Johnson Itching To Return To Bandimere
MORRISON, Colo. – If there has ever been one constant in the career of NHRA Pro Stock driver Allen Johnson, it has been success in front of his Mopar sponsors at Bandimere Speedway in Denver.
Now that Johnson has his first world championship, and if it’s somehow possible, the driver of the Team Mopar Dodge Avenger now views the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals, the traditional kick-off to the grueling Western Swing, as more important than ever.
A four-time winner on Thunder Mountain, Johnson will try to advance to his seventh straight Pro Stock final round at the legendary facility, which hosts the 34th annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals, July 19-21. Johnson is one of the defending winners of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event at Bandimere Speedway, a list that also includes Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Jack Beckman (Funny Car) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle). The race will be televised on ESPN2 HD (qualifying Saturday, 10 p.m. ET; eliminations, Sunday, 6 p.m. ET).
Last year’s race featured all eventual world champions in the winner’s circle, marking the only event in 2012 where that happened. Johnson was certainly in that group, breaking the track record at Bandimere Speedway and winning for the third time in four years at the track.
It also propelled him to four more victories and seven final round appearances, meaning Johnson knows the importance of performing well in Denver.
“We certainly view this race in Denver as a big one and we carry that momentum onto the next two races of the Western Swing,” Johnson said. “Traditionally we’ve done well at those next two races as well, so it’s a crucial stretch. It’s a big part of our year and it’s a part of the season we always look forward to when it comes around.”
That much is obvious, as Johnson spends a considerable amount of time testing in the high altitude at the track. He worked with teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr., a two-time event winner in 2013 in his JEGS.com/Mopar Dodge Avenger, this year and has clearly found the winning combination for the unique challenges of the event when it comes to his own Avenger.
In addition to the wins, Johnson has been the No. 1 qualifier at the event the past three years and four times overall, obliterating the track E.T. and speed records a year ago by going 6.916 seconds at 198.70 mph.
“We test a bunch out there and the combinations we’ve developed out there, chassis-wise, gear-wise and engine-wise have proven successful,” Johnson said. “It just takes a different combination and we were able to hit on one years ago. It’s just expanded from there.
“Hopefully we’ve got a few new things for them this year and we can put a couple hundredths between us and the field.”