Marathon Petroleum/J&J Racing Dodge Dart driver Allen Johnson took the stage for driver introductions for the last time in his full-time professional Pro Stock career this morning at the 53rd annual Auto Club NHRA Finals but not before he was surrounded by his fellow competitors on stage sporting ‘AJ’s Final Stage’ shirts.
“It meant a lot to me that my fellow Pro Stock competitors would do that for me today,” Johnson smiled with a tear in his eye. “That was really cool for me and I can’t thank the racers, fans, and sponsors for the support they’ve given me since we began this 22 years ago.”
For raceday, Johnson came into eliminations in the No. 10 spot and had a first round matchup against his long-time friend Erica Enders. Johnson and Enders left together at the starting line but the Marathon Petroleum/J&J Racing Dart started to drift towards the centerline after half-track. To avoid crossing the centerline or a more serious situation, Johnson pushed back in the clutch and coasted to the finish line with a 6.979-second pass at 153.25 mph; Enders’ 6.554, 209.82 advanced to the second round.
“It’s a little bit of weight lifted off my shoulders now that it’s over,” he admitted. “Losing to one of my best friends out here is probably the best way to lose in my last race. I didn’t want to lift but I was fixin’ to crash and I didn’t want my last memory in Pro Stock to be upside down. I figured I better lift.”
Johnson finished his final NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing season No. 8 in the Pro Stock point standings.