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.
As the 2015 racing season winds down, it’s a good idea to check in and see where Dodges figure in the championships. So far, there’s already one season championship, another that’s pretty much a lock, and two more are still open.
The 2015 season has been a breath of fresh air, especially for Ferrari fans who had been holding their breath (and noses) since the 2014 season. With four races left on the schedule, Ferrari is just about assured of finishing second to Mercedes in the Constructors Championship, a vast improvement over fourth, which is where the Scuderia ended up last year.
ARCA: The 2015 ARCA season ended with the Full Throttle S’loonshine 98.9 that ran Friday evening at Kansas City Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas.
Kyle Weatherman, driving the No. 22 Crosley Brands Dodge, was the runner-up in the race. Tom Hessert, who finished the season fourth in the point standings, was seventh across the line in the No. 77 Barbera’s Autoland Dodge.
Bo LeMastus and the No. 42 Crosley/Brands-T&T Construction/Glad Precision Dodge finished the race in 18th place and was the last Dodge to finish. Richard Hauck’s No. 28 TheHeavenlyHeat.com Dodge dropped out of the race with handling problems after 16 laps.
LeMastus was sixth in the driver points totals.
Weatherman was ranked tenth in the driver standings despite the fact he had a win and more top-5 and top-10 finishes than Hessert or LeMastus. In fact, Weatherman had as many wins and more top-5 finishes than anyone except season champion Grant Enfinger. Unfortunately, Weatherman was only able to race in 14 of the 19 races. Had he been able to race the full slate, he would certainly have ranked higher than he did.
Canadian Tire Series: Dodge Championship courtesy of Scott Steckly and the Canadian Tire Dodge.
Formula One: They’ll be racing at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, next weekend. The United States Grand Prix kicks off Friday, October 23 and the race itself is Sunday, October 25. Ferrari Driver Sebastian Vettel took over second place in the driver standings at the Russian Grand Prix.
IMSA/Tudor United Sportscar Championship: Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen finished the season ranked sixth in the standings following a disappointing 12th-place finish for the No. 33 TI Automotive/Viper Exchange Dodge Viper at the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. The other Riley Motorsports Viper, the No. 93 car, piloted by Al Carter, Marc Goossens and Cameron Lawrence finished third in the race. Carter, Goossens and Lawrence participated in just a handful of races, so they ended the season with Goossens in 12th place and Carter and Lawrence tied for 14th.
Trans Am: There are two races left in the season, both in November. If Cameron Lawrence can hang onto his lead in TA2, this could be another Dodge championship. In TA3i, The championship is pretty much a done deal. No. 84 Viper driver Lee Sanders has a 97-point lead over Steve Streimer, who drives the No. 42 Viper. The last two races will determine whether the it will be a 1-2 Viper season or not.
NHRA: The elimination rounds of the NHRA AAA Texas Nationals begin later today. Del Worsham set a Funny Car track record Friday that carried him through the qualifying rounds, but Jack Beckman and Matt Hagan are second and third in the order while Ron Capps and Tommy Johnson Jr. took the No. 5 and No. 6 spots. Blake Alexander qualified as No, 14 and John Hale took the No. 16 and final spot in a very crowded field of 20 entries. Six Dodges qualified.
After qualifying: Beckman is just 18 points behind Worsham in the standings with two more events in the season. All four Don Schumacher drivers are in the top five and there’s a spread of just 107 points.
Allen Johnson qualified tenth in the Pro Stock order and remains fifth in the Countdown to the Championship. He’s 162 points behind Erica Enders so it would take three miracles in a row for Dodge to take the Pro Stock title this year.
Since there were only 16 entries everybody will be racing today.
Sebastian Vettel took over second place in the Formula 1 driver standings with a runner-up finish in today’s Russian Grand Prix.
This was Vettel’s 11th podium appearance of the 2015 season. He has had more top-three finishes this year than he did in 2010 and 2012, when he won the championship.
Kimi Raikkonen finished fifth but was dropped to eighth after race officials penalized him for a collision with Valtteri Bottas’ Williams car on the last lap.
Lewis Hamilton won the race, bringing his career total to 42. He is now tied with Vettel for third place in in total career victories. Hamilton’s win and Raikkonen’s penalty clinched the Constructor’s championship for Mercedes-Benz. Ferrari is second in the Constructor’s point standings.
In Trans Am racing, Cameron Lawrence and the No. 1 Mopar Dodge Challenger still have a 20-point lead in the Class TA2 standings, even after a fourth-place finish in the tenth round of the 2015 Chase for the Trigon Trophy that ran today at Nola Motorsports Park in Avondale, Louisiana.
Joe Stevens, in the No. 11 Mopar Dodge, finished sixth and remains sixth in the points race.
In Class TA3i, Lee Saunders and the No. 84 Landsearch LLC Dodge Viper look like they have locked up the series championship. Saunders has a 97-point lead over rookie Steve Streimer, driver of the No. 42 Lux Performance Group Viper. Streimer won today’s event while Saunders was fourth across the finish line. Saunders and Streimer are 1-2 in the TA3i class.
