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Mopar magic strikes in Houston

by Bill Cawthon on

Leah Pritchett scored her third Top Fuel Wally of the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello drag racing season and Ron Capps pulled in the season’s fourth Funny Car win for Dodge.

The two Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) drivers were the winners in the NHRA SpringNationals at Royal Purple Raceway in Baytown, Texas, just east of Houston.

leah Pritchett

Pritchett tripped the timing lights 0.006 seconds ahead of Steve Torrence to take the Top Fuel win and recapture the top spot in the standings from DSR teammate Tony Schumacher. Schumacher’s race day ended in the quarterfinals with a hole shot loss to Clay Millican.

DSR drivers have won every Top Fuel event so far this season, with Mopar-powered cars taking the final round four times.

There was some drama in the Funny Car finals as Capps’ engine suffered a violent blowout just as he crossed the finish line. His opponent, Robert Hight, also had engine trouble and crossed the center line.

Capps eliminated Jack Beckman in the semifinals when Beckman’s Infinite Hero Charger began dropping cylinders early in the match.

Matt Hagan and Tommy Johnson Jr. exited in the opening round after both had engine problems. Jim Campbell was another first-round casualty as the Jim Dunn Racing Charger lost to the Camaro of Robert Hight on its way to the finals.

With the two wins by Matt Hagan in the first two events of the season and Tommy Johnson Jr.’s victory in Las Vegas, DSR and Dodge continue to dominate the class.

Sad singing and slow walking continued to be the rule for Dodge in Pro Stock. Allen Johnson qualified dead last and he and Alan Prusiensky lost in the first round.

Johnson’s former Dodge teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. drove his Camaro all the way to the Pro Stock finals before losing to Bo Butner.

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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