Mopar Racing–Beckman Races 2015 Mopar Dodge Charger R/T to First Career U.S. Nationals Victory

Beckman Races 2015 Mopar Dodge Charger R/T to First Career U.S. Nationals Victory

· “Fast Jack” Beckman follows up win in Traxxas Funny Car Shootout bonus event on Sunday with his first career triumph at the NHRA U.S. Nationals
· Beckman completes dream weekend in which he set both ends of the track record at Lucas Oil Raceway, banked $100,000 in Traxxas event and wins the prestigious “Big Go”
· Victory is the 14th in 18 events for the 2015 Mopar Dodge Charger R/T and 17th final-round appearance
· Beckman finishes first in regular-season standings, will have a 30-point lead over teammate Matt Hagan when the six-race NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs commence
· Mopar Dodge Don Schumacher Racing Funny Car drivers hold the top three spots heading into the Countdown playoffs
· Defending Funny Car champ Hagan falls in round one but puts his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T in the No. 2 spot in the playoffs
· Early Indy exit for “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” Dodge Dart NHRA Pro Stock driver Allen Johnson softened by locking in top five Countdown playoff berth
· Johnson competes in his 450th career race at U.S. Nationals

Brownsburg, Indiana (September 7, 2015) – Jack Beckman capped off a dream weekend by bringing home a victory in the event every drag racer wants to win, racing his Mopar-powered 2015 Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car to a Labor Day triumph at the 61st annual National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis. Beckman set both ends of the track record at Lucas Oil Raceway on Saturday, banked $100,000 in the Traxxas Funny Car Shootout bonus event on Sunday and doubled up with a win on Monday at the historic race nicknamed the “Big Go.”

The victory was the first for Beckman at Indy in three final appearances, his sixth of the season and 21st of his career in 42 final rounds. It also marks the first NHRA U.S. Nationals win for a Mopar-powered machine in the NHRA Funny Car class since Mike Ashley scored the 2007 victory in a Dodge.

The new 2015 Mopar Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car body ends the regular season with 14 wins in 18 events, and final round appearances in all but one race. Beckman heads into the six-race NHRA “Countdown to the Championship” playoffs, which begin in two weeks near Charlotte, holding a 30-point edge over the No. 2 spot, held by Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car driver Matt Hagan, and 40-point spread over yet another Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) Mopar Dodge driver, Tommy Johnson Jr.

“On behalf of everyone at Mopar, I would like to congratulate Don Schumacher Racing and especially Jack Beckman for earning the prestigious U.S. Nationals title and his sixth win of the year with the new 2015 Dodge Charger R/T,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO — Mopar Brand Service, Parts and Customer Care, FCA. “The success the DSR team has had with the new body in the regular season is phenomenal and a testament to the investment and hard work that went into bringing to fruition the new 2015 Mopar Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car. We can’t wait to see what our Mopar drivers can do with it in the Countdown in defense of the 2014 Funny Car Championship.”

Driving his Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T, Beckman started from the U.S. Nationals pole after setting both ends of the track record with a 3.936-second elapsed time at 323.74 mph, earning his fourth consecutive No. 1 of the year and first-ever at the “Big Go.” He had the quickest car in the first round, using a 4.047-second elapsed time at 302.55 mph under hot, humid track conditions to eliminate No. 16 qualifier Bob Bode.

It was an all-Mopar Dodge matchup in the quarterfinals, with Beckman pitted against his DSR teammate, Ron Capps. The two Mopar drivers had nearly identical reaction times (Beckman’s .060 to Capps’ .062), but Beckman pulled away with a 4.057/311.41 (once again quickest of the round), and soon after Capps slowed to a 4.516/219.54.

In the semis, Beckman (4.058/307.72) took out Del Worsham (4.189/299.20), setting up a classic DSR vs. JFR fight against Robert Hight. Entering the final round, Beckman was 12-0 against JFR cars in 2015, but his previous two final round appearances at the U.S. Nationals had ended in runner-up finishes to Robert Hight.

Given a third opportunity, Beckman wasn’t about to let his chance at a first U.S. Nationals victory slip away. The DSR veteran proved it takes both driver and machine to win races, notching a holeshot win with a faster .034 reaction time to Hight’s slower .063 mark, which provided his 4.058/310.77 effort enough advantage to hold off Hight’s quicker 4.045/309.77 by about eight feet at the finish line.

