner's circle."

“I love coming to this race because I love the area, and while the facility is older, the track surface is good and we’ve had both success and some disappointments here,” said Johnson who finds running at Firebird has always been bittersweet. “We’ve celebrated a win here and it’s also where my dad (Roy) suffered a heart attack (in 2009) but was saved, so we have some history here and I hope to add one more good memory.”

Mopar Launches 2013 Season with Win at POMONA.

Pomona, Calif. (Sunday, Feb. 17) – Three Mopar entries advanced to the final elimination rounds, with one of them earning the first title win of the year at the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season opening event. Vincent Nobile earned his sixth career victory in an all-Mopar Pro Stock final showdown against teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr., while in Funny Car, Dodge Charger R/T driver Ron Capps finished runner-up to Courtney Force at Auto Club Raceway.

“Congratulations to Vincent (Nobile) for earning the Pro Stock title win at the NHRA Winternationals at Pomona to start the season off right for Mopar ,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group LLC’s service, parts and customer-care brand. “We look forward to seeing our HEMI®-powered Dodge Avengers contending for many more wins this season in defense of the Pro Stock Championship amid such tough competition this year.”

The Pro Stock class elimination rounds at the Winternationals started and even finished in peculiar fashion. First round action began with plenty of upsets as five of the eight winners of the first round were qualifiers from the bottom half of the field, including Mopar’s Allen Johnson who had qualified tenth after a rough start to the weekend. The remaining three winners to advance to the next round were the three Dodge Avengers of V.Gaines, Nobile and Coughlin.

While Johnson had a strong second round run as his faced-off against fellow HEMI-powered driver Gaines, he unable to continue his quest to defend his Pomona title as Gaines beat him to the finish.

Three Mopars moved on to semi-final match ups with Nobile winning his race against Greg Stanfield, and Coughlin emerging the victor in his head to head battle versus Gaines. That set up an all-Mopar final between Nobile and Coughlin that took a strange turn.

First, Nobile had trouble backing up from the burnout, which for the sake of sportsmanship had led Coughlin to turn off his ignition. That proved costly as several tense moments passed before the crew scrambled to get the entry re-fired as his teammate and competitor had gotten his own Mountain View Racing car restarted and back in place. With both cars finally in the beams, Coughlin red-lights by -.014-second making his 6.571-second and 211.03-mph pass obsolete, giving Nobile the victory with a 6.584 at 210.05 mph.

“Without a doubt this is pretty awesome to leave here with the points lead and now we just want to stay there and stay consistent and keep the wins coming,” said Nobile who has made three consecutive trips to the finals in his Dodge Avenger going back to last season. “This is my third year and sixth win with this team because I learned early on what a great group of crew, sponsors and car I have that creates the perfect platform for being successful.”

For Coughlin, it was the second year in a row starting with a runner-up finish.

"The difference this time is that last year we were hoping that result was going to become commonplace, whereas this year we already have a really good idea that we can run with anyone in the class,” said Coughlin. “Things couldn't have started much better for us with this new team configuration with Allen Johnson and J&J Racing. We're very excited about the season."

Mopar Heads into Eliminations with No.2 Qualifiers at NHRA Season Opener in Pomona.

Pomona, Calif. (Saturday, Feb 16) – The 2013 National Hot Rod Association Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season is officially under way as Mopar teams and competitors completed their qualifying runs at the Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif., in preparation for the final eliminations at the Winternationals this Sunday.
V. Gaines’ HEMI®-powered Dodge Avenger was the fastest Pro Stock entry in the first qualifying session of the season with a 6.538- second pass at 2.11.49 mph. That initial effort kept him second on the timing sheets through to the fourth and final session as track conditions got warmer with each pass. Gaines will face off against another Dodge entry, Deric Kramer, in the first round of eliminations on Sunday.

Taking the top spot away from Gaines, after his quick run in the second round of qualifying to eventually claim the No. 1 Qualifier points, was Mike Edwards.

Third place finisher in the standings last season, Vincent Nobile put together a very solid string of four qualifying runs to start the year off strong in his HEMI-powered Dodge Avenger. Nobile kept it in the groove with the quickest elapsed time of the final round of qualifying, positioning him fifth overall to pit him against the part-time Dodge entry Matt Hartford.

For Mopar drivers and teammates Allen Johnson and Jeg Coughlin Jr., it wasn’t the strong start to the 2013 season that they had hoped for as both had set backs in the first two days of qualifying, leaving them at the bottom of the scoring sheets. However, both were back on the right track Saturday, even with warmer temperatures slowing speeds down. A six-time winner at Pomona, Coughlin brushed off his two missed passes to grab the sixth spot on the eliminations ladder with a 6.572-second /210.97 mph on his third run of the weekend in his Dodge Avenger. He’ll face Steve Kent in the first round competition.