Jack Beckman picked up his seventh Wally of the 2013 Mello Yello NHRA drag racing season at the Keystone Nationals today.
He also set and certified the national ET record becoming the first Funny Car driver to set the national ET record three times in a single season since 1998.
Rain washed out all but one qualifying session at this year’s Keystone Nationals and a track temperature of 60 degrees wreaked havoc with traction. Beckman qualified third with an ET of 5.440 seconds at 203.17 miles per hour; Matt Hagan qualified fifth with a time of 8.170 at 103.23 mph.
Ron Capps was the only Dodge driver to make a good pass, taking the No. 2 spot in the order with a time of 4.218 seconds at 318.17 mph.
Tommy Johnson Jr. shut down current points leader Del Worsham in the opening round, paving the way for Beckman’s win to close the gap in the Countdown to the Championship. Beckman is now just 16 points behind Worsham with three events left to run.
The victory at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pennsylvania, means Dodge and Don Schumacher Racing have have won 15 of the 21 Funny Car events that have run so far this season.
In Pro Stock, Allen Johnson was eliminated in the first round, knocking him down from third to fifth in the point standings. Chris McGaha got the Pro Stock Wally today, leapfrogging him over Johnson and Larry Morgan to take over third place. Morgan made it to the semifinals and that gave him enough points to move ahead of Johnson.
V. Gaines made it to the quarterfinals, where he fell to Morgan. Alan Prusiensky’s race day ended in Round One.
Two-time 2014 Trans Am TA2 champion Cameron Lawrence opened his points lead with a win in today’s race at Virginia International Raceway in Alton, Virginia.
Today’s win is Lawrence’s fourth of the season and his first since Road Atlanta in May.
Lawrence and the No.1 Mopar Dodge Challenger finished third overall, just ahead of the Camaro driven by Adam Andretti, who remains third in the point standings.
Gar Robinson, who was 11 points behind Lawrence, came in 13th. Robinson is now 30 points behind Lawrence.
Joe Stevens brought the No. 11 Mopar Dodge Challenger in sixth and moved up two spots, from eighth to sixth, in the points.
With three races left in the season, the championship is still up for grabs. If the gremlins that hurt Lawrence in the middle of the season can be held at bay, he stands a good shot at a three-peat.
Sebastian Vettel made another podium appearance after finishing third in today’s Formula One Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka. Vettel, who remains third in the driver standings, joins Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, who are first and second, as the only drivers to break the 200-point milestone.
Kimi Raikkonen was fourth across the line, padding his points lead over Valtteri Bottas.
Kyle Weatherman was the top Dodge finisher in the Crosley Brands 150 that ran Friday night at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta Kentucky. At the wheel of the No. 22 Cunningham Motorsports/Crosley Brands Dodge, Weatherman finished seventh. Bo LeMastus in the Crosley Brands/T&T Construction/Glad Precision Dodge finished in tenth.
Con Nicolopoulos’ No. 06 Wayne Peterson Racing Dodge was out after five laps with engine trouble.
Tom Hessert was involved in an accident on the second lap that retired the No. 77 Barbera’s Autoland Dodge.
NHRA Midwest Nationals
It was a frustrating weekend for Dodge at the AAA NHRA Midwest Nationals that ran at Gateway Motorsports Park in St. Louis. After a dominant regular season, Del Worsham and the DHL Toyota Camry took their second win in the six-race Countdown to the Championship.
It was especially disappointing for Matt Hagan, who lost twice to Worsham. Not only did he come up short in the final round, he was unable to certify his national-record ET. Worsham did certify his slower ET to set the official record.
Of more concern is the fact that Worsham, who had a 16-point lead following Saturday’s qualifying rounds, now has a 90-point lead.
Hagan’s qualifying points and the points for reaching the final round jumped him over Tommy Thompson Jr. and Jack Beckman into the runner-up position. Johnson dropped to third and Beckman fell to fourth.
A Dodge season championship is still very much in play as just 119 points separate the top four drivers. However, the Don Schumacher team better recapture whatever it was that brought them 14 Wallys in the regular season.
In Pro Stock, Allen Johnson started the day getting a free pass to the quarterfinals from Shane Gray, who jumped the gun and turned on the red light. Then he got a hole shot win over Greg Anderson.
In the semifinals, Johnson started too quickly and fouled out, giving Drew Skillman a free shot at the Wally. The rookie took that shot and came up with the first win of his career, eliminating Erica Enders, who had tire shake at the start.
Skillman shut down all the Dodge drivers. He beat V. Gaines to the finish line in the opening round and Deric Kramer, who jumped the gun, in the quarterfinals. So Skillman only actually had one real start-to-finish race on his way to the big win.
Johnson’s semifinal round appearance bumped him up to third in the point standings, 76 points behind Erica Enders, who retained the top spot but saw her lead over second-place Greg Anderson cut to 53 points.
