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Racing recap: Dodge’s 2014 season

by Bill Cawthon on

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With the NHRA finals completed in Pomona, Dodge’s 2014 racing year has come to an end.

While it wasn’t all that true-blue Chrysler fans might have wished, it was pretty good: out of the six series in which Dodge competed, it came home with four championships.

In the only NASCAR series that has a real Dodge presence, L.P. Dumoulin captured the Canadian Tire Series championship and the owner’s championship by a slim 3-point margin on September 20 in the No. 47 Bellemare Dodge Challenger.

On October 4, Kuno Wittmer in the No. 93 Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R won the GT Le Mans class of the IMSA/Tudor United Sportscar Championship and the #93 SRT Motorsports team won the team honors. Jonathan Bomarito was the runner-up only because of a fail-safe strategy that split the team. Marc Goossens and Dominik Farnbacher finished the season in fourth and fifth place respectively.

Yesterday, two more drivers piloted Dodges to a championship. First to finish was Cameron Lawrence, who delivered the first Dodge driver championship in Trans Am TA2 competition with a big win at Daytona. Later in the day, Matt Hagan won his second NHRA Fuel Funny Car world championship and the final race of the 2014 Funny Car season in the Mopar/Rocky Boots Charger R/T.

Hagan’s win makes five NHRA Pro Class championships for Dodge in the past four years, three of them in Fuel Funny Car.

Hagan’s Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. was third in the standings. Johnson drives the Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger R/T.

In the ARCA presented by Menard’s series, Tom Hessert finished the season in third place. A late-season win bumped him up from fourth in the standings. Hessert drives the No. 77 Dodge Challenger for Cunningham Motorsports, a Penske Racing farm team.

The only real disappointment was in NHRA Pro Stock competition. Allen Johnson had four of the six Dodge event wins but placed sixth in the final standings. Jeg Coughlin, who will be taking a break from racing next year, was the top Dodge driver in the standings: he finished fifth after a season dominated by some hot Camaros and a driver named Erica Enders-Stevens who sat out two races and still became the first woman to win a Pro Stock championship and just the third woman to win any NHRA Pro championship.

We know Mopar is coming back for 2015: Mopar CEO Pietro Gorlier introduced the new Dodge Charger Funny Car for the next Mello Yello drag racing season. We’ll need a third Dodge driver for the Pro Stock competition: Johnson and Coughlin showed the Dodge Dart could win and V. Gaines was having a good run until he crashed the Kendall Oil Dart and had to fall back on the Avenger he had raced previously.

We can count on Dodges continuing to have a major presence in Canadian Tire Series action. With strong drivers like L.P. Dumoulin, Scott Steckly, Andrew Ranger and D.J. Kennington, it should be a good season.

We hope Cameron Lawrence will be at the wheel of a Dodge for the 2015 Trans Am season and Tom Hessert’s a pretty good bet for ARCA competition.

Sadly, we know the Viper will be missing from GT Le Mans next year though we can hope Ben Keating will still be running in GT Daytona.

A return to NASCAR doesn’t seem to be in the cards. The need for a solid team, the challenge of lining up sponsors and the millions of dollars required to be a serious player all work against it, even if Dodge had a car ready to go.

Dodge’s 2015 season kicks off February 5 with the NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California.

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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