Capps Drives Mopar Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car to Second Straight Win of Season at NHRA Four-Wide Nationals
- Mopar driver Ron Capps wins 51st career Funny Car event in HEMI®-powered Dodge Charger R/T at Charlotte
- Mopar drivers Capps, Jack Beckman and Matt Hagan drive Dodge Charger R/T Funny Cars to final round
- Leah Pritchett and Tony Schumacher represent Mopar in Top Fuel final
- Mopar-powered cars maintain points lead in both Funny Car and Top Fuel standings
- Jack Zimmerman and Ed Longhany Sr. win Dodge Top Finisher award in Stock and Super Stock
April 30, 2017 , Concord, N.C. – It doesn’t matter whether the drag strip has two lanes or four, cars featuring Mopar HEMI® power in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series will find the winner’s circle this season. Ron Capps took home the Wally trophy in the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at Charlotte’s zMAX Dragway to claim his 51st Funny Car win and back-to back victories after winning last week’s NHRA SpringNationals in Houston. Mopar Dodge Funny Car drivers have now claimed five wins in six events this year.
Mopar HEMI-powered Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) teams have also won nine of a possible 12 Nitro (Top Fuel and Funny Car) events in 2017, and a DSR Mopar driver has won at least one event in the Nitro classes at seven consecutive races, dating back to last season at the NHRA Finals. Mopar drivers have also doubled-up with Funny Car and Top Fuel wins in three of this season’s six events, and a Mopar driver has led the point standings in both Top Fuel and Funny Car after every event of 2017.
Three Mopar Funny Cars went to the final round at Charlotte, while two Mopar-powered Top Fuel dragsters made the final four.
Capps, the 2016 Funny Car champion, bested his Mopar teammates Jack Beckman and Matt Hagan, along with J.R. Todd, with a pass of 3.933 seconds at 322.65 mph after a .061-second reaction time in lane number one to the win the event. He also took over the Funny car points lead.
The Four-Wide Nationals only require three rounds to crown a winner, with two drivers advancing from each quadrant of four until an event champion emerges in the final round.
Defending Funny Car champion Capps drove his Mopar Dodge Charger R/T alongside John Force in the first round to beat Chad Head and Del Worsham. Capps and Force advanced to a Don Schumacher Racing versus John Force Racing matchup in round two against DSR’s Jack Beckman and Force’s Robert Hight. Capps and Beckman then went to the final round to square off against their Mopar DSR teammate Matt Hagan and first-year Funny Car driver J.R. Todd, where Capps claimed the victory.
Beckman meanwhile advanced his Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car out of round one along with Hight, defeating Dodge Charger R/T competitor Jim Campbell and Beckman’s Mopar and DSR teammate, Tommy Johnson Jr. Beckman narrowly defeated Hight in the second round as Force smoked his tires to move on to the final round with Capps. Beckman ultimately came home in the runner-up position.
Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T driver Matt Hagan collected a victory in round one over Tim Wilkerson, Dodge driver Bob Bode and Cruz Pedregon, then in the second round bested J.R. Todd, Jonnie Lindberg and Wilkerson. Hagan went on to compete in the final round against teammates Capps and Beckman, along with Todd, where Hagan finished fourth after smoking his tires.
Tommy Johnson Jr. represented the only Mopar Funny Car driver not to make the final round in Charlotte. He and the Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T team suffered their second consecutive first-round defeat after winning in Las Vegas to start the month of April.
In Top Fuel, Mopar-powered Tony Schumacher narrowly escaped round one with a cylinder out over Pat Dakin and Ike Maier to advance to the second round along with Antron Brown. Schumacher made the final round by besting Terry McMillen, Doug Kalitta and Brown. Schumacher and McMillen advanced to the final against Mopar DSR driver Leah Pritchett and Steve Torrence, where Schumacher ultimately finished second as Torrence took the win.
Also in Top Fuel, Pritchett drove her Papa John’s Pizza/Mopar Pennzoil Dragster to a win in round one over Clay Millican, Terry Haddock and Shawn Langdon. Pritchett and Millican faced off against Dom Lagana and Torrence in round two, with Pritchett and Torrence going to the final. Pritchett came home in the third position overall after being late off the line.
