The CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals, taking place Friday through Sunday, February 20th through 22nd at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Arizona, is the second race of the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season. Three of the Mello Yello Series four categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock – will be back in action near Phoenix. Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Alexis DeJoria (Funny Car) and Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) took home Wallys from Arizona in 2014.
Shawn Langdon, winner at the season-opening race at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, is hoping for more good luck as Alan Johnson Racing continues to look for sponsors. The team is currently on a race-by-race schedule, determined by sponsorship.
“I don’t think Pomona could have been any more perfect for Alan Johnson Racing,” said Langdon, the 2013 Top Fuel champ. “I guess if we had been able to get that national (elapsed time) record, it would have capped it off, but that’s neither here nor there. We made the quickest pass ever, qualified No. 1 and got the win the first race out. We did what we set out to do. Everything we tried to do in testing all came together at Pomona, and it was absolutely a picture-perfect weekend.
“Going on into Phoenix, we have to keep the momentum going and keep plugging away with what we’re doing,” he continued. “The car is responding well. We’re still working on sponsorship to fund the car through the 2015 season. We’re hard at work trying to get the race car running well and running consistently, but we’re also hard at work trying to get sponsorship lined up for the season.”
After not qualifying for the first race of the season, Funny Car driver Jack Beckman is more determined than ever to get back to the winner’s circle. The 2012 champ has three wins at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, and goes into the event with a new crew, including crew chief Jimmy Prock.
“I know it’s no guarantee of anything, but I like the feeling that I absolutely need to be on my ‘A’ game because I’m going to be on the magnifying glass for a lot of folks,” said Beckman. “The last two guys he (Prock) tuned for were John Force and Robert Hight. He tuned Joe Amato. He’s had some of the greatest drivers in the sport. We’re expected to be successful and I’m expected to help carry the ball on that end and I cannot wait.”
Defending Pro Stock winner Allen Johnson returns to the track in a new Dodge ride – the Dart, replacing his Dodge Avenger he won with in 2014. He, too, brings a new crew chief, Adam Hornberger, to the track after a disappointing Countdown to the Championship last season – Johnson advanced beyond the second round just once in the six-race playoff.
“After making some changes in the off-season, so far in this new year I feel like the team communicates and works together very well,” said Johnson. “We may still have some growing to do, but it’s a long year until the Countdown starts and the Magneti Marelli crew guys will be ready. You have to keep it in perspective at the beginning with some new blood. The biggest thing is to build on the positives and work on the bad spots together. That will be the key for us this year.”
Pro qualifying for the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals begins Friday with sessions at 1:30 and 4 p.m. MT and continues Saturday at 1:30 and 4 p.m. MT. Final eliminations begin on Sunday at 11 a.m. MT. Keep up with the action at www.nhra.com.
Quotes in this piece provided by Alan Johnson Racing and the NHRA.
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