Just in time for Sunday’s season-opening FoamTex Trans Am 100 at Sebring International Raceway, Dodge and Mopar have announced they will provide joint support for Dodge Viper ACR-X vehicles competing in the Trans Am 3 International Group (TA3i) class.
At each of the 12 races in the 2015 season, a Dodge Viper driver that earns a win, a second or third place finish will be awarded $1,500, $1,000 and $500, respectively. At the end of the season, a Dodge Viper driver that wins the class championship, finishes second or third overall, will be awarded $5,000, $2,500 or $1,250 to honor their success in representing the brand.
The Mopar and Dodge brands will also support the two Miller Racing Dodge Challengers in Trans Am’s TA2 class. The team will be given access to wind tunnel testing at FCA headquarters in Auburn Hills, while at-track season-long technical support also will be available for all Dodge entries in both classes.
“We’re pleased to have Mopar and Dodge supporting racers competing in the Trans Am series,” said John Clagett, President of the Trans Am Race Company. “Our partners tell us the continued momentum and growth of the series provides them with a great platform for their products. That’s further reflected in the record 70-plus car field we’ll have at Sebring this weekend.”
Matt Hagan and the Mopar/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger captured the Fuel Funny Car Wally in style at the CarQuest NHRA Nationals.
In the final round, Hagan made another sub-four-second pass, setting a new track ET record with a time of 3.975 seconds, the fifth-quickest ET in Funny Car history, at 324.83 miles per hour, the second-fastest speed in Funny Car history, to defeat Del Worsham’s Camry by 0.0523 seconds or about 24 feet.
This is Hagan’s second consecutive nationals victory in the 2015 Mello Yello NHRA drag racing season and his third consecutive win, counting the last NHRA event of the 2104 season where he defeated John Force for the 2014 World Championship. The 2015 Dodge Charger Funny Car is now two for two in Fuel Funny Car competition.
“That shows why we are champions,” said Hagan. “(Crew Chief) Dickie Venables has done a helluva of a job with this Rocky Boots/Mopar Funny Car and he just continues to prove why he is one of the baddest crew chiefs out there. The guy has a great hot rod underneath me and I’m just trying not to mess it up.”
“We continue to turn win lights on,” Hagan added. “It’s two wins in a row this year but if you go back to Pomona it’s really three wins in a row. We are world champions because we have such a great team. It has been really good lately. The biggest thing that we can do is just to continue to do what we’ve been doing. We don’t change a lot.”
“Everyone at Mopar is thrilled to see Matt Hagan take the new 2015 Dodge Charger R/T to the winner’s circle at consecutive events to start the year,” said Mopar CEO Pietro Gorlier. “It reinforces all the hard work and investment that Mopar, Dodge and Don Schumacher Racing put into producing a fantastic new 2015 Mopar Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car and to see it be so competitive and dominant right off the bat makes us all very proud.”
Ron Capps dropped from second to fourth in the point standings when he went up in smoke at about the 330-foot marker in his opening round race against Chad Head.
Jack Beckman developed engine trouble about two-thirds of the way down the track, losing his first-round matchup with Tommy Johnson Jr. who also had engine trouble and fell to Alexis DeJoria in the quarterfinals.
John Hale and Shane Westerfield were also first-round casualties. Hale made his best pass of the weekend but was 93 feet behind Del Worsham at the finish line. Westerfield gave Courtney Force a free pass to the quarterfinals when he was 0.006 seconds too fast off the line and fouled out of the eliminations.
Hale dropped from seventh to a tie for ninth in the points competition. Beckman is 15th.
In Pro Stock, Allen Johnson beat Jimmy Alund in the opening round of competition but lost to Chris McGaha in the quarterfinals when the Magneti Marelli/Mopar Dart developed severe tire shake.
“We were way conservative with our set up on the Dodge Dart for being the first pair out and the tire got square,” said Johnson. “The good news is that this team is really talking and listening to one another and examining the problem when there is one. We had a really good meeting and we all decided to go one way with the set up for first out and next time we’ll go the other way. This team is really gelling and learning from our mistakes and it’s great to have a team communicate this way. We sure did have a car that could have won the race today. We’ll take it as a positive going forward.
Johnson moved up a spot, from eighth to seventh, in the standings.
Tire shake caused V. Gaines’ exit in the first round as he lost to Chris McGaha. Deric Kramer jumped the gun and turned on the red light in his matchup with Rodger Brogdon who went on to beat Erica Enders-Stevens to claim his third career Pro Stock victory.
2014 Fuel Funny Car World Champion Matt Hagan set a new track ET record and posted the fifth-quickest ET in Funny Car history in Saturday qualifying at the CarQuest Auto Parts NHRA Nationals just outside of Phoenix, Arizona.