Sunday’s eliminations at zMAX Dragway featured a large crowd despite hot and humid conditions, leading to a very warm, slick track.
Mopar/Dodge Notes & Quotes
Pietro Gorlier, Head of Parts and Service (Mopar) FCA – Global
“Congratulations to Ron Capps on winning the Four-Wide Nationals in his Dodge Charger R/T. The 2017 season has been an amazing one thus far for the Mopar brand, with victories in each of the first six events. Seeing Mopar HEMI power in the winner’s circle never gets old.”
Ron Capps, NAPA Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 6 Qualifier – 3.904 seconds at 324.12 mph)
Rd 1: (.076-second reaction time, 3.926 seconds at 322.65 mph), lost to No. 4 John Force (.064/3.937/309.20), defeated No. 14 Chad Head (.062/4.451/280.54), defeated No. 11 Del Worsham (.072/4.843/189/90)
Force and Capps advance to round two
Rd 2: (.052/3.920/323.43), defeated No. 10 Jack Beckman (.061/3.991/316.38), defeated No. 2 Robert Hight (.059/4.012/318.39), defeated No. 3 John Force (.052/5.618/128.54)
Capps and Beckman advance to final
Final: (.061/3.933/322.65), defeats No. 10 Jack Beckman (.050/3.959/320.05), defeats No. 8 J.R. Todd (.085/4.103/307.72, defeats No. 4 Matt Hagan (.034/8.820/93.67)
Capps wins the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals
“This is a fun event, it changes everything. Your mentality, the way you approach the track, the way you approach each round. There’s not very times you see that many drivers pop out of their car at the other end of the track and they all are smiling, win or lose. It’s just an exciting race. It’s a great facility, I can’t tell you how many people fly in from all over the world and pick this one race to fly to.
“It’s so fun to be up there listening to what the team’s approach is round to round. I try just to rise to the occasion and not be the weak link.”
Leah Pritchett, Papa John’s Pizza/Mopar Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster
(No. 9 Qualifier – 3.770 seconds at 322.73 mph)
Rd 1: (.061-second reaction time, 3.73 seconds at 316.23 mph), defeated No. 1 Clay Millican (.076/3.743/320.97), defeated No. 16 Terry Haddock (.189/4.292/218.51), defeated No. 8 Shawn Langdon (.061/5.211/145.67)
Pritchett and Millican advance to round two
Rd. 2 (.067/3.756/323.27), defeated No. 4 Steve Torrence (.072/3.774/326.71), defeated No. 13 Dom Lagana (.058/3.889/316.97), defeated No. 1 Clay Millican (.080/5.134/145.30)
Pritchett and Torrence advance to final
Final: (.125/3.796/318.84), lost to No. 4 Steve Torrence (.050/3.874/ 309.13), lost to No. 6 Tony Schumacher (.040/3.874/309.13), defeated No. 10 Terry McMillen (.066/4.650/171.23)
Pritchett finishes in third place
“I’m proud of my guys that give me the fastest, most consistent car. I’m for sure disappointed in myself, I about jumped the gun there, knowing that in the final round everyone turns it up a notch. I knew instantly that there was no chance that we were winning in that run. Once I got to like 50-foot I could see Steve out front. So congratulations to them. Going to Atlanta it’s going to be muggy, it’s going to be hot. We’ve got a cold tune-up; we’ve got a hot tune-up, so it feels good.”
Matt Hagan, Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 4 Qualifier – 3.898 seconds at 31.28 mph)
Rd. 1: (.092-second reaction time, 3.930 seconds at 330.07 mph), defeated No. 5 Tim Wilkerson (.110/4.336/267.59), defeated No. 3 Bob Bode (.111/4.530/202.85), defeated No. 12 Cruz Pedregon (.107/9.393/87.27)
Hagan and Wilkerson advance to round two
Rd 2: (.083/3.983/325.77) defeated No.8 J.R. Todd (.079/4.036/281.54), defeated No. 16 Jonnie Lindberg (.072/4.418/267.69), defeated No. 5 Tim Wilkerson (.058/6.193/108.07)
Hagan and Todd advance to final
Final: (.034/8.820/93.67), lost to No. 6 Ron Capps (.061/3.933/322.65), lost to No. 10 Jack Beckman (.050/3.959/320.05), lost to No. 8 J.R. Todd (.085/4.103/307.72)
Hagan finishes in fourth place
“Obviously it was a crazy deal. You take this race and you kind of throw it up in the air and see where it lands. But all in all, we went some rounds, just kind of trying to wing it through there. We made some changes in the bellhousing and are still trying to this deal back under our feet with the heat. Obviously we know how to run really good in the cool, but we’re still figuring the heat out. We’ve got a lot more hot races coming up so we’re going work to figure it out.”
