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Capps keeps lead after Hight win in Texas

by Bill Cawthon on

With two events left in the 2017 Mello Yello drag racing season, Dodge Funny Car driver Ron Capps still has a narrow, 24-point lead over Robert Hight in the championship standings.

Both drivers made it to the final round of the NHRA FallNationals that wound up this afternoon at the Texas Motorplex, located about 35 miles southeast of Dallas. Capps was first out of the gate, but Hight was able to overtake and trip the timing lights 0.0349 seconds, about 17 feet, ahead of Capps.

Jack Beckman made it to the semifinal round where he went up in smoke about a third of the way down the track, losing to Capps. Beckman advanced to fourth in the standings, just 15 points behind Courtney Force. Mathematically it is possible for Beckman to take the championship but it would almost take a miracle.

Matt Hagan lost a smokefest to Jonnie Lindberg in today’s first match and Tommy Johnson Jr. toasted the tires in his race with John Force. Since Courtney Force was also eliminated in the opener, Hagan’s fell to fifth in the points race and out of contention for the championship. Johnson remains seventh in the points tally, 28 behind the elder Force.

Jim Campbell made a great pass in the first round but Robert Hight made a better one, ending Campbell’s race day.

Leah Pritchett made a second-round exit from the Top Fuel eliminations following a loss to her Don Schumacher Racing teammate Antron Brown, but that was good enough to jump her two spots to fifth in the driver standings. Tony Schumacher, who had qualified second, hazed the tires in his first-round matchup with Terry Haddock. He remains sixth in the rankings. Brittany Force claimed her third Wally of the season with a win over Shawn Langdon and moved up to second, 57 points behind Steve Torrence.

Allen Johnson, with only a couple of races left in his long Pro Stock career, made it only as far as the first round today. He was 0.052 seconds slower than Brian Self at the start and that was all it took. Johnson did make up some ground as Self was just 0.028 seconds ahead at the finish. Johnson remained seventh in the standings, three points ahead of former teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr.

Alan Prusiensky got a better start in his race with Jason Line but Line was much quicker, eliminating Prusiensky in the first round. Line went on to claim the Pro Stock Wally with win over Drew Skillman.

Word is that Pro Stock racing could be in trouble. With Dodge and Mopar’s departure and AJ’s retirement, Pro Stock has basically become a single-vehicle class: It’s all Camaros all the time. Fan interest in the class has reportedly declined as has sponsor interest as teams struggle to find backing.

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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