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Mopar racks up two more in Arizona

by Bill Cawthon on

Leah Pritchett and Matt Hagan kept a perfect season going as they repeated their wins, taking the victories in Top Fuel and Funny Car, respectively, at the NHRA Arizona Nationals. The results gave Mopar its third and fourth wins in the young 2017 Mello Yello drag racing season.

Leah Pritchett with Mopar Top Fuel dragster

Pritchett pulled off a hole shot win over Brittany Force, tripping the lights 0.0271 seconds ahead of the Monster Energy car. On her way to the final round, Pritchett shut down Clay Millican and Shawn Reed after running unopposed in the opening round. Pritchett is the first Top Fuel driver to win both of the first two races of the season in 20 years.

Tony Schumacher, Pritchett’s Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) teammate, made it to the semifinals where he lost to Force.

Hagan was about 12 feet ahead of fellow DSR/Dodge driver and 2016 national champion Ron Capps at the end of the final Funny Car race. Not only was it an all-Dodge finals, it was preceded by an all-Dodge semifinal round with Hagan defeating Tommy Johnson Jr. and Capps eliminating Jim Campbell in the Jim Dunn Racing Charger.

Jack Beckman’s Dodge got noisy at the start and was unable to make its run. He lost his first-round matchup with Gary Densham. Phil Burkhart, the sixth Dodge driver in the field, was another opening-round casualty, falling to Tommy Johnson Jr. in the first Funny Car race of the day.

All three Darts in the Pro Stock field were eliminated in the day’s first round. Allen Johnson fell to former teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr.; Deric Kramer had the lead at the start but Bo Butner pulled ahead at the 330 mark to take the win and Alan Prusiensky just wasn’t quick enough to beat Tanner Gray. Greg Anderson captured the Pro Stock Wally.

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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