Matt Hagan set a new national Funny Car speed record of 330.47 miles per hour as he took the top spot in qualifying at the AAA NHRA Midwest Nationals running this weekend at Gateway Motorsports Park in St. Louis, Missouri.
He also set the national ET record at 3.883 seconds, the second-quickest pass in NHRA Funny Car history, but he didn’t have a backup time to seal the deal. He will have to make a pass of 3.921 or quicker in tomorrow’s eliminations to clinch both sides of the record.
Frustratingly, enough, Del Worsham did have a run to back up his ET of 3.899 seconds and has trumped the record set not too long ago by Jack Beckman. Worsham and Hagan set their records in the final round of qualifying. This means Worsham’s new record was only good enough for the runner-up spot.
Jack didn’t set any new records but qualified third with a pass that was just 0.006 seconds off of his national record.
Ron Capps and Tommy Johnson Jr. also had sub-four-second times and qualified fourth and fifth in the order.
Johnson needs to outlast Worsham to take over the top spot in the driver standings. He was six point behind coming into the event, but Worsham’s national record has widened the gap.
Don Schumacher Racing drivers held four of the top five spots at the end of the day.
John Hale, running the Oberto colors on his Jim Dunn Racing Charger, qualified 13th. Hale actually qualified in every round except the first, a significant improvement.
Shane Westerfield’s Charger wasn’t in the mix yesterday and it died at the start in both attempts today. He’ll join Dale Creasy Jr. as a spectator tomorrow.
In Pro Stock, Allen Johnson bounced back and forth between the No. 8 position and the No. 9 position. He’s going into the eliminations from the No. 8 spot and will face Shane Gray in the opening round.
Deric Kramer took the No. 12 spot in the order, one ahead of V. Gaines. All three Darts that were entered will be on the track tomorrow.
Scott Steckly, driver of the No. 22 Canadian Tire Dodge, won his fourth national championship in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series (NCATS), beating Jason Hathaway, Andrew Ranger and L.P. Dumoulin in a four-way fight for the championship in Ontario. At the age of 43, Mr. Steckly set a track record while qualifying.
He is the 33rd person in the history of NASCAR to win four or more touring or national series championships.
Over half the races this season were won by a Dodge driver, with six of the Top 10 final points positions held by Dodge drivers. However, many used standard engines which are not made by Chrysler.
Andrew Ranger ended up in third place.
The pace car for the series was a 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, and a Ram 1500 and 3500 were used as safety vehicles. As in the past eight seasons, contingency funds were provided for the Dodge/Mopar Quick Three and Dodge/Mopar-powered Quick Three to recognize the fastest drivers in Dodge-bodied cars and those using a Mopar 5.9-litre V8. At the Pinty’s 250 at Kawartha Speedway, Steckly and Ranger won the top spots in each respective contingency.
It was a winless weekend for Dodge at the NHRA Carolina Nationals.
Tommy Johnson Jr. made it all the way to the Funny Car final round but he couldn’t keep up with Del Worsham’s Camry. Johnson’s and Worsham’s starts were within 0.002 seconds of each other, but Worsham pulled ahead and scored his first nationals win of the year by a 0.0358-second margin. Worsham tripped the lights about 16 feet ahead of Johnson.
Jack Beckman lost his “fast” somewhere. He fell to Courtney Force in the first round. Beckman went up in smoke right at the start. John Hale had a similar problem, losing to John Force.
Ron Capps, Matt Hagan and Shane Westerfield survived the opening round but were all eliminated in the quarterfinals.
Westerfield was 0.005 seconds slower the Alexis DeJoria at the start but the blower in his Charger let go about 300 feet out and his race day was over.
With a track temperature running between 116 and 119 degrees, there was a lot of smoking going on. That’s what caught Hagan in his quarterfinal race with Worsham. Hagan only got about 20 feet past the Christmas tree before he lost traction and had to push in the clutch.
Despite being 0.017 seconds slower out of the gate, Ron Capps had caught up with John Force and pulled ahead by the 60-foot mark. He stayed in front until about the 330-foot mark when his NAPA Auto Parts Charger had some sort of problem and began to slow down, giving Force an easy win.
With the loss in the final round and the early exits of Beckman and Hagan, Del Worsham took the points lead. Tommy Johnson Jr. is six points behind. Beckman is now in third place, followed by Hagan. Capps remains in sixth place.
This is the first time in the 2015 Mello Yello NHRA drag racing season that a Dodge driver has not been at the top of the point standings.
The big big Dodge winner of the weekend was Allen Johnson. He made it to the Pro Stock semifinals, losing a close race with Erica Enders. Johnson got a better start but Enders chased him down and was 0.0048 seconds, or about 18 inches, ahead at the finish line.
Making it to the semifinals bumped Johnson up to fourth in the standings.
Enders, who won the Pro Stock Wally, was a Dodge-killer today. Before outrunning Johnson in the semifinals, she took out V. Gaines in the opening round of eliminations.