The Environment Protection Agency is proposing a rule change that would outlaw modifications to production cars and trucks, preventing their conversion to “track-only” racing vehicles.
The change is inside a larger document on “Control of Emissions from New and In-Use Heavy-Duty Highway Engines” — on page 35 of the 378-page file.
The actual text is:
Certified motor vehicles and motor vehicle engines and their emission control devices must remain in their certified configuration even if they are used solely for competition or if they become nonroad vehicles or engines; anyone modifying a certified motor vehicle or motor vehicle engine for any reason is subject to the tampering and defeat device prohibitions of paragraph (a)(3) of this section and 42 U.S.C. 7522(a)(3).
This would not apply to most professional motorsports (such as NASCAR, IndyCar, or drag racing), because they use custom vehicles that were never certified. It is also not likely to affect Mopar’s Drag Pack for the Dodge Challenger, unless the EPA judges that it is built as a certified vehicle and then modified.
The new rules would apply to someone with a factory vehicle (e.g. a Hellcat Challenger) they wanted to turn into a pure racing car.
Some modifications and parts would become illegal; racing organizers could, however, create new classes for racing with fully emissions-compliant vehicles. There does not appear to be any provision to certify a modification that might affect the certified configuration. The California Air Resources Board certifies aftermarket parts to be legal in California but those exceptions would not be valid under more stringent EPA rules – even in California.
The Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA) wrote that it had verified that this restriction is indeed the agency’s intent, and that it would lobby against it. A final decision on the new rules could come as soon as July of this year.
Allen Johnson, whose 20-year deal with Mopar ended last year, will be in the field as the 2016 Mello Yello NHRA drag racing season opens next weekend.
But instead of the familiar blue-and-yellow graphics, Johnson’s Dodge Dart will be wearing the red, white and blue of Marathon Oil.
Late last month, J&J Racing and the big oil company announced a sponsorship deal that will run through the 2016 season. Thanks to the deal, Johnson will be able to compete in all 18 regular-season races and, hopefully, the six races in the Countdown to the Championship.
The deal shouldn’t be too much of a surprise; Johnson and Marathon have had a long business relationship. In addition to his career as a Pro Stock driver and partner in J&J Racing, Johnson also owns Greenville Oil and Petroleum with a total of 40 fuel stations and oil-change businesses all of which carry Marathon products.
In contrast to 2015, when there were only two Dodges in most of the Pro Stock events, there are five Darts in the Pro Stock field for the season-opening Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California.
The champions of the past four Pro Stock seasons will all be driving Darts this year. Erica Enders, who won back-to-back championships in 2014 and 2015, will be in a 2016 Dart running in the colors of Elite Motorsports, which landed the Mopar/Magneti Marelli sponsorship, as will Jeg Coughlin, who took the title in 2013. Coughlin’s car will be wearing the Magneti Marelli colors. Johnson was the champion in 2012.
Also in the Dart brigade are V. Gaines, who will turn 69 in June, and the Kendall Oil Dart and Deric Kramer, back for another go and sponsored by American Ethanol and Novozymes.
Fast Jack Beckman, the Funny Car champion in 2012 and runner-up in 2015, returns in the Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T. He will be joined by his Don Schumacher Racing teammates Ron Capps, Tommy Johnson Jr. and two-time world champion Matt Hagan. Hagan continues to be sponsored by Mopar and Rocky Boots.
John Hale will be at the wheel of the Jim Dunn Racing/Oberto Beef Jerky Charger and Gary Densham returns in the Densham Motorsports Dodge.
The NHRA Winternationals open with Sportsman and Top Alcohol qualifying on Thursday, February 11. Pro Stock and Fuel Funny Car qualifying is scheduled for Friday and Saturday with eliminations on Sunday, February 14.
Fifty-four teams were on hand for the 54th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona Motor Speedway.
The 24-hour event, which concluded today, kicked off the 2016 season for both the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup.