“I guess it’s about like getting to the top of Everest” said Beckman of his first U.S. Nationals event win “You really don’t get to celebrate until you get down, get back home and into a cozy area. I don’t know when it will sink in. A lot of times the problem is it’s hard to enjoy what just happened because you’re just worn out.

“Yesterday after Traxxas (the bonus event), I was trashed. It was a miserably hot day that ended up wonderful. Getting through today was the key. I think surviving this is an effort onto itself. I’m going to let that trophy sit on the shelf for a while so I can realize that we actually did it.

“When Jimmy (Prock) was let go last year (from his previous team) and Don (Schumacher) brought him on and put him on our car for the last two races, maybe in a greedy sort of way I started looking ahead,” said Beckman of his crew chief. “I knew what Jimmy was capable of doing and I felt like if we could just stay together on this, maybe we would be able to go win some races and do something like this.”

No. 3 starter Tommy Johnson Jr. had the second quickest pass of the first round, 4.054 seconds at 312.42 mph, defeating fellow Dodge driver John Hale (4.777/177.32). In the quarterfinals, Johnson ended the championship hopes of driver Courtney Force, who needed to advance past Johnson to keep alive her chances of qualifying for the Countdown playoffs.

Johnson had a slight starting line advantage (.075 to Force’s .078) and a quicker pass of 4.093/309.13, enough to beat Force’s 4.117/312.93 to the stripe by approximately 12 feet. The roles were reversed in the semifinals, with Johnson falling to Force’s teammate Robert Hight. Johnson smoked the tires almost the moment he hit the pedal and watched Hight motor down the track for the win.

Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car driver and defending World Champion Hagan came out on the wrong end of a wild Mopar vs. Mopar first-round duel with Capps. Both drivers smoked the tires, pedaled their Mopar machines and came perilously close to crossing the center line and suffering a DQ. Both cars were able to reach the finish, but Capps crossed first with a 4.490/211.63 to Hagan’s 4.528/237.34.

“Obviously Indy is tough,” said Hagan, who collected four wins during the regular season. “The competition, period, is just tough, DSR or not. Everyone out here is tough. There is not a car that qualifies for the 16-car field that in some way, shape or form can’t win on Sunday.

“Your teammates are even tougher. Ron was there for the taking and it ended up being a pedal fest. If I maybe caught it a little earlier or left a little earlier it may have been different, but at the end of the day we didn’t get a win light, so we move on. All in all, we have to put this behind us and move on. There are no do-overs in drag racing. It’s time to get focused and go out and try to win another championship.”

“Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” Dodge Dart NHRA Pro Stock driver Allen Johnson owns a 2012 Pro Stock World Championship ring and victories at legendary drag strips including Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California, and Gainesville (Florida) Raceway, but after Monday the 20-year veteran is still chasing that elusive first career triumph at the U.S. Nationals.

The No. 5 qualifier, Johnson left first in an opening-round race against Larry Morgan, recording a .027 reaction time to his opponent’s .030. The starting line advantage wasn’t enough to boost Johnson into the second round, as his 6.621/209.17 pass was about two hundredths slower than Morgan’s winning 6.603/209.85. The luck of the draw wasn’t on Johnson’s side either — his run was quicker than all but four other cars in the first round.

On the bright side, Johnson ends the regular season in the fifth spot with one win and three runner-up finishes, and will start 60 points behind the leader when the Pro Stock Countdown to the Championship playoffs begin.

“It’s disappointing to run one of the quickest passes of that round and not advance, but that’s how it goes in eliminations,” said Johnson, who competed in his 450th career race this weekend. “We had good, consistent runs all weekend long and you have to take that as a positive and move on. It’s a whole new season now. We’re fifth to start the Countdown and anything can happen. We’ll start the playoffs by doing some testing at Charlotte (zMax Dragway) and getting our Magneti Marelli Dodge Dart ready for a knock-down, drag out fight for the final six events.”

V. Gaines, a two-time U.S. Nationals Pro Stock runner-up, also was quicker off the starting tree (.029) than his first-round foe, eventual event winner Erica Enders (.041). No. 13 qualifier Gaines was solid in his Dodge Dart, recording a 6.637/209.10, but Enders pulled away at about the 330 ft. mark for a winning 6.604/209.49. Dodge Dart drivers Aaron Stanfield and Deric Kramer also bowed out in round one.