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Pro Stock: Johnson takes top spot in qualifying

Allen Johnson (far lane) ran the Low ET in the second round of Pro Stock qualifying with a 6.614 reaching a top speed of 207.98mph with Jason Line in the near lane reaching the top speed of the round of 208.39 but falling into fourth place with a time of 6.633 Friday at the NHRA Lucas Oil Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway. (Dispatch Photo/Steve Kohls)

Allen Johnson, running in cooler evening conditions, ran a low elapsed time of 6.614 to take the No. 1 spot after the first day of qualifying in the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway Friday.

Johnson stood in second place behind Jason Line after the first qualifying run. In 83-degree temperatures on a track which was lacking in tire rubber, Line came through with a time of 6.637 running at a speed of 208.10 miles per hour to take the top spot in front of Johnson and Erica Enders-Stevens.

"We always know that the first run will be a little green down a fresh track," Johnson said. "Nothing really runs on this track except for slower cars and us. We always set it up a little soft to get some data so that first run is a learning experience before you take a run at it."

Running in the last group on the second round of qualifying, Johnson ran at a speed of 207.98 miles per hour to gain the top spot heading into Saturday's third and fourth qualifying runs.

"The conditions got a little drier which helps the Pro Stock cars," Johnson said. "A couple of cars also picked up spots but we absolutely murdered it in the first 330 (feet) of the track. That's what it takes in this bad air. It's just like in Denver where you have to really get it down low and get your momentum going. My hat's off to the team. They pulled that one off. I just pull the levers and the parachute."

Line, a native of Wright, Minn., is coming off of a first place podium finish at the last race of the Western Swing in Seattle two weeks ago. He was sitting in fourth place behind teammate Greg Anderson after moving down three spots after the first round.

Anderson, a native of Duluth, and a former BIR champion, is fighting to stay in the Countdown to the Championship after missing the first few races of the season with health issues. His third-place finish didn't hurt him as he is third in qualifying after the first day. He is currently on the bump in the countdown with a 26 point advantage over Jonathan Gray who finished ninth in qualifying.

Johnson will attempt to notch his fifth No. 1 qualifier of the season, but he doesn't have a good history at Brainerd, failing to notch a No. 1 qualifier in his 15 years of racing. Johnson has recorded 24 wins in his career.

"We are in countdown mode right now and trying to get every single point we can and that is what is going to count when you get to the countdown," Johnson said. "I don't know what it is supposed to do (Saturday) but the first run could be the best run of the day with a little cooler conditions but it will be close."