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Capps and Beckman in all-Dodge final round

by Bill Cawthon on

Ron Capps celebrated Hemi Day (4/26) by beating top qualifier Jack Beckman in today’s smoke-filled, all-Dodge, all-Hemi, all-Don Schumacher Racing final round at the Spring Nationals in Houston, Texas.

Capps picked up his second Fuel Funny Car Wally of the 2015 Mello Yello NHRA drag racing season and now has the lead in the driver standings.


Today’s win is Capps’ 45th national event victory in 88 final round appearances. It’s also his 44th Fuel Funny Car Wally, putting him second only to John Force in total career wins.

“This is one of those races that when you can win it, you feel like you really earned it,” said an exhausted Capps of his third Houston win. “With the conditions that we had to drive in and tune in this weekend it feels great to get a win here. It’s crazy to think that I am number two on that list. I am not that good, so it just shows you from my time with Don Prudhomme on down to my team at Don Schumacher Racing, all of the great people I have worked with over the years, it’s a credit to them.”

Don Schumacher Racing Dodge Chargers have won five out of the six Funny Car Wallys awarded this year. Three of the six final rounds have been all-Mopar races.

Capps ties Matt Hagan with two trophies apiece this season; Beckman has one.

Capps got the quicker start but it was a close race to 660 feet. At that point, both the NAPA Auto Parts Charger and Beckman’s Infinite Hero Charger started hazing the tires and fishtailing. Capps was able to get a couple car lengths ahead and that was all she wrote: Capp’s margin of victory was 0.254 seconds.

“I’m complaining about a runner-up finish because we are that good now,” said Beckman after his second trip to the finals. “We had a malfunction in the fuel system, the slide valve which bypasses fuel, the fuel curve was off. We didn’t have time to check it on the warm-up because you lose 20 minutes of turnaround time (for live TV coverage). This is the downside about live television. You take a chance of not getting into your normal routine. You have to take some shortcuts for the quick turnaround times and in our case it bit us. It bit Capps’ team too. They didn’t make an optimal run, theirs was just better than ours.”

It was a Charger-Camaro semifinals: Capps was 0.001 seconds quicker at the start in his race with Robert Hight’s Auto Club Chevy and that was his margin of victory. Both cars ran identical ETs but Capps was through the lights about three inches before Hight. Beckman got the quick start and never trailed in his race with the Traxxas Camaro driven by Courtney Force.

Tommy Johnson Jr. lost his quarterfinals matchup with Beckman when the Make-A-Wish Charger went up in smoke right after the start.

Matt Hagan got a good start in his race with Ron Capps but the big Hemi in the Mopar/Rocky Boots Charger started blowing white smoke and making costly sounds near the end of his pass. He was 33 feet behind Capps at the lights.

Capps also eliminated John Hale in the first round of Capps all-Dodge day. The ALO Drink Charger began toasting the tires about halfway down the track and Hale lifted.

Del Worsham was eliminated in the opening round, while Hagan made it to the quarterfinals leaving Capps and Hagan in the top two spots in the standings. Beckman leapfrogged John Force, Alexis DeJoria, Cruz Pedregon and John Hale as he moved from tenth to sixth in the standings. Tommy Johnson dropped from fourth to fifth and John Hale fell from the Top Ten.

In Pro Stock, a disappointing season continued as it was four up; four down in the first round of eliminations. Richie Stevens’ Mopar/Pierson Construction Dart made a move at the Christmas tree and turned on the red light, but every other Dart driver had a clean pass. They simply were not quick enough to keep up with the Camaros that have taken every Pro Stock win this year.

Allen Johnson came into today’s eliminations after qualifying in the No. 13 spot, his worst position since Maple Grove in 2011. Matched up with Erica Enders-Stevens, who went on to win her second consecutive hometown Wally, he was 0.001 seconds faster off the line but 0.044 seconds slower at the end. Their speeds were close – just 0.10 mph difference.

“Fuel got us again even though we thought we had it figured out last night,” Johnson said. “It’s got us by the cahoochies. We thought we fixed it and then on that run it came right back. We’re going to have to go test somewhere in humidity (where the problem seems more evident) and run until we wear everything out and get it worked out. We don’t give up but right now this problem is like a big sledgehammer on the head. I knew if we made a good run, I could beat her and I got everything but the running part done. It’s not one person’s fault. It’s just something with this new fuel that seems to be plaguing the HEMI engines worse than any other motor. We’re being methodical and hunting in every direction to get this solved. We won’t give up.”

V. Gaines was the top Dodge Qualifier and the first Dodge driver eliminated. Larry Morgan’s FireAde Camaro was quicker off the line and quicker down the track, arriving 0.035 seconds, about 11 feet, before the Kendall Oil Dart. Through the timing lights, Morgan was 1.06 mph faster than Gaines.

Deric Kramer found his traction and made his first clean pass of the weekend, but the American Ethanol/Madcap/Novo Dart was no match for top qualifier Jason Line’s Summit Racing Equipment Camaro. The two had equal reaction times but Line’s pass was 0.108 seconds quicker and 2.4 mph faster than Kramer’s.

Allen Johnson remains the only Dodge driver in the Pro Stock top ten. He is still on the bump spot.

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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