Mopar Racing–Beckman Scores Title Win for Mopar at Norwalk NHRA Nationals; Ninth Victory for New 2015 Mopar Dodge Charger R/T

Beckman Scores Title Win for Mopar at Norwalk NHRA Nationals;
Ninth Victory for New 2015 Mopar Dodge Charger R/T

Don Schumacher Racing’s (DSR) Jack Beckman drives his 2015 Mopar Dodge Charger R/T to a title win at the Ninth annual Summit Racing Equipment National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Nationals
Beckman earns his third title win in four final round appearance this year aboard his Infinite Hero 2015 Mopar Dodge Charger R/T
Ninth win of the season for the new 2015 Mopar Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car and an 11th final round appearance in 12 national events this season

Beckman defeated all three vehicles belonging to rival team John Force Racing (JFR) on his way to the winner’s circle
Mopar and DSR now have a 20 win-11 loss record against rivals JFR at the mid-point of the NHRA season
DSR driver Matt Hagan, Ron Capps and Beckman are 1-2-3 in Funny Car Championship standings.

Norwalk, Ohio (Sunday, July 5, 2015) – Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) driver Jack Beckman earned a hard fought title win aboard his Infinite Hero 2015 Dodge Charger R/T at the Ninth annual Summit Racing Equipment Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Nationals. It was his third victory of the season after posting national wins at Charlotte and Topeka, and it also marked the ninth title for the 2015 Mopar Dodge Charger R/T since it was introduced to competition this season following a year of development.

Beckman, who had qualified 11th, put his first round opponent, 16-time NHRA world champion John Force, on the trailer and then did the same to Force’s teammate Robert Hight to advance to the semifinals. Beckman then defeated Tim Wilkerson to advance to the final round, his fourth of the season, against Courtney Force. Beckman initially trailed until half-track then took advantage of his opponent’s loss of traction to speed by and turn on the win light for his 18th career victory.

“We tore up those Camaro’s didn’t we,” said Beckman who defeated all three vehicles belonging to his team’s arch rival, John Force Racing, to boost DSR’s 20-11 win-loss record versus JFR at the halfway point of the season. “I think the folks at Mopar are going to be really happy with me. There’s a rivalry. You’ve got competing auto manufacturers and you’ve got the two biggest Funny Car teams out here battling. The fact that we were able to get it done with that Mopar and beat two other brands makes it a fantastic day for this team.”

“On behalf of everyone at Mopar, congratulations to Jack Beckman for the well-earned title win at Norwalk,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO — Mopar Brand Service, Parts and Customer Care, FCA. “It is very rewarding to have Jack and his team defeat all three vehicles belonging to their biggest rival on the way to a ninth win this season with the new 2015 Mopar Dodge Charger. The competitiveness and dominance of the new Mopar Funny Car package reinforces yet again the investment and effort put in by Mopar, Dodge and Don Schumacher Racing into producing a competitive and high quality product.

The trip to the winner’s circle was also amplified by the amount of adversity Beckman and his crew encountered heading into the weekend, in addition to the limited time given to crews between elimination rounds because of live ESPN television coverage, made even more stressful by mechanical issues that occurred prior to the final run.

“We came (to Norwalk) with a brand new front half on the (chassis) and an entirely new bell-housing combination because that’s what (crew chief) Jimmy Prock does,” Beckman said. “We ran the first three qualifying runs this weekend then switched back to our old combination and it smoked the tires again. It only made it down the track one time in (four qualifying sessions) and we end up 11th and have John Force in the first round. But we ended up in the winner’s circle. This race was awesome because of what we had to overcome.”

The win moves Beckman into third place in the Funny Car standings behind his DSR teammates Matt Hagan and Ron Capps.

Hagan, who started eliminations as the No.1 qualifier, defeated John Bojec in the first round to line-up his Mopar Express Lane/ Rocky Boots sponsored 2105 Dodge Charger R/T against to Courtney Force in the quarterfinals. Hagan was upset by Force when he was down on power in the final stretch.

“We’ll come out of here pretty good as far as the points look,” said Hagan who remains the Funny Car championship points leader as he works to defend his 2014 world championship. “Of course, we’d have liked to have won the race, but we’re realistic and that’s not always possible. Being the No. 1 qualifier can be a curse. It can be hard to slow a fast car down in the heat and that’s what we got today. I’m still very impressed with (crew chief) Dickie (Venables) and this entire Mopar crew. We had one bad run out of a whole bunch of good ones and that’s how this sport can go.”

A 4.06-second run wasn’t quite enough for Ron Capps who fell in the first round to a hole-shot win by Courtney Force. His .086-second reaction time was only slight slower than his opponent’s .080 and the 2015 Dodge Charger R/T nearly caught her at the finish line, missing the mark by just .0032-seconds after running a quicker 4.066/312.93 to her 4.069/319.82 pass.

“That was a great run,” said Capps who remains second in the standings, 120 points behind Hagan. “It was second or third quickest of the round. That would have won most rounds, but sometimes that’s the way it goes our here. It’s way better than smoking the tires because (crew chief Rahn) Tobler gets good data and you’re not beating yourself up after a lousy run. The saving grace is that we’re going to be right back at it in a few days at Joliet. Anytime you lose a close race like that on what’s considered a holeshot, you feel like you can do better. I’m very, very encouraged with the way the car is running. We’re going to some tracks where I think we’re going to have a lot of success at and then we’ll be ready for the Countdown (to the Championship) to start.”

While DSR teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. had four strong passes in qualifying and started from the fifth spot on the eliminations ladder, he saw his day cut short in the opening round against Alexis DeJoria when his Make-A-Wish race car lost a few cylinders on his pass. Johnson remains sixth in the standings

In Pro Stock eliminations, Allen Johnson had qualified his “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” Dodge Dart 11th on the ladder to pair him up with Greg Anderson in the first round.
While Johnson, in the left lane, had the starting line advantage with a .035-second reaction time, he saw his hot rod start to drift towards the center line, opening the door for his right lane opponent to catch up and beat his 6.592/210.47 pass to the finish line with a 6.553/211.76.

“The car went right, got out of the groove, and I couldn’t get it back in the groove,” said a frustrated Johnson. “Down the track in fifth gear, the car was just bouncing around giving him (Anderson) the chance to drive around us. I was ahead of him at half-track. All I had to do was keep the car straight right down the groove and we would have won the race, but the groove here is just so narrow so that there was really no margin for error.

“We made one good run all weekend on Friday and the rest was just stupid stuff that happened,” Johnson added. “We went left on Friday night, Saturday we had clutch problems and today we corrected for what happened Friday and went to the right. It’s frustrating because we finally have a good package. Everything just has to come together and we’ll be out front and start winning races. We have the motor running really good, we have the fuel issues handled, but it’s just been bad flipping luck that’s held us back.”

V. Gaines endured a similar fate in his first round match against Larry Morgan when his HEMI-powered Dodge Dart came too close to the centerline for comfort and he pushed the clutch in to end his run.

In his fifth career Pro Stock start, Alan Prusinski’s HEMI-powered Dodge Avenger found himself with the upset of the day, when he advanced out of the opening round against No.1 qualifier and defending title winner Erica Enders-Stevens by taking advantage of his opponent’s sudden move towards the centerline. His trip through eliminations was short lived with a (0.035 second reaction time) 6.775/205.66 pass in a quarterfinal loss to Drew Skillman’s (0.020) 6.592/211.10 run. Skillman went on to a final elimination against Greg Anderson who won a close battle (0.022) 6.592/212.19 to (0.026) 6.594/211.43, and his first title in two years to take over the Pro Stock points lead.