The Riley Motorsports No. 93 Dodge SRT Viper GT3-R, driven by Ben Keating, Gar Robinson, Jeff Mosing, Eric Foss and Damien Faulkner, finished third in the GT Daytona class and 16th overall. The Viper crossed the finish line 5.059 seconds behind the class-winning Magnus Racing team of John Potter, Andy Lally, Marco Seefried, Rene Rast and their No. 44 Audi R8 LMS GT3 .
If Gar Robinson’s name sounds familiar, he’s the rookie that knocked Cameron Lawrence and the No. 1 Dodge Challenger out of the Trans Am TA2 championship last year.
All of the No. 93 team members are from Texas with the exception of Irishman Damien Faulkner. Keating is from Houston, Robinson is from San Antonio, Mosing is from Austin and Foss is from the Dallas-Ft. Worth area.
The second Riley car, the No. 33 Gas Monkey Dodge, finished tenth in class and 24th overall. The team of Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Marc Miller and Dominick Farnbacher was about 1.415 seconds behind the No. 93 car at the race’s end.
Marc Goossens, a driver well-known to Viper fans, was also in this weekend’s race. He was one of the drivers of the No. 90 VisitFlorida.com Chevrolet Corvette DP that finished third overall and third in the Prototype class.
The fastest laps of the day were turned in by the four Lamborghini Huracan GT3s, but only one Lambo made it into the top ten in the class.
While the stigma against station wagons in the United States ended the Dodge Magnum’s run in 2008, these muscular haulers are still a hot commodity among enthusiasts.
Robert Lamb’s Dodge Magnum SRT8 recently set the record for the quickest in the world, with a quarter mile time of just 8.995 seconds and a trap speed of 155 miles per hour. Making the run even more impressive is the fact the Mr. Lamb’s Magnum hasn’t had any weight removed – meaning that this 8-second station wagon weighs some 4,600lbs when you factor in the roll cage and the turbo setup.
While the weight might be stock (or heavier than stock), few of the drivetrain components have been left untouched in Lamb’s progress in putting his Dodge Magnum into the 8 second range.
The stock 6.1L Hemi was replaced by a 408 cubic inch stroker motor built by Chris Siedle, fitted with twin 67mm turbochargers. The full build was handled by Gearhead Fabrications in Stuart, Florida and Brian McMahon from Diablosport tuned the setup to make monster power.
That power is sent to the rear wheels by means of an ATF TH400 transmission, a carbon fiber driveshaft and a Drive Shaft Shop 9” rear differential.
Mickey Thompson Pro ET drag radials put the power to the ground well enough for a 4,600+ pounds Dodge station wagon to lay down incredible 1.4 second 60-foot times en route to a record-setting quarter mile time of 8.995 seconds at 155.08 miles per hour.
Having the first Dodge Magnum in the world to run an 8-second quarter mile is impressive, but this isn’t just a race car. Lamb drives the Magnum several times a week, often leaving his Hellcat Charger at home to pick up his kids from school.
This a legitimate street car that can lay down 8-second quarter mile times and for that, we salute Robert Lamb for having one wicked street machine.
Gas Monkey Garage is sponsoring the #33 ViperExchange/Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper GT3-R at next weekend’s 24-hour Daytona race.
Gas Monkey Garage is featured on Discovery’s TV show “Fast N’ Loud;” the car restoration shop in Dallas is led by Richard Rawlings. Viper Exchange is in Tomball, Texas, led by Ben Keating, who will be the lead driver for the race. Other drivers will be Jeroen Bleekemolen, Marc Miller, and Dominik Farnbacher.
Many Mopar drag racing fans were unhappy when they learned that Allen Johnson would not be part of the factory-based Pro Stock team in 2016. After a long, storied career behind the wheel of many winning Dodge race cars, Chrysler chose to move to Jeg Coughlin and Eric Enders. While Enders is coming off back-to-back championship seasons in a Chevrolet, it seemed to leave Johnson out in the cold.
Allen Johnson made it clear that he hoped to continue racing, but he didn’t have any news as to what he would drive in the future or who would sponsor him.
