Win by Ron Capps at NHRA Carolina Nationals is 225th overall for a Mopar-powered Dodge driver in NHRA Funny Car competition
Victory is third of 2018 for Capps, eighth of season for a Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) Mopar Dodge Funny Car driver
With 60th career Funny Car Wally, Capps moves up three spots to third in NHRA playoff standings
Tony Schumacher races Mopar HEMI-powered U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster to semifinals at zMAX Dragway in Concord, North Carolina, near Charlotte
Mark Howes, Keith Lynch take Dodge Top Finisher Awards in NHRA Sportsman classes at Charlotte
Dodge Garage (http://www.dodgegarage.com/), a digital content hub for muscle car and race enthusiasts, features highlights from NHRA season
October 14, 2018, Auburn Hills, Michigan – Ron Capps raced to victory in his Mopar-powered Dodge Charger R/T at the NHRA Carolina Nationals near Charlotte on October 14, 2018, capturing his third victory of the season and the 225th overall for a Mopar Dodge driver in NHRA Funny Car competition.
The win by Capps is also the eighth of the year for a Mopar-powered Dodge//SRT Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) Funny Car driver. His 60th career Funny Car win moved Capps up three spots to third in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoff standings, injecting new life into his bid for a second career Funny Car World Championship.
The Mopar HEMI-engine fueled NAPA Dodge Charger Funny Car star claimed 121 points over the course of the weekend. Along his way to the zMAX Dragway winner’s circle, Capps, the 2016 Funny Car Champion, defeated Dale Creasy Jr. and three of the top-ranked 2018 Funny Car championship contenders – Robert Hight, Tim Wilkerson and J.R. Todd – in crucial matchups with major Countdown implications.
The milestone victory and 61st overall triumph (including one Top Fuel win) came after two disappointing consecutive first-round losses, but Capps and his Rahn Tobler-led team were determined to not let their early Countdown stumbles deter their hopes for the 2018 title.
With 321 points up for grabs in the final two events, Capps enters the next stop on the NHRA tour sitting 109 points out of first. The remaining events on the NHRA schedule are contested in Las Vegas and Pomona, California, two historically cooler-weather events, and Capps has confidence in crew chief Tobler’s cool weather tuning capabilities.
Two-time NHRA Carolina Nationals Top Fuel champion (2014, 2008) Tony Schumacher, driver of the Mopar-backed U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster, qualified No. 6 and faced teammate Antron Brown for the 70th time in the first round. “The Sarge” recorded the low ET of the event with a hot 3.699/329.91 pass to take out Brown. In the second round, Schumacher knocked out Clay Millican with a solid 3.712/330.55 effort.
That victory set up a run against current Top Fuel points leader and No. 2 qualifier Steve Torrence in the semifinals. Schumacher’s 3.718/329.42 was quicker and faster than Torrence’s 3.728/328.38 run, but Torrence left the starting line first and was able to ride that advantage to a close holeshot win by approximately four feet.
Leah Pritchett raced her Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak to the 2018 NHRA Factory Stock Showdown championship in dramatic fashion last week at the NHRA’s Dallas stop and was looking to keep her chances alive to become the first woman in NHRA history to claim crowns in two different categories in the same season with a strong Charlotte performance.
Pritchett qualified in the top half of the field, claiming the No. 7 starting position in her Mopar Dodge Top Fuel dragster. The DSR driver trailed early in her first-round match against Richie Crampton but staged a comeback and was able to run him down with her quickest pass of the weekend, a winning 3.707/324.67. Next up was a critical quarterfinals battle against points leader Torrence. Unfortunately, Pritchett encountered all kinds of trouble, hazing the tires early and dropping cylinders as Torrence drove away for the round win and Pritchett watched a golden opportunity to improve her Top Fuel title hopes slip away.
Two-time NHRA Carolina Nationals event champion Matt Hagan, the No. 6 qualifier, drew No. 11 Shawn Langdon in round one. Hagan flexed his Mopar muscle by powering his DSR Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car straight down the groove in 3.891 seconds to take the win over Langdon, who smoked the tires. In the quarterfinals, the Mopar Express Lane driver posted another solid effort, but he gave up the win on an uncharacteristic holeshot loss, allowing opponent Tim Wilkerson to take the victory with a slower 3.910 ET versus Hagan’s quicker 3.903.
