Alan Johnson Racing (AJR) team owner Alan Johnson will continue working as technical consultant for Steve Torrence Racing during the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season; he has also agreed to begin working as technical consultant for John Force Racing’s Monster Energy Top Fuel team, AJR announced today. The 2016 NHRA season opens Feb. 12 in Pomona, Calif., with the Circle K NHRA Winternationals.
Former AJR crew chief Brian Husen joined John Force Racing during the off season and will serve in that role on Force’s Monster Energy Top Fuel team. Husen won NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel World Championships as the crew chief for Del Worsham (2011) and Shawn Langdon (2013) while working with Johnson at AJR. Richard Hogan remains the crew chief of Steve Torrence’s CAPCO Contractors Top Fuel team. Through an innovative arrangement, Johnson will serve as a consultant to both Husen and Hogan creating an informal strategic alliance that will help both teams increase performance and consistency as they compete throughout the 24-race NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing season.
“I am excited to be working with these two quality teams in 2016,” Johnson said. “The alliance we have formed, which includes two very qualified and experienced crew chiefs, should make both teams legitimate championship contenders. These teams have all the ingredients for success – proper budgets, excellent crews and very committed owners in John Force and Billy Torrence. It will provide plenty of excitement, and I’m pleased to be a part of it.
“With Brian Husen already in place at John Force Racing, we have made some dramatic changes to the car, engine combination and clutch. But I think equally important will be our experience with a variety of different drivers over the years and what we can do to help Brittany mature as a driver. She is very smart, goal-driven and committed to doing what it takes to win. With evident signs already of the crew’s re-dedication toward superior preparation and attention to detail, I am confident we can improve the entire team’s performance and strive to get Brittany her first win very soon.”
“When the opportunity arose to work with Alan Johnson, a proven champion, and his crew chief Brian Husen, how could I resist? Husen said it the best when he told me he is the quarterback and Alan is the coach. To be able to share technology with Steve Torrence Racing, a great young racer from a racing family, that made it all make sense and feel like a blessing,” John Force said. “With Alan Johnson hoping to return in 2017 bringing a third car to the program, this could only strengthen our multi-year programs and help all involved turn on more win lights and contend for the championship. Enough said.”
During Johnson’s six-race consultancy with Steve Torrence Racing last season, Torrence was the No. 1 qualifier in St. Louis and posted his career-best elapsed time (3.717 seconds) and speed (329.99 mph) at the season-ending Auto Club Finals in Pomona, Calif. He qualified in the top-eight positions at all six races and was the runner-up at the AAA Texas Fall Nationals near Dallas. He finished the 2015 season in eighth place in the final NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel point standings.
“We’re glad to have Alan back consulting with Torrence Racing in 2016,” Billy Torrence said. “At the end of last year, Alan and Richard collectively were able to take the performance of our team to the next level. I feel like there’s no reason that we can’t be a legitimate contender this year.
“We’ve always used AJPE (Alan Johnson Performance Engineering) parts and have a long-standing relationship with Alan. When he and Richard get together, it seems like good things happen. We’re excited about the opportunities that this unique alliance with JFR brings and are looking forward to a big year.”
“It was a pleasure working with Richard Hogan again at Steve Torrence Racing during the last six races of the 2015 season,” Johnson said. “I thought we made solid progress and began to see some results from our work together. Richard has assembled a very solid team and created an excellent game plan for the car. We plan to pick up right where we left off last season and get Steve in the most competitive position possible to contend for a return to the winner’s circle very soon. With the informal strategic alliance we have in place between these two teams, I am confident both will make excellent progress and be in the running to win the 2016 NHRA Top Fuel World Championship.”
Force is set to begin her fourth season behind the wheel of the Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster. Last season, she made two final-round appearances, claimed a No. 1 qualifier and climbed to third place in the NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel point standings before finishing seventh in the final season standings.
Should Force win a race this season, she would be the sixth driver to capture a first-career victory under Johnson’s tutelage. Other drivers whose first-career wins came with Johnson’s help were Blaine Johnson (1995), Gary Scelzi (1997), Bruce Sarver (2000), Shawn Langdon (2012) and Khalid alBalooshi (2012).
The sponsorship search at AJR, which unexpectedly lost its funding prior to the 2015 NHRA season, is ongoing; the team plans to resume competition in 2017.