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Mopar Motorsports NHRA Phoenix Event Preview

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Phoenix, Ariz. (Thursday, Feb 21) - After a strong showing by Mopar entries at the opening event of the 2013 National Hot Rod Association Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season last Sunday, which included a title win after three Dodge entries battled their way to the final elimination rounds at the Winternationals, teams and drivers are anxious for a repeat performance at the Arizona Nationals at Firebird International Raceway near Phoenix this weekend.

Vincent Nobile posted the first victory of the season after a final round face-off against fellow HEMI(r)-powered teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. in Pro Stock, to put the pair 1-2 in the Pro Stock standings. The Dodge Avenger of V. Gaines is close behind in third spot on the basis of a strong qualifying performance that saw him equal his best start as no. 2 qualifier, and a second round win against Allen Johnson. Johnson's Pro1 isn't too far behind sitting fifth in the standing, putting all four full-time Mopars in the top-5 in points heading into qualifying at Phoenix.

All four also have experience winning at Firebird International Raceway. Nobile beat Johnson in final eliminations to earn a title win in 2011, while Johnson's last win at Phoenix was in 2005. Gaines's victory in 2008 ended a seven-year winless streak for him, while Coughlin is hoping to take home a third title win from the event to build on his runner-up performance to start the 2013 season.

"The last six runs we made in Pomona, the two during Saturday qualifying and four we made on race day, gave us so much confidence and that feeling is leading us into Phoenix with a lot of positive attitudes," Coughlin said. "The only thing we could have done better was win the race so we'll try to take that final step this weekend. Phoenix would be a great place to put the Dodge Avenger in the winner's circle."

"I love coming to this race because I love the area, and while the facility is older, the track surface is good and we've had both success and some disappointments here," said Johnson who finds running at Firebird has always been bittersweet. "We've celebrated a win here and it's also where my dad (Roy) suffered a heart attack (in 2009) but was saved, so we have some history here and I hope to add one more good memory."

While Don Schumacher Racing's Ron Capps lost his final elimination Funny Car match-up to Courtney Force in the season opener, his confidence is high due to his past performance at the popular desert track, which includes two wins in five final round appearances and two No. 1 qualifying positions. Capps sits second in the standings with his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Johnny Gray right behind him in third spot.

Matt Hagan is happy with his solid qualifying effort and quarterfinal finish in the Mopar Dodge Charger R/T last week but is looking to build on his seventh place spot in the top-10 standings. Meanwhile, defending NHRA Funny Car Champ Jack Beckman, ninth on the scoring sheets, would love to become a four-time winner at Phoenix.

"I've had great luck at Phoenix, and I don't know why," said Beckman of the three wins he's posted there in the last five years. "Three of my 15 Funny Car trophies came at Firebird. I don't think I drive any better there, I don't think our tune-ups are better there. But it is a cool feeling where you're familiar with the winner's circle."

The Arizona Nationals will be broadcast on ESPN2 and ESPN2HD with 90 minutes of qualifying coverage airing on Sunday, Feb. 24 at 1 a.m. (ET) and again at 8 a.m. (ET). Three hours and 30 minutes of final elimination coverage will be presented Sunday evening starting at 8 p.m. (ET).

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About Mopar Motorsports

Mopar's commitment to professional motorsports competition was established in the 1950s when a partnership ignited with drag racing pioneer Don Garlits, resulting in the breaking of numerous speed and performance barriers in HEMI(r)-powered vehicles over the next several decades. In 2013, Mopar looks to defend its two NHRA 2012 World Championship titles in Pro Stock and Funny Car categories, and celebrates 25 consecutive years as title sponsor of the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals in Colorado. While Mopar remains involved in a various professional motorsports series, it continues to honor its roots by being a proud supporter of amateur racing within the NHRA with its sponsorship of the HEMI Challenge and Mopar Sportsman Cup.

Mopar-first Features

Mopar has introduced numerous industry-first features including:

* Vehicle-information apps: first to introduce smartphone vehicle-information applications, a new channel of communication with consumers

* Electronic owner manuals: first to introduce traditional owner manuals in a DVD and brief user-guide format and first to offer complete vehicle-information kits in Spanish

* Wi-Fi: first to offer customers the ability to make their vehicle a wireless hot spot

* Wireless charging: first to introduce in-vehicle wireless charging for portable devices

* Electronic Vehicle Tracking System (EVTS): first to market with a new interactive vehicle tracking device that sends owner a text when vehicle is driven too fast or too far based on pre-set parameters

* 2011 Mopar Challenger Drag Pak: first to introduce a 500-plus cubic-inch V-10 drag-race package car

* Brand-specific customer care telephone lines: first to offer Sunday service hours for customers

* WiTECH: first to support vehicle diagnosis and software updates leveraging off-the-shelf personal computers and a dedicated wireless tool network

About the Mopar Brand

Mopar is Chrysler Group LLC's service, parts and customer-care brand. With the creation of the Chrysler Group and Fiat S.p.A. partnership, Mopar is extending its global reach, integrating service, parts and customer-care operations in order to enhance dealer and customer support worldwide. Combined with Fiat S.p.A., Mopar's global portfolio includes more than 500,000 parts and accessories that are distributed in more than 130 countries. Mopar is the source for all genuine parts and accessories for Chrysler Group and Fiat S.p.A. brands.

Mopar parts are unique in that they are engineered with the same teams that create factory-authorized vehicle specifications for Chrysler Group and Fiat S.p.A. vehicles - a direct connection that no other aftermarket parts company can provide. A complete list of Mopar accessories and performance parts is available at<..>.

More than 75 Years of Mopar

Mopar (a simple contraction of the words MOtor and PARts) was trademarked for antifreeze product in 1937. The Mopar brand made its mark in the 1960s - the muscle-car era. The Chrysler Corporation built race-ready Dodge and Plymouth "package cars" equipped with special high-performance parts. Mopar carried a line of "special parts" for super-stock drag racers and developed its racing parts division called Mopar Performance Parts to enhance speed and handling for both road and racing use. The brand has expanded to include technical service and customer support.