Category Archives: Motorsports

Dodge leading in Funny Cars

Matt Hagan’s victory at the NHRA Fall Nationals gives Dodge, Mopar, and Don Schumacher Racing a commanding lead in the Funny Car Countdown to the Championship.

With just two races left in the 2016 Mello Yello drag racing season, Ron Capps, Tommy Johnson Jr., Hagan and Jack Beckman hold the top four spots in the standings.


Hagan got a holeshot win over teammate Ron Capps in the third all-Dodge final round in the Countdown. Ironically, Capps had just gotten holeshot victories in the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds.

Capps still managed to pad his lead over Tommy Johnson Jr. and eliminated Jack Beckman, who set a track speed record of 333.66 mph during qualifying, in the same round.

At the end of the race day, Capps maintained his lead with 2,465 points; Johnson was the runner-up with 2,401 points, while Hagan,. with 2,377 points, advanced him to the #3 spot. Beckman dropped to fourth with 2,334 points.

The closest non-Mopar drivers are Del Worsham, who has 2,320 points, and Robert Hight, with 2,278.

In the 22 Funny Car races this season, nine have had all-Dodge final rounds and 17 have had a Dodge driver in the finals. Dodge and Mopar have now collected 13 of the 22 Wallys awarded.

In Pro Stock, Dodge’s race for the championship is over. Allen Johnson, Jeg Coughlin Jr., and 2014-15 champion Erica Enders have been mathematically eliminated after Coughlin and Enders fell in the opening round and Johnson lost to Greg Anderson in the quarterfinals.

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First Dodge Nats yield big win

Dodge and Don Schumacher Racing dominated the Funny Car class at the first-ever Dodge NHRA Nationals in Maple Grove, Pennsylvania. Matt Hagan claimed the top spot in the rained-shortened qualifying rounds, with Tommy Johnson Jr. taking the second spot.


It was all-Dodge/all-DSR all the way through the semi-finals and final round, where Johnson picked up his second Wally of the season (and Dodge’s 12th) in a race with points leader Ron Capps.

At the end of the day, Dodge drivers held all four of the top spots in the Countdown to the Championship. Capps still holds the lead, but Johnson has trimmed Capps’ margin to just 24 points. Beckman remains in third. Hagan’s performance bumped him up from sixth to fourth.

Leah Pritchett nailed the top spot in Top Fuel qualifying for the first time in her career and made it all the way to the semifinals before losing to Brittany Force. Pritchett and the Mopar/Pennzoil dragster advanced from ninth to seventh in the standings.

It remains tough for Dodge in Pro Stock, although there may be some (very) small solace in the fact that Vincent Nobile, who won his first Wally of the season, used to drive an Avenger. Nobile eliminated Erica Enders, one of just two Dodge drivers to make it past the first round, in the quarterfinals.

Allen Johnson was a first-round casualty. Engine problems forced an early shutdown, giving Alan Prusiensky his first elimination round win. Prusiensky fell to Jason Line in the second round. Jeg Coughlin Jr. also ended his race day in the opening round, losing to Greg Anderson. Johnson, Coughlin and Enders remain seventh, ninth and tenth in the Countdown standings.

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Viper goes out with Petit Le Mans victory

Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen, and Mark Miller captured the checkered flag driving the the No. 33 Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper GT3-R in the season-ending Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta’s 2.54-mile track.


It was a bittersweet win for the team, as the final run for the Viper in IMSA/WeatherTech Sportscar Championship competition.

“It is emotional,” Keating said after the race. “The goal was to give it a good sendoff. Viper has such a rich racing history, and to do our last race in the Viper with IMSA at Petit Le Mans and go out on top is a huge deal.”

On Friday, Bleekemolen won the pole position. Bleekemolen actually came in second, but a rules infraction sent the formerly winning Audi to the back of the pack.

With additional wins at Belle Isle and Road America, the Viper team finished the season in second place in the points. The 2016 championship went to Ferrari’s Christina Nielsen and Alessandro Balzan, whose 488 GT# finished third in Saturday’s race. Disappointing results at Sebring and Circuit of the Americas earlier in the season left the Viper team with a 32-point deficit coming into the Petit Le Mans; they cut the gap to 27 points.