After securing his second consecutive Funny Car No. 1 qualifier spot, Tommy Johnson Jr. and his Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T team drew part-time racer Dave Richards in the opening round. Johnson was first to hit the throttle but was up in smoke right at the step and Richards was able to claim the upset win. Johnson’s DSR teammate, Infinite Hero Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat pilot Jack Beckman, was faced with a huge matchup against points leader Robert Hight in the opening round. “Fast” Jack and his Dean Antonelli/John Medlen/Neal Strausbaugh-led team mustered up a solid 3.906-second pass, but it wasn’t enough to take down Hight’s 3.877 E.T.
Mopar Dodge//SRT NHRA Sportsman Spotlight
Mark Howes of Rothesay, New Brunswick, Canada, raced his 1970 D/SA Plymouth Duster to a fourth-round finish in Stock Eliminator at the NHRA Carolina Nationals. With a high-winding Mopar 340 cubic-inch small-block V8 engine under the hood, Howes was looking strong all weekend until a red-light foul for leaving the starting line too early ended his chances of advancing deeper in eliminations. With his performance, Howes earned the Dodge Top Finisher award in Stock.
In Super Stock, Keith Lynch of New Hudson, Ohio, also drove his 2010 FGT/I Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak to a fourth-round finish. Powered by a Mopar 5.7-Liter HEMI V8, Lynch’s Drag Pak looked to be a tenacious contender during race day but was sidelined during eliminations. Lynch, who was the Dodge Top Finisher recipient last month during the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals, repeated as the award winner at Charlotte.
The Dodge Top Finisher award, now in its second year, awards $500 to Stock Eliminator and Super Stock drivers who advance the furthest behind the wheel of a Mopar-powered Dodge, Chrysler, or Plymouth race car at all 24 NHRA national events.
Mopar Dodge//SRT NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series: Notes & Quotes
Steve Beahm, Head of Passenger Cars, Dodge//SRT, Chrysler and FIAT, FCA North America; Head of Parts & Service (Mopar), FCA – North America
“It’s great to see Ron Capps and his team capture the win today for Mopar and Dodge//SRT in the fourth event of the six-race NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs. We hope this momentum will carry on for the entire Don Schumacher Racing organization as our drivers continue to battle for championships this year.”
Ron Capps, NAPA Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 2 Qualifier – 3.875 ET)
Rd.1: (.080-second reaction time, 3.926 seconds at 328.86 mph) beat No. 15 Dale Creasy Jr. (.090/4.041/316.67)
Rd.2: (.053/3.889/332.43) beat No. 7 Robert Hight (.075/3.953/285.23)
Rd.3: (.0460/3.903/320.97) beat No. 3 Tim Wilkinson (.040/3.978/323.97)
Rd.4: (.074/3.890/331.20) beat No. 4 J.R. Todd (.048/4.311/214.96)
“In St. Louis we lost on a holeshot first round and I’m sick to my stomach when that happens. I go home, I don’t sleep. I’m up in the middle of the night, watching frame-by-frame of when my blades open compared to the person I lost to on a holeshot, and it’s not fun. I live it, I breathe it. I just could not wait to get to the next race after St. Louis. We really had a great car there and we really had the opportunity to make a lot of points up and we didn’t, and I wore that. I probably aged a year in that week. Then we got to Dallas, had a great car, and just got outran by John Force first round.
“(Crew chief Rahn) Tobler and I left Dallas, shook hands, gave each other a little hug like we always do when we leave the track and he said ‘Let’s just go win the last three. If we win, they can’t,’ and I’m just so glad we came here and did what we talked about doing. To make over 330-mph runs two times in the middle of the day today is big for Rahn Tobler. We always talk about race day and hot, adverse conditions, and that’s where he shines, but to throw down those speeds and E.T.s in the cooler weather today when we needed it was huge.”
“We have a lot of business left to do. It’s not over. Points-and-a-half in Pomona. Anything can happen and we’re going to go down fighting. I can’t wait to celebrate with my race team, get to the next race and finish the year strong.”
