Mopar-powered Drivers Beckman and Schumacher Earn Runner-up
Finishes in Funny Car and Top Fuel at Vegas
· Mopar-powered Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car drivers Jack Beckman and Tommy Johnson Jr. advance to final four in Funny Car, with Beckman earning runner-up honors
· Beckman departs Vegas at top of Funny Car points championship standings
· Tony Schumacher qualified No. 1, takes runner-up position in Mopar-powered U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
· Papa John’s/Mopar Dodge Top Fuel Dragster driver Leah Pritchett had the quickest pass of her quad and finished as runner-up in round one
· Mopar-powered Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car drivers Ron Capps and Matt Hagan qualified well but out in round one
· Four Mopar drivers in Top Five in Funny Car point standings
· Larry Gilley and Mike Cotton earn Dodge Top Finisher awards
· More info on Mopar in NHRA available at http://blog.mopar.com
· New Dodge Garage (http://www.dodgegarage.com/), a digital content hub for muscle car and race enthusiasts launches; will include highlights from NHRA season
April 8, 2018, Las Vegas, Nevada – Mopar and Dodge//SRT drivers Jack Beckman (Funny Car) and Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel) posted runner-up finishes Sunday at the 19th annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Schumacher was only about 4 feet shy of a Wally after the finals in Top Fuel, and Beckman was only about 9 feet short at the end of the Funny Car competition. The latter saw Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) teammate and fellow Mopar driver Tommy Johnson Jr. run the quickest pass of the quad, but foul out on a red light after leaving the starting line too early. Beckman was second out of the gate and held on for the runner-up position.
The exciting finals were viewed by a packed house assembled to see the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series’ first event west of the Mississippi River, featuring four lanes of action simultaneously instead of two lanes. The Four-Wide Nationals only require three rounds to crown a winner, with two drivers advancing from each quadrant of four until an event champion emerges in the final round. The fans turned out in droves to see it, as NHRA and the drag strip’s officials announced two sellout crowds on Saturday and Sunday, a first for the facility’s spring race.
Schumacher, driver of the U.S. Army Mopar-powered Top Fuel dragster, was that division’s top qualifier, the 86th of his career, second of the 2018 season and 11th at The Strip in Las Vegas, with a sizzling 328.46 miles per hour pass. He won his first round of eliminations convincingly over Steve Chrisman, but on the top end of that run Schumacher’s engine let go with a fireball when a fuel line broke.
He and Chrisman advanced to round two to face Clay Millican and Steve Torrence. The latter won that round but after an intense engine change after first round eliminations by the U.S. Army team, “The Sarge” came through as the runner-up, despite having to pedal it a couple of times. Schumacher turned in an excellent pass in the finals for the division’s runner-up honors, just getting edged by Torrence, who took home the Wally.
Papa John’s Pizza/Mopar Dodge Top Fuel Dragster driver Leah Pritchett had the quickest pass of her quad with a 3.793 E.T. while finishing second in round one of eliminations to No. 2 qualifier Anton Brown. She was No. 7 qualifier and helped oust Terry Totten and Mike Salinas in the first Top Fuel quad run.
Her runner-up spot earned her lane choice for round two and a big dose of confidence, but she just missed the finals when her 11,000-horsepower machine lost traction.
Jack Beckman started race day from the No. 13 seed. It was unfamiliar territory for the 2012 Funny Car world champion, who hasn’t qualified outside of the top three for the past six events, dating back to Dallas 2017.
In the first quad of eliminations, Beckman faced his teammate Ron Capps, reigning world champion Robert Hight, and Gary Densham. Beckman wheeled his Dodge Funny Car straight down the groove to take the round win and advance to the second session. In round two, Beckman had the starting line advantage and powered the Infinite Hero Foundation machine to another smooth pass, never trailing for the win.
The most recent Funny Car event winner (Gainesville) was hoping to go back-to-back and pick up his second victory of the year, and third “four-wide format” victory (Charlotte in 2011 and 2015). In the final elimination quad, Beckman was once again quick off of the line and raced to a hole shot runner-up finish. Although he wasn’t able to leave as the inaugural Las Vegas Four-Wide Funny Car winner, he was able to move into the points lead for the first time in 2018.
Tommy Johnson Jr. was set up to repeat his victory at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway from last spring. He entered race day qualified second with his time of 3.932 at 318.84-mph.
During the first session of competition, Johnson drove Terry and Doug Chandler’s Make-A-Wish Dodge to a 4.030 -second at 316.01-mph to advance to the second round. Johnson then ran the best lap of the session in round two with his stout 4.007-second pass to advance to the final quad along with his DSR teammate, Beckman. Unfortunately, during the finals Johnson was eliminated from competition when he left the starting line early and fouled out.
