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Capps collects sixth win in sixth Dodge duel

by Bill Cawthon on

Ron Capps and the NAPA Dodge Charger R/T added to his lead with a sixth NHRA Nationals Funny Car victory. He beat Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. by 0.021 seconds in a all-Dodge final round at the Fallen Patriots Route 66 Nationals in Elwood, Illinois.

Ron Capps and Tommy Johnson jr. stage for the final round

Six wins sets a career-best single-season record for Capps. His previous best was five wins in a single season. The talley is the same for all-Dodge final rounds and bumps the 2017 Dodge/DSR total to 12 wins in 13 events.

The runner-up finish was bittersweet for Johnson. It was his second final-round appearance (he won at the Denso Spark Plugs National) but he, along with a number of fans, was hoping that the Make-A-Wish Dodge or Jack Beckman’s Infinite Hero Charger would take the win to honor Terry Chandler. After Beckman went up in smoke in his quarterfinals race with Tim Wilkerson, hopes were pinned on Johnson, who eliminated Wilkerson in the semifinals.

Terry Chandler (l.) chats with driver Tommy Johnson Jr.

Terry Chandler, who sponsored both Johnson and Beckman, lost her battle with brain cancer on July 4 at the age of 65. Chandler, the sister of retired Dodge driver Johnny Gray, and her husband paid for the sponsorships and donated them to the two charities, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for the causes.

Matt Hagan made it to the semifinals where he finished 0.050 seconds, about 19 feet, behind Capps. Hagan had the quicker start but Capps passed him by the 330-foot mark.

Jim Campbell, at the wheel of the Jim Dunne Racing Charger, got to the quarterfinals where he ended his race day, losing traction and his matchup with Capps. Campbell, who took the last spot in the qualifying order, did win his first race, beating top qualifier Robert Hight.

Capps, Hagan and Beckman continue to hold the top three spots in the driver standings. Capps is now 186 point in front of Hagan and 355 point ahead of fourth-place Robert Hight. his closest non-Mopar competitor.

Johnson, who was seventh in the points race in now fifth, just 20 points behind Hight.

Leah Pritchett won her first Top Fuel race by making it to the finish line well ahead of Troy Coughlin, whose engine checked out went with a large fireball just around the halfway point. She went up in smoke in the quarterfinals, losing to DSR teammate Antron Brown, who made it to the final round where he lost to Steve Torrence. Pritchett’s early exit and Brown’s final-round appearance left Pritchett in second place but the gap closed to just two points.

Tony Schumacher’s troubles continued. His Mopar-powered dragster was slow off the line, giving Blake Alexander a holeshot win in the first round of eliminations.

Both Allen Johnson and Alan Prusiensky were eliminated in the first round of today’s Pro Stock eliminations. Johnson lost to former teammate and Dodge driver Vincent Nobile in a close race. Johnson and Nobile both posted 0.037-second starts but Nobile was 0..228 seconds, or about seven feet, ahead of Johnson by the end. Prusiensky’s Dodge Dart got loose early in the run and he had to shut it off, losing to Jason Line. Former Dart driver Erica Enders made it to the finals, but lost to Drew Skillman.

Funny Car – Top Ten
1. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger R/T (6 wins) – 1,208
2. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger R/T (3 wins) – 1,022
3. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger R/T (2 wins) – 914

4. Robert Hight, Chevrolet Camaro – 853
5. Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger R/T (1 win) – 833
6. Courtney Force, Chevrolet Camaro – 749
7. John Force, Chevrolet Camaro (1 win) – 718
8. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang – 599
9. J.R. Todd, Toyota Camry – 559
10. Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry – 463

NHRA Top Fuel
1. Steve Torrence (5 wins) – 1,168
2. Leah Pritchett, Mopar HEMI (3 wins) – 1,087
3. Antron Brown (2 wins) – 1,085
4. Tony Schumacher, Mopar HEMI (1 win) – 894
5. Doug Kalitta – 813
6. Brittany Force (1) – 795
7. Clay Millican (1 win) – 773
8. Terry McMillen – 509
9. Scott Palmer – 495
10. Troy Coughlin Jr. – 464

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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