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Dodge dominates Funny Car

Jack Beckman took the Funny Wally and advanced four spots in the 2016 Countdown to the Championship this afternoon in St. Louis, Missouri. The Dodge Charger R/T tripped the lights 0.2767 seconds (about 94 feet) ahead of Tommy Johnson Jr., also in a Dodge.


Beckman’s second win of the season was enough to jump him from seventh to third, while Johnson’s second Countdown final-round appearance propelled him up to second, 48 point behind Ron Capps. Dodge drivers are now 1-2-3 in the Funny Car point totals.

Ron Capps, who remains the leader in the standings, got a free pass in the opening round when John Bojec’s Solara had to be pushed away from the starting line. Capps got a second easy win when Courtney Force went up in smoke at the 660-foot mark.

Matt Hagan dropped from fifth to sixth in points when he lost the quarterfinal round to Wilkerson by .0022 seconds, or roughly 13 inches. Hagan shut down Cruz Pedregon in the opening round.

John Hale went up in smoke in the first race of the day, losing to Robert Hight.

In Pro Stock, it was three up, three down as Allen Jonson, Jeg Coughlin Jr. and Erica Enders lost the day’s first three races to Drew Skillman, Chris McGaha and Jason Line. Alan Prusiensky lost to Greg Anderson in the fifth race.

Allen Johnson, the top-ranked Dodge Pro Stock driver, dropped from fourth to seventh in the standings. Coughlin and Enders swapped the ninth and tenth spots.

In a Mopar-Mopar Top Fuel matchup, Tony Schumacher beat Leah Pritchett in the first race of the quarterfinals. Schumacher made it all the way to the Top Fuel final round, where he lost to Shawn Langdon.

Next weekend is the inaugural Dodge Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway near Reading, Pennsylvania.

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Reading – Dodge Nationals

The first Dodge NHRA Nationals will take place after the previously announced “Mega Block Party” on September 29, in Reading, Pennsylvania.


The former Keystone NHRA Nationals are now the Dodge NHRA Nationals, one of six events in the Countdown to the Championship. The countdown includes the top ten drivers in each pro class.

Mopar is still sponsoring the Mile High Nationals in Denver, as well.

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Weekend racing action (Updated)

After the weather cleared in Fraserville, Ontario, Cayden Lapcevich claimed the NASCAR Pinty’s series championship, Rookie of the Year title, and the owner’s championship for his mother, Sherri, who owns the #76 Fastline Motorsports Dodge Challenger.

racing Dodge Challengers in Canadian Tire NASCAR series

Lapcevich needed only to be in the field at the start of the race to clinch the season victory, but he ran a good race, finishing second behind Jason Hathway’s Chevrolet.  He finished the season 54 points ahead of Dodge driver Andrew Ranger, the largest margin of victory since 2011.

This was Hathway’s final race as a full-time driver. He is one of only two drivers to have been in every race since the Canadian series debuted in 2007; the other is two-time series champion and Dodge driver D.J. Kennington.

Further south, in North Carolina, Dodge failed to win at the Carolina NHRA Nationals, and some drivers lost ground in the six-race Countdown to the Championship.

Tommy Johnson Jr., the top Funny Car qualifier, made it all the way to the final round, losing to John Force but jumping from seventh to fourth in the standings. On his way to the final matchup, Johnson eliminated Matt Hagan in the quarterfinals and Del Worsham in the semifinals.

Ron Capps, the current points leader, lost to John Force in the semifinals but still padded his lead over second-place Worsham.

Hagan’s loss to Johnson cost him two spots in the standings; Hagan dropped from third to fifth.

Jack Beckman struck the tires in his opening-round race with Worsham and fell from fifth to seventh.

John Hale went up in smoke in his first race of the day, losing to Capps.

Force not only collected the Funny Car Wally, he jumped from eighth to third in the Countdown order.