"We tested so well and had some big ideas about what we were going to do when we got here, but lo and behold, both of our team cars went out there and shook like crazy on both Thursday and Friday," said Coughlin referring his and Johnson’s Mopar. "I'll be honest, it caught us all by surprise and had us more than a little perplexed, but we're both in now and we have a chance tomorrow so we're happy.”

Johnson, the defending Pro Stock World Champion, improved in his last two runs, posting a 6.594-second / 210.93 mph final qualifying pass to put him tenth in the field, but leaving him without lane choice as he battles Rodger Brogden as his first eliminations match-up.

“We started off behind the eight ball trying things that had worked in testing but didn’t here, but we got back to basics quickly,” said Johnson who is hoping to build on the title win he had posted at Pomona in November. “We were a bit conservative but we’ll get after it a little more in the first round. This crew is solid and we’ll get back to the consistency that helped build our confidence last season which led to success.”

Mopar Ready to Defend Championships as 2013 NHRA Season Launches in Pomona.

Pomona, Calif. (Thursday, Feb 14th) – This weekend’s Winternationals at the historic Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif., marks the start of the 2013 National Hot Rod Association Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season and Mopar is ready to pick things up right where it left off in 2012. Defending the two championships earned last season in both Pro Stock and Funny Car classes is at the top of that list.

“After earning two NHRA Championship titles, our Mopar drivers have set the bar high for this new season,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group’s service, parts and customer-care brand. “We are looking forward to an exciting and competitive year watching our Mopar drivers and teams highlight the strength of our HEMI®-powered Dodge entries in both Pro Stock and Funny Car, and ultimately battle for win titles at every race event in defense of both championships.“

There will be a total of eight full-time HEMI-powered Dodge entries competing in the NHRA pro classes in 2013.

In Pro Stock, Allen Johnson and Jeg Coughlin Jr. will fly the Mopar banner on their Avengers with Vincent Nobile completing the trio of teammates, and Vieri Gaines rounding out the HEMI-powered entries.

In Funny Car, all four Don Schumacher Racing entries will run the Dodge Charger R/T and iconic HEMI engine, with Matt Hagan sporting the special Mopar scheme at seven events throughout the year. Hagan, winner of the 2011 world title, along with current champ Jack Beckman and fellow teammates Ron Capps and Johnny Gray will attempt to defend Mopar’s World Championship for a third consecutive year.

Pro Stock Rewind and Fast Forward.

In the last season’s NHRA finale, Allen Johnson not only earned his first NHRA Pro Stock World Championship, Mopar’s first since 1994, but he did it in commanding fashion with a title win, his first at Pomona, to cap off a career season. Johnson won seven race titles in 2012, led all pro-category drivers in round wins, battled his way to 11 final round appearances including five of six in the Countdown to the Championship, and posted a class-best 10 No. 1 Qualifier positions. Now his Johnson & Johnson Racing team’s goal is to carry that consistency and momentum into the new season starting this weekend at Pomona.

“We just need to maintain the same consistency we had last year, continue to make good decisions, and maintain strong engine and drivetrain reliability,” says Johnson who will sport the No. 1 decal on his Mopar Dodge Avenger this season as defending champion. “The addition of Jeg (Coughlin Jr.), along with Vincent Nobile, will certainly be an extra challenge for me, since all of us will be getting good horsepower from my dad (Roy Johnson). Our goal is to have all three Dodges in the top-five, maybe even in the first three positions, at every event. It will be up to the drivers to determine in which order. I will just have to do the best I can behind the wheel and work hard on earning another championship for Mopar.”
Joining Johnson in that quest is four-time Pro Stock World Champion Jeg Coughlin Jr., who has 52 career victories. Coughlin is looking to improve on a disappointing ninth-place finish in the last year’s standings without a win the JEGS Mail Order team driver knows that is about to change.

“The stage is set and the time has come to perform and I can tell you that I have not been this excited for a season opener in years,” says Coughlin who partnered with Johnson starting this off-season, sharing data and HEMI engines built by Roy Johnson. “Our Mopar Dodge Avenger has been making great laps in testing and we are stoked to showcase this J&J Racing/Roy Johnson HEMI horsepower.”

Finishing third in the standings with two wins in 2012, Mountain View Racing’s Vincent Nobile is also part of the contingency running under HEMI power supplied by Johnson’s team, adding to expectations that the trio will be both formidable teammates and competitors in the battle for another championship.

V. Gaines rounds out the number of full time HEMI-powered Dodge Avengers after finishing a career best seventh in 2012 with a win in Reading, Pa., where he also recorded the ninth quickest pass in Pro Stock history with a 6.489 second run.

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