All-Mopar Funny Car St. Louis Final Ends with Win for Dodge Charger Pilot Jack Beckman
- Mopar claims top honors at NHRA Midwest Nationals near St. Louis in seventh all-Mopar Funny Car final of 2016
- Jack Beckman wheels Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T to victory at Gateway Motorsports Park, scores second win of season
- Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T driver Tommy Johnson Jr. powers to second consecutive final round in NHRA Countdown to the Championship
- Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) driver Beckman makes fifth, teammate Johnson makes fourth final of season for Mopar
- Beckman moves from No. 8 to No. 3; Johnson moves from No. 4 to No. 2 in the Funny Car championship points
- DSR Mopar Dodge Charger Funny Car campaigner Ron Capps reaches semifinals, retains points lead heading into third race of Countdown
- Tony Schumacher races to final round in driver’s seat of HEMI®-powered U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster, now No. 3 in points
- Mopar powers to victory in Sportsman categories at NHRA Midwest Nationals
- Reading’s Dodge NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway next on NHRA tour, third race of 2016 Countdown to the Championship
September 25, 2016 , Madison, Illinois – Team Mopar was a powerful force this weekend at the NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park near St. Louis. In the end, an all-Mopar Funny Car final round concluded with Jack Beckman and the Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T getting the nod over Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. and his Make-A-Wish branded Charger. The victory launched Beckman all the way up to the No. 3 position in the Funny Car standings with just three races remaining in the 2016 Countdown to the Championship, and Johnson’s runner-up moved him up to No. 2.
The final at Gateway Motorsports Park was the seventh all-Mopar Funny Car money round of the 2016 season, and Team Mopar now holds the top three positions in the Funny Car points. DSR Dodge Charger driver Ron Capps entered the Countdown with the points lead and remains there following a second-consecutive trip to the semifinals, with Johnson just 48 points back from the top spot and Beckman narrowing the gap to 70 marks back from No. 1.
“Congratulations to Jack Beckman on his second victory of the season,” said Pietro Gorlier, Head of Parts and Service (Mopar), FCA – Global. “It’s great to see a Mopar Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car in the winner’s circle in St. Louis, making it 11 wins so far this season for a HEMI®-powered racecar in the category.”
Beckman qualified in the No. 2 position, a lofty starting point that gave him lane choice in the first round over Dale Creasy Jr. Beckman launched first and kept ahead to the finish-line stripe for a 4.042-second victory at 309.27 mph to his opponent’s 4.076/298.93. Again, it was Beckman off the starting line ahead of his opponent in the second round, and this time it was John Force on the losing end of a very good race. Beckman’s super-quick .062-second reaction time to a .080 was the decider as he scored on a holeshot with a tiny .002-second margin of victory, 3.972/3218.17 to 3.961/324.83.
In the semifinals, it was an all-DSR, all-Mopar match between Beckman and Capps, and both were extraordinary at the starting line – but at the top end it was Beckman with a more precise tune-up. He muscled his way to the finish line with a speedy 3.954/319.60 in his streaking Dodge Charger as Capps dropped cylinders and clocked a 4.112/285.71.
On the other side of the ladder, Johnson used a big starting line advantage and a well-tuned HEMI-powered Funny Car to knock out Alexis DeJoria in round one before winning a close one with Robert Hight in round two. The margin of victory for Johnson was a slim .007-second, but it sent him ahead to the semifinals where he smoothly piloted his Mopar racecar to a low-of-the-round 3.937/323.04 to take out Tim Wilkerson. Johnson’s reaction time was just .048 – a near-psychic start for a Funny Car driver.
Beckman, likely knowing he would have his hands full with Johnson, launched with a very quick .052 reaction time to his opponent’s .071 and kept ahead for a 3.928/324.51 win over a slowing 4.185/231.40.
“I’ve had some pretty mediocre outings as a driver the last few races,” admitted Beckman. “You want to be there with your driving, and the car has saved me a couple of times. I think my confidence was down, and I’m not quite sure what changed, but I had a good outing today as a driver. I’ve had a few of those that don’t end up in the winner’s circle, but the guys tuned smart, I did my job, and we turned on the win light every time.”
“You race all year to get into the Countdown to the Championship, and to start with two finals gives us a lot of momentum and confidence,” said Johnson, who finished in the final round last weekend in Charlotte. “We have a lot of fight in us, and that showed this weekend. Moving from fourth to second in the points just really shows how bad we want this.”
Matt Hagan, driver of the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car, laid down an efficient 3.934/327 in the first round on Sunday to shut down Cruz Pedregon and lost by just .002-second to Tim Wilkerson in round two.
“That’s just drag racing,” said Hagan, who is No. six in the Funny Car points leaving St. Louis. “We were just on the wrong side of a good drag race, but we’ve been running strong, running hard, and this car does what they want it to on race day. It’s the luck of the draw, but we just need to be aggressive and keep pushing, keep digging.”
DSR’s Tony Schumacher drove his Mopar-powered U.S. Army dragster to the Top Fuel final, where he lost in a close race to teammate Shawn Langdon. Schumacher began the weekend in fifth place in the Countdown to the Championship standings and ended the day No. 3, just 54 points out of first. Fellow DSR/Mopar Top Fuel driver Leah Pritchett exited in the first round at the hands of Schumacher. She leaves the event No. 9 in the points as she battles for the first time in the NHRA playoffs.
Mopar Excels in Sportsman Categories
The Stock Eliminator trophy was earned by Jacob Pitt in his vintage 1969 440 Barracuda. Pitt, of Mansfield, Texas, won a vital heads-up match in the fourth round with Carson Pedigo with a quick 10.342-second pass to beat a 10.435. From there, he surged ahead of Tyler Wudarczyk in the semifinals before socking away a starting line advantage and turning it into a final-round victory over Chris Stephenson. The St. Louis win was Pitt’s second national event trophy. In Super Stock, Keith Lynch came up one win-light short of victory in his 2010 Dodge Challenger Drag Pak, and in the ultra-competitive Comp Eliminator category, Terry Smith won the trophy in his first final round with his Mopar machine.
Next Event in NHRA Countdown to the Championship
The third race of NHRA’s 2016 Countdown to the Championship will take place in one week with the Dodge NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa., Sept. 29-Oct. 2, 2016. The playoffs are in a six-race format that pits the top 10 drivers in each professional category against one another for the season title.
2016 NHRA Championship Point Standings
(season wins in parentheses)
1. Jason Line (8) – 2,310
2. Greg Anderson (7) – 2,247
3. Bo Butner – 2,223
4. Vincent Nobile – 2,185
5. Shane Gray – 2,167
6. Chris McGaha (1) – 2,135
7. Allen Johnson (1), Mopar Dodge Dart – 2,127
8. Drew Skillman (1) – 2,126
9. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Dodge Dart – 2,084
10. Erica Enders, Mopar Performance Dodge Dart – 2,052
1. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger R/T (5) – 2,273
2. Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger R/T (1) – 2,225
3. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger R/T (2) – 2,203
4. John Force (3) – 2,199
5. Del Worsham (1) – 2,189
6. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger R/T (3) – 2,177
7. Robert Hight (1) – 2,159
8. Courtney Force (1) – 2,149
9. Tim Wilkerson (2) – 2,144
10. Alexis DeJoria (1) – 2,068
1. Antron Brown (5) – 2,258
2. Doug Kalitta (3) – 2,245
3. Tony Schumacher, Mopar HEMI (1) – 2,204
4. Shawn Langdon (3) – 2,181
5. Brittany Force (3) – 2,167
6. Steve Torrence (2) – 2,161
7. J.R. Todd (1) – 2,152
8. Richie Crampton – 2,127
9. Leah Pritchett, Mopar HEMI (1) – 2,107
10. Clay Millican – 2,084