Tony Schumacher, U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
(No. 6 Qualifier – 3.732 ET)
Rd.1: (.065-second reaction time, 3.699 seconds at 329.91 mph) beat No. 11 Anton Brown (.049/3.736/328.14)
Rd.2: (.066/3.712/330.55) beat No. 3 Clay Millican (.087/3.729/328.86)
Rd.3: (.066/3.718/329.42) lost to No. 2 Steve Torrence (.049/3.728/328.38)
“That was a rough one, man. We had a better package than Steve (Torrence) did, but .049-second lights are hard to come by. I don’t know. Ouch. The worst run we made all weekend was a 3.74. I can tell you this is a great team. It was really impressive what these U.S. Army Racing guys did here in Charlotte. I give a lot of credit to (crew chief) Mike Neff and (assistant crew chief) Phil (Shuler). They came in here with a package and just made it better all weekend. We talked about it being a bracket car in qualifying and then we came out in first round and put up fastest pass of the weekend. They were on their game and I know I was too. I’m just still wondering how those .040-lights keep happening against me. We need to beat Steve to have a legitimate chance in the championship, but that didn’t happen today. We’ve got two great tracks for us left and all we can do is go out with a bang carrying the U.S. Army colors.”
Leah Pritchett, Mopar Dodge Top Fuel Dragster
(No. 7 Qualifier – 3.755 ET)
Rd.1: (.080-second reaction time, 3.707 seconds at 324.67 mph) beat No. 10 Richie Crampton (.068/3.750/317.79)
Rd.2: (.087/4.222/219.76) lost to No. 2 Steve Torrence (.047/3.716/330.96)
“Unfortunately, we couldn’t slow down Steve today. We feel like that was the result of some self-inflicted issues. We found the power, but what it really probably came down to was that we should have picked the left lane (in the second round). We were going in the right lane. We had done well in it, but by the time Tony (Schumacher) got done in front of us the lane didn’t have the rubber down that we thought it would. So we had to back it down a little bit at the starting line. Once we did that we were behind. When we did put the power to it, we smoked the tires and it was all over from there. The bright side is that we always learn from these experiences. We learned a lot about being in tune with our car and the conditions. We’re a bit down about the championship situation, but we are making progress and we’ll come out in Las Vegas even stronger than we did coming in here.”
Matt Hagan, Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car
(No. 6 Qualifier – 3.903 ET)
Rd.1: (.064-second reaction time, 3.891 seconds at 328.62 mph) beat No.11 Shawn Langdon (.054/9.638/78.22)
Rd.2: (.072/3.903/323.58) lost to No. 3 Tim Wilkerson (.052/3.910/328.46)
“We definitely got a car that’s going down the race track now. We found a king pin that was seized up in the front A arm, fixed that and the thing is driving like a dream now so that’s a huge thing as far as confidence and everything else goes. At the end of the day, I’m just glad we’ve got our race car back, our tune-up is working out, it’s going down the track again. We’re getting more laps and feeling more confident in what we’re doing. We’re turning a corner, it’s just at the end of the season.”
Tommy Johnson Jr., Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 1 Qualifier – 3.873 ET)
Rd.1: (.074-second reaction time, 7.265 seconds at 112.70 mph) lost to No. 16 Dave Richards (.092/4.283/279.27)
“It’s certainly disappointing and frustrating. You’re right in the middle of a championship chase, and to have a first round loss like that puts a huge dent in that chance. We’ll just keep swinging. Our Make-A-Wish Dodge is running so well. Didn’t expect that by any means. It’s frustrating but we’ll keep coming at them.”
Jack Beckman, Infinite Hero Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car
(No. 10 Qualifier – 3.929 ET)
Rd.1: (.073-second reaction time, 3.906 seconds at 329.26 mph) lost to No. 7 Robert Hight (.062/3.877/330.96)
“We were on the wrong end of a phenomenal drag race, and that’s frustrating because our E.T. would have won most of the matchups first round, and that’s the problem with drag racing. We desperately want to salvage a top five finish and maybe the only way for us to do that is to get both (Las Vegas II and Pomona II) trophies. I think we did a pretty darn good job on that as witnessed by our first-round time. We just came up against a car that’s gotten more runs than anybody in the last three weekends. So, Vegas here we come.”
Up Next: NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
The penultimate round of the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship will take place in two weekends, Oct. 25-28, at the Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Last year Mopar Dodge//SRT Funny Car driver Matt Hagan broke through for his first Vegas victory.