Allen Johnson fell from fourth to fifth in the Pro Stock competition following a first-round loss to Jeg Coughlin Jr. Alan Prusiensky’s race day also ended in the opening series when he lost his race with Greg Anderson, who would advance to the final round and his own loss to Jason Line.

Coughlin made it as far as Round Two. He was matched up with Vincent Nobile who get the better start and the lower ET.

As mentioned in a previous article, Enders failed to make the cut following what turned out to be a loose wire in the fuel injector.

In Top Fuel, Tony Schumacher lost a first-round stunner to Cameron Ferre, who was running in his first-ever pro class race. Schumacher got the better start but lit the tires just after that.

Leah Pritchett won the first Top Fuel race of the day, beating Richie Crampton and moving from tenth to eighth in the Countdown. She was slow off the line in her second race, falling to Doug Kalitta.

In IMSA action, it was a tough weekend for Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen. The No. 33 Dodge Viper GTS-R finished 13th in the Lone Star Le Mans at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Dan Knox and Mike Skeen finished a bit better, bringing the No. 80 Lone Star Racing Viper in for an eighth-place finish.

Up to this event, Keating and Bleekemolen were in second place in the GT Daytona standings, just 20 points behind the leading No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 drivne by Christina Nielsen and Alessandro Balzan. The gap is now 32 points heading into the final event of the season.

The next Trans Am event is next weekend. Louis-Philippe Montour and the No. 77 Dodge Challenger are fourth in a tight race for the championship with five races still on the schedule. Montour is currently 17 points behind Tony Buffomante and his No. 34 Ford Mustang.

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Enders out in North Carolina

For the first time since the 2010 Auto Club finals, two-time World Champion Erica Enders failed to make the field for a NHRA National event. This time, it was the opening round of the 2016 Mello Yello NHRA Countdown to the Championship.


Enders, who is the defending Pro Stock champion, saw her hopes of a three-peat dim as engine problems prevented her Elite Motorsports Dodge Dart from making a decent pass at the Carolina Nationals in Concord, North Carolina.

After making the field in the first round, Enders’ crew switched engines and the new mill apparently had a gremlin in the fuel injector. She failed to qualify in the second round on Friday and couldn’t make a decent run on Saturday.

Her teammate, Jeg Coughlin Jr., was able to qualify in all four rounds and will meet up with Allen Johnson in a Dart-Dart matchup in the opening round. Coughlin qualified in the No. 11 spot while Johnson, who has been running the top Dodge all season, landed in the No. 6 spot.

Alan Prusiensky and the Dodge will meet up with Greg Anderson in the opener.

In Top Fuel action, Tony Schumacher and the U.S. Army dragster qualified third. He will face Cameron Ferre in Round One. Leah Pritchett took the No. 9 spot and will compete against Richie Crampton.

Tommy Johnson Jr. was at the bottom of the Funny Car order after the first round of qualifying on Friday. In the opening matchup of Round Two, he found some magic and rocketed to the top of the order and set a track ET record that stuck through the remaining qualifying sessions. His first race on Sunday will be against Bob Gilbertson.

Ron Capps, the points leader, qualified No. 2 and will be paired with John Hale in the Oberto Charger. Jack Beckman, who got the No. 5 position, has a tough opening opponent in Del Worsham, who sewed up the 2015 Funny Car championship with a string of wins in the Countdown.

Matt Hagan, ninth in the order, will race against No. 8 Courtney Force when Funny Car eliminations kick off Sunday.

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Dodge to claim landmark championship tomorrow

Weather willing, 16-year-old Cayden Lapcevich from Grimsby, Ontario, will become the youngest driver in NASCAR history to win a season championship – and he will do it at the wheel of a Dodge Challenger.


With a 41-point lead over his nearest competitor, Andrew Ranger in the No. 27 Mopar/Pennzoil/Mopar Express Lane Dodge, Lapcevich and the No. 76 Fastline Motorsports Dodge need only take the green flag at the beginning of the rain-delayed Kawartha 250 in Fraserville, Ontario on Sunday.

