POMONA, Calif., Nov. 10, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --
- Coughlin earns his fifth Pro Stock world title to give Mopar back-to-back World Championships at 49th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals
- Mopar earns first consecutive Pro Stock Championships since Darrell Alderman did it in 1990-91
- Hagan wins national event title at Auto Club Raceway for a class-best five victories this season to finish second in Funny Car championship
- Johnson finishes runner-up in final eliminations at Pomona and runner-up in Pro Stock World Championship
Mopar celebrated back-to-back NHRA Pro Stock World Championships when Jeg Coughlin Jr. clinched his fifth career series title in the second round of eliminations at the 49th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals. His HEMI-powered teammate and 2012 champ Allen Johnson secured the runner-up position in the Pomona national event and in the overall standings to give Mopar a 1-2 finish. With Coughlin's title added to Johnson's 2012 crown, Mopar claims the brand's first consecutive Pro Stock championships since Darrell Alderman did it in 1990-91. Matt Hagan also added to the celebration by taking his "Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar" machine to the winner's circle for the fifth time this season and wrapping up second place in the Funny Car championship standings.
"From all of us at Mopar, congratulations to Jeg [Coughlin Jr.] and the team for earning a hard-fought NHRA Pro Stock World Championship with four wins in a very competitive field this season," said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group LLC's service, parts and customer-care brand. "It has been very exciting to watch the JEGS.com Dodge as well as the other HEMI-powered entries put themselves in position to defend Mopar's Pro Stock championship at every event. We are very excited to see Mopar performance rewarded with a 1-2 finish and another prestigious championship."
Starting out of the No. 4 qualifying position, Coughlin drew a familiar foe in round one: J&J Racing teammate Vincent Nobile. Both drivers compete with Mopar HEMI engines supplied by Allen and Roy Johnson, and the pair previously met six times in 2013, including in February at the NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, where Nobile defeated Coughlin for the event win. With the championship virtually on the line, Coughlin flipped the script from that previous Pomona result, utilizing a 6.544-second elapsed time at 211.26 mph to come through when it mattered most and beat the always-tough Nobile's 6.601/210.57 run. When Jason Line exited in the second round, the NHRA Pro Stock title officially belonged to Coughlin for the fifth time.
"When I saw that I had to run Vincent, I said, 'Oh man, here we go.' He's had my number this year,'" said Coughlin. "It was probably a little bit of a blessing, because I knew I had to bring my A game. The team prepared the car extremely well. We made four runs within one-hundredth of a second (in qualifying), and made a fifth in the first round.
"Thank you to Mopar for all they've given us, thanks to everyone at J&J Racing, Allen, Roy, Jim Yates and Mark Ingersoll, and the entire JEGS and JEGS.com team. They've rightfully earned this championship collectively. If you could add up what all of the Mopar Dodges have accumulated this year, what a season for the brand. It's been a great relationship. To bring a second championship back to Auburn Hills for our friends at Mopar and to Greeneville, Tenn., for J&J Racing, and a sixth overall championship back to Delaware, Ohio, and everyone at JEGS, it feels fantastic. It ranks right up at the top. It's extremely special to us, without question.
"What a career it's been thus far. Obviously, having the family I have behind me, my father Jeg, my brothers John, Troy and Mike and all their families, they couldn't be more supportive. We've had a number of champions in the Coughlin this family this year, (with) T.J. winning the division championship, Cody winning the CRA championship, our first in circle track racing, and my son Jeggie III winning the state championship in Ohio for high school golf, so for me to add this to their efforts just feels fantastic."
With the championship clinched, Coughlin headed into the quarterfinals against another teammate, 2012 Pro Stock champ Johnson, who handed Rodger Brogdon a loss in the opening round. Coughlin was just a tad too quick on the starting tree (-.001), earning a red-light foul for leaving the line early, which meant Johnson would move on to the semifinals with a 6.566/211.63 run, to Coughlin's 6.560/209.69.
In the semifinals against Kurt Johnson, Allen Johnson (no relation) overcame a near perfect reaction time by KJ (.001) with a 6.548/211.23 pass to his opponent's slower 6.598/210.34. In a final round showdown against Rickie Jones, Johnson's solid .030 reaction time was a bit slower than Jones' .015, giving Jones just enough to take the victory on a 6.584/210.28 to AJ's quicker 6.581/211.03. The runner-up finish was Johnson's fifth of the season, to go along with four 2013 wins, putting the longest-serving Team Mopar member No. 2 in the final standings following his championship finish last year. Including Coughlin's crown, J&J Racing machines swept the top two spots in the final standings.