“It speaks volumes of why we are a championship team,” said Hagan. “I have a great crew and race car, and I am blessed to be able to drive the wheels off it. That thing was just really digging and posted some great numbers.
“This team continues to grow, and we are really coming together and have great chemistry. I am very excited what this year has to hold for us, and I think we are going to win a lot of races this season.”
All three top qualifiers had sub-four-second ETs.
Tommy Johnson Jr. advanced to fifth in the order with the top speed in yesterday’s third round at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Arizona.
“In the third qualifying session it was warmer track conditions, warmer weather conditions – and to go out and run a four flat and low ET of the round, it was almost a statement run,” Johnson said. “Everyone likes to run well when the conditions are great, but I think it makes more of an impact when you run that well when the conditions are not the best. We had a strong showing there in Q3 and came back in Q4 and backed it up with another good run. We just have had a very consistent car and it is running well. We’re very happy.”
Ron Capps leapfrogged four spots to sixth in the order, shaving 0.046 seconds from his Friday best and adding 5.10 mph to his speed.
“What’s really cool is, sometimes you have to step back and look at the big picture,” Capps said. “It would have been nice to go for the 3.98, 3.99 runs. Even though we went to the final at Pomona, the engine wasn’t as happy as (Crew Chief Rahn) Tobler wanted it. Saturday morning for the first run he put a brand new fuel pump on it which is a very difficult thing for a crew chief. That’s the heart of the engine and what they do with their tune-ups. To make that big change with the fuel pump, all of the sudden the car is back to where I remember it was last year, just a lot of power, a lot of torque and running good numbers.”
“Fast Jack” Beckman made the field for the first time in the 2015 Mello Yello NHRA drag racing season, qualifying 12th. His first clean pass of the year was also the third-quickest of Round Three.
“Getting in the first run Saturday, it wasn’t that it was do or die, it was just critical to get this car to the finish line,” said Beckman, who will face Johnson in the first round of eliminations. “We know we’ve got the ability to run quick everywhere, we just had a lot of gremlins jump up and bite us. On the last qualifying run we had the luxury to push it a little bit and now we have to go into race mode.
“Unfortunately we’re not going to have lane choice and we are racing a team car that has been exceptionally quick out here,” he added. “I gotta tell you, if I’m a bettor, I’m betting on this team. Terry Chandler will have a car in the second round, guaranteed.”
John Hale and Shane Westerfield also qualified, making a total of six Dodge Chargers in the field for today’s eliminations. They will face off with six Toyotas, the three John Force Racing Chevy Camaros and one Ford Mustang.
In Pro Stock, Allen Johnson, who took last year’s Wally in Phoenix, remained fourth in a qualifying order that was largely unchanged from Friday.
“I feel like we were really consistent through qualifying this weekend,” Johnson said. “We have been making some good runs with our Dodge Dart and even if we may have been a bit conservative in our approach, that’s what it is going to take tomorrow. We just need to stay in the top four or five runs like we have and we have a good shot at defending our title here at Phoenix.”
Both V. Gaines and Deric Kramer also qualified. The three Dodges will face a legion of bow ties and a pair of Pontiacs today.
Formula One: Kimi Raikkonen’s new SF-15T Ferrari was second-fastest in the second day of testing in Barcelona, just 0.01 seconds slower than Daniel Ricciardo in the Red Bull car.
“Today was not ideal, we had some small issues which prevented us from running as much as we wanted, but still we managed to do other stuff, try things and learn,” said Raikkonen. “We are going in the right direction in all areas and the team did a good job over the winter.
“Of course, racing is a different story from testing, but so far it has been good. The team bosses have managed to put the right people in the right places. It’s still early days, but everybody seems to enjoy it more. For the next test we’ll try to put the right things into the car.”
Raikkonen was also second in the first day of testing.
Ferrari was first in the 2015’s first test session at Jerez earlier this month.
NASCAR: Kurt Busch, who drove Dodges for Penske Racing from 2006 to 2011, received indefinite suspensions from NASCAR and Chevrolet after a Delaware judge issued a no-contact order in a domestic violence case in which Busch, known for his temper, is alleged to have assaulted his girlfriend. Busch has been driving a Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing.
Busch’s outbursts have caused him trouble on previous occasions and were one of the factors that led Roger Penske to fire him at the end of the 2011 season.
NHRA: Matt Hagan and Allen Johnson were the top Dodge qualifiers in their classes in Friday qualifying in the CarQuest Auto Parts NHRA Nationals running this weekend at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Phoenix, Arizona.
