Well, that certainly didn't take long: Allen Johnson, driving the 2014 Dodge Dart in its first competition appearance on the NHRA circuit, just won the 2014 Gatornationals Pro Stock class with a final run of 6.566 seconds @ 211.73 mph. Johnson, who drove a Dodge Avenger to both last year's Gatornationals and the series' second event of this year, in Arizona, said: “What a great job the Mopar engineers, everybody at Chrysler Group, Dodge and SRT did. I just can’t say enough. For the last two weeks since the Phoenix win, it’s been nonstop. My guys haven’t had a day off. It says a tremendous amount about our crew, and the engineering efforts behind [the Dodge dragster].
“Everything to do with the design of the Dart, the engineers took our input and really came up with a great car. To be able to do [win in its first race] is a huge accomplishment.”
Of course, it took a fairly big dose of luck, too. The 2014 Dodge Dart racecar is plenty fast, and in fact provided past Pro Stock champ Johnson with his fastest quarter-mile speed ever, hitting 214.04 mph in qualifying. But he had to battle to get his car straight during the quarterfinals, in which he ended up finishing at just 7.414 seconds @ 149.88 mph; it was only the fact that his rival had even more trouble that allowed Johnson to move on. The win also allowed Johnson to pass another Dodge driver, Vieri Gaines, to take over the early points lead for the Pro Stock driver's championship. Note: Gaines drove an Avenger during the Gatornationals, but he'll be joining Johnson in a Dart of his own for the next event, the NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas, scheduled for March 28-30.
A third 2014 Dodge Dart dragster also is in the NHRA Pro Stock mix, with another past champ, Jeg Coughlin Jr., getting one for Gatornationals as well (and being eliminated in the quarter finals).
Added Pietro Gorlier, president and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group’s service, parts and customer-care brand: “What a fantastic way to demonstrate the quality of Mopar products and team work. To defend his title, earn consecutive wins and take the early lead in the championship points makes us very excited about the future of the Dodge Dart and Allen’s bid for another NHRA Championship amid some strong competition.”