Plenty of challengers lining up behind Johnson


Published: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 7:34 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 7:34 p.m.

What’s happened in 2013: At the O’Reilly Auto Parts Winternationals in Pomona, Calif., Vincent Nobile, who finished third in the points standings a year ago, opened his year by beating Jeg Coughlin in the final. It was a pressure-free sprint down the track after the veteran Coughlin redlighted. A week later at Phoenix, Erica Enders-Stevens became part of NHRA history with her win over Mike Edwards. Enders-Stevens and Courtney Force, who won in Funny Car at Pomona, became the first two female drivers to win back-to-back events to open the NHRA season. Enders-Stevens edged Edwards with a quicker reaction time.

Facts

Last year

Gatornationals reigning champion

Mike Edwards (6.566 seconds elapsed time, 211.30 miles per hour) defeated Greg Anderson (6.538 ET, 211.69 mph) in the final.

Track records

ET: 6.486 seconds by Allen Johnson in 2012

MPH: 213.57 by Erica Enders-Stevens in 2011

National records

ET: 6.477 seconds by Jason Line in 2011 in Reading, Pa.

MPH: 214.35 by Line in 2012 in Reading, Pa.

Previewing The Gator: Heading into the Gator, the first names usually mentioned in Pro Stock are Greg Anderson and Mike Edwards. But the guy to beat this weekend figures to be Allen Johnson, who is coming off a career season in which he won his first points championship and nearly doubled his career victories by winning seven times and finishing as the No. 1 qualifier in 10 events. Going into the 2012 season, the veteran Johnson had only nine career wins. He figures to be tough to beat this weekend, but there will be plenty of quality challengers, including Anderson and Edwards. Anderson has won Gatornationals twice and has been the season champion four times. He has 74 career wins. Edwards won the Gator last year, beating Anderson in the final. Edwards has 34 career victories and won the season championship in 2009. Pro Stock’s all-time leading winner is in the field, but Warren Johnson (97 victories) has won only four times in the last eight years. Other leading contenders this weekend are Jason Line, a four-time Gator winner, Enders-Stevens, Nobile, V Gaines and Coughlin.

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