Defending NHRA Pro Stock world champion Allen Johnson continued his incredible run at Bandimere Speedway and raced to his fourth win of the 2013 season Sunday at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals.
Spencer Massey in Top Fuel and Cruz Pedregon in Funny Car also were winners of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event, the 14th of 24 in the 2013 season.
In a thrilling final round, both Johnson and V Gaines powered their Dodge Avengers in a repeat of last year’s final in Denver. Johnson’s performance of 6.989 seconds at 196.87 mph took down the Colorado native’s 7.015 at 196.67 in the final round. It marked the second straight Pro Stock victory for Johnson in Denver, the fourth in five years, and fifth overall.
Johnson outran points leader Mike Edwards in the second round and then Rickie Jones in the semifinals to reach the final round against his fellow Dodge Avenger campaigner. Johnson and Jeg Coughlin also clinched spots in the Countdown to the Championship, joining Edwards in the class.
“My crew is the reason that we’ve had all of this success for the last seven races here,” Johnson said. “They are just so determined to win it every year. I have to thank them and the man upstairs.”
In Top Fuel, Massey claimed his third victory of the season and 13th of his career, defeating Houston winner Bob Vandergriff in the final round in his 8,000-horsepower dragster. Massey covered the distance in 3.974 at 309.27 to knock off Vandergriff’s dragster, which went 4.029 at 304.67.
Massey, who won for the second time in Denver, remains third in the Top Fuel points standings. Massey outran Clay Millican, Mike Strasburg and points leader Shawn Langdon to advance to the final round. Langdon and Tony Schumacher also became the first two racers in the class to qualify for the Countdown to the Championship.
“I was very surprised to see my DSR teammates Tony Schumacher and Antron Brown not running up to their full potential this weekend,” Massey said. “But again, that just shows you just how tough racing on the mountain is, and I’m sure that both teams will be very tough once we return to sea level at Sonoma.
“We didn’t have the power that we wanted during qualifying, but this isn’t a horsepower race. I was surprised that there wasn’t as much tire smoking in eliminations as was expected. The key to winning here today was to tune smart and drive smart, and that’s exactly what we were able to do.”
Pedregon claimed his third victory in 2013 and 33rd for his career by knocking off Tasca in the final round. Pedregon’s 8,000-horsepower Toyota Camry posted a 4.233 at 295.46 while Tasca slowed to a 4.408 at 257.04 in his Ford Mustang.
This is the third win of the season for Pedregon in four final round appearances. Pedregon, who was also the No. 1 qualifier and set the track E.T. record (4.073), picked up his 33rd career win. It is also his second win at Denver, winning 20 years after his first victory at Bandimere Speedway. He moves to second in the points standings.
“I got asked what the most gratifying part of the weekend was and I’d have to say that it was breaking our own track record and having low E.T. in three of the four rounds,” Pedregon said. “In the first round we ran a 4.17 but we weren’t trying to. I didn’t care if it ran a 4.30; as long as we did not smoke the tires. We were on a three-race first round slide so this couldn’t have come at a better time.”
“This was a good race to come back and run well, and it takes a little pressure off in Sonoma and Seattle,” Pedregon said.
Pro Stock Championship point standings
1. Mike Edwards 1,271 2. Allen Johnson 1,192 3. Jeg Coughlin 1,054 4. Shane Gray 883 5. Jason Line 870
Funny Car Championship point standings
1. Matt Hagan 991 2. Cruz Pedregon 951 3. Johnny Gray 893 4. Ron Capps 887 5. John Force 860
Top Fuel Championship point standings
1. Shawn Langdon 1,093 2. Tony Schumacher 1,074 3. Spencer Massey 1,034 4. Doug Kalitta 867 5. Antron Brown 831