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Beckman and Capps set new records in Houston

by Bill Cawthon on

Funny Car: Jack Beckman posted the first three-second time at Royal Purple Raceway in Houston, Texas, setting a new track ET record, and taking the top spot in Fuel Funny Car qualifying in the NHRA Spring Nationals running this weekend.

Four of five Dodge Chargers competing in Fuel Funny Car advanced in Round Two with three in the top half of the qualifying order.


Beckman, in the Infinite Hero Dodge Charger, had qualified tenth after hazing his tires in the first round, but came back with a clean pass of 3.988 seconds at 318.17 mph to take his first top qualifier spot in 36 races. But Beckman isn’t counting chickens yet:

“I remember at Indy last year after we hauled butt Saturday night and the forecast was hot and nasty for Sunday and there wasn’t any chance of anyone getting around us and then Sunday was overcast and cool and [Matt] Hagan took the spot,” Beckman said after Friday’s qualifying ended. “I am not counting anything until this deal is over. The thing I like better is the three points because we are 10th in points, and that’s going to help us out.”

Ron Capps set a new track speed record of 319.67 mph, though his 4.038 ET was only good enough for the No. 3 spot. It was still a big improvement over the No. 9 spot he occupied at the end of Round One. Capps lost a cylinder in the NAPA AutoParts Charger in his first-round matchup with John Force but he was firing on all eight the second time around.

Points leader Matt Hagen lost a cylinder almost at the start of Round One, qualifying sixth in the order. He came back and had a better pass in Round Two, 4.051 seconds at 314.61 mph, but the Mopar Express/Rocky Boots Charger remained in the No. 6 spot.

Tommy Thompson Jr. smoked the tires on the Make-A-Wish Charger early in his first run and failed to make the cut. He moved from the No. 15 spot to the No. 8 position with a 4.064-second, 310.05 mph run on his second pass but his supercharger let go as he slowed down, knocking the front end loose and popping the windshield out.

John Hale, running the Jim Dunn Racing/ALO Drink Charger, was matched up with Johnson in Round Two and also improved, moving from 12th to 11th going into Saturday qualifying.

Pro Stock: Allen Johnson was the top Dodge qualifier, moving up from No. 10 inthe first round to No. 7 in Friday’s last round of qualifying. Johnson’s best time was 6.574 seconds at 210.34 mph. He was 0.011 seconds and 0.99 mph behind top qualifier Shane Gray in the Gray Motorsports Camaro.

Richie Stevens in his first day racing the Mopar/Pierson Construction Dart, was 0.066 seconds and 1.94 mph slower than his wife, Erica Enders-Stevens, in the Lupe Tortilla Camaro. He qualified at No. 14, missed the cutoff, and will have to try again tomorrow. There are just 16 cars in the field so, unless another entry shows up on Saturday, everyone should make the eliminations.

Deric Kramer qualified No. 12 in the American Ethanol/Madcap/Novo Dart in the opening round but didn’t return for Round Two and dropped to No. 15 in the order. He’ll be back again on Saturday to try to post a qualifying ET.

Coming up: The ARCA presented by Menard’s 2015 series continues with the Federated Auto Parts 200 that runs Sunday at Salem Speedway, in Salem, Indiana. There are four Dodges in the 26-car field. Qualifying is scheduled for Saturday.

Next events in GT Daytona class of the IMSA/Tudor United Sports Car Championship and Trans Am TA2 are in May. Next race for the Vipers is the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway in Monterey, California, next weekend. Qualifying is Saturday, May 2 and the Race is on Sunday, May 3.

A week later, Cameron Lawrence and the No. 1 Dodge Challenger will try to keep the lead in the points standings in the Trans Am Foametix Muscle Car Challenge at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia. Qualifying is May 8 and the TA2 Muscle Car Challenge runs Saturday, May 9, beginning at at 9:30 AM (Eastern).

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, 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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