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Beckman falls 8 points short of the NHRA Funny Car Championship

by Patrick Rall on

Jack Beckman and Matt Hagan came into the final race of the 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Championship Series knowing that to win the title, they had to win the event. In addition to winning the final race of the year, Beckman and Hagan had to hope for points leader Robert Hight to lose in an early round. Unfortunately, while Beckman and Hagan both had strong outings to end the season, Hight and his Camaro made it to the final round of the Auto Club Finals – locking in his position as the funny car champ for 2019.

The Title Chase

Coming into the final race of the 2019 NHRA Funny Car season, there were four drivers in legitimate contention for the title. Robert Hight in his John Force Racing Camaro was in the top spot, Jack Beckman and Matt Hagan were third and fourth in their Don Schumacher Racing Dodge Charger Hellcats and John Force was fourth in his Camaro. Entering the final race, Beckman was 46 points out of first, Hagan was 56 points out and Force was 72 points behind Hight. For Beckman, Hagan or Force to catch Hight, any one of them would need to win the race and hope that Robert Hight lost in an earlier round.

The Final Event

Things started off well, with Matt Hagan and his Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat funny car qualifying first while Jack Beckman qualified second. For those wondering, Hight qualified fifth, so both Hagan and Beckman gained some ground on the points lead before eliminations.

Eliminations started off well, too, with Hagan and Beckman both cruising to first round wins. However, Robert Hight faced teammate and team owner John Force in the first round. Hight got the win when Force went up in smoke, so three of the four title contenders made it through the first round.

Biggest Race of the Season

In the second round, Hagan, Beckman and Hight all advanced, as did Blake Alexander. Beckman would beat Alexander to head to the finals, but the biggest race of the day – perhaps the biggest race of the NHRA funny car season – came between Matt Hagan’s Dodge Charger and Robert Hight’s Chevy Camaro. If Hagan wins, he advances to the finals to face off with Beckman, all-but-guaranteeing a championship for Team Mopar and Don Schumacher Racing. If Hight wins, he locks up the championship for John Force Racing and Chevy Performance.

When the green lights dropped, Hight and his Camaro grabbed an early lead with a reaction time advantage (.041 to .079). From there, Hagan fought to get back in front, but he came up short. Hight’s 3.977 at 324 gave him the win over Hagan’s 4.015 at 326. Hight advanced to the finals, where he only had to line up with Jack Beckman to claim the 2019 funny car title.

In the finals, Beckman made the quickest pass of eliminations, so he and his Charger were clearly ready for a thrilling final round battle for the title, but it wasn’t in the cards. Hight had secured the title, so the last run of the season truly didn’t matter.

Final Season Standings

So, Robert Hight and his Chevrolet Camaro win the 2019 NHRA championship for the funny car class. Beckman finished second, 8 points out, while Hagan was third, Force was fourth and Bob Tasca III rounded out the top five with his Mustang.

Don Schumacher Racing Charger drivers Ron Capps and Tommy Johnson Jr. finished sixth and eighth, respectively.

Pritchett Finishes Fourth

Finally, while the NHRA Top Fuel cars aren’t really branded, Team Mopar driver Leah Pritchett finished the season strong in fourth spot.

Pritchett had a handful of strong runs late in the season, including a semifinals appearance at the Auto Club Finals, but she ended up 133 points out of the title position.

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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