Runner-Up Finish for Capps at NHRA Gatornationals Gives Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car Second Final Round Appearance of the Season 

  • Defending title winner Ron Capps drives his DSR Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car to a runner-up finish at 47th annual NHRA Gatornationals
  • Two final round appearances in three events this season for Capps has the DSR driver just one point from the top spot in the Funny Car standings
  • Allen Johnson takes Dodge Dart GT to Pro Stock semifinals at Gainesville Raceway

Gainesville, Florida (March 20, 2016) – For the second year in a row, Ron Capps fought his way to a final round appearance at Gainesville Raceway, but while the defending winner didn’t come away with his fourth coveted Wally from the 47th annual National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Gatornationals as he had hoped, his two final round appearances so far this season aboard his Don Schumacher Racing Dodge Charger R/T have him just one point out of the Funny Car points lead.

Capps arrived at the traditional East Coast opener for the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series atop the standings on the merit of his title win at the season opening Winternationals at Pomona, then qualified his HEMI®-powered flopper fifth for eliminations. From that position he got past John Hale, Cruz Pedregon, as well as DSR teammate and No. 1 qualifier Jack Beckman to advance to a final showdown against Robert Hight.

Capps found himself on the losing end of a traction battle against the John Force Racing driver, also ceding the points lead to Hight, which he had been in since the start of the 2016 season.

After topping qualifying with the NHRA Funny Car national record by posting a 3.879-second pass at 329.26 mph, Beckman earned his 300th round win in the first match up of the day against John Diehl. Then, for a third consecutive event, Beckman saw John Force in the adjacent lane for the second round of eliminations and caught a bit of a break when his opponent had a rare starting line foul.

In a semifinal dual against his DSR teammate Capps, the Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T driver realized just prior to the lighting of the Christmas tree that he would be at a disadvantage as smoke escaped his vehicle and indicated a problem. To compensate, Beckman staged quickly, “double-bulbing” his teammate to try to force an error, but didn’t make it very far before losing forward momentum and watched helplessly as Capps peddled his own ride to the finish.

After qualifying sixth, Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T driver Matt Hagan got a monkey off his back by running a stout 3.966-second pass at 316.82 mph to beat Alexis DeJoria’s 3.992-second /312.28 mph effort to advance past the first round for the first time this season. A second round showdown against eventual winner Hight didn’t go as the Mopar driver had hoped when his racecar moved out of the racing line and slowed to end his challenge for the national title.

After qualifying tenth, the DSR Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T of Tommy Johnson Jr. ran a 4.020/313.73 and was first off the start but that wasn’t quite enough to defeat Chad Head’s 3.991/318.92 pass.

In Pro Stock competition, back-to-back Gatornationals title winner (2012-2013) Allen Johnson drove the new fuel injected J&J Racing Marathon Petroleum Dodge Dart GT to its first semifinal appearance by edging the Elite Motorsports Mopar Performance Dodge Dart of Erica Enders by just .01-seconds at the finish line, then using a .035-second reaction time to propel him to a holeshot win with a 6.675/208.04 pass over Bo Butner’s 6.637/209.26. The 2012 NHRA Pro Stock champ’s next opponent was four-time champion Greg Anderson, and despite a starting line advantage, Johnson’s 6.646/208.59 wasn’t enough to overcome this year’s eventual Gatornationals title winner’s 6.596/209.98.

Having seen the winner’s circle at the Gatornationals on two occasions, Jeg Coughlin Jr. was hoping that after qualifying sixth and taking the “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar”/ Dodge Dart GT to a first round win over Chris McGaha, that the stage was set for a good long day. His next round, however, didn’t go as planned even with a starting line advantage over Anderson as Coughlin shook the tires as soon as he let the clutch out.

Elite Motorsports teammate Enders can sympathize after losing to the fellow Mopar driver Johnson by a hundredth of a second to endure her third first-round loss this year.

Racing resumes in two weeks at the 17th Annual DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals, the fourth of 24 events on the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season schedule, on April 1-3 at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Television coverage of the event will be available on FS1 with a one hour qualifying show on Friday, April 1 at 11 p.m. (ET) and a final qualifying broadcast on April 2 at 9 p.m. (ET). A three hour eliminations broadcast, including live finals, is scheduled for Sunday, April 3 starting at 2 p.m. ET.

2016 NHRA Championship Points Standings (Following the NHRA Gatornationals Race Final) 

PRO STOCK (season wins in parentheses) 1.         Jason Line – 337 (1)

  1. Greg Anderson – 331 (2)
  2. Bo Butner – 233
  3. Drew Skillman – 205
  4. Chris McGaha – 161

6t.        Jeg Coughlin Jr. – Dodge Dart – 160

6t.        Allen Johnson – Dodge Dart – 160

  1. Vincent Nobile – 138
  2. Alex Laughlin – 121
  3. Erica Enders – Dodge Dart – 97

FUNNY CAR (season wins in parentheses) 1.         Robert Hight – 280 (1)

  1. Ron Capps – (Dodge Charger R/T) – 279 (1)
  2. John Force – 221
  3. Jack Beckman – (Dodge Charger R/T) – 205
  4. Courtney Force – 201
  5. Del Worsham – 189
  6.         Tim Wilkerson – 183
  7. Chad Head – 162
  8. Alexis DeJoria – 119
  9. Matt Hagan – (Dodge Charger R/T) – 118
  10.       Tommy Johnson Jr. – (2015 Dodge Charger R/T) – 11