We still don’t know for sure what colors will be on the car when Allen Johnson takes to the track later this year, but we know that he will still be piloting a Dodge Dart Pro Stock car. The image above was posted a while back on the official team Facebook page with the promise of more information in the future. It seems clear that AJ will be in a Dodge for 2016 – he just won’t have the same factory support (money) as Erica Enders and Jeg Coughlin.
As Allen Johnson makes a run at being a privateer – competing without factory financial support – it will be interesting to see how he does in his Dodge Dart against Coughlin and Enders. All three drivers should be in similar race cars, so the Pro Stock class could see a few Mopar-Mopar rivalries as Johnson battles the corporate teams.
Ending months of rumors, including correct predictions on Allpar’s motorsports forum, Mopar has officially announced that it is sponsoring two-time NHRA Pro Stock Champion Erica Enders and five-time Champion Jeg Coughlin in the 2016 NHRA Pro Stock season.
Ms. Enders, who won back-to-back championships in 2014 and 2015, will run a Mopar-powered Elite Motorsports Dodge Dart GT. Mr. Coughlin will be driving a second Dart with Magneti Marelli colors.
After a lackluster 2015 season, Mopar ended its 20-year partnership with 2012 Pro Stock champion Allen Johnson. Mr. Johnson went out on a high note, winning the final race of the season (also the final Pro Stock race with carburetors).
NHRA switches over to electronic fuel injection next year, which is why the cars may look strange, missing the big hood scoops that were a fixture on Pro Stock cars for years.
Mopar has also extended its Funny Car partnership with Don Schumacher Racing, one of the most successful and longest-running partnerships in the sport. Matt Hagan, two-time world Funny Car champion will be back at the wheel of the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T.
The first 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat broke into the 9-second quarter mile range back in September, with the aid of nitrous oxide. This weekend, the first Hellcat Charger ran a nine-second time — without nitrous oxide.
The Hellcat Charger was modified by High Horse Performance, which was behind the Hellcat Challenger that was the first to run in the 9.7 range back in September.
This time, they added an upper and lower pulley set to lift the boost pressure to 18psi, a free flowing exhaust system without catalytic converters, and an engine tune to pump out 902 horsepower and 866 lb-ft of torque.
To put the power to the ground, they used a tough Driveshaft Shop driveshaft, 3.09 rear gears, and lightweight rear wheels in drag radials.
The video shows the Hellcat Charger making three runs. It starts with the first Hellcat Charger 9-second quarter mile time, and ends with a new record for the quickest Hellcat Charger in the world, with an ET of 9.71. That’s just 0.01 seconds off the fastest Hellcat quarter-mile — which used nitrous oxide.
The supercharged Dodge Challengers and Chargers are facing a problem for the next racing season, though. Typically, any car running in the 10 second range had to be fitted with a safety cage to protect the driver. With the Hellcat cars dipping into the 10s, some tracks have been lenient on the cage rules, but with these cars dipping into the mid 9s, they will likely change the rules soon.
The safety cage adds weight, so to get deep into the 9s, these teams will likely need to add more performance modifications to get to the same place; cage or roll bars can also be unappealing for folks who use their Hellcat cars for daily drivers.
The video shows Linda’s Hellcat Charger blasting down the quarter mile and setting records in the process. The Allpar Forum has more discussion on these stunning quarter mile rips.
Allen Johnson and the Mopar Dodge Dart powered to their second win of the 2015 Mello Yello NHRA drag racing season at the Auto Club Finals in Pomona, California.
Meanwhile, Jack Beckman’s hopes for another Funny Car championship came to an end with a loss to Del Worsham in the semifinals at Auto Club Raceway. Worsham went on to take the final Funny Car Wally by defeating Tommy Johnson Jr.
Allen Johnson collected the 26th win of his Pro Stock career with a hole shot win over former teammate Vincent Nobile. Johnson had a big starting line advantage, wiping out Nobile’s 0.001-second quicker time. The Mopar Dart tripped the lights 0.0211 seconds before the Mountain View Tire Camaro.
