Right now, the way Pro Stock points leader Allen Johnson is taming the National Hot Rod Association’s rigorous “western swing” through Colorado, California and now in Kent, it seems as if he’s on a cool buggy ride through the countryside.
Not only does Johnson, of Greeneville, Tenn., have the look of the prohibitive favorite this weekend at the 25th NHRA Northwest Nationals in Kent, but he also could do something really special.
He is on pace to sweep every qualifying session on the western swing – something that has never been done.
“You’d think maybe the (western swing) sweep talk might unglue us a little bit, or make us nervous,” Johnson said. “Believe it or not, everyone is having fun and enjoying the highs because there are a lot more lows out there in drag racing.”
Johnson (quarter-mile in 6.554 seconds), along with Top Fuel’s Spencer Massey, from Fort Worth, Texas (3.837 seconds elapsed time over 1,000 feet) and Funny Car’s Ron Capps, from Carlsbad, Calif. (4.119 ET over 1,000 feet), are the top qualifiers after action Friday at piping-hot Pacific Raceways.
Johnson (2006) and Capps (1995, ’98) are former Northwest Nationals winners.
The interesting development Friday as track temperatures soared well over 120 degrees was the consistency of qualifying. Very few racers did not get down the track. Much of that had to do with the new 770 feet of concrete paving added to the track last spring.
“What a great job the (Fiorito) family did putting that new concrete in because we have been on them pretty hard to make improvements on the track,” Capps said. “I was pretty vocal last year with my Twitter, and got in a little bit of trouble … but that new concrete they laid out was the difference.”
Qualifying could be held on pavement or dirt, it doesn’t seem to matter to Johnson, who would find a way to create smooth horsepower.
If his 6.554 ET holds up today, it will be his sixth top qualifying mark in a row.
“We ended up in 2010 with five Nos. 1 (qualifying times) in a row, but we were very inconsistent on Sundays,” Johnson said. “We put a business plan together before this year … to be more consistent on Sundays, and it has paid dividends.”
Earning the three bonus points that come with being the top qualifier after the first day, Massey moved ahead of Don Schumacher Racing teammate Antron Brown in the Top Fuel points race (1,177 to 1,174).
And he barely accomplished that. Tony Schumacher also posted a 3.837 ET in the afternoon session, but Massey got the nod because his speed (319.60 mph) was better than Schumacher’s (318.02).
After the morning session, Top Fuel’s Steve Torrence (3.897), Funny Car’s Cruz Pedregon (4.125) and Johnson (6.554) held the No. 1 times. ... Massey’s first national-event finals appearance came in Seattle in alcohol dragster in 2006. He lost to Sean O’Bannon. … Two Washington drivers are running in the professional ranks this week in Pro Stock – Marysville’s Mark Wolfe (qualified 14th at 6.645) and Pasco’s JR Carr (16th at 17.476).email@example.com 253-597-8442 @ManyHatsMilles