Jack Beckman, Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 10 Qualifier – 3.970 seconds at 323.12 mph)
Rd 1: (.077-second reaction time, 4.025 seconds at 316.23 mph), lost to No. 2 Robert Hight (.074/3.884/327.66), defeated No. 7 Tommy Johnson Jr. (.053/4.288/314.31) defeated No. 15 Jim Campbell (.118/6.712/98.34)
Hight and Beckman advance to round two
Rd 2: (.061/3.991/316.38), lost to No. 6 Ron Capps (.052/3.920/323.43), defeated No. 2 Robert Hight (.059/4.012/318.39), defeated No. 3 John Force (.052/5.618/128.54)
Capps and Beckman advance to final
(.050/3.959/320.05), lost to No. 6 Ron Capps (.061/3.933/322.65), defeated No. 8 J.R. Todd (.085/4.103/307.72), defeated No. 4 Matt Hagan (.0348.820/93.67)
Beckman finishes as runner-up
“I know there’s one less round here at Charlotte but we were in the final round and we’ll go down in the history books as a runner-up. You know what, we dug ourselves a hole in qualifying, we only made it down track one run. Nobody hung their heads. (We) had a little bit of luck first round when it dropped a cylinder but the guys went and looked at data, they plugged away at it. And here we are with the runner up. So listen, we got a lot of points. The big deal right now for us, let’s get back near the top of the point standings, let’s get ourselves a couple of trophies and we’ll go fight it out in the Countdown.”
Tommy Johnson Jr., Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 7 Qualifier – 3.922 seconds at 319.52 mph)
Rd.1: (.053-second reaction time, 4.288 seconds at 314.31 mph), lost to No. 2 Robert Hight (.074/3.884/327.66), lost to No. 10 Jack Beckman (.077/4.025/316.23), defeated No. 15 Jim Campbell (.118/6.712/98.34)
“The last thing we expected was to go out there and shake first round. We felt pretty confident going into race day. We had a really consistent car, so that was the last thing on our mind that was going to happen. It’s just unfortunate in the Four-Wide to come up short because two (cars) go on. I pedaled it and tried to catch them, but we’ll just try to figure out what’s wrong with the car. We’re going to test tomorrow and that way we’re ready for Atlanta.”
Tony Schumacher, U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
(No. 6 Qualifier – 3.740 seconds at 323.81 mph)
Rd. 1: (.089-second reaction time, 4.374 seconds at 247.52 mph), lost to No. 1 Antron Brown (.057/3.763/326.08), defeated No. 14 Ike Maier (.120/4.387/185.82), defeated No. 11 Pat Dakin (.054/11.899/61.87)
Brown and Schumacher advance to round two
Rd. 2: (.082/3.792/327.74), defeated No. 10 Terry McMillen (.072/3.832/316.52) defeated No. 2 Doug Kalitta (.070/4.202/230.37), defeated No. 3 Antron Brown (.077/6.933/100.67)
Schumacher and McMillen advance to final
Final: (.040/3.874/309.13), lost to No. 4 Steve Torrence (.050/3.874/ 309.13), defeated No. 9 Leah Pritchett (.125/3.796/318.84), defeated No. 10 Terry McMillen (.066/4.650/171.23)
Schumacher finishes as runner-up
“This is an incredible event, and at the end of the day you have to be a machine. I couldn’t be prouder of the U.S. Army team led by (crew chief) Mike Green, (assistant crew chief) Phil Shuler. They worked hard all weekend to give us a chance and that’s what we had today. This Four-Wide race is just a different way to do the same thing we do every weekend. You have to block out all the other stuff and just hit the throttle and you do your job. We all wanted to win this thing, but it didn’t’ work out. We have a great team that is learning every weekend and continuing to make progress. So now, it’s about heading to Atlanta where we are still chasing that first victory.”
