The NHRA Gatornationals is widely regarded as one of the “majors” on the drag racing circuit. It has a reputation cemented by milestones such as the first 260-mph Top Fuel and Funny Car runs, as well as the first 300-mph Top Fuel passes. All of which were set over the years at the traditional East Coast opener. The 47th edition in early March also hosted a landmark moment with a distinct Mopar® flavor: the competition debut of the very first supercharged Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak.
Jonathan Allegrucci had the best view — from behind the wheel — in those historic inaugural runs at Gainesville Raceway. The Mayfield, Pennsylvania, native took the Ray Barton-prepped, and Chip Hoynitski-owned, 354-cubic-inch Gen III HEMI® engine-powered Mopar Drag Pak to the seventh spot in qualifying for the Factory Stock (FS/XX) class, speeding to a solid 8.568 second pass at 159.14 mph.
“It was a lot of work to get here, and we didn’t even get a chance to test like we wanted coming into Gainesville, so (the first) run was the first full pass we ever made with the supercharged Mopar Drag Pak, and we were very happy with the outcome,” said Allegrucci. “The first goal was to make it to the track in time and we had a lot of sleepless nights to make it. Then the goal was to make the top eight (to make it into the Factory Shootout). There is no doubt that without the direction and help of Ray and David Barton we would never be at this point, and there is still a lot more to learn.”
A red light foul resulted in a first-round exit for Allegrucci in the Factory Stock Showdown, but didn’t dampen his enthusiasm for his new supercharged machine. He expects to compete in the three remaining Factory Stock Showdown events this season, and was encouraged by the positive vibe surrounding the debut of his 354 Drag Pak.
“Fans seem very happy to see the new Drag Pak out there,” said Allegrucci. “There is a sense of pride for us to know that we’re running the first ever supercharged Mopar Challenger Drag Pak.”
Catching a glimpse of the new Mopar® Dodge Challenger Drag Pak at the strip might be your only opportunity to see the Mopar Brand’s modern-day package car. That’s because all 60 of the limited production, race-only vehicles have already been ordered.
The unique 60-to-0 sales milestone accounts for all 35 supercharged 354-cubic-inch Gen III HEMI® engine Drag Pak vehicles (the first-ever forced induction package car from Mopar), as well as all 25 naturally aspirated, 426-cubic-inch Gen III HEMI engine Drag Pak machines.
This sellout follows the path of previous Drag Pak production runs. In 2008, Mopar racers reacted to the reveal of the original Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak by snapping up all 100 of the first drag race, factory-prepped package cars offered by Mopar in 40 years. As for the recent run of 60, more than 150 V8 Challenger Drag Paks and an additional 50 V10 versions plus 426 Race HEMI engine upgrade kits have helped the Mopar Drag Pak capture an NHRA Stock Eliminator World Championship and numerous National event wins — the first modern era package car to accomplish this.
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