Allen Johnson figured out how to handle Bristol Dragway, his home track, where in June he topped both NHRA Pro Stock qualifying sessions and finished second.
The Greeneville, Tenn. native’s newest challenge? Finding a way to succeed in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Nationals at zMAX Dragway.
Johnson, the driver of the MOPAR-sponsored Dodge Avenger, said he’s never had the kind of good Bristol fortune he enjoyed in June at zMAX.
The reason is more technical than just bad luck.
“Every racetrack has its own character, and this track certainly does (as well),” Johnson said.
“As you leave the starting line it’s flat where you’re sitting and as you drive off there’s a hump there. It makes the balance of the car really finicky. We’ve not hit on a good run yet down low because of that. The air is about the same here (as Bristol), though.”
zMAX seems to be the thorn in Johnson’s side when it comes to the 23-race season.
But, Johnson brought more than just momentum – and four wins in 2012 – to zMAX. He’s also got a better car than he had at the Four-Wide Nationals in April.
Johnson’s 6.560 elapsed time in qualifying on Sept. 14 put him fourth on the qualifying chart.
The time would be a solid result for most drivers, but it wasn’t what Johnson had in mind when his Amoco Racing team arrived at the track. Johnson’s past struggles at zMAX, where he’s past the second round only once, have fueled his fire to finish first.
“(The qualifying time was) not horrible, but it’s probably not where we should be,” Johnson remarked.
We’re better than we were (in April) but we’re still not where we need to be.”
Johnson has reason to set the bar high. He’s first in Countdown to One standings with a 30-point cushion. A win at zMAX would only enhance his hopes of a championship.
Johnson isn’t leaving anything to chance this time around. A Countdown-opening victory at zMAX is just what Johnson said his team needs to propel them to a title.
“We’ve made some wholesale changes (to the car),” Johnson said, “so hopefully this will be the ticket.”
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