“We dug down deep and got it done to give my family, the team and Mopar the win in the final race of the year and to cap off twenty years like this is special,” Johnson said after the race. “I had to step up my game for this race day after being up and down through the entire Countdown and I wanted to finish the year on a high. We struggled to get traction in our car through qualifying and even the first three rounds. Right before the final round we found that we had a bent piece on the car and fixed it and ran straight down the track to win it. The Magneti Marelli Mopar team doesn’t ever give up. We’ve been out here for 20 years with Mopar and what a great sponsor they are. The Mopar fans are fanatics and they’ve always been here with us. It’s been an unbelievable ride with my dad (Roy Johnson) for 20 great years.”
Adding fuel to the rumors of a big change, Johnson said, “We’re not sure what next year holds for us, but we hope to be out here racing again in the Dodge Dart.”
On his way to victory, Johnson eliminated Jonathan Gray in the third matchup of the first round; Shane Gray in the quarterfinals and 2015 Pro Stock Champion Erica Enders in the semifinals.
With the win, Johnson finished the 2015 season at No. 3 in the Pro Stock standings, leapfrogging Drew Skillman and edging ahead of Chris McGaha by one point. Going into todays finals, Johnson was fifth in the points race.
In the first round of eliminations, Richie Stevens jumped the gun and turned on the red light, giving Drew Skillman a free pass to the quarterfinals and V. Gaines’ Kendall Oil Dart had problems and had to be pulled from the line, setting Erica Enders up for her match with Johnson.
In his matchup with points leader Del Worsham, Beckman got the better start but began losing traction and began to pump. The DHL Toyota cruised by the Infinite Hero Dodge Charger and took the race and the 2015 Championship. Since Beckman had reset his own national ET record and received 20 extra bonus points, there was just a 16-point gap between the two and the race with Worsham was literally a duel for all the marbles.
Beckman finishes the season in second place, 56 points behind Worsham, with seven nationals wins, more than any other Funny Car driver, as well as the newest national ET record and an assured ride in 2016. Beckman reset the national ET record four times during the season.
“We said whoever would win it earned it, but nobody is holding their head down here,” said Beckman. “We did amazing things on the racetrack and amazing things for our injured vets with Infinite Hero. We’ve had by all standards a career year for the entire team. The points just didn’t come out in our favor with the Countdown and the points being reset.”
All of the Don Schumacher drivers made it past the first round of eliminations and only Matt Hagan was shut down in the quarterfinals. The semifinals consisted of Jack Beckman, Ron Capps, Tommy Johnson Jr. and Del Worsham with Johnson and Worsham advancing to the final round.
Johnson, Capps and Hagan ranked third, fourth and fifth, respectively in the Mello Yello standings.
Hagan didn’t repeat as Funny Car champion but he did collect four wins and now holds the top five national speed records.
This is the first year since 2010 that Dodge hasn’t won either the Funny Car or Pro Stock crown. It came into the Countdown to the Championship with Beckman as the favorite. But with the point reset, Worsham racked up three back-to-back wins to take the lead, and Beckman never could seem to put it together. Tommy Johnson Jr. took the only Dodge Wally in the Countdown. Johnson also had three final-round appearances to one each for Beckman and Hagan.
This is similar to 2014, when Robert Hight was the heavy favorite but Matt Hagan turned it around in the Countdown and collected the big prize.
Despite missing the championship, Dodge had a dominant season in Funny Car. Dodge collected the most wins in the season with 15, or 63%, of the 24 trophies awarded plus Allen Johnson’s pair in Pro Stock. However, Chevy was the big winner in the two Pro classes, capturing 22, or 92% of the Pro Stock Wallys and four more in Funny Car. Toyota scored four national wins, all in the Countdown, and Ford got one.
Saturday was a mixed bag for Dodge drivers in NHRA drag Racing and Trans Am TA2 action. Ron Capps and Matt Hagan set new track records in the final qualifying session of the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello drag racing season at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California, as a disastrous race at Daytona International Speedway cost Cameron Lawrence his chance to three-peat as Trans Am TA2 class champion.
