Two weeks after rain brought a premature end to the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, Minnesota, Ron Capps shut down John Force in the postponed final round of Funny Car eliminations.
The race, which was also the third round of qualifying, had John Force in the left lane and Capps in the right. Capps ran away with a 4.026 pass at 316.01 mph while Force was 0.100 seconds behind with an ET of 4.126 seconds at 313.88.
In Pro Stock, Jeg Coughlin advanced to the finals by defeating Vincent Nobile. He will race against Jason Line for the Brainerd Pro Stock Wally in the first round of qualifying tomorrow morning.
After taking a year off, Charlie Westcott Jr. came back to win his sixth Mopar Challenge trophy on Friday. He’s won three times in the past four years.
Westcott Jr. drove his HEMI-powered 1968 “War Fish” Plymouth Barracuda to the winner’s circle in the 14th Annual Mopar HEMI Challenge, beating Wendell Howes. Howes was faster off the line with a .005-second reaction time, but Westcott made it up by the finish line. Westcott’s 8.557-second ET at 157.28 mph easily trumped Howes’ 8.669 seconds at 154.05 mph.
“This win in a way was bigger than the others because we didn’t come in with the performance advantage we typically have,” said Westcott Jr., whose father Charlie Westcott Sr. also won the Mopar HEMI Challenge event at Indy in 2009. “I had been fighting some kind of gremlin all weekend in my car. I never could get it right, but the final round was a little better. We got the job done, and that’s all that matters. We’ve won this thing six times, and seven if you count my dad. It’s always a good event for us.”
The Mopar HEMI Challenge features 1968 HEMI Dodge Darts and Plymouth Barracudas competing for a $15,000 first place award, the special 50th anniversary 426 HEMI Challenge trophy weighing in at 42.6 pounds and a custom Mopar winner’s jacket. This year the Mopar HEMI Challenge featured an added cash prize payout to the full 16-car field competing in the elimination rounds.
Three-time NHRA World Champion Kevin Helms and his 426 Gen III Mopar Race HEMI-powered 2010 Challenger Drag Pak drove to victory in the FS/B class in the Factory Stock Showdown. Helms shut down Pro Stock driver Dave Connolly’s Camaro with a 9.031/147.39 pass to Connolly’s 9.068/148.05 run.
In the final Showdown matchup between FS/B and FS/A class winners, Helms had a great start with a .008-second reaction time but couldn’t keep up with Chris Holbrook, winner in the FS/A class.
“This ranks right up there with the best of the best, and we did it in front of the big crowd,” said Helms, who pilots the Drag Pak for Louisiana Chrysler dealer Jeff Teuton. “It’s heads up racing. You work all year dyno’ing motors, testing stuff, just for this moment. Dave Connolly is one of the best racers in the world. We knew he would be tough. To actually win it is really neat.”
Friday was the first of four days of Pro Class racing at the 60th Annual NHRA U.S. Nationals running through Monday at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The first round of qualifying took place Friday. Qualifying rounds will continue Saturday and Sunday with final eliminations on Sunday.
In a break from the regular schedule, the Fuel Funny Car finals from the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals will pit Ron Capps in the NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger against John Force in the Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang during the last qualifying round on Saturday. On Sunday, the Pro Stock semifinals postponed from the rained-out Brainerd event will also run in Saturday’s last round. Jeg Coughlin Jr. in the JEGS.com/Mopar Dart will battle former Dodge driver Vincent Nobile in the Mountain View Tire Camaro for a place in the finals that will run during the first round of qualifying on Sunday.
There’s a lot at stake this weekend: it’s Jack Beckman’s last chance to dislodge Tim Wilkerson and clinch the last berth in the Fuel Funny Car Countdown to the Championship. Beckman has to score at least 17 more points than Wilkerson to get the job done. Ron Capps, Matt Hagan and Tommy Johnson Jr. have already sewn up their spots in the Countdown.
Allen Johnson is within 16 points of taking over the lead in Pro Stock. Jeg Coughlin Jr. also has a chance as he has an opportunity to win two Wallys this weekend. V. Gaines, currently eighth in the standings, looks to have a lock on one of the three remaining Countdown slots.
Friday’s single round of Funny Car qualifying saw nice passes from Ron Capps, Matt Hagan and Jack Beckman: they qualified second, third and fourth behind Del Worsham. Hagan posted the top speed for the round at 318.47 mph.
Tommy Johnson Jr. lost traction about 100 feet after the start and will have to try again on Saturday. Jeff Arend barely made it off the line before the same thing happened to him and ended the day in the cellar.
Blake Alexander and the Monroe Shocks Dodge Charger were no-shows on Friday.
In a 21-entry Pro Stock field, Allen Johnson was the top Dodge driver, qualifying sixth, two spots ahead of V. Gaines and four ahead of Jeg Coughlin. Matt Hartford was 0.037 seconds off the pace and didn’t make the cut.
The 21st entry, Indianapolis-area resident Steve Schmidt and his 2007 Chevy Cobalt, didn’t run in the opening round.
