Allen Johnson says if he’s dreaming, please don’t wake him.
The veteran Pro Stock driver from Tennessee is having the greatest season of his 17-year career and is heading to the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus as the series points leader in the 200-mph factory hot rod class, and, for the first time, as the heavy favorite to win the world’s most prestigious drag race.
With four victories in six final rounds, and a class-leading nine No. 1 qualifying positions, Johnson has been the leader of the pack since he won at Denver in impressive fashion. All he needs to do to secure the No. 1 seed for the Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship playoffs is qualify at Indy.
However, Johnson is ready to take advantage of his great situation and strike while the iron is hot. He wants to get what every racer in NHRA wants: a Wally trophy that says “Mac Tools U.S. Nationals” winner on it.
“Hopefully the good vibes we have had the last few races will carry on into the U.S. Nationals, and we can go up there and show off a little in our Mopar Dodge Avenger,” Johnson said.
Johnson will be racing hard to secure his top seed for the playoffs and earn a coveted victory at the sport’s oldest and most tradition-rich event, Aug. 29-Sept. 3 at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Mike Neff (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are the defending winners of the NHRA Full Throttle Series event that will be televised on ESPN2HD in more than 10 hours of coverage during Labor Day weekend.
After getting off to a slow start at the beginning of the season with some early-round exits, Johnson got serious at Las Vegas and won. He added two-time world champ Jim Yates to his tuning braintrust that already included crew chief Mark Ingersoll and his father and engine builder Roy Johnson. The team hit its stride after the Vegas win and raced to victories at Topeka, Denver and Sonoma. Runner-up finishes were claimed at Bristol and Brainerd.
Next stop: Indianapolis.
“Indy is one of the most important events of the year, prestige-wise,” Johnson said. “It’s also the last event of the regular season, so you want to get some momentum going for when the Countdown starts.”
Johnson has never been to a final at Indy and his only visit to the media center at Lucas Oil Raceway came in 2008 when he was the No. 1 qualifier for the event. He hopes to make plenty of trips to the tower this time around. His confidence is at an all-time high and he knows he has a very fast hot rod.
“Heading to Indy leading the points is very prestigious for every member of our Mopar/J&J Racing team,” Johnson said. “Winning at Indy would be right up there with winning the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals in Denver, our sponsor’s race. It would be very big.”
In order to take the win at Indy, Johnson will have to hold off Greg Anderson, a six-time winner of the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals and a surging Erica Enders, who has raced to three victories since her breakthrough performance at Chicago in July. Others to watch in Pro Stock include past Indy winners Mike Edwards, Jeg Coughlin, Warren and Kurt Johnson and Larry Morgan. Jason Line, Vincent Nobile, V. Gaines and Shane Gray also will be in the hunt for victory.
• SCHEDULE: The first of five qualifying sessions are scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 31. Two sessions will be held on Saturday, Sept. 1 at 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m., and the final two qualifying sessions will take place on Sunday, Sept. 2 at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 3.
• TICKETS: Tickets are available for the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus. Tickets are available by calling (800) 884-NHRA (6472), or online at www.NHRATIX.com.
• ON TV: ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise more than 10 hours of coverage of the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus. Three hours of qualifying coverage and coverage of the Traxxas Nitro Shootouts will air at 11 a.m. (ET) on Sunday, Sept. 2. Two additional hours of qualifying coverage and Traxxas Shootout highlights will also air on Sunday, Sept. 2 at 5 p.m. (ET). Eliminations for the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus will be featured during six hours of coverage on Monday, Sept. 3, starting at noon (ET).
• LUCAS OIL SERIES: The Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus also will feature competition in all categories of the NHRA Lucas Oil Series, where the future stars of the NHRA Full Throttle Series are born. Lucas Oil Series qualifying begins at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 29 and eliminations begin at 8 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 30 and continue through Monday, Sept. 3.
• NHRA PRO MOD SERIES presented by ProCare Rx: NHRA’s popular Pro Mod touring series will make its seventh start of the 10-race 2012 season at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus. The series features some of the world’s fastest and most unique doorslammer cars, with an eclectic mix of vintage and late-model body styles, in quarter-mile competition. The first qualifying session will be Friday, Aug. 31 at 4:30 p.m. Qualifying will continue on Saturday, Sept. 1 with sessions at 2 and 5:30 p.m. The final qualifying session will be Sunday, Sept. 2 at 2 p.m. and the first round of eliminations begins Sunday, Sept. 2 at 5 p.m. and will continue on Monday, Sept. 3 at approximately 2:30 p.m.
• ON THE WEB: Get live timing, scoring, multimedia and the latest news updates from every NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event on the Internet at www.nhra.com. Visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
•ABOUT LUCAS OIL RACEWAY AT INDIANAPOLIS: One of five motorsports facilities owned and operated by NHRA, Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis sits on 267 acres of land just west of Indianapolis in the town of Clermont, and features three race courses: a championship drag strip, a .686-mile paved oval and a 2.5-mile, 15-turn road course.