The Kawartha 250 is the final race of the NASCAR Pinty’s (formerly Canadian Tire) 2016 season

Along with the championship, Lapcevich will become the youngest champion in Canadian professional auto racing history; the youngest champion in any series sanctioned by NASCAR and the rookie of the year in Canada’s only national auto racing series.

Lapcevich, a high-school senior, beats the previous record held by Joey Logano who was 17 when he won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship in 2007.

Making the win even more special is that Lapcevich did it all without a major season sponsor. His previous sponsor, Tim Horton’s, dropped out after the 2015 season. This season, the Dodge wears the colors of Fastline Motorsports, the Lapcevich family team founded by Cayden’s grandfather.

Unable to afford a full-time crew, Lapcevich and his father, racing champion Jeff Lapcevich, kept the car going and the family racing. The younger Lapcevich tries to race conservatively to preserve the engines.

With eleven starts so far in the season, Lapcevich has finished in the top ten every race, He has three wins, eight top fives and eleven top tens.

Incidentally, Cayden Lapcevich’s daily driver is a 2012 Ford pickup. Perhaps the fine folks at FCA Canada should consider replacing that Ford with a new Ram?

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Countdown fields set at U.S. Nationals

It was a good weekend in Indianapolis for Mopar, Dodge and Don Schumacher Racing. Two Mopar wins at the Big One – the U.S. Nationals. Three more Mopar drivers earned a place in the Countdown to the Championship and Dodge added a tenth Funny Car Wally to its regular-season take.


Top Fuel Dragster

Tony Schumacher drove his Mopar-powered U.S. Army car all the way to the Top Fuel dragster Wally with a hole shot win over Steve Torrence just two days after picking up $100,000 for winning the Traxxas Nitro Shootout. The Top Fuel win was a record tenth at the U.S. Nationals for Schumacher, who has the No. 4 spot in the Countdown.

Leah Pritchett got her spot in the Countdown to the Championship, the six-event series that kicks off with the NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMay Raceway on September 16. She lost her first-round race with Shawn Langdon, but Terry McMilan, who was vying with Pritchett for the final spot, jumped the gun, turned on the red light and gave Pritchett the Countdown berth by a single point.

Fuel Funny Car

Matt Hagan came away with the Funny Car Wally after being the top qualifier and setting a new track ET record. Hagan got a hole shot win over Del Worsham to take the final victory in the 2016 Mello Yello regular season. Hagan secured the No. 3 spot in the Countdown with the win.

Hagan’s third win this season put him second only to Ron Capps, who picked up five victories. With one apiece for Jack Beckman and Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge’s season take was ten Wallys: Chevrolet was in second place with four and Toyota and Ford collected two each.

Jack Beckman was upset by Dave Richards in the first race of the day. Richards and his Prestig Mustang were making their first appearances in the U.S. Nationals while Beckman was the defending champion and had set a new track speed record. Beckman got the better start but lost traction almost immediately. Beckman is fifth in the Countdown order.

Ron Capps, who goes into the Countdown in the top spot, made it all the way to the semifinals where engine trouble cost him the win over Worsham.

Tommy Johnson Jr. also made it to the semifinals where he lost to Hagan. Johnson had already clinched his spot in the Championship series in the No. 7 position.

Pro Stock

Allen Johnson rode three hole shots to the final round of Pro Stock eliminations. He beat Drew Skillman, Greg Johnson and Shane Gray before facing off against Chris McGaha. This time, McGaha got the quicker start and the Marathon Dodge Dart couldn’t catch the Harlow Sammons Camaro.

Johnson, who has more semi-final and final round appearances than any other Dodge driver, has the fourth position in the Pro Stock Countdown.

It all came down to the wire for Erica Enders and Jeg Coughlin Jr. They entered the Big One with small leads over Alex Laughlin, driver of the GasMonkey/360 Wraps Camaro. Both Enders and Coughlin lost in the opening round, but Laughlin fell to Shane Gray in the quarterfinals and couldn’t make up the difference. Enders, the 2015 World Champion, secured the No. 9 spot, and Coughlin got the final berth.

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