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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Arcengines.com 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.
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?
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.
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.
On Friday, September 2, 2010, Dr. Jim Daniels drove a 1968 Super Stock Dodge Dart to victory in the Mopar Hemi Challenge at the NHRA U.S. Nationals. He defeated Dave Barton to win the trophy, and the $10,000 check.
There was some irony there; Barton, along with his brother Ray, built Daniels’ car and engine.
Friday night, that same Dart, with the same engine, won the 2016 Mopar Hemi Challenge.
This time, the driver was 20-year-old Jimmy Daniels, Jim’s son. The younger Daniels raced well through the eliminations but ultimately got a free pass to the win when his opponent, Stephen Hebert was too quick on the draw and pulled a right light foul. Daniels made a clean and quick 8.443-second pass at 154.90 mph
The younger Daniels, who wants to be a dentist like his father, collected the trophy, a special Mopar jacket and a bigger prize check for $15,000.
Daniels qualified in the No. spot for the Challenge. On his way to the win, he shut down Doug Fazzolare and his ’68 Dart, Matt Welker’s ’68 Plymouth Barracuda and Jim Pancake in anther ’68 Dart.
“This is just unbelievable,” said Daniels, a college biology major. “I’ve only had about three passes in the car before this. We struggled at the beginning of the year, going back to an automatic, and it just turned around this weekend. We did some work on it before the race, and everything just came together. It’s an unbelievable experience. If it wasn’t for my dad, and Ray and David for the awesome horsepower, and just the whole team effort, I couldn’t imagine leaving our home in Bristol, Pennsylvania, and saying, ‘I’m going to be in the winner’s circle Friday night.’ It’s unreal.”
Mopar is setting up for drag racing and special events at the 62nd Annual NHRA U.S. Nationals, slated for August 31-September 5 near Indianapolis.
The event will see a two-time Pro Stock champion doing double duty in a Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak, racers battling for a chance to be in the playoffs, and a clash of classic Mopar Hemi-powered competitors.
Defending Pro Stock champ Erica Enders will run her Dodge Dart Pro Stocker, then switch to a supercharged-Hemi Dodge Challenger Drag Pak in the Factory Stock Showdown.
Erica Enders said, “It’s definitely a cool deal that Mopar and Dodge asked me to drive the Dodge Challenger Drag Pak at Indy. It will be something interesting. I have never competed in that before, and being that it’s at the U.S. Nationals, it’s obviously very prestigious, so we will go out there and see what happens.
“I already have a license in Stock, so it wasn’t a big deal. I’m licensed in almost every class except for Funny Car and Top Fuel, so that wasn’t an issue. I did, however, go up to Detroit and get fitted for the car …. I haven’t foot-brake raced since Jr. Dragsters, so that’s 20-something years ago. To go up there and not have a pro Tree and not leave with a clutch or a transbrake button..,it was fun and exciting..”
Enders will be in the lanes at Lucas Oil Raceway starting on Wednesday, along with nearly 200 fellow Sportsman competitors.
The Nationals are also the last chance for drivers to crack the top ten in the standings, so they can qualify for the Countdown to the Championship, a six-event series that will determine the 2016 World Championship. All four Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) Dodge Charger R/T funny Car drivers have already clinched their berths, with Ron Capps securing the top spot in the order. Going into this weekend’s racing, Jack Beckman stands #4, Matt Hagan at #5, and Tommy Johnson Jr. at #8.
In Pro Stock, Allen Johnson is secure at #4; while Enders is currently ninth in the order, one spot ahead of Jeg Coughlin Jr. Enders and Coughlin need to outlast Alex Laughlin to sew up their tickets to the Countdown.
Leah Pritchett and her Mopar Top Fuel dragster team are tied for tenth, locked in a duel with Terry McMillen. Eight-time NHRA Top Fuel champ Tony Schumacher has clinched his berth and will battle for his ninth crown.
Finally, the Mopar-powered Super Stock/Automatic-HEMI (SS/AH) Sportsman class competitors will go head-to-head, with over twenty 1968 Dodge Darts and Plymouth Barracudas entered. Qualifying will take place Thursday, September 1, with eliminations on Friday, September 2. The champion will earn the $15,000 winner’s prize and a 42.6-pound Hemi Challenge trophy.
Mopar will recognize its grassroots racers at the annual Mopar Sportsman Appreciation Night on Thursday, September 1, from 7 to 9 p.m. In addition to free food and drinks, Mopar Sportsman racers can participate in tech seminars and Q&A sessions with Mopar and FCA US engineers, and meet drag racing legends Herb McCandless and Tom Coddington. There are drawings throughout the night, with prizes including Gen II Hemi aluminum heads and a set of Mopar 6.4L heads.
