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DSR Chargers dominate the Carolina Nationals but don’t win

by Patrick Rall on

This past weekend, the NHRA funny car teams headed to zMAX Dragway for the Carolina Nationals and what started as a terrific event for the Don Schumacher Racing Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat funny car teams ended in disappointment, as Jack Beckman lost in the finals to Robert Hight in a John Force Racing Chevrolet Camaro. Fortunately, with three races left on the 2019 season, all four DSR drivers still have a shot at the title.

Qualifying

Qualifying didn’t start all that well for the Don Schumacher Racing funny cars, as Ron Capps was the only driver to make a solid pass in the first round, positioning himself in the fifth spot with a 3.968 at 326, while Johnson, Beckman and Hagan were 11th, 14th and 15th respectively. Meanwhile, John Force grabbed the top spot with a 3.904 and Robert Hight was third with a 3.945.

Things got a whole lot better in the second round, with Beckman claiming the top spot with a 3.873 as Capps grabbed third (3.882) and Hagan moved into fifth (3.906), with Hight moving into the second spot and Force falling to fourth. That order would remain unchanged through the third round of qualifying, but in the final qualifying round, Hagan ran a 3.880 to jump into third, pushing Capps back to fourth. Meanwhile, Tommy Johnson Jr. moved into the eighth spot heading into eliminations.

Eliminations

In the first round of eliminations at the Carolina Nationals, all four Don Schumacher Dodge Chargers won, as did both of the John Force Camaros and the top two Ford Mustangs. Beckman beat Dale Creasy, Capps beat Jim Campbell, Hagan beat Dave Richards and Johnson beat Cruz Pedregon in the DSR camp. In the Chevy races, Hight beat Mike McIntire Jr and John Force beat JR Todd, while the Mustang of Tim Wilkerson beat Shawn Langdon and Bob Tasca III’s Mustang .beat Jonnie Lindberg.

In the second round, Matt Hagan beat Bob Tasca III, Ron Capps beat John Force, Robert Hight beat Tim Wilkerson and Jack Beckman beat Tommy Johnson Jr., setting up a Chevy-versus-Dodge matchup on one side of the ladder while the other had another Mopar-on-Mopar battle.

In the Mopar duel, Jack Beckman beat Ron Capps, but Matt Hagan came up short against Robert Hight, losing a tight drag race after leading early. This set up yet another Chevy-versus-Dodge final round, with a Don Schumacher Racing Charger taking on a John Force Racing Camaro.

In the finals, the race was over as soon as it began, with “Fast Jack” Beckman redlighting and handing the win to Robert Hight. On what was basically a free pass, Hight’s Camaro ran a 3.917 at 329.02, so even if Beckman had not redlit, it would have been a tough race.

Championship Standings

After the 21st event of the 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Championship Series, Robert Hight leads the race for the title with 2,358 points. Jack Beckman is 44 points back in second, John Force is 79 points back in third and Ron Capps is 90 points out of the lead in fourth, so both Beckman and Capps could jump into the lead with an event win coupled with an early exit by Hight.

Matt Hagan currently sits seventh (-147) and Tommy Johnson Jr is eighth (-167), so neither of them are mathematically eliminated, but either of them would need a win or two while hoping for many of the drivers in the standings to lose in the first round at each of the final three races.

The next NHRA funny car race is this weekend, with the Texas FallNationals being held at the Texas Motorplex.

Leaderboard chart courtesy of the NHRA website

Patrick Rall was raised a Mopar boy, spending years racing a Dodge Mirada while working his way through college. After spending a few years post-college in the tax accounting field, Patrick made the jump to the world of journalism and his work has been published in magazines and websites around the world.

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