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2013 NHRA season: No sweep, but sweet

by Bill Cawthon on

NHRA-Coughlin-Champion-Web
Mopar fans’ hopes for a solid ending to the 2013 Mello Yello NHRA Drag Racing season were rewarded yesterday at the final event on the calendar: the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals in Pomona, California.

While the Funny Car championship went to the late-blooming John Force in Las Vegas, the Pro Stock title was still very much in contention with Mike Edwards, who had collected a class-leading six Wallys on his way to Auto Club Raceway, tied with Jason Line at just 70 points behind points leader Jeg Coughlin. Coughlin had to make it to the semifinals to clinch the championship unless Edwards and Line were eliminated before he was.

Fortunately for Coughlin, Edwards fouled out in Round One and Line fell in a Round Two matchup before Coughlin was to meet 2012 Pro Stock World Champion Allen Johnson. With his fifth Pro Stock World Championship already in hand, it didn’t sting quite so much when Coughlin was eliminated on a red-light foul in the quarterfinals, leaving the door open for Johnson to make it all the way to the finals where he lost to Rickie Johnson’s hole-shot win.

Though he missed the Wally, Johnson’s final-round appearance jumped him three positions to finish the season as the runner-up, giving Mopar and Dodge the top two spots in the Pro Stock season standings.

NHRA-Hagan-Wally-WebMatt Hagan, who led the Funny Car race for much of the season, secured his runner-up position by defeating the John Force, the new Champion, in a good race. Hagan and Force had identical times out of the gate, but the Magneti Marelli/Rocky Boots Charger tripped the lights 0.0396 seconds, or about 18 feet in front of the Castrol Mustang. In that final showdown, Hagan also beat the track speed record he had set the previous day.

2012 Champion Jack Beckman finished the season in third place, despite a Wally-free season. His last hopes for a 2013 trophy ended Sunday, when he was the first of the Dodge drivers in the Countdown to the Championship to be eliminated.

Looking back over the season, Dodge drivers collected 11 wins out of 24 Pro Stock Nationals and 12 of 24 Funny Cars victories. Chevrolet Camaros picked up 13 Pro Stock wins, but nobody came close in Funny Car: Ford got eight Wallys and Toyota got four. Between the two classes, Dodge wins totaled 23, compared to 13 for Chevrolet, eight for Ford and four for Toyota.

Dodge drivers made it to to the final round 44 times out of 96 possibles. That compares to 26 for Chevy, 19 for Ford and 7 for Toyota. There were only three events (SpringNationals, Thunder Valley Nationals, Texas Fall Nationals) where a Dodge driver wasn’t in the finals.

Mike Edwards won the most often in Pro Stock with six victories. He was followed by Jeg Coughlin and Allen Johnson, each with four, and Vincent Nobile with three. Matt Hagan was the most frequent winner in Funny Car, with five Wallys. Johnny Gray collected four, as did John Force (Ford) and Cruz Pedregon (Toyota). Ron Capps earned three.

2013 MELLO YELLO NHRA FINAL DRIVER STANDINGS
PRO STOCK   FUNNY CAR
Rank Driver Points Behind   Rank Driver Points Behind
1 Jeg Coughlin Jr. 2572 Champion 1 John Force 2688 Champion
2 Allen Johnson 2514 -174 2 Matt Hagan 2548 -140
3 Jason Line 2502 -186 3 Jack Beckman 2445 -243
4 Mike Edwards 2482 -206 4 Cruz Pedregon 2415 -273
5 Shane Gray 2480 -208 5 Robert Hight 2413 -275
6 Erica Enders-Stevens 2406 -282 6 Ron Capps 2406 -282
7 V. Gaines 2355 -333 7 Courtney Force 2403 -285
8 Greg Anderson 2345 -343 8 Del Worsham 2309 -379
9 Vincent Nobile 2298 -390   9 Johnny Gray 2309 -379
10 Rodger Brogdon 2147 -541 10 Tim Wilkerson 2238 -450

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for just-auto.com, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.


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