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Beckman triumphs in all-Dodge finals

by Bill Cawthon on

“Fast Jack” Beckman came into the NHRA Summernationals as the only Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) driver that had not yet collected a Funny Car Wally.

With today’s win in Englishtown, New Jersey, Beckman has completed the set: All four DSR/Mopar teams have wins and Dodge has taken nine of the ten national events in the Funny Car class. There have been four all-Dodge final rounds so far this season.

In a race of champions, 2012 champ Beckman bested Ron Capps, the defending champion and current points leader, with a 4.100-second ET at 312.42 miles per hour to Capps’ 4.143 seconds at 299.66 mph.

Beckman started the day by winning his matchup with Jim Campbell, driver of the Jim Dunne Racing Charger, and followed it up by eliminating Cruz Pedregon in the quarterfinals.

In the semifinals, it was DSR v. John Force Racing as Backman faced off with top qualifier Courtney Force and Capps went head-to-head with Robert Hight, who was second in the qualifying order.

It was good news-bad news for Beckman. The bad news was that engine problems kept Beckman from making a good run. The good news was that Force jumped the gun and turned on the red light, giving Beckman a free pass to the finals.

Capps lost a cylinder at the start of his race with Hight, but Hight went up in smoke at about 60 feet out and had to give up.

Tommy Johnson Jr. and Matt Hagan ended their race days in the quarterfinals. Johnson went up in smoke in the first race, losing to Hight, while Hagan was shut down after losing a cylinder in the last race of Round 2, giving it up to Courtney Force.

Capps will probably pad his lead in the point standings. Hagan will remain second, though his lead over Courtney Force will be cut by her top qualifier points and the fact she lasted one more round than he did. Hight also added a bunch of points. Beckman should easily advance to fifth: John Force didn’t get any qualifying points and was eliminated in the opening round, so he might drop two spots, to seventh in the standings behind Beckman and Johnson.

The Dodge Demon livery didn’t help Leah Pritchett in Englishtown. She was way down the order in qualifying and lost her first-round race with DSR teammate Tony Schumacher. Schumacher advanced to the quarterfinals where he lost to Doug Kallita. Antron Brown was the only DSR Top Fuel driver to make it to the finals. He lost to Steve Torrence.

With the early exit, Pritchett will probably drop to third in the standings, behind Torrence and Brown.

Allen Johnson had his best Pro Stock performance of the year. After qualifying fourth, Johnson’s Dodge Dart tripped the timing lights 13 inches ahead of Matt Hartford, giving Johnson a rare first-round win. He lost his quarterfinals race with with Greg Johnson, who went on to take the Pro Stock Wally. Alan Prusiensky won a shocker, beating Jason Line in the opener. It was the first time this season for Prusiensky to win a round. Jeg Coughlin Jr. ended Prusiensky’s racing day in the quarterfinals. Johnson and Prusiensky are 11th and 12th, respectively, in the Pro Stock driver standings.

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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