In a weekend of records, Ron Capps reset the track ET record and set himself up for a national ET record with a 3.886 time in the fourth, and final, round of qualifying in the Auto Club NHRA finals. Capps and Tommy Johnson Jr. split the top qualifier spot with Capps on top in Rounds One and Four and Johnson in the lead in Rounds Two and Three.
Capps, fellow Don Schumacher driver Jack Beckman, and Del Worsham all have a shot at resetting the national ET record today. Capps, Beckman and Worsham finished the day 1-2-3 in the qualifying order. Cooler temperatures in Pomona could make for some very quick times today.
Matt Hagan posted a 330.15 mph run on his last pass on Saturday, a new track record and close to the national record 330.47 mph he set at St. Louis in September. Hagan took the No. 4 spot on Saturday.
Johnson, one of three drivers still in contention for the Funny Car championship, qualified fifth.
Gary Densham, Paul Lee and Jeff Arend also qualified while John Hale’s season ended as he was one of five drivers who failed to make the cut on Saturday.
In Pro Stock, Allen Johnson qualified in the No. 11 spot. Richie Stevens and V. Gaines also made it into the field while Alan Prusiensky failed to qualify.
After leading the Trans AM TA2 class all season, Cameron Lawrence came into the Bullet Liner Championship Weekend with a narrow 13-point lead over Gar Robinson. An unfortunate accident during TA2 class qualifying dropped him to the 26th spot in the starting grid. Lawrence made his way up to 11th in just three laps but mechanical troubles with the Mopar Dodge Challenger forced a pit stop and a full-course caution left him a lap down. Lawrence finished the race in 18th place and Robinson won the championship. Two-time champion Lawrence finished third in the season standings behind Robinson and Adam Andretti.
The season wasn’t a total wash for Lawrence. Along with Al Carter and Marc Goossens, Lawrence won the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup in IMSA’s GT Daytona class.
Dodges did come out on top in TA3 International. Lee Saunders was the class champion in the No. 84 Landsearch LLC Dodge Viper. Saunders finished the season with a 97-point lead over Steve Streimer and the No. 42 Lux Performance Group Viper, giving Dodge a 1-2 finish for the year.
Don Schumacher Racing Dodges were 1-2-3 in Friday Funny Car qualifying at the season-ending NHRA Sonoma Finals that run through Sunday.
Tommy Johnson Jr. took the top spot with a track record ET of 3.917 seconds at 324.67 mph. Matt Hagan, in one of his best recent qualifying performances, was the runner-up with a track record speed of 329.50 mph and an ET of 3.923, just 0.006 seconds slower than Johnson.
After setting a track ET record in the first round, Ron Capps was beaten by Johnson and Hagan in Round Two and finished the day in the No. 3 position. He collected four points, the most of any driver on Friday.
Jack Beckman took the No. 2 spot in the first round order, but slowed at the end of his second pass and qualified fifth. He still picked up two points to help close the gap between him and Del Worshan, who qualified seventh in Round Two after failing to make the cut in the day’s first run.
Beckman and the world-ET-record-holding Dodge Charger R/T will return next season. Terry Chandler announced that she will once again sponsor the Don Schumacher Racing car for the 2016 season and donate the branding rights for the car to the Infinite Hero Foundation, a charity that helps wounded veterans.
During the 2015 season, Mr. Beckman raised $300,000 for the foundation, partly by carrying Infinite Hero Challenge coins on every run. The coins were then given to fans in exchange for a $100 donation to the foundation. “Everything this Infinite Hero team has accomplished is because of Terry Chandler’s generosity, and I won’t ever forget that,” said Mr. Beckman, who was a sergeant in the U.S. Air Force.
There are eight Chargers in the Funny Car field; five qualified on Friday. Gary Densham took the last qualifying spot, finishing tenth in the order. John Hale, Paul Lee and Jeff Arend will have to try again on Saturday.
