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Mopar scores in Pomona

by Bill Cawthon on

Mopar-sponsored Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) drivers racked up two class wins to kick off the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello drag racing season.

In the just-completed Winternationals in Pomona, California, Matt Hagan shut down Courtney Force to capture the Funny Car Wally while Leah Pritchett tripped the lights long before Doug Kalitta.

Hagan and Pritchett were also the top qualifiers in their classes. Hagan reset both ends of the Auto Club Raceway track record as he matched his career-best ET and speed.

Hagan defeated 2016 Champion and fellow DSR driver Ron Capps in a Charger-Charger semifinal race. Capps gave Hagan a free pass to the finals when he jumped the gun and turned on the red lights at the start.

The two other DSR drivers were eliminated in the quarterfinals. Tommy Johnson Jr. lost to John Force and Jack Beckman gave Hagan a real run for his money but came up 0.011 seconds behind at the end.

Dodge drivers Bob Bode, Phil Burkart and Jeff Campbell were all eliminated in the opening round.

Pritchett got a pass in the first round as there weren’t enough Top Fuel entries to make up a full field. The the second round, she was 0.001 seconds behind Steve Torrence at the start but the Mopar/Papa John’s car was in the lead by the time it passed the Christmas tree.

In the semifinals, Pritchett beat fellow DSR/Mopar-powered driver Tony Schumacher through the timing lights by 0.063 seconds on her way to victory in the final race.

It was three Darts up, three Darts down in Pro Stock as Allen Johnson, Deric Cramer and Alan Prusiensky were eliminated in the today’s first round. 2016 champion Jason Line beat Greg Anderson for the class win.

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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