On Thursday evening, Mopar continued the celebration of the 426 Race Hemi’s 50th anniversary by inviting Challenger Sportsman racers to meet drag racing legends Don Garlits, Roland Leong, Ted Spehar, Herb McCandless, and members of the original Ramchargers — Tom Coddington, Al Adams and John Wehrly — to preview the first 2015 Mopar Challenger Drag Pak test vehicle.
The new Challenger Drag Pak is a descendant of more than 150 V8 Challenger Drag Paks, an additional fifty V10 versions, as well as 426 Race HEMI upgrade kits. Mopar’s Challenger Drag Pak is the only modern-era package car to win the Stock Eliminator title at the U.S. Nationals.
The white test vehicle is built on the 2015 Dodge Challenger platform and sports a vintage stripe package and Hemi badging. It also has the SRT front and rear fascia trim, a rear spoiler, and an NHRA-spec roll cage.
Under the hood sits a 426 CID Race Hemi engine with an aluminum block, steel liners, and custom engine calibration. The engine sends power to the rear wheels through a Chrysler-based 727 automatic transmission, a race-style stick shifter with integral line lock, and an aluminum driveshaft. The vehicle has a weight box in the trunk and a trunk-mounted 12 volt battery.
The car rides on 28-inch diameter by 4.5-inch-wide front tires and 30-inch diameter by 9-inch-wide rear tires. Both front and rear tires are mounted on 15-inch wheels. Stopping power is provided by Precision Performance front and rear brake rotors, calipers, and master cylinder.
The front suspension uses the 2015 Mopar K-member and strut suspension, with adjustable compression and rebound; the rear has a four-link suspension with a Panhard bar, rear solid axle with 9-inch aluminum third member, rear shocks with adjustable compression and rebound, and an anti-sway bar.
The interior is based on the 2015 Challenger SRT, with added gauges, lightweight racing seats, safety nets, and five-point harnesses.
Specifications are preliminary and subject to approval by the NHRA. Mopar is also seeking feedback from the “Sportsmen” themselves.
The Challenger Drag Pak can be seen Friday and Saturday at the Mopar display in the manufacturer’s midway area at the 60th Annual NHRA U.S. Nationals, under way in Indianapolis, Indiana. This is the last event in the 2014 Mello Yello NHRA drag racing regular season.
After Chrysler engineers pushed 707 horsepower out of the supercharged 6.2 Hellcat Hemi engine, insiders reported that the Viper team started looking at forced induction as well, despite past statements that the V10 would always be naturally aspirated.
The Viper currently runs 640 horsepower and 600 lb-ft of torque from its 8.4 liter V10 engine, which can trace its ancestry back through decades of Chrysler V8s. The power difference is not that large, and Viper has an edge in low-end torque.
We believed that, if produced, a supercharged Viper would be tuned lightly, for up to around 750 horsepower, to reduce costs; while some aftermarket tuners have produced thousand-horsepower Vipers, they have not had to contend with full manufacturer warranties on the entire vehicle, and in some cases have not done much to beef up the brakes and suspension to match.
Danno wrote that a supercharged Viper has been put onto the slow burner due to costs. Aside from the engineering and packaging issues, to create the system and to fit it under the hood, a supercharged Viper would require:
A new and expensive transmission and differential, which would have to actually fit inside the car (ruling out, say, medium-duty truck transmissions)
Substantial cooling system upgrades, which would be hard to fit into the existing space
Ducting for a larger amount of incoming air
Possibly a new frame, body, and suspension to deal with the added stresses.
While supercharged V10 engines had reportedly been delivered to Chrysler Engineering, it’s not hard to see how the cost of engineering and building a Viper could escalate to the point where it starts being a $250,000 supercar — something that would be even harder to sell than the current $100,000 Dodges.
One long-term solution for Viper supremacy could be following Ian Sharp’s original proposal for a “flybrid” car, where the racing car would be developed first and a production car derived from that. This car would add power by using an electric motor, rather than boosting the existing gasoline powerplant, avoiding the transmission issues and adding traction by using all four wheels for launches. Whether Viper owners would approve of this setup, and whether it could be done at a reasonable cost, is another question.
It is possible that the company is waiting for developments by transmission vendors which would allow them to handle the power, at least, within the available space — or for the next generation body, which could have enough room for the increased air intake, engine cooling, and plumbing.
After their sixth-place finish in the Oak Tree Grand Prix at Virginia International Raceway, Dominik Farnbacher and Marc Goossens lost their sole possession of third place. The No. 91 Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R drivers are now in a three-team, six-driver tie for third in the IMSA/Tudor United SportsCar Championship standings.
Jonathan Bomarito and Kuno Wittmer retain sole possession of second place, six points behind Antonio Garcia.
SRT Motorsports is now third in the manufacturer standings, just one point behind Chevrolet and three points behind Porsche.
Tudor United SportCar Championship – GT Le Mans Class Driver Standings