Mopar/Dodge NHRA Sportsman Spotlight
Mopar-powered cars also turned in several strong efforts in the Sportsman ranks during the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals. Jack Zimmerman from Clemmons, North Carolina, advanced to the fourth round of Stock Eliminator driving his B/SA 1971 Dodge Challenger R/T, where he was defeated by just four inches after running a 10.52-second elapsed time at 123.38 mph on a 10.50 dial-in. His reaction time was 0.066 seconds. Zimmerman’s Challenger R/T has a 440 Six Pack V8 under the hood featuring numerous Mopar performance parts.
In the Super Stock class, Wade, North Carolina’s Ed Longhany Sr. drove his SS/KA ’74 Plymouth Duster 360 to the fourth round, where he turned in a pass of 10.513 seconds at 120.89 mph, breaking out by a mere .007 after a .038-second reaction time.
Zimmerman and Longhany earned the Dodge Top Finisher award for their efforts. The program awards $500 to the top finishing Dodge or Plymouth vehicle competing in Stock and Super Stock at each of the this year’s 24 NHRA national events.
In addition, the Four-Wide Nationals served as the site of the second of the five Factory Stock Showdowns slated for 2017. Geoff Turk of Yorkville, Illinois, qualified his 2015 Dodge Challenger Drag Pak sixth in the eight-car field before being eliminated in Saturday’s first round. It was Turk’s second Factory Stock Showdown appearance of the year after also qualifying for the event during the Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway. Eighteen factory muscle cars attempted to qualify for the Showdown in Charlotte.
Five drivers also left zMAX Dragway with class wins in Stock Eliminator after class eliminations. Jim Bailey of Bradenton, Florida, drove his 2010 Dodge Challenger Drag Pak to the FS/D victory, while Hickory, Kentucky’s Larry Hill won A/SA with his ’70 Plymouth Barracuda. Thomas Auger from Wales, Maine, won H/SA in his ’63 Dodge 383, Milltown, New Jersey’s Todd Hoven took home the AA/SA class Wally with a win in his ’63 Dodge Coronet, and Charles Myers of Winterville, North Carolina, won O/SA with his ’81 Dodge Mirada.
Lubec, Maine’s Jerry Hatch won the Best Appearing Car award with his SS/EA 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T powered by a 440 Six Pack engine.
Next week concludes the first three-week swing of the 2017 NHRA national event calendar with the 37th annual NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway on May 5 – 7. The track is located in Commerce, Georgia, 80 miles northeast of downtown Atlanta. It was built in 1976 and has undergone a number of upgrades over the years since it was first graded to house an airport. Still, it is a track steeped with old-school character.
Jack Beckman has two wins at the track in Funny Car, while Ron Capps and Matt Hagan have one Wally apiece from Atlanta. Hagan won the event last year, where he also set the track elapsed time and top speed records. The event will be broadcast on FOX Sports 1 throughout the weekend, with elimination rounds televised on Sunday, May 7, at 6 p.m. ET.
For more information on Mopar and Dodge in NHRA, check out the Mopar brand’s official blog, https://blog.mopar.com.
2017 NHRA Championship — Point Standings After Round 6 of 24
(Season Wins in Parentheses)
NHRA Funny Car
1. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger R/T (2) – 518
2. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger R/T (2) – 475
3. John Force (1) – 433
4. Tommy Johnson Jr. Dodge Charger R/T (1) – 390
5. Jack Beckman Dodge Charger R/T – 375
6. Robert Hight – 365
7. Courtney Force – 343
8. J.R. Todd –295
9. Jonnie Lindberg – 286
10. Jim Campbell Dodge Charger R/T – 242
NHRA Top Fuel
1. Leah Pritchett, Mopar HEMI (3) – 569
2. Tony Schumacher, Mopar HEMI (1) – 535
3. Antron Brown (1) – 501
4. Steve Torrence (1) – 470
5. Doug Kalitta – 417
6. Clay Millican – 330
7. Brittany Force – 316
8. Terry McMillen – 267
9. Troy Coughlin Jr. – 264
10. Scott Palmer – 212
*Photo Credit Auto Imagery/Richard Shute