In Pro Stock, Johnson used a quicker reaction time to defeat teammate Jeg Coughlin in the final round for his first victory of the season and the 17th of his career. The defending world champion finished in 6.535 at 212.59 in his Team Mopar Dodge Avenger, just in front of the quicker, but losing, JEGS.com/Mopar Dodge Avenger of Coughlin, which posted a 6.514 at 212.25.
“Everyone asks me why I would hire two assassins,” Johnson said about his teammates Coughlin and Vincent Nobile. “They make me better. Vincent challenges me and it’s the same with Jeggie; I knew I would have to do my ultimate best to beat him. I hope we have to go head-to-head like that a bunch more.”
It is the first Gatornationals victory for Johnson and his first final round in The Swamp. To advance to the final, Johnson drove around Matt Hartford, Erica Enders-Stevens and Jason Line.
“I think we’re one of the premier teams in Pro Stock now,” said Johnson, who moved to third place in the points standings. “We have a great team that makes great decisions based on scientific methods and data and we keep improving those decision making tools. We aren’t the fastest car right now, but we are consistent and we can win some races like that.”
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Arana Jr. scored his fourth career victory and first in more than a year when he outran veteran rider Steve Johnson in the final. Arana Jr. rode his Lucas Oil Buell to a 6.885 at 195.65 to hold off Johnson’s Suzuki, which trailed with a 6.920 at 193.99.
“To grab the race win for Team Arana and Lucas Oil is a big accomplishment and it proves that having a third bike (with brother Adam riding the third team bike) isn’t going to slow us down, but actually speed us up,” said Arana Jr., who beat Michael Phillips, defending world champ and three-time defending Gatornationals winner Eddie Krawiec, and Hector Arana Sr. to advance to the final.
“I am looking forward to a very competitive season and some close racing this season,” Arana Jr. said. “This is a step in the right direction. When my dad won his championship he won the Gatornationals and Eddie Krawiec has done that the last two years. I hope to keep that trend going this year as well.”