Allen Johnson’s Mopar Dart is still wearing the 20-year “Thank You” wrap from Mopar that debuted in Las Vegas. He qualified 11th in the Pro Stock opener, then bested his first run and advanced to ninth.
Richie Stevens, 2015 Pro Stock Champion Erica Ender’s husband, is sitting in for Deric Kramer this weekend. He missed the cutoff by just 0.010 seconds and qualified 13th, three spots ahead of V. Gaines and Alan Prusiensky in an 18-car field.
Defending NHRA Funny Car World Champion Matt Hagan and the Mopar/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T have been eliminated from the championship this year following a disappointing first round in Las Vegas.
Mr. Hagan began the 2015 Mello Yello NHRA drag racing season with a win, and held the points lead until the SpringNationals in late April when teammate Ron Capps pulled ahead. Mr. Hagan regained the top spot in early June, but starting in August, Jack Beckman started a streak that lasted through the rest of the regular season.
Mr. Hagan collected four national trophies, second only to Mr. Beckman’s seven, and set the national speed record. He entered the six-race Countdown to the Championship in second place, but has now dropped to fifth.
Three of his Don Schumacher Racing teammates are still in the running. Jack Beckman, the current runner-up, can clinch the championship this Sunday at the Sonoma Finals. Tommy Johnson Jr., who is 97 points back in third place, and Ron Capps, 140 points off the lead, can bring home another Dodge championship with good qualifying and a win, if the current leader makes an early exit.
It all comes down to four rounds of eliminations this weekend in Sonoma, California.
Tommy Johnson Jr. kept his hopes alive for the 2015 Mello Yello NHRA Funny Car World Championship with a runner-up finish in the Toyota NHRA Nationals at the Strip in Las Vegas.
Johnson was first out of the gate but was up in smoke by the 100-foot mark in his final-round matchup with Robert Hight.
Points leader Del Worsham and runner-up Jack Beckman were both eliminated in the quarterfinals meaning there is still a 38-point gap between the two.
Worsham, Beckman and Johnson are all in contention for the championship which will be decided in two weeks at the NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California.
Defending champion Matt Hagan saw his chances at a repeat literally go up in smoke in the opening rounds of Sunday’s eliminations as he lost to Worsham. Hagan remains fifth in the point standings.
Ron Capps shut down Cruz Pedregon in the first round and Beckman in the second before losing to Johnson in the semifinals.
In Pro Stock, all the Dodges were eliminated in the first round. Allen Johnson fell to former teammate Vincent Nobile in a very close race that Johnson led up until the very end. Nobile tripped the timing lights 0.0048 seconds, or about 18 inches ahead of Johnson.
Bo Butner, the eventual runner-up, led V. Gaines from start to finish in their matchup. The same thing happened to Deric Kramer. He was paired up with Erica Enders, who went on to win the event and her second Pro Stock World Championship.
It was a bad day for Ferrari in Formula One: neither car was able to finish the Mexico Grand Prix. Sebastian Vettel dropped to third in the standings behind race winner Nico Rosberg while Kimi Raikkonen is fifth.
Allen Johnson’s Pro Stock Dodge Dart is wearing a new graphics wrap at this weekend’s NHRA Toyota Nationals at the Strip in Las Vegas.
The special “Thank You” wrap celebrates Allen and Roy Johnson’s 20 years of competition in Mopar–powered Dodge NHRA Pro Stock cars. In 2012, the Johnsons delivered Dodge’s first Pro Stock championship since 1994.
It’s also significant because Roy, Allen’s father and engine builder, is back at the track for the first time since undergoing spinal surgery in early September.
“It’s very special to have him out there in front of the car, and to give me the thumbs up before I go down the track,” the younger Johnson said. “It brings a smile to my face, because I know it brings a smile to his. Anytime we can put him on pedestal, he certainly deserves that.”