The highlight of this year’s Woodward Cruise took place in Pontiac, Michigan, where the famed avenue was converted to a legal drag strip by Dodge on Friday night. Part of the second “Roadkill Nights Powered by Dodge” event, it built on last year’s Pontiac Silverdome event.
Woodward Avenue, or Highway 1, was closed to normal traffic for nine hours of drag racing, with a total cash purse of $19,000. Over 30,000 people showed up, three times last year’s showing. Over 350 street-legal cars ran down the 1/8-mile strip between Rapid Street and South Boulevard, and over a thousand took part in the car show.
People also lined up for thrill rides in Dodge Charger SRT Hellcats, Challenger SRT Hellcats, and Dodge Vipers on a drifting course with professional drivers.
Mike Moran won the top cash prize, $10,000, when his 1969 Dodge Charger won a grudge-style drag race; his Charger is powered by a 5.6-liter (around 340 cid) twin turbo second-generation Hemi V8.*
More will be added when our full writeup/video feature is posted.
* Information from FCA.
Despite a semifinal-round loss to Matt Hagan, Ron Capps clinched the No. 1 spot in the six-race Countdown to the Championship. Capps finished the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals 215 points ahead of No. 2 Courtney Force, making it mathematically impossible for anyone to top his total, which now stands at 1,413 points.
Hagan made it to the final round but tire shake cost him the win in his race with Del Worsham, the 2015 Funny Car champion, who picked up his first Wally of the 2016 season.
Worsham’s win jumped him to the No. 3 spot in the standings, dropping Jack Beckman and Hagan to fourth and fifth, respectively.
Tommy Johnson Jr. clinched a berth in the Countdown. He’s currently No. 8 in the points race. All four Don Schumacher Racing drivers are now in the hunt for the Funny Car World Championship.
Dodge has now collected nine of the 17 Funny Car Wallys that have been awarded this season.
In Pro Stock, Erica Enders made it to a semifinal-round matchup with Jason Line. Enders got the best start and had the lead for most of the race, but Line caught up at the end, tripping the lights 0.0017 seconds, or about six inches, ahead of Enders.
Enders eliminated Allen Johnson in the first race of the quarterfinals.
Enders’ Sunday performance jumped her up to ninth in the point standings, 13 points ahead of Jeg Coughlin Jr. who lost to Bo Butner in the first round of eliminations.
There are two Countdown spots open in Top Fuel Dragster and Leah Pritchett has one more chance to lock up one of them. She went up in smoke in the first Top Fuel matchup of the day and is now tied with Terry Millican for the No. 10 position.
It all comes down to the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis at the end of the month. The top ten drivers in each class will then have their points adjusted based on their standings and they will enter the Countdown to the Championship which kicks off with the Carolina Nationals in mid-September.
With three races left in the 2016 NASCAR Pinty’s Series (formerly the Canadian Tire Series), rookie Cayden Lapcevich and his No. 76 Fastline Motorsports Dodge have taken the points lead. The 16-year-old driver from Grimsby, Ontario, is 12 points ahead of Andrew Ranger, driver of the No. 27 Mopar Dodge.
Lapcevich leapfrogged over Ranger by collecting the checkered flag at Saturday’s Bumper To Bumper 300 at Riverside International Speedway in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.
Allen Johnson is the fourth Pro Stock driver, and the first Dodge Dart driver, to clinch a berth in the 2013 NHRA Countdown to the Championship, a six-event series that will determine the World Championship. His third-place qualifying run put him in his (and Dodge’s) best position in the 2016 Pro Stock season.
Mopar-sponsored Erica Enders finally passed Alex Laughlin in the point standings to enter the top ten, and will join Johnson and Jeg Coughlin in this year’s Pro Stock Countdown if she maintains her place.
Ron Capps collected his 50th Funny Car Wally by outrunning Del Worsham. The race, which took place in the third round of qualifying on Saturday, was the rain-delayed final round of the Northwest Nationals. This was also Capps’ fifth win of the season and the tenth victory for Dodge. Capps is second only to John Force in total Funny Car wins.
Matt Hagan set a new national ET record and a new track speed record in his matchup with Courtney Force. Hagan’s pass of 3.822 seconds at 333.82 mph put him at the top of the order.
Tommy Johnson Jr. and Jack Beckman qualified in the third and fourth positions with identical ETs. Johnson’s pass was faster by 1.74 mph and he took the better spot. Capps was 0.007 seconds behind Johnson and Beckman, taking the No 5 spot.
Johnson is now the only Don Schumacher Racing Funny Car driver who has not clinched a spot in the Countdown. Given a decent showing in today’s eliminations, Johnson should secure his spot this weekend.
John Hale (Dodge Charger) made the field in all four rounds of qualifying from Friday and Saturday. Leah Pritchett qualified in the top half of the field, taking the No. 8 spot.
