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Capps cops seventh win, retakes lead

by Bill Cawthon on

Ron Capps snapped Dodge’s six-event Wally drought this afternoon with a big win over Courtney Force at the inaugural NHRA Dodge Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway in Mohnton, Pennsylvania.

The win is not only Capp’s seventh in the 2017 Mello Yello drag racing season, tying him with Top Fuel driver Steve Torrence for the most wins in pro class competition, it’s his first at Maple Grove Raceway. It also returns him to the top of the Funny Car driver standings with a slim, 8-point lead over Robert Hight. After the disastrous Carolina Nationals, Robert Hight became the the first non-Dodge driver to take the points lead.

Matt Hagan and Jack Beckman made it to the semifinal round. Hagan lost to Capps in a close race when the chutes on the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T popped out at about the 660-foot mark. Beckman was unusually slow at the light and Courtney Force got the hole shot win. Hagan and Beckman advanced two spots each, moving up to fourth and fifth, respectively, in the points race.

On his way to the semifinals, Beckman celebrated hitting the 600-race milestone with an opening-round win over Cruz Pedregon. After today’s matchups Beckman’s record now stands at 363-239.

Tommy Johnson Jr., the fourth member of the Don Schumacher Racing Funny Car team, ended his race day with a quarterfinal round loss to Capps. The loss dropped Johnson two spots in the standings where he is now sixth.

Capps, who raced fellow Dodge drivers right up to the final round, sent Jim Campbell, driver of the Jim Dunne Racing Charger, to the showers in the opening round of eliminations.

Last Thursday night, Allen Johnson was honored by Mopar at the Mopar Mega Block Party held at the FirstEnergy Stadium in Reading, Pennsylvania. Johnson, who is retiring from pro class competition at the end of the season, went on to turn in one of his best performances of the year, qualifying fourth in the order and making it to the semifinals where he hit the timing lights 0.0371 seconds (about 11 feet) after Bo Butner, who went on to win the Pro Stock Wally. Johnson hit the 500 race mark in the opening round, defeating Kenny Delco and shut down Drew Skillman in the quarterfinals. Johnson’s semifinal round appearance jumped him from ninth to seventh in the Pro Stock championship race, three points ahead of former teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr.

The engine in Leah Pritchett’s Top Fuel dragster exploded at about the 660-foot mark, giving Steve Torrence the quarterfinals win. Tony Schumacher’s engine lost a couple of cylinders on one side in the second round while Brittany Force ran low ET of the round on her way to the Top Fuel Wally. Schumacher and Pritchett remain fifth and seventh in the driver points tally.

In the second set of Dodge Challenger SRT Demon match races, Leah Pritchett and Matt Hagan faced off again on Friday and Saturday. Pritchett won both races at the Mopar Mile-High Nationals but had to settle for a split decision this time. She won the Friday race while Hagan lit the win light on Saturday.

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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