Ron Capps and the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car team qualified in the top half of the field among a stacked 20-car entry list. As the No. 4 qualifier, Capps faced teammate Beckman, Robert Hight and Gary Densham in the first elimination quad. Unfortunately, Capps would not be one of two drivers to advance to the second round of eliminations when a dropped cylinder and early deploying parachutes ended his chances at winning the first Western four-wide event.
Matt Hagan, driver of the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car, qualified seventh but was instantly disqualified in round one when he got on the throttle before the tree indicated to start, causing a red light foul. He’ll put that rare miscue behind him and get ready for the next event even more determined to do well.
The Las Vegas track is known to be one of the most difficult ones on the NHRA circuit for drivers and tuners alike due to the facility’s elevation and unique setting, forcing many to gamble on setups between each pass.
Mopar Dodge//SRT NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series: Notes & Quotes
Tony Schumacher, U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
No. 1 Qualifier —3.765 ET at 328.46 mph
Rd. 1: (0.078-second reaction time, 3.899 seconds at 257.43 mph), defeats No. 16 Steven Chrisman (0.140/4.111/284.81), No. 9 Terry McMillen (0.073/4.697/173.01) and No. 8 Scott Palmer (0.076/7.975/94.17)
Schumacher and Chrisman advance to round 2; Schumacher had the third choice of lanes.
Rd. 2: (0.057/4.297/249.49) lost to No. 5 Steve Torrence (0.062/3.763/326.08) and beat No. 16 Steven Chrisman (0.192/4.568/216.24) and No. 13 Clay Millican (0.069/5.970/108.82).
Torrence and Schumacher advance to the finals.
Finals: (0.058/3.790/325.22) lost to No. 5 Steve Torrence (0.069/3.771/326.63), and defeated No. 6 Doug Kalitta (0.040/3.914/273.27) and No. 2 Antron Brown (0.051/4.097/252.52)
“The problem is our car is awesome but the track’s too long – we should’ve won (laughs). Seriously, it was an excellent weekend for the Army car. There’s nothing easy about this. We had a runner-up finish with four amazing cars in the final. We’ll regroup, we’ll go to Houston and we’ll do it again. We moved up in points (to second), so that’s a good thing.”
Leah Pritchett, Papa John’s Pizza/Mopar Top Fuel Dragster
No. 7 Qualifier — 3.798 ET at 323.35 mph
Rd. 1: (0.115-second reaction time, 3.793 at 324.05) lost to No. 2 Antron Brown (0.058/3.797/327.35) and defeated No. 15 Terry Totten (0.122/4.139/278.17) and No. 10 Mike Salinas (0.091/4.398/191.81).
Brown and Pritchett advanced to round two, where Pritchett had lane choice.
Rd. 2: (0.070/5.391/149.51) lost to No. 6 Doug Kalitta (0.056/3.864/320.13), No. 2 Antron Brown (0.071/4.0050/278.58) and No. 11 Richie Crampton (0.042/4.261/261.47)
“Sometimes we’re able to come back from a run and know what we did right, like we did on elimination round number one. We were the quickest car of the four. It brought confidence back to the team; we felt like we had our hot rod back. Just as soon as you believe that, round number two comes up and sometimes you’re able to see immediately if you got it right or of you didn’t, decipher exactly why. We’re still in the process of understanding why we smoked the tires because we weren’t trying for any record or to be the quickest of the day. We were just trying to get down the track on all eight [cylinders], and instead, for a reason we’re still trying to figure out, it didn’t want to take one of the clutch arms out of play so we ended up smoking the tires. But, the progression has been upward, so that’s positive, although not at the accelerated rate that we would like.”
Jack Beckman, Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
No. 13 Qualifier — 4.028 ET at 310.05 mph
Rd. 1: 0.084-second reaction time, 4.082 seconds at 305.56 mph, defeated No. 12 Gary Densham (0.117/5.304/149.66), No. 5 Robert Hight (0.072/6.165/109.93) and No. 4 Ron Capps (0.080/6.697/78.55).
Beckman and Densham advance to round two.
Rd. 2: (0.076/4.013/317.05) to defeat No. 1 Courtney Force (0.113/4.126/298.67), No. 9 Jonnie Lindberg (0.101/4.674/188.65) and No. 12 Gary Densham (0.101/5.379/136.72).
Beckman and Courtney Force advance to the finals.
Finals: (0.057/4.052/312.21), lost to No. 3 J.R. Todd (0.050/4.041/317.05) and defeated No. 1 Courtney Force (0.103/4.007/300.53) and No. 2 Tommy Johnson Jr. (-0.008 (R)/3.978/311.70).
