Johnson darts to Pro Stock victory
Teammate Coughlin red-lighted in title race
Images of the King of the Mountain litter the Internet but none features Allen Johnson.
Johnson is the King of the Mountain, at least Thunder Mountain, the name attached to Bandimere Speedway in Morrison.
On July 20, Johnson drove his Magneti-Marelli Mopar Dodge Dart to his third consecutive Pro Stock championship at the Mopar Mile High Nationals and his fifth title in the past six years.
He now ranks second in the number of wins at Bandimere with six and trails Bob Glidden, who captured seven Pro Stock championships at Thunder Mountain.
“This was the first race I every qualified at in 1996, and that was the only race out of 21 I qualified for that year,” recalled Johnson, who now has 24 career wins and four this season. “I have qualified for every single race (here) since then. It's very important to us. It's almost like a championship to us to excite all the Mopar executives and everyone that comes out to support us, but it get tougher every year.”
Johnson, making his eighth consecutive appearance in the Mile High Nationals finals, beat Mopar teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr., who red-lighted in the title race. Johnson had a run of 6.930 at 198.61 miles per hour.
“This team continues to find a way to do it,” said Johnson. ”We want to win here for Mopar.”
Mopar announced a three-year extension of its sponsorship of the Mile High Nationals earlier in the day. The current 26-year Mopar sponsorship with Bandimere is the longest running sponsorship in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
“Mopar and the mountain and me, we're married,” said Johnson. “We're going to take that deal and run with it the next three years and break Bob Glidden's record and be the king of the mountain for a long time.”
Johnson's car might not have been as dominant as it was in past seasons but it was good enough for him to win again.
“We struggled a little bit, Saturday (July 19) especially,” said Johnson. “Friday (July 18) we were decent but we didn't build on it. We had to start over. First round (of eliminations) we were solid, and then something else start going wrong second and third round. In the final, Jeg, if he hadn't red-lighted, he probably had us beat because he had the speed. He was on a really good run.”
Pro stock points leader Erica Enders-Stevens bowed out in the second round when she lost to Dave Connolly.
V Gaines of Lakewood, a 2013 finalist, lost to Connolly in the first round of eliminations and Denver's Shane Gray was also ousted in the opening elimination round. He lost to Chris McGaha.
In the qualifying, Johnson set a new track record of 198.90 mph on a cooler day July 18. He beat his own Bandimere mark of 198.70 mph.
Results from the Mopar Mile High Nationals, held July 18-20 at Bandimere Speedway in Morrison.
Top Fuel - 1. J.R. Todd; 2. Brittany Force. #1 qualifier - Tony Schumacher.
Funny Car - 1. Robert Hight; 2. John Force. #1 qualifier - John Force.
Pro Stock - 1. Allen Johnson; 2. Jeg Coughlin Jr. #1 qualifier - Jason Line.
Pro Stock Motorcycle - 1. Andrew Hines; 2. Michael Ray. #1 qualifier - Hector Arana Jr.
Super Stock - 1. Jackie Alley, Eagle, Id; 2. Tyler Wakarusa, Ks. #1 qualifier - Carroll Warling, Brighton.
Stock Eliminator - 1. Brenda Grubbs, Magnolia, Tx; 2. Scott Burton, Golden. #1 qualifier - Todd Patterson, Augusta, Ks.
Super Comp - 1. Jeremy Demers, Carroll Ia; 2. Mitch Mustard, Arvada. #1 qualifier - Kariann Bombard-Gieck, Lakewood.
Super Gas - 1. James Kunkel, Wichita; 2. Bradley Johnson, Morrison. #1 qualifier - Dennis Keck, Wheatland, Wy.
Super Street - 1. Brian Percival, Lakewood; 2. Chris Bobard, Watkins, Co. #1 qualifier - Darrel Schwartz, Greeley.
Top Sportsman - 1. Ryan Julius, Brighton; 2. Dave Slatten, Fort Collins. #1 qualifier - Raymond Vettel, Phillips, Ne.
Top Dragster - 1. Branden M. Rhodes, Sterling; 2. George Slatten, Santa Fe, NM. #1 qualifier - Mike Candelario, Brighton