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Fiery finish for Beckman – Updated with points

by Bill Cawthon on

Jack Beckman’s Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T funny car turned on the win light just as the engine let go at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals that wrapped up this afternoon in Norwalk, Ohio.

While Beckman’s opponent Robert Hight smoked the tires and had to give up on the run, Beckman had a good pass going right up to the finish line, when the blower popped off and flames were spotted under his car.

Jack Beckman with the Infinite Hero Dodge and his latest Wally

Beckman picked up his second Wally of the 2017 Mello Yello drag racing season and his 26th career win. Beckman remains in third place with 855 points but he widened his lead over Hight, now in fourth, by five points.

Dodge continued its dominance of the Funny Car class, reaching the halfway point in the season with its 11th win in 12 national events. A Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) Charger has won every final round since the Gatornationals.

Tommy Johnson Jr. made it to the semifinals where his Make-A-Wish Dodge shook the tires, forcing Johnson to push in the clutch while giving Beckman the win. Johnson picked up 76 points, for a total of 739, and leapfrogged into fifth place, ahead of Courtney Force who failed to qualify for the first time in 131 NHRA nationals.

Points leader Ron Capps, who has reached the final round in seven events this season, made an unusually early exit. He lost to Johnson by 0.005 seconds in a clean quarterfinals race. Capps still has the most points (1,095) and the most wins (5), but Matt Hagan, Beckman and Hight all closed the gap.

Hagan, who set a track record of 3.881 seconds at 331.02 miles per hour on Friday, also left in the same round after losing cylinders and popping the blower just past the 660-foot mark in a matchup with Beckman. Hagan remains second in the driver standings. He was the top qualifier in all four sessions and left Norwalk with 946 points and three wins.

There were six Dodges in the event, Jim Campbell’s Jim Dunne Racing Charger and Dale Creasy, at the wheel of the Tek Pak Beaver Shredding 2014 Avenger. Both were eliminated in Sunday’s first round with Campbell falling to Hight and Creasy losing to John Force.

Leah Prichett’s Mopar-powered dragster was back in the Papa John’s livery this weekend

Leah Pritchett made it to the semifinal round but lost by 0.032 seconds (about 24 feet) to Doug Kalitta. Kalitta got a much faster start and never trailed. Kalitta also eliminated Tony Schumacher in the quarterfinals. Kalitta went on to lose his race with Steve Torrence in the final round.

With 1,021 points, Pritchett is now 50 points and one Wally behind Steve Torrence, who collected his fourth trophy of the year. Schumacher remains in fourth with 856 points.

Allen Johnson’s Marathon Oil-sponsored Dodge Dart lurched at the start of his quarterfinals race with Greg Anderson, turning on the red light and giving Anderson a free pass to the semifinals. Anderson made it all the way to the final round where he lost to Bo Butner. Ironically, Johnson got a free pass to the quarterfinals because Chris McGaha fouled out in the first Pro Stock race of the day.

Alan Prusiensky’s Dodge Dart got a bad case of the shakes right at the start and he had to shut down, losing to Jason Line in the first round of eliminations. Both Johnson and Prusiensky remain outside of the top ten.

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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