Ron Capps made it to the Funny Car finals at today’s NHRA Sonoma Nationals, but came up 12 feet short in his matchup with John Force, who has now won two of the three Western Swing events.
Capps is still looking for his 50th Wally. He has made it to the finals seven times this season, coming away with the win four times. Both figures are best-in-class.
Capps, who remains the points leader, became the first Funny Car driver to clinch a spot in the six-event Countdown to the Championship. Courtney Force, who made it to the semifinals, became the second. Jack Beckman, the only other Funny Car driver to accumulate more than 1,000 points, should be next. He remains in third place following his loss to Del Worsham in the quarterfinals.
Matt Hagan fell to Capps in the quarterfinals and dropped from fourth in the point standings to a tie with Robert Hight for sixth place. He is one point behind John Force for fifth. Hagan did set a new track speed record of 330.15 mph during the second round of qualifying on Friday.
John Force’s win and the shifts that followed dropped Tommy Johnson Jr. from seventh to eighth.
With three events left in the regular season, all four Don Schumacher drivers look to be in good shape for the Countdown. Dodge still has the lead in the trophy count with eight.
Allen Johnson remains the top Dodge driver in the Pro Stock standings. Johnson shut down Aaron Strong in the third race of the day and was the only Dart driver to advance beyond the first round. In the quarterfinals, Johnson had a strong start in his race against Shane Gray but developed severe tire shake and had to push in the clutch.
Johnson remains fourth in the Pro Stock points competition where he trails Bo Butner. Butner widened the gap a bit by making it to the finals where he lost to Greg Anderson. Anderson took the lead in the driver standings: he leads Jason Line by four points.
Jeg Coughlin is the only other Dodge driver in the top ten he is still in ninth place following a first-round loss to former Dodge driver Chris McGaha.
Erica Enders is still just outside the top ten. She has three events to overtake Alex Laughlin for the No. 10 spot and a chance for a third championship.
Leah Pritchett, who has one Top Fuel Wally to her credit this season, lost to Tony Schumacher in the first race of the opening round. Pritchett got the better start but Schumacher had made up the difference by the time they passed the Christmas tree.
Pritchett is still in the chase for a Countdown berth; she is in tenth place.
The world’s most famous drag racing exhibition car, the Hemi Under Glass, has a new driver, Mike Mantel, who will take over the driving honors from Mopar Hall of Fame inductee Bob Riggle.
Bob Riggle started working for George Hurst in 1964, working on the Hairy Olds and the Hemi Under Glass; he got behind the wheel in 1966 after the original test driver, Wild Bill Shrewsberry, left to pursue his own project – the LA Dart.
The Hemi Under Glass was one of the first race cars to be fitted with the powerful 426 Hemi, nestled under the huge rear glass of a 1968 Barracuda. The tremendous power and traction led to full quarter mile wheel-stands, and a legend was born.
When Riggle appeared on Jay Leno’s Garage, Leno called the car the king of the wheelstanders and one of his all time favorite cars. He got a ride with Riggle, but a poor track surface and short shutdown area led to a roll-over crash – fortunately, both Jay Leno and Bob Riggle were uninjured.
Riggle selected Mantel to take over the Hemi Under Glass because “he is a talented driver who will take the brand into the future and entertain generations to come.” The run that helped seal the deal for Mantel was in a Dodge Ram – below.
Mantel becomes only the third driver in the 51 year history of this American icon. He will soon pilot the ’68 Cuda that Riggle made his final run in, and there is talk of an updated version of the Hemi Under Glass using a Dodge Challenger Hellcat.
Allen Johnson picked up the first Pro Stock win for the Dodge Dart in the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello drag racing season.
Johnson’s Marathon Oil Dodge Dart was first to trip the lights, beating former teammate Vincent Nobile’s Camaro.
Click here to watch the winning run.
Not only is this the first Dart victory, it is also the first time this season that neither Greg Anderson nor Jason Line has made it to the finals. Johnson took out Anderson in the semifinals while Line jumped the gun and gave Nobile a free pass.
Johnson also won the last Pro Stock Wally for Dodge at the NHRA Finals in Pomona last year. It was also the last Wally for a car with a carbureted engine.
This is the tenth consecutive Pro Stock final round appearance for Johnson at the Mopar Mile High Nationals. That’s a national record. Johnson now has collected his seventh Denver Wally.
Erica Enders and the Mopar/Elite Dart had their best showing of the season. Enders was the top qualifier in the first three rounds, giving up the top spot by 0.007 seconds to Alex Laughlin in the final round of qualifying. Enders made it past the opening round of eliminations before losing to Johnson in the quarterfinals.