"The driver didn't quite get it done, leaving a little left on the table on that last run after doing a good job most of the day in the Mopar Express Lane Dodge," said Johnson, who made his 45th final-round appearance on Sunday. "I'm very proud of our 1-2 finish and it doesn't really matter which order we do it in as long as we keep the crown in the Mopar camp. We have the firepower to do it for the next several years now, I think. It was a great day and a great year for Mopar. I'm tickled and can't wait for the first race of 2014 already."
V. Gaines saw his season end in the first round, with a loss to Greg Anderson. Gaines finished the season seventh in the point standings, with Nobile wrapping up 2013 in the ninth spot. The four Mopar-powered Pro Stock drivers in the top 10 of the final standings combined to capture a total of 11 event wins in 2013.
In Funny Car, Matt Hagan capped off a resurgent season after a winless 2012 with his fifth win, a class-best, and ninth final-round appearance of 2013 in his Magneti Marelli Quality Auto Parts Offered by Mopar Dodge Charger R/T. The 2011 champ used his driving skills to claim a holeshot win over Alexis DeJoria in the opening round, leaving first with a .069 reaction time to overcome his slower 4.059/315.27 to DeJoria's 4.056/314.24. In an all-Mopar quarterfinals fight against Don Schumacher Racing teammate Johnny Gray (in Gray's final Funny Car race), Hagan motored to the win with a 4.070/309.98 effort to Gray's 4.086/311.56.
Hagan trailered Cruz Pedregon in the semis thanks to a 4.057/315.56, setting up a final-round grudge match, DSR vs. JFR, with 2013 Funny Car champ John Force, who defeated Dodge drivers Jeff Arend and Gary Densham on his road to the money round. Fittingly, considering the tight championship battle between the two competitors, Hagan and Force were tied 8-8 in previous head-to-head matchups, and left with the exact same .047 reaction time off the starting line. Hagan was able to pull away down track for the final win of the 2013 season, with a quicker 4.018/320.66 to Force's 4.057/317.94, and finished the season second in the Funny Car championship race.
"Congratulations to Matt Hagan from everyone at Mopar on winning the national title at Pomona and battling hard all season long," said Gorlier. "Five victories and nine final round appearances, along with Matt and the Don Schumacher Racing team's hard work and efforts, had the 'Magneti Marelli Quality Auto Parts Offered by Mopar' branded Dodge Charger R/T as a championship contender all season long and we look forward to seeing what they can do next season."
"We wanted to finish strong for our guys," said Hagan, who claimed his 10th career win. "If we couldn't pull down that No. 1 spot (in the championship race), we wanted to pull down No. 2. I'm on cloud nine that our assistant crew chief stepped up and was able to fill some big shoes. Dickie Venables (Hagan's crew chief) was sick this weekend, and Mike Knudsen, who has never tuned a race car by himself before, had to jump in there. Dickie has done such a good job training these boys. He's a good leader. Dickie's probably at home wishing he could be here, but he can put a feather in his cap knowing he trained these boys to do what they did today. My guys have worked so hard and I'm so proud of them. My season this year has been phenomenal. How can you be upset about five race wins?"
Mopar-powered Dodge Charger R/T driver Jack Beckman, the 2012 Funny Car champ, saw his hopes for an event win in 2013 end early in a first-round loss to Cruz Pedregon. DSR driver Ron Capps also exited sooner than desired, in a quarterfinals loss to Densham in an all-Dodge battle. In addition to Hagan in the second spot, Beckman wrapped up 2013 third in the final Funny Car standings, with Capps sixth and Gray ninth, putting four Mopars in the top 10. The Mopar Dodge DSR contingent combined to earn 12 wins — half of all 2013 events.
The 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season will commence Feb 14th with the Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
2013 NHRA FINAL Championship Standings
PRO STOCK (season wins in parentheses)
1. Jeg Coughlin Jr. (4) - Dodge Avenger – 2572
2. Allen Johnson (4) - Dodge Avenger – 2514
3. Jason Line (2) – 2502
4. Mike Edwards (6) – 2482
5. Shane Gray (1) – 2480
6. Erica Enders-Stevens (2) –2406
7. V. Gaines - Dodge Avenger – 2355
8. Greg Anderson – 2345
9. Vincent Nobile (3) - Dodge Avenger – 2298
10. Rodger Brogdon (1) – 2147
FUNNY CAR (season wins in parentheses)
1. John Force (4) – 2688*
2. Matt Hagan (5) - Dodge Charger R/T – 2548
3. Jack Beckman - Dodge Charger R/T – 2445
4. Cruz Pedregon (4) – 2415
5. Robert Hight (2) – 2413
6. Ron Capps (3) - Dodge Charger R/T – 2386
7. Courtney Force (2) – 2403
8. Del Worsham – 2309
9. Johnny Gray (4) - Dodge Charger R/T – 2309
10. Tim Wilkerson – 2238
SOURCE Chrysler Group LLC