Hagan and Johnson each finished fourth in the qualifying order.
In the first round of Fuel Funny Qualifying, Hagan went to the top of the order with a strong pass. Tommy Johnson Jr. had a clean pass and took the No. 3 spot. Ron Capps also had a good run, qualifying fifth. Shane Westerfield made his Funny Car debut and took the No. 9 position while John Hale posted a career-best speed and qualified 11th. Jack Beckman was up in smoke at the start and was a DNQ.
In the second round, Courtney Force collected her second sub-four-second ET and Alexis DeJoria ran four seconds even as they took the top two spots. Del Worsham qualified third. Hagan couldn’t beat his first-round ET but posted the second-fastest run of the day at 320.13, just 1.45 mph slower than Force’s record.
“We’re working with the same combo that we had in Pomona so obviously the car is running good,” Hagan said. “We made two great laps out there in the new Dodge Charger with a .02 and a .03 and you can’t ask for much more. We’ve got a good race car and we’re going cleanly down the race track and that is half the battle. The rest of it, we can go after tomorrow because we don’t have anything to lose.”
On his second pass, Johnson’s engine blew at the 660 marker, dropping him to No. 6 while Capps went up in smoke at the 330 marker and dropped to tenth in the order.
Ron Capps is pleased with the new Dodge Charger. After the qualiying session, Capps said, “This is the most excited I’ve been about driving a racecar just for the feel of the car. Every time we drop the Dodge Charger body down, it is just such a huge difference. The visibility is tremendous and it drives so nice.
Westerfield and Hale couldn’t beat their first-round times and dropped into the DNQ section while Jack Beckman, who can’t seem to catch a break, hazed the tires at the start again and went straight to the cellar.
“We fixed what was ailing us with a four test runs after Pomona and then today we had two bad runs,” Beckman said. “You almost have to chuckle to yourself because it is so frustrating. We can’t work any harder so we just have to work smarter on this thing. We had a bad run and then we broke a wheelie bar on the second attempt. We’ll fix it and move forward.”
With a 16-car field, everybody should make it to Sunday’s eliminations unless another racer shows up today.
In Pro Stock, Allen Johnson had two clean runs. He qualified fifth in the first round and then trimmed 0.016 seconds from his ET and advanced to fourth. Deric Kramer had a good pass and landed on the bump spot. V. Gaines lost traction lost traction and shut down.
“We’re sneaking up on it little by little as the crew is working conservatively and that’s something we decided to do as a team from the start of the year,” said Johnson. “We are getting a handle on the car and on the new fuel. One more run and we might just take that number one away from them so that’s our goal.”
In Round Two, Deric Kramer had to stick with his first-round time and got bumped into DNQ territory. V. Gaines’ Kendall Oil Dart found some grip and made it into the field, qualifying 12th.
Analysis. On February 13th, the NHRA sent a now-controversial letter to most of the participants of the popular TV show Street Outlaws, which is shown on the Discovery Channel. In the letter, the NHRA states that it cannot condone street racing, which the show appears to depict, and then goes on to threaten the participants in the show with removal of their NHRA competition licenses, which would prevent those affected from competing in NHRA sanctioned events.
In reality, the “racing” shown on the TV is done on the street, but with the full permission and presence of local law enforcement, and first aid staff on site in case of any accidents. The road is fully closed down, monitored, and accessible only by the participants and actors in the series.
So, has the NHRA gone too far? According to Dragzine, Street Outlaws has approximately 6 times (2.2 million vs 400,000) the number of weekly TV viewers that the NHRA does, some could say it is more a case of sour grapes than a valid complaint. Additionally, the rule the NHRA is using is techically only valid while at a NHRA member track or during a NHRA member event, so technically they are stretching the rule by attempting to use this as ammunition.
How does this affect Mopar? Well, Mopar has sunk almost all of its motorsports eggs into the NHRA basket. NHRA has proven to be a shrinking market, much as many of the other national series (NASCAR, etc), and Mopar has already fled the pricey NASCAR market. Is NHRA next? Will the big money teams such as Force and the Mopar sponsored Don Schumacher Racing be the death of the NHRA?
NHRA’s main participants are the grass roots stock, super stock, and even weekend racers that participate in Sportsman across the country. Top Fuel and Pro Stock are a big draw to the NHRA national events, but it is the grassroots guys that buy the tickets and go to those events.
Would it possibly benefit Mopar more to explore putting a Mopar of some sort on the Street Outlaw show? Not just placing a car in the show, but putting a competitive combination together for the show? That kind of street cred goes a long way — as the SRT4 Neon opened the floodgates to modern Mopar performance appeal and draw.
