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Dodges dominate in Thunder Valley

by Bill Cawthon on

Defending world champion Ron Capps collected his fifth Funny Car Wally of the season and the 55th of his career. Capps got a holeshot win over his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Jack Beckman in an all-Dodge final round at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol, Tennessee.

For the first time this season, it was not only an all-Dodge final round, it was all Dodges in the semifinals, as well. The four Don Schumacher Racing drivers, Capps, Beckman, Matt Hagan and Tommy Johnson, Jr. cleared the rest of the 16-car field in the quarterfinals.

Mopar Dodge Charger R/T Dodge Funny Car driver Ron Capps celebrates his fifth win of the 2017 season after winning an all-Mopar finals at Bristol Dragway.

Capps NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T cruised to an easy semifinal-round win over Hagan’s Mopar Express Lane Dodge while Beckman and the Infinite Hero Dodge outran Johnson’s Make-A-Wish Charger.

The victory makes Capps the first driver to score more than 1,000 points in the 2017 Mello Yello drag racing season. Hagan remains in second and Beckman padded his lead over Courtney and Robert Hight for third place. [Note: Final points had not been posted yet. Allpar will update this report when they are available.]

Mopar Top Fuel driver Leah Pritchett lights up the night during qualifying at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals.

Mopar-sponsored Leah Pritchett made it to the Top Fuel finals, losing to Clay Millican by 0.0194 seconds or about nine feet. Since Antron Brown’s race day ended in the quarterfinals, Steve Torrance will probably take the top spot in the standings. Prichett qualified higher than Brown in all four rounds so she should either take over second place or be within a point or two. Mopar-powered Tony Schumacher was eliminated in the opening round with a loss to Scott Palmer.

Allen Johnson fell in the day’s first Pro Stock race, defeated by Alex Laughlin who went on to win the event. Bristol Dragway is Johnson’s home track but he has never won here. Alan Prusiensky was also shut down in Round One, losing to Erica Enders.

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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