The rumors continue to circulate that this will be the final year for the Johnsons and Mopar. While no one is confirming anything, it’s said that Allen Johnson will be retiring from Pro Stock competition after this season and that the Mopar sponsorship will go to Elite Motorsports. The scenario for the 2016 season has Erica Enders, the likely 2015 Pro Stock champion, and Jeg Coughlin, who recently signed on with Elite for the full Mello Yello schedule, taking over two Mopar-sponsored Dodge Darts while two other drivers will take Elite’s Camaros.
Sebastian Vettel and the Ferrari SF15-T garnered another podium finish, coming in third behind Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in the United States Grand Prix that ran today at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
With the win, Hamilton sewed up his second consecutive Formula One drivers championship by one point. He needed to be nine points ahead of second-place Vettel to win the championship and he got ten.
Vettel drove well, advancing from 13th in the starting grid and finishing just a half-second behind Rosberg.
Speaking to rock star Elton John after the race, Vettel said, “We have a great car; we have exceeded all expectations. But yeah, it doesn’t feel great when you cross the line and you know that you can’t fight for the championship anymore, so congratulations to Lewis, he did a superb job all year round. Congratulations to his team as well, but we are getting closer and hopefully next year we can give them a very, very hard time.”
With three races left in the season, Sunday’s race was a cause for real celebration in the Mercedes-Benz camp. The Germans had already won the Constructor’s championship with Ferrari as the runner-up.
Kim Raikkonen’s Ferrari developed a problem with overheating brakes, so he did not finish the race. Raikkonen remains fourth in the standings.
Allen Johnson made it to the Pro Stock semifinals of the AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals that wound up today at the Texas Motorplex in Ennis, Texas.
Johnson’s good race day bumped him up to No. 4 in the Countdown to the Championship.
Erica Enders, who won today’s event, her eighth Wally and a new record for the most season wins by a female driver in Pro Stock history, has a 154-point lead with just two events remaining on the schedule. Johnson’s a little too far back for anything but a miracle to give him the 2015 Championship.
With Jeg Coughlin, Johnson’s former teammate, coming back for the entire 2016 season with Elite Motorsports, the same team that Enders drives for, that makes two former Dodge drivers, and Johnson teammates, that have gone over to the bow tie (or dark) side.
V. Gaines, who struggled the entire season, drives the only other Dart that runs a full schedule.
It may be time for J&J Racing and Mopar to think about adding another driver and car to the effort as well as doing some major work on the new cars to see if they can’t be more competitive with the Camaros. There are big changes coming next year with the requirement to switch to electronic fuel injection and the adoption of a cowl engine cover.
In Funny Car, Jack Beckman made it all the way to the final round but couldn’t close the deal. He lost again to Del Worsham’s Camry. Beckman had the better start and the early lead but began hazing the tires at the 330-foot mark. Worsham also lost traction but was able to hang on for the win, tripping the timing lights 0.005 seconds, about three feet, ahead of Beckman.
“It stings to lose one that close,” said Beckman. “It’s one of those races that I’d like to watch at home with the replay. The car was trucking along and then spun the tires and hunted for the wall, but it was far enough down track to just keep the throttle down, hang on and hope it’s enough. Talking to Del (Worsham) after the race, he was having more problems in his lane and had to step off of it. Had we lost in the final to anybody but Del, we would’ve left here with the points lead.”
After going for the entire regular season without a win, Worsham has now captured three of the four Wallys awarded in the Countdown. He slightly widened his lead over Beckman to 38 points and Beckman has to come through at the end of the month in Las Vegas to keep his championship hopes alive.
After getting a first round freebie from Blake Alexander’s red-light foul, Matt Hagan was out in the quarterfinals, losing to Tommy Johnson Jr. who took over third place. Beckman eliminated Johnson in the semifinals. Ron Capps made it all the way to the semifinals where he lost to Worsham. Capps moved up to fourth, one point ahead of Hagan, who dropped all the way down to fifth.
Johnson, Capps and Hagan are all still in the mix, though they would have to have good days at both the Toyota Nationals at the end of October and at the season-ending Auto Club Finals in Pomona in mid-November.
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