February 17, 2013 , Pomona, Calif. – Three Mopar entries advanced to the final elimination rounds, with one of them earning the first title win of the year at the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season opening event. Vincent Nobile earned his sixth career victory in an all-Mopar Pro Stock final showdown against teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr., while in Funny Car, Dodge Charger R/T driver Ron Capps finished runner-up to Courtney Force at Auto Club Raceway.
“Congratulations to Vincent (Nobile) for earning the Pro Stock title win at the NHRA Winternationals at Pomona to start the season off right for Mopar,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group LLC’s service, parts and customer-care brand. “We look forward to seeing our HEMI®-powered Dodge Avengers contending for many more wins this season in defense of the Pro Stock Championship amid such tough competition this year.”
The Pro Stock class elimination rounds at the Winternationals started and even finished in peculiar fashion. First round action began with plenty of upsets as five of the eight winners of the first round were qualifiers from the bottom half of the field, including Mopar’s Allen Johnson who had qualified tenth after a rough start to the weekend. The remaining three winners to advance to the next round were the three Dodge Avengers of V.Gaines, Nobile and Coughlin.
While Johnson had a strong second round run as his faced-off against fellow HEMI-powered driver Gaines, he was unable to continue his quest to defend his Pomona title as Gaines beat him to the finish.
Three Mopars moved on to semi-final match-ups with Nobile winning his race against Greg Stanfield, and Coughlin emerging the victor in his head-to-head battle versus Gaines. That set up an all-Mopar final between Nobile and Coughlin that took a strange turn.
Nobile had trouble backing up from the burnout, which for the sake of sportsmanship had led Coughlin to turn off his ignition. That proved costly as several tense moments passed as the crew scrambled to get the JEGS.com entry re-fired while his teammate and competitor had gotten his own Mountain View Racing car restarted and back in place. With both cars finally in the beams, Coughlin red-lights by -.014-second making his 6.571-second and 211.03-mph pass obsolete, giving Nobile the victory with a 6.584 at 210.05 mph.
“Without a doubt this is pretty awesome to leave here with the points lead and now we just want to stay there, stay consistent and keep the wins coming,” said Nobile who has made three consecutive trips to the finals in his Dodge Avenger going back to last season. “This is my third year and sixth win with this team because I learned early on what a great group of crew, sponsors and car I have, which creates the perfect platform for being successful.”
For Coughlin, it was the second year in a row starting with a runner-up finish.
“The difference this time is that last year we were hoping that result was going to become commonplace, whereas this year we already have a really good idea that we can run with anyone in the class,” said Coughlin. “Things couldn’t have started much better for us with this new team configuration with Allen Johnson and J&J Racing. We’re very excited about the season.”
In Funny Car competition, top Mopar qualified driver Jack Beckman didn’t make it out of first round while Don Schumacher Racing teammate Matt Hagan fell in the second. Fellow DSR Dodge Charger R/T drivers Johnny Gray and Ron Capps faced off in semi-finals, with Capps matching low E.T. of the weekend, 4.036, to make his way to the final. He unfortunately smoked his tires to finish runner-up to winner Courtney Force.
The second of 24 events on the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule will take place at Firebird International Raceway in Phoenix, Ariz., this coming weekend. The Arizona Nationals will be broadcast on ESPN2 and ESPN2HD with 90 minutes of qualifying coverage airing on Sunday, Feb. 24 at 1 a.m. (ET) and again at 8 a.m. (ET). Three hours and 30 minutes of final elimination coverage will be presented Sunday evening starting at 8 p.m. (ET).