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Johnson moves up, Beckman maintains in Texas

by Bill Cawthon on

Allen Johnson made it to the Pro Stock semifinals of the AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals that wound up today at the Texas Motorplex in Ennis, Texas.

Johnson’s good race day bumped him up to No. 4 in the Countdown to the Championship.

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Erica Enders, who won today’s event, her eighth Wally and a new record for the most season wins by a female driver in Pro Stock history, has a 154-point lead with just two events remaining on the schedule. Johnson’s a little too far back for anything but a miracle to give him the 2015 Championship.

With Jeg Coughlin, Johnson’s former teammate, coming back for the entire 2016 season with Elite Motorsports, the same team that Enders drives for, that makes two former Dodge drivers, and Johnson teammates, that have gone over to the bow tie (or dark) side.

V. Gaines, who struggled the entire season, drives the only other Dart that runs a full schedule.

It may be time for J&J Racing and Mopar to think about adding another driver and car to the effort as well as doing some major work on the new cars to see if they can’t be more competitive with the Camaros. There are big changes coming next year with the requirement to switch to electronic fuel injection and the adoption of a cowl engine cover.

In Funny Car, Jack Beckman made it all the way to the final round but couldn’t close the deal. He lost again to Del Worsham’s Camry. Beckman had the better start and the early lead but began hazing the tires at the 330-foot mark. Worsham also lost traction but was able to hang on for the win, tripping the timing lights 0.005 seconds, about three feet, ahead of Beckman.

“It stings to lose one that close,” said Beckman. “It’s one of those races that I’d like to watch at home with the replay. The car was trucking along and then spun the tires and hunted for the wall, but it was far enough down track to just keep the throttle down, hang on and hope it’s enough. Talking to Del (Worsham) after the race, he was having more problems in his lane and had to step off of it. Had we lost in the final to anybody but Del, we would’ve left here with the points lead.”

After going for the entire regular season without a win, Worsham has now captured three of the four Wallys awarded in the Countdown. He slightly widened his lead over Beckman to 38 points and Beckman has to come through at the end of the month in Las Vegas to keep his championship hopes alive.

After getting a first round freebie from Blake Alexander’s red-light foul, Matt Hagan was out in the quarterfinals, losing to Tommy Johnson Jr. who took over third place. Beckman eliminated Johnson in the semifinals. Ron Capps made it all the way to the semifinals where he lost to Worsham. Capps moved up to fourth, one point ahead of Hagan, who dropped all the way down to fifth.

Johnson, Capps and Hagan are all still in the mix, though they would have to have good days at both the Toyota Nationals at the end of October and at the season-ending Auto Club Finals in Pomona in mid-November.

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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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