Jeg Coughlin Jr. fell to Nobile in the first race of the day. Other first round Dart casualties were Alan Prusiensky, who lost to Enders, Enders’ husband, Richie Stevens, who was driving one of two American Ethanol/Novozyme Darts, and Deric Kramer, who was driving a second American Ethanol Dart. Stevens lost to Bo Butner and Kramer was eliminated by Jason Line after Kramer led the race for the first 1,000 feet.
Johnson remains in fourth place in the standings but trimmed Bo Butner’s lead to just 70 points. Coughlin is still holding on to ninth. Erica Enders now need to make up just eight points on Alex Laughlin to get into the Countdown to the Championship and she still has four events to make it happen.
It was a good thing that Johnson won in Pro Stock; breaking a string of seven consecutive Funny Car victories, not a single Charger made it to even the semifinal round. That’s just the third time in 2016 that a Dodge was in the semifinals.
Jack Beckman was the first out, losing to Ron Capps in the first round. John Hale and the Huberto’s Lemonade Charger beat Alexis DeJoria in a glide-fest after the engines in both cars went silent at the halfway mark.
The quarterfinals were where the Dodges met their Waterloo. It was four up, four down as John Force ended Matt Hagan’s race day in the opening matchup. Next, Courtney Force eliminated Tommy Johnson Jr. on her way to the final round. Robert Hight crossed the finish line 85 feet ahead of Hale and Capps hazed the tires in a losing effort against Del Worsham.
In the end, it was Force vs. Force with the 67-year-old patriarch of the clan claiming his 144th Wally. Force hadn’t won a national event since June of 2015.
Ron Capps still has the lead in the points but Forces’ runner-up jumped her into second place with Beckman dropping to third, trailing by 22 points. Matt Hagan’s lead in fourth place is now just four points ahead of Robert Hight and Del Worsham who are tied for fifth. Tommy Johnson Jr. fell to seventh in the standings.
In Top Fuel Dragster, Eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher finally broke a losing streak that went back to the Route 66 Nationals in July last year. Schumacher’s HEMI-powered U.S. Army dragster outran Antron Brown’s Matco car, bringing home his 82nd Wally. Schumacher remained fifth in the points.
Leah Pritchett’s first outing under the Mopar banner didn’t go quite as well. She hazed the tires in her opening-round race with Shawn Langdon and remains tenth in the driver rankings.
In yesterday’s Northeast Gran Prix at Lime Rock, Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and the No. 33 Dodge Viper GT-R finished third behind two Audi R8 LMS cars. They remain fourth in the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship driver standings.
The Petty’s Garage Car Show, a special cruise-in event, is scheduled for Friday, September 30 and Saturday, October 1 at the Petty Level Cross compound, 311 Branson Mill Road in Randleman, North Carolina.
The event is presented by the Automotive Lift Institute (ALI), the lift manufacturers’ trade association.
The evening of September 30 there will be a VIP cookout on the grounds of Reverie Place, Richard Petty’s ranch. Tickets for the cookout are $25 per person for ages 11 and up and just 200 tickets are available.
On Saturday, Petty’s Garage gates will open at 8:00 AM on Saturday and remain open until 1:00 PM. The Richard Petty Museum will open at 9:00 AM. The Museum features trophies, cars and memorabilia from the King’s legendary NASCAR career. Younger visitors will enjoy a special exhibit with Mr. and Mrs. The King and the Hudson Hornet from the movie, Cars. There is no admission charge for the Saturday events.
According to ALI president Bob O’Gorman all makes, models and ages of cars are welcome. There is no pre-registration required and no charge to participate. The first 200 show cars to arrive will be eligible for the People’s Choice Award. Judging runs until 11:00 AM.
For tickets to the VIP dinner, visit tiny.cc/pettycruisein or call (336) 495-6602.
Art Chrisman, one of the fathers of NHRA drag racing, passed away following a long illness at the age of 86.
Chrisman was the first to hit 140 and, later, 180 miles per hour. He made the first pass at the 1955 Nationals in Great Bend, Kansas, the first-ever NHRA national event, and came in as the runner-up.
In 1958, after spending a number of years racing a Ford-powered car, Chrisman, his uncle Jack, and Frank Cannon built their famed Hustler I dragster. They used a Chrysler 392 Hemi, stroked out to 454 cubic inches and a supercharger. The car, named for the Air Force’s then-new B-58 bomber, won the Best Engineered Car award at the 1958 Nationals and appeared on the cover of the January 1959 issue of Hot Rod magazine.
In February 1959, Chrisman drove the Hustler to drag racing’s first recorded 180-mph run, hitting 181.81 mph. He Chrisman continued racing until the end of the 1962 season, when he went to work as a representative for Autolite; he later founded Chrisman Auto Rod Specialties (CARS) with his son, Mike. Chrisman was inducted into the Motorsports Hall or Fame, the NHRA Hall of Fame, and the SEMA Hall of Fame.
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