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Dodge picks up third win in Vegas

by Bill Cawthon on

Tommy Johnson Jr. collected Dodge’s third Funny Car Wally of the 2017 Mello Yello drag racing season with a win over Jonny Lindberg at the NHRA Nationals on the Strip in Las Vegas.

This is a caption! It screws up the image on phones.

Johnson’s Make-A-Wish Charger was first out of the gate and never trailed, tripping the lights 0.081 seconds ahead of Lindberg, whose Chrysler-powered Camry appeared to lose a cylinder about halfway through his run.

Johnson began the day with a win over fellow Dodge driver Jim Campbell in the Jim Dunn Racing Charger. In the quarterfinals, Johnson got a free pass to the next round when Robert Hight turned on the red light. In his semifinal matchup with John Force, Johnson and Force were out of the gates simultaneously and Force took an early lead. But Johnson caught up and took the lead all the way to the finish line.

Only one Dodge made it past the quarterfinals. Ron Capps’ NAPA Dodge dropped a cylinder at the start and lost his opening round race with Jonnie Lindberg. Matt Hagan and Jack Beckman had the same problem, losing to John Force and Lindberg, respectively.

Tony Schumacher made it all the way to the top Fuel finals before losing to his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Antron Brown. Mopar-sponsored Leah Pritchett got to the semifinals where she also lost to Brown.

All three Dodge Dart drivers were eliminated in the first round of Pro Stock eliminations.

There was a little bit of Pro Stock history made on Sunday. Tanner Gray, son of Pro Stock driver Shane Gray and grandson of former Dodge driver Johnny Gray, became the youngest driver in NHRA history to win a Nationals in any pro class. The younger Gray is less than a week shy of his 18th birthday.

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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