“It wasn’t the best weekend after qualifying Saturday night. We had problems, we were dropping cylinders, we were spinning tires, and we ended up 13th. We haven’t qualified out of the top three in the last six months and it’s certainly not what our potential is, but we left here with a runner-up. We got our act together on race day and we leave here with the points lead, so I think we did a great job of figuring out what was ailing our car and making the appropriate adjustments and going out there and gobbling up a bunch more points. Of course you want to win in the final round but I’m comfortable with the things we did here today are going to help us be a better car for the rest of the season, and we’re going to stay and test tomorrow.”
Tommy Johnson Jr., Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
No. 2 Qualifier — 3.932 ET at 318.84 mph
Rd. 1: (0.072-second reaction time, 4.030 seconds at 316.01 mph) to defeat No. 15 Del Worsham (0.090/4.496/244/25), No. 10 Tim Wilkerson (0.079/4.855/172.36) and No. 7 Matt Hagan (-0.003 (R)/5.899/117.68)
Johnson and Worsham advance to round two. Johnson had the third choice in lanes.
Rd. 2: (0.063/4.007/314.68) to defeat No. 3 J.R. Todd (0.068/4.054/314.17), No. 11 John Force (0.087/4.050/315.34) and No. 15 Del Worsham (0.091/4.049/307.93).
Johnson and Todd advance to the finals.
Finals: (-0.008 (R)/3.978/311.70) lost to No. 3 J.R. Todd (0.050/4.041/317.05), No. 13 Jack Beckman (0.057/4.052/312.21) and No. 1 Courtney Force (0.103/4.007/300.53).
“The car was running flawless and just performed exceptionally well this weekend. We found a problem after Gainesville and I’m super excited about what we’ve got in store for us. We were just a little short on completing a great weekend but I’m not disappointed whatsoever. Once you get running well you want to try to keep that going and with three in a row there’s a good chance we can go out there and win all three of those. I’m just super excited about the way this team is performing.”
Ron Capps, NAPA Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
No. 4 Qualifier — 3.953 ET at 321.50 mph
Rd. 1: (0.080-second reaction time, 6.697 ET at 78.55 mph, lost to No. 13 Jack Beckman (0.084/4.082/305.56), No. 12 Gary Densham (0.117/5.304/149.66) and No. 5 Robert Hight (0.072/6.165/109.93).
“We’re not sure what happened just yet. We’re trying to analyze the run. It definitely had a cylinder go out at the hit of the throttle, which immediately shoved my NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge to the right towards Robert Hight’s lane. I was able to turn the steering wheel and get it back towards the center. You don’t know what’s going on in the other three lanes, so you have to stay in the throttle; that’s part of the four-wide race day strategy, and in this case, it ended up backfiring so we were done for the day.”
Matt Hagan, Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
No. 7 Qualifier — 3.987 ET at 322.96 mph
Rd. 1: (-0.003 red lighted)/5.899/117.68); lost to No. 2 Tommy Johnson Jr. (0.072/4.030/316.01), No. 15 Del Worsham (0.090/4.496.244.25) and No. 10 Tim Wilkerson (0.079/4.855/172.36)
“I think we had a racecar that could have done some stuff out here today, but we won’t know until next year. It’s a hard pill to swallow, obviously after the final in Gainesville, having a .60 light, when I’m usually .50s or .40s in the finals. We’ve got stuff we’ve got to work on with the car too. I put a lot of pressure on myself. It takes all of us to do everything. It all plays a part. I’ll get my mind right and get focused and hit the practice tree and get right with it.”
Mopar Dodge//SRT NHRA Sportsman Spotlight
Former Dodge Top Finisher winner and 2018 NHRA Winternationals champ Larry Gilley drove his 1969 Dodge Dart GTS to the final round of Stock Eliminator at the 2018 DENSO Spark Plugs Four-Wide Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Powered by a Mopar 340 cubic-inch small block, Gilley’s Dart GTS was dialed-in all weekend as he raced through six-rounds of heated competition only to lose by 0.0035 seconds (approximately 7 inches) in the finals. For advancing the furthest in Stock Eliminator, Larry Gilley received the Dodge Top Finisher award that includes $500.
Mopar Sportsman Racer and previous Dodge Top Finisher winner, Mike Cotten of Cave Creek, Ariz., piloted his 1970 big-block Mopar powered Plymouth ‘Cuda to four-rounds of intense eliminations. Cotton’s ‘Cuda was consistent on race day but came up just a little short and lost by 0.018 seconds. For advancing the furthest in Super Stock, Mike Cotten received the Dodge Top Finisher award that includes $500.
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 car at all 24 NHRA national events.