Frustration for Mopar at Four-Wide NHRA Nationals
· No Mopar Funny Car or Pro Stock entry advances to final elimination round of unique Four-Wide NHRA Nationals at Charlotte
· Despite first round loss, No.1 qualifier Capps keeps DSR Dodge Charger R/T fourth in Funny Car standings
· Johnson remains third in Pro Stock points to lead HEMI-powered Dodge entries even after bowing out in second wave of Four-Wide eliminations
Concord, N.C. (Sunday, April 13) – Rather than a berth in the final elimination round and a shot at a coveted title win at the fifth annual Four-Wide NHRA Nationals, each Mopar Funny Car and Pro Stock team and driver left the event with good dose of frustration after none of the Dodge entries advanced past the semifinals.
As the only national event on the National Hot Rod Association circuit with four cars battling each other at the same time on the purposely-built zMax Dragway at Charlotte Motor Speedway, just three heats are necessary to determine the title winner, runner-up and two semi-finalists, leaving little room for error.
In Funny Car competition, No.1 qualifier Ron Capp saw his race day cut short with a first round loss for his Don Schumacher Racing Dodge Charger R/T along with Chad Head in his quad, against Dell Worsham and Alexis DeJoria. Despite the early exit, Capps remains fourth in the class standings.
The Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T of Matt Hagan made its best pass of the weekend with an elapsed time run of 4.087 seconds (314.75 mph) to earn the first round win. In that same quad, it was a photo-finish for second place between DSR’s Jack Beckman and Robert Hight, with the Mopar driver missing a chance to join his teammate in the semifinals by less than an inch.
Fellow DSR driver, Tommy Johnson Jr., used a holeshot (0.073 second reaction) and 4.113 second (312.57mph) pass to grab second place with his Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T in order to transfer out to the next elimination wave along with round winner John Force, leaving behind Jeff Arend and Courtney Force.
For their second round match-up, the Mopar teammates, Hagan and Johnson, found themselves in the losing end of the quad giving passage to eventual Four-Wide title winner Hight and runner-up Force.
The Four-Wide format proved to be a challenge to Mopar’s Pro Stock contingent as well, as all three HEMI-powered Dodge entries had their elimination rounds end in frustrations with none making it past the second wave of eliminations.
The first round results looked promising for Jeg Coughlin Jr. who was right on target with his JEGS.com Dodge Dart taking it to the stripe first, posting a 0.600-second reaction time to run an elapsed time pass of 6.681 seconds (210.28 mph), to beat Shane Gray’s (0.784 sec. reaction) 6.566 second e.t. (211.69 mph), with both drivers advancing to the next heat over Robert Patrick and Rodger Brogden.
Winner of two national title events thus far this year, Allen Johnson (0.037-second reaction) ran his “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” Dodge Dart to a 6.554-second e.t. (211.46 mph) crossing the finish second to Erica Enders-Stevens’ (0.020 reaction) 6.546 second (212.33 mph) in their first round foursome, leaving John Gaydosh and Jonathon Gray behind. In the last first-round quartet match-up, the Dodge Avenger of V. Gaines saw its day shortened with a third place finish.
The next round of eliminations for the J&J HEMI-powered Mopars of Johnson and Coughlin didn’t start or end the way they had hoped. Johnson’s hopes of participating in his first Four-Wide final round appearance ended when his tires shook in a match-up against Enders-Stevens, Jason Line and Vincent Nobile.
For his part, Coughlin was just 0.005-seconds too quick for a rare red-light start that disqualified what would have been the quickest pass of the round at 6.542 seconds and 211.63 mph against Jimmy Alund, Shane Gray and Chris McGaha. The final elimination round featured a first career NHRA Pro Stock win for Alund, Gray finishing runner-up, with Nobile and Enders-Stevens as semifinalist.