Pennsylvania racer Jonathan Allegrucci made what’s believed to be the competition debut of the brand new, supercharged 2015 Drag Pak Dodge Challenger on Thursday at the NHRA Gatornationals during qualifying for the Factory Stock Showdown, dipping into the mid-eights at nearly 160 mph on the maiden voyage.
The new Drag Paks, in the works for nearly two years, are intended to be Chrysler’s answer to the Ford Mustang Cobra Jet and Chevrolet’s COPO Camaro, both of which have dominated the factory race car wars in Stock and Super Stock and the magazine headlines. Chrysler last produced and sold the limited-run Drag Pak in 2011 with the most potent of its engine packages to date — a 512 cubic inch, naturally-aspirated V10 that still left it lagging well behind its Detroit counterparts.
Chrysler has taken the gloves off, however, with the newest of its offerings, featuring a 354 cubic inch, supercharged Gen III HEMI (or a naturally-aspirated 426 HEMI, if boost isn’t your thing), and Allegrucci proved that new combination is going to be a contender. With an engine massaged and tuned by the Mopar and HEMI aficionados at Ray Barton Racing Engines under him — producing more than 1,200 horsepower — Allegrucci cruised to an 8.633 at 158.93 mph to open Factory Stock Showdown qualifying, and ended up with a weekend’s best run of 8.568 at 159.14 mph, putting him seventh out of eight cars in the Showdown field. A red light started in round one ended the weekend, but with only a few laps under its belt and plenty of upside ahead, the blue oval and bowtie brigades have been put not notice that the Dodge’s are ready to play.
Video credit: Robzneed4speed