No Luck in Vegas

MOPAR Shut Out in NHRA Action

Larry Jewett - March 31, 2014 08:35 AM


Mopar driver Jeg Coughlin Jr. put the brand new Dodge Dart atop the Pro Stock elimination ladder at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Nationals event. It is his first No.1 qualifier position of the 2014 season and a very first for the Dodge Dart.

Chrysler/Richard Schute

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Mopar-powered teams and drivers are hoping the popular adage “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” holds true as they expect to leave the disappointing results behind them. Not a single Dodge entry was able to make their way past the semi-final rounds in what proved to be an unusual NHRA race day at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Pro Stock class competition was rightfully delayed for hours by NHRA officials amid safety concerns due to strong crosswinds and gusts over 25 miles per hour that combined with the desert environment to blanket a layer of dust and debris over the track, proving problematic for the low-downforce factory hot rods.
Once racing resumed, No.1 qualifier Jeg Coughlin Jr. (6.697 second / 207.88 mph) drove his Dodge Dart to a first round win. Things didn’t go quite as planned in the quarterfinals, where it took a holeshot by Jimmy Alund to beat Coughlin.
Seeded sixth, Allen Johnson saw hopes of defending his Vegas title disappear with the gust of wind that blew debris into the engine, diminishing the horsepower needed to make it to the next round. “During the burnout,t something went through the carburetor and closed up the gap on the spark plug, so when I staged it, then dropped the clutch, it was only on seven cylinders all the way through first gear,” said Johnson about the loss of power he felt on the launch that made all the difference.
After strong runs in Funny Car qualifying, Matt Hagan found himself on the sidelines after posting his third consecutive first-round loss when he hazed the tires. With a bit more luck on his side, Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps avoided a similar fate. Capps did fall short in his bid for a final round appearance with a semi-final loss.
The next stop for the Mopar contingent is the zMAX Dragway near Charlotte, North Carolina, on April 11-13, for the fifth Annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals.