Capps Wins Third Straight in Mopar Dodge Charger R/T NHRA Funny Car at Atlanta
- Ron Capps wins 37th annual NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway for his 52nd Funny Car win and third in a row
- Mopar Dodge Charger R/T Funny Cars have won six of seven races in 2017
- Tony Schumacher goes to final round in Mopar-powered Top Fuel dragster
- HEMI® power has advanced to final in every Top Fuel event this year
- Leah Pritchett sets Top Fuel track record in round one of eliminations with a 3.699-second pass
- Mopar and Dodge maintain top two positions in Funny Car and Top Fuel point standings
- Kevin Helms drives 2010 Dodge Challenger Drag Pak to Super Stock semifinals
- Helms wins Dodge Top Finisher award in Super Stock, Douglas Duell gets Stock Eliminator prize
May 7, 2017 , Commerce, Ga. – Ron Capps’ hot streak continued at Atlanta Dragway this weekend, as the Mopar driver put his HEMI®-powered Dodge Charger R/T NHRA Funny Car in the winner’s circle for the third consecutive Sunday. With the Southern Nationals victory, Mopar has now won at least one of the Nitro categories in all seven of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events in 2017.
Mopar Funny Cars from Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) have won six of seven events to begin the year, and at least one Mopar-powered Top Fuel dragster has appeared in every final round to date in that category, as Capps’ DSR teammate Tony Schumacher drove to the Atlanta final. Mopar has also won at least one Nitro category Wally trophy in eight straight events dating back to the end of 2016 at Pomona.
Capps, the reigning Funny Car champion, won his 52nd Funny Car event and second at the Atlanta track by defeating Tim Wilkerson on a holeshot with a pass of 3.991 seconds at 317.79 mph from the left lane after a .040-second reaction time. Wilkerson turned in a lap of 3.978 at 316.60, but missed the tree with a reaction time of .110. The win extends Capps’ point lead as the season approaches its one-third mark.
On Sunday, Capps first drove his HEMI-powered Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car to the win over J.R. Todd when the first-year Funny Car driver smoked his tires shortly past the Christmas Tree. Capps then knocked out John Force in a close finish after Capps came from behind to turn on the win light. He next defeated another John Force Racing driver in the form of Robert Hight to reach the final against Wilkerson.
Defending Funny Car event champion Matt Hagan also turned in a solid day, driving his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T to a first-round win over Cruz Pedregon who had a cylinder out off the line. Hagan next powered past Dave Richards as Richards went up in smoke, setting up a matchup with Wilkerson in the semis. Wilkerson had trouble on his pass, but Hagan drove into smoke just past the starting line and had to pedal the car, ending his bid to win back-to-back at Atlanta.
Also in Funny Car, Jack Beckman drove his Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T past Mopar DSR teammate Tommy Johnson Jr.’s Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T in round one as Johnson smoked his tires. Beckman’s day was then ended in the next round by Wilkerson after Beckman struggled to get down track.
Johnson meanwhile suffered his third first-round exit in the last three events after winning in Las Vegas to kick off the month of April.
In the first round of Top Fuel, No. 1 qualifier Tony Schumacher bested Brittany Force in his Mopar-powered U.S. Army car despite suffering an explosion near the finish line as Force smoked her tires at the start. Schumacher and team returned to knock out Bob Vandergriff in round two and then take down Doug Kalitta in the semis to reach the final round against Steve Torrence. Schumacher’s car began to quiver early in the run and he was forced to shut it down. Atlanta remains the only track at which Schumacher, an eight-time champion, has not won.
Schumacher’s Mopar and DSR teammate in Top Fuel, Leah Pritchett, began her day by setting a track elapsed-time record in round one in her Papa John’s/Mopar Pennzoil Dragster, turning in a pass of 3.699 seconds en route to defeating Terry McMillen. She then bested Antron Brown in round two before meeting up with Steve Torrence for the third week in a row where her day came to an end in the semifinals.
Atlanta Dragway, located in northeast Georgia, is known as an old-school track. It showed during the 37th annual Southern Nationals with many drivers talking about bumps on the surface. The event battled persistent rains on Friday and Saturday evening, forcing the delay or cancellation of many activities and jumbling the schedule. However, during Sunday’s elimination rounds the weather was cool and sunny, allowing for a number of blistering passes and several track records.
Mopar/Dodge Notes & Quotes
Pietro Gorlier, Head of Parts and Service (Mopar) FCA – Global
“Congratulations to Mopar Dodge Charger R/T driver Ron Capps on winning the NHRA Southern Nationals. We couldn’t be more proud of Ron and everyone involved with our motorsports program. The success the Mopar and Dodge brands have had on the track this year is a direct result not only of our great drivers, but also hard work behind the scenes.”
Ron Capps, NAPA Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 4 Qualifier – 3.955 seconds at 323.97 mph)
Rd 1: (085.-second reaction time, 3.901 seconds at 326.79 mph) defeated No. 13 J.R. Todd (.067/9.859/73.50)
Rd 2: (.059/3.952/320.89) defeated No. 5 John Force (.058/3.960/316.01)
Semis: (.060/3.968/318.77) defeated No. 9 Robert Hight (.058/4.899/161.07)
Final: (.040/3.991/317.79 – holeshot win) defeated No. 6 Tim Wilkerson (.110/3.978/316.60)
“It’s a pinch-me moment. I mean I’ve got such a great team right now. It’s cliché to hear that, cliché to say it—a lot of people say it—but I think our fans understand. The car speaks for itself here lately. (Crew chief) Rahn Tobler and Eric (Lane), our assistant crew chief, those two together are the dynamic duo.
“This was probably one of the more difficult racetracks to navigate. There are some bumps that are still at this racetrack now. I’m not ripping on the track, it gives it character, but it was very, very hard to navigate this track and you really had to be ready for two or three different sets of bumps. As a driver, with the front ends the way they are and the laid-back headers, it’s lifting the front end and carrying it half a football field at a time and bouncing it. It makes for an exciting run, but at the same time you’re just hoping the car stays in the middle of the groove, which ours did.”
Matt Hagan, Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 2 Qualifier – 3.930 seconds at 325.45 mph)
Rd. 1: (.111-second reaction time, 3.887 seconds at 323.81 mph), defeated No. 15 Cruz Pedregon (.058/9.262/79.59)
Rd. 2: (.073/3.962/313.29) defeated No. 10 Dave Richards (.107/7.285/88.82)
Semis: (.094/7.197/110.13) lost to No. 6 Tim Wilkerson (.124/4.426/244.56)
“It was a very unfortunate semifinal round loss against Wilkerson. We had a piece on the canon that was not tight so it was bleeding fluid back and it had some oil in the belly pan when we rolled up there and unfortunately, we didn’t know about it. You know, just one of those things. We should have caught it but didn’t so we’ll learn from it.
“We’ll go to Topeka knowing what happened. Unfortunately, we should have been in the finals against Capps. Shoulda, woulda, coulda but we just didn’t. We had a good race car today. It was running great first and second round and it ran great yesterday. But, things happen and you move forward. I think we’ll be just fine in Topeka. It was just a little painful because the car would have gone down the racetrack. That’s racing and that’s life. “
Leah Pritchett, Papa John’s Pizza/Mopar Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster
(No. 11 Qualifier – 3.862 seconds at 304.05 mph)
Rd. 1: (.087-second reaction time, 3.699 seconds at 326.16 mph) defeated No. 6 Terry McMillen (.092/3.772/325.53)
Rd. 2: (.073/3.723/327.11) defeated No. 3 Antron Brown (.057/3.754/329.91)
Semis: (.023/4.152/267.11) lost to No. 2 Steve Torrence (.054/3.769/324.83)
“We showed we can get to the semifinals whether it’s from the No. 1 qualifying spot or the 11th like this weekend. That was our worst qualifying effort all year. We didn’t get to run Friday and had troubles on Saturday, but my great team got the gremlins out after that and we started today by winning and setting a new track elapsed-time record.
In the (semifinal) round against (Steve) Torrence, I nailed him on the starting line but that lane had a bump that we were able to get around in the first round without upsetting the (car). There isn’t anything my guys could have done about that. That bump ruined our day because we had the quickest car.”
Jack Beckman, Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 14 Qualifier – 5.584 seconds at 124.27 mph)
Rd 1: (.068-second reaction time, 3.958 seconds at 312.93 mph) defeated No. 3 Tommy Johnson Jr. (.068/4.928/159.61)
Rd 2: (.066/4.665/184.02) lost to No. 6 Tim Wilkerson (.134/3.991/313.22)
“It’s frustrating. Our short-term goal is to hold a trophy up at the end of race day. It was tough in qualifying, where we only had two runs and never made it past two hundred feet. To come back first round and not only run well but take out our teammate in the Make-A-Wish car, I thought we were on the right track.
“We went out there and didn’t have lane choice second round. It was a little warmer track and it hits that bump. It’s really hard to get the car over that bump without slowing so much that you’re not going to outrun the other car. We were playing a little bit of Russian roulette and it just caught up with us that run. We’ll probably stay here and test tomorrow. We’ll take a week off and the guys will have some time to look at the data. We’ll get everything fresh and serviced. We’ll go to Topeka with some great attitudes and a great outlook.”
Tommy Johnson Jr., Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 3 Qualifier – 3.937 seconds at 319.29 mph)
Rd.1: (.068-second reaction time, 4.928 seconds at 159.61 mph) lost to No. 14 Jack Beckman (.068/3.958/312.93)
“It wasn’t the best three-race swing we’ve had in a while but it’s showing signs of encouragement. (The car) hit the bump out there and came loose. We’re confident that we’re close to running really well again. It’s just a matter of a few more runs and we’ll be there.
“We’ll come out to Topeka with the right calls and hopefully go right down through there. I think the car is right on the verge of performing where it has been and we weren’t that bad off to begin with.”
Tony Schumacher, U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
(No. 1 Qualifier – 3.736 seconds at 325.45 mph)
Rd. 1: (.079-second reaction time, 5.191 seconds at 139.36 mph) defeated No. 16 Brittany Force (no time)
Rd. 2: (.132/3.755/318.62) defeated No. 8 Bob Vandergriff (.069/3.886/299.53)
Semis: (.064/3.758/320.13) defeated No. 5 Doug Kalitta (.047/4.089/251.67)
Final: (.050/4.061/243.28) lost to No. 2 Steve Torrence (.055/3.745/320.81)
“(Steve Torrence) made a great run. He made a good light and he made a good run, and he won the race. It’s all good and the big picture looks great. We’re going rounds and we’ve got a good car. There are a handful of good cars out there and we’re getting around some big boys and we’re gaining back the ground we lost in the championship.”
Mopar/Dodge NHRA Sportsman Spotlight
Two cars featuring Mopar power also went deep into the elimination rounds in the Sportsman ranks at the NHRA Southern Nationals.
In Super Stock, Kevin Helms of Schriever, Louisiana, advanced to the semifinals in his FSS/E 2010 Dodge Challenger Drag Pak. Helms, a four-time Stock Eliminator world champion and Stock winner in Houston two weeks ago, this week clicked off rounds in Super Stock backed by his stout Southland Dodge team. Helms’ day ended with a breakout pass of 9.420 seconds at 137.51 mph after a .037-second reaction time. His dial-in was 9.44.
Newburgh, Indiana’s Douglas Duell meanwhile took his C/SA 1969 Plymouth Barracuda powered by a 440 to the fourth round of Stock Eliminator competition. There he just missed the tree and went red. His best pass came in the third round with an E.T. of 10.571 seconds at 112.57 mph on a 10.51 dial-in. He left the starting line with a .068-second reaction time.
For their efforts, Helms and Duell each will receive $500 as the Dodge Top Finisher. The program provides the cash incentive to the highest finishing Dodge or Plymouth vehicle in both Stock Eliminator and Super Stock at all 24 NHRA national events in 2017.
In two weeks the NHRA national event calendar shifts from the Southeast to the center of America for the 29th annual NHRA Heartland Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka on May 19 – 21.
Current Mopar driver Matt Hagan set the national record for Funny Car speed on his way to the win last year at Topeka with a pass of 335.57 mph, then matched that speed during this year’s season-opening Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. Ron Capps also has three wins in Funny Car in Topeka, while Tony Schumacher has claimed one Top Fuel victory.
The NHRA Heartland Nationals will be broadcast throughout the weekend on FOX Sports 1, with Sunday’s elimination rounds LIVE on the network at 2 p.m. ET on May 21.
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 7 of 24
(Season Wins in Parentheses)
NHRA Funny Car
1. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger R/T (3) – 633
2. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger R/T (2) – 539
3. John Force (1) – 490
4. Robert Hight – 437
5. Tommy Johnson Jr. Dodge Charger R/T (1) – 427
6. Jack Beckman Dodge Charger R/T – 426
7. Courtney Force – 405
8. Tim Wilkerson – 329
9. J.R. Todd – 326
10. Jonnie Lindberg – 318
NHRA Top Fuel
1. Leah Pritchett, Mopar HEMI (3) – 641
2. Tony Schumacher, Mopar HEMI (1) – 627
3. Steve Torrence (2) – 592
4. Antron Brown (1) – 560
5. Doug Kalitta – 486
6. Clay Millican – 385
7. Brittany Force – 347
8. Terry McMillen – 301
9. Troy Coughlin Jr. – 295
10. Scott Palmer – 244