Shortened NHRA Qualifying Produces Mixed Results for Mopar in Seattle;
Beckman Earns No.1 Qualifier
· Friday qualifying sessions were rained out at the 26th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries, the 15th of 24 NHRA events
· Beckman is No.1 qualifier in Funny Car by setting a new track record
· Last week’s Sonoma winner Capps was unable to qualify for Funny Car elimination rounds
· This weekend marks Johnson’s participation in his 400th career NHRA national event
· Johnson is top Mopar qualifier in third ; Gaines, Coughlin, Nobile all in top half of the Pro Stock field
Kent, Wash. (Saturday, August 3, 2013) – After rain washed out Friday’s two qualifying session at Pacific Raceways, the last two sessions took place under overcast skies and in cool temperatures to determine the field for Sunday’s eliminations at the 26th annual NHRA Northwest Nationals near Seattle, Wash., the 15th of 24 NHRA events. Jack Beckman drove his Don Schumacher Racing Dodge Charger R/T to the top of the order in Funny Car qualifying on his first run, setting the track record with an elapsed time of 4.049 seconds (303.64 mph), to earn his first No.1 qualifier of the season, the ninth of his career.
The defending NHRA world champion’s last win at Seattle came in 2007 and although he is sixth in the championship standings, Beckman is hoping to earn his first trip to victory lane this season on Sunday.
“We’ve got a lot of ground to make up in the points, but we just want a trophy right now,” said Beckman who will face his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Johnny Gray, who has a category leading four wins this year, in the first round. “It’s been a while and we want to win a race so bad right now. It’s just that tough out there. We just have to try to keep winning rounds and hopefully we can put four together (on Sunday).”
Funny Car points leader Matt Hagan qualified his “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” machine fourth with a 4.067 second e.t. (303.78 mph) to race against Todd Lesenko as his first round match-up.
An unexpected victim of the weather-shortened qualifying was fellow Mopar teammate Ron Capps who won last week’s NHRA event at Sonoma and sits in second place in the points battle. Capps struggled with grip on both his passes and missed making the field for the first time since spring of 2012 at Las Vegas.
Mopar’s Pro Stock driver Allen Johnson marked his participation in the 400th NHRA national event of his career by posting back-to-back elapsed time passes of 6.53 seconds in the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Avenger to run second quickest in both sessions. Johnson was second to Ricky Jones’ who sat on the provisional pole until that spot was taken away in the final qualifying session by Mike Edwards, the current Pro Stock points leader, with a 6.526 second e.t. (212.29 mph) to break the Pacific Raceways speed and time record to grab a 12th No.1 qualifier position this year. Johnson ended up third of the timing sheets overall and will match up against J.R. Carr in the first round of eliminations.
“To be around as long as we’ve been around, I still feel 29 like when I started and I don’t feel like it’s been that long but I guess it has,” said Johnson who has participated in nearly half of the NHRA’s 801 national events and won his first World Championship in 2012. “We knew after the first run we were solidly in the field, so the second round we got after it but Mike (Edwards) got after it a little more. I think we’ve got a good tune up and Sunday is going to be hotter so it will likely be a crew chief’s race tomorrow.”
HEMI-powered driver V. Gaines was fourth quickest and faces Shane Gray as his first opponent.
Last weekend’s runner-up at the Sonoma Nationals, Jeg Coughlin Jr. was 11th after the first session but after some changes to the rear of his JEGS.com Mopar Dodge Avenger he improved to a fifth place qualifying spot with a run of 6.560 seconds (210.70 mph) and will see Steve Kent in the first round.
After a trip taking his Mopar to the winner’s circle at the Sonoma last week, Vincent Nobile clinched a playoff berth with his sixth place qualification effort at Pacific Raceways and will see Chris McGaha as his first round match-up.