If the NHRA is turning its back on its roots in the grassroots racers, and if Street Outlaws is embracing and if anything encouraging that same grassroots efforts, it would appear that Mopar could be better off spending money in an area that not only reaches into the grassroots more, but also could weekly touch many more people through TV and online than the NHRA currently does.
Many of the participants on the show, and in other non-NHRA series throughout the country, do so because the NHRA rules and car classifications have not been updated to keep up with the advancement of car technology. However, NHRA has ignored exactly what makes Outlaw 10.5 and other “series” so popular. Many of these ultra fast “street” cars are not legal within the common NHRA competition classification.
It may all boil down to demographics. NHRA is followed by typically an older, more affluent group of people. People that have more disposable income, and people that do buy cars and trucks. Street Outlaws is followed mostly by younger folk, who may, for the most part, not be able to afford anything but the entry level of new cars. Taking this into account, it would seem that staying active in NHRA would be the correct thing to do, as it more directly connects Mopar and Dodge to their customers… although the Street Outlaw guys seem to be able and willing to throw seemingly unlimited amount of money at their cars.
Outlaw class racing via the ADRL and NMCA, and others, has been frowned upon by the NHRA for years. The NHRA has even gone so far as to threaten the removal of NHRA national events from certain tracks if they allow outlaw style series.
Time will tell which way is the correct way for Mopar to go, but drag racing is a mine field, and as of now, NHRA has not done itself any favors.
Written with the help of Mike Volkmann. Image courtesy of Mike Murillo.
Start saving your pennies. Hemmings Motor News is reporting, and the current car owner has confirmed, that the Sam Posey #76 T/A Challenger that competed in the 1970 SCCA Trans Am Series will be up for bid at the Hollywood Wheels Amelia Island Select auction, between March 13th and March 15th.
While not the primary #77 car that Posey campaigned to a fourth place overall spot in the 1970 season, the #76 was the backup car, and Posey did race it a couple of times during the season, when they had difficulties with the #77 car.
Though visibly sister cars to the Dan Gurney All American Racer ( AAR ) ‘Cudas, there was actually very little shared. The Challenger T/As had Keith Black-developed 305 cid small blocks, based on a heavily revised 340 block, that had thicker main webbing, 4 bolt mains, and a 3″ stroke crankshaft, vs the standard 3.31″ stroke crank for the 340. There were some reliability issues with the 305’s, but Chrysler would never openly admit to blown motors at the races. It was always a “throttle” problem or some such that would be the official reason a car dropped out of a race.
While this car does not have a championship provenance, it is still a unique and historically important car for any Mopar enthusiast or collector. There were only four cars originally constructed for the AAR series (two Challengers, two Cudas) and this is one of them. These cars are also responsible for the factory homogulated Challenger T/A and AAR ‘Cuda, that today bring good money in restored condition, and rank highly on many Mopar fans “want to have someday list.”
Brett Hudson drove the No. 9 Brett Hudson Motorsports Dodge to a third-place finish in the Lucas Oil 200 presented by AutoZone that ran today at the Daytona International Speedway.
“Luckily I got hooked up with Frank (Kimmel) in practice which got me a good time and got me in the fastest group for qualifying,” Hudson said. “I got rolling and put up a good lap. In the race I was just trying to keep my position. I tried to stay in line at the end and maybe they would get to racing and maybe I would have a chance to sneak by.”
Tom Hessert finished just out of the top ten, crossing the finish line in 11th place in the No. 77 Barbera’s Autoland Dodge.
Bo LeMastus and Bobby Hamilton Jr. both finished on the lead lap, in 23rd and 26th place, respectively. Hamilton was a provisional in the qualifying but managed to get into the field in the No. 97 Carter 2 Motorsports Dodge sponsored by Nitroforce Industries Titan 1000.
Team owner Roger Carter replaced Donny Neurenberger at the wheel of the No. 40 Carter 2 Motorsports Dodge and finished 32nd.
All six Dodges that ran today finished in running condition.
The race, the first in the 2015 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards season, lasted 1:30:25 with an average speed of 132.719 mph. Twenty-seven cars finished on the lead lap. There were three cautions for 23 laps. Grant Enfinger won in the No. 23 Alamo Rent-A-Car Chevrolet. It was his second consecutive win at Daytona.
ARCA – LUCAS OIL 200 – DODGE FINISHES
Brett Hudson Motorsports
Uncle Ray’s Potato Chips-Carolina Nut
Crosley-T&T Construction-Glad Precision
Bobby Hamilton Jr.
Nitroforce Industries Titan 1000
The next race is the ARCA-Mobile 200 on March 14 at Mobile International Speedway in Mobile, Alabama.