Mopar-powered Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car Driver Johnson Runner-up at NHRA Arizona Nationals

  • Tommy Johnson Jr. scores runner-up spot at Arizona Nationals with Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
  • Mopar-powered Tony Schumacher becomes fastest Top Fuel driver in NHRA history in qualifying
  • Three additional Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) drivers, Leah Pritchett (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan and Ron Capps (Funny Car), advance to round two
  • Mike Cotton runner-up in Super Stock in 1970 Plymouth ‘Cuda to win Dodge Top Finisher award
  • Jerry Stein wins Dodge Top Finisher award in Stock Eliminator with his Dart GTS 440

February 25, 2018,  Auburn Hills, Mich. – Tommy Johnson Jr. advanced to the final round of Funny Car competition at the NHRA Arizona Nationals on Sunday at Wild Horse Motorsports Park in his Mopar-powered Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car.

Johnson beat Shawn Langdon, Richard Townsend and Robert Hight before earning the runner-up honors for Funny Car. He was faster than No. 1 qualifier Courtney Force at the start during the final-round run before she got the upper hand at the line. Johnson’s runner-up finish came after his Don Schumacher Racing crew worked hard to get his car ready following a fiery explosion under the hood during Saturday qualifying. Johnson jumped from tenth to fifth in Funny Car point standings with his performance.

Tony Schumacher became the fastest Top Fuel driver in NHRA history with a 336.57-miles per hour run during qualifying, but he’ll have to wait for his sixth Phoenix victory after the winningest driver in Top Fuel history was eliminated in round one on Sunday.

Schumacher’s 336.57 mph mark in the Mopar HEMI-powered U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster and his elapsed time of 3.649 seconds were both track records, as he earned his 85th No. 1 qualifying position. He had the starting line advantage against Greg Carrillo in round one, but couldn’t get his car to hook up during Sunday’s run and lost traction to cause his premature departure.

Leah Pritchett beat Troy Buff in the first round of Top Fuel competition on Sunday and faced Scott Palmer in round two with her Mopar Dodge dragster. She had seven victories against Palmer in prior events, but he was finally able to edge her on Sunday. Like Schumacher, Pritchett had the advantage at the starting line, but her Mopar Dodge dragster went up in smoke milliseconds later to halt her progression.

Matt Hagan, who earned his 27th NHRA National event victory in the season opener with his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car, also made it to the quarterfinals before losing a cylinder, which allowed Courtney Force to advance. Hagan, the defending Funny Car winner here, easily beat J.R. Todd in round one.

Ron Capps was the No. 2 qualifier in his NAPA Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car but smoked the tires in round two to end his day as the team adapts to its new six-disc clutch. Jack Beckman was right behind Capps as the No. 3 qualifier with his Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car, but the 2012 Funny Car champion suffered an explosion in the first round to end his day.

Mopar Dodge//SRT NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series: Notes & Quotes

Tommy Johnson Jr., Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 6 Qualifier – 3.879 ET)

Rd. 1: (.122-second reaction time, 4.715 seconds at 225.60 mph) beat No. 11 Robert Hight (.086/4.806/273.44)
Rd. 2: (.091/4.454/244.74) beat No. 14 Richard Townsend (.122/5.174/144.52)
Rd. 3: (.082/3.916/328.46) beat No. 10 Shawn Langdon (.076/3.958/325.77)
Rd. 4: (.052/6.814/101.57) lost to No. 1 Courtney Force (.104/3.834/337.16)

“The car out of the box was good, then we had the problems on Saturday. We had maybe a little luck the first two rounds, but everyone was smoking the tires. We kept working hard and got those round wins and laid down a nice solid run in the semis, so I was confident going into the finals. I thought we had something for Courtney. But I’m just happy the performance of the car is kind of coming back to us. We’re still new to the six-disc (clutch) and learning it. I think the guys made big strides this weekend.”

Matt Hagan, Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 9 Qualifier – 3.926 ET)

Rd. 1: (.071-second reaction time, 3.910 seconds at 331.85 mph) beat No. 8 J.R. Todd (.060/4.017/320.66)
Rd. 2: (.081/4.480/192.19) lost to No. 1 Courtney Force (.096/3.965/319.14)

“We came in and tested in Phoenix and had a really nice session. We got here, and the weather changed, and we changed up some blower combos and some things like that, kind of making some more horsepower than we expected. We started trying to pull some of that back and then obviously, when you start doing that, it affects everything. You change one thing and it changes ten.

“All-in-all we went through first round and I was really impressed with (crew chief) Dickie Venables. In the first round there were guys smoking the tires and rattling up the tree and just couldn’t get down the track. He made some really big wholesale changes to get us where we went 91 (3.91 seconds) and ended up having lane choice out there for second round, but with the delays we already had our tune-up set and conditions changed. There just wasn’t a lot we could do. We’re going to roll to Gainesville next and do our thing.”

Leah Pritchett, Mopar Dodge Top Fuel Dragster
(No. 4 Qualifier – 3.679 ET)

Rd. 1: (.050-second reaction time, 3.679 seconds at 333.08 mph) beat No. 13 Troy Buff (.115/3.823/314.75)
Rd. 2: (.084/7.962/86.85) lost to No. 12 Scott Palmer (.099/3.844/325.85)

“It wasn’t the weekend we were looking for, but there were some positives. The feeling of a round win was much needed. It’s been a while and that’s what all the work is for, those small moments that we get to enjoy going rounds. The roller coaster saga continues. When we were in the lanes for E2 for quite some time, the conditions changed more than what we were expecting, and we adjusted for it trying to be as versatile as possible, but we were a little too much out of our spectrum.

“Coming out of Phoenix, having the know-how that we still do know how to get down the racetrack on race days and be the quickest and the fastest is what’s going to propel us to Gainesville.”

Tony Schumacher, U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
(No. 1 Qualifier – 3.649 ET and 336.57 MPH *both records)

Rd. 1: (.089-second reaction time, 4.858 seconds at 189.66 mph) lost to No. 16 Greg Carrillo (.097/4.223/221.27)

“We’ve got a great team and went fast. We got a great race car, great team, we’re getting along excellent. It’s just one of those things that’s going to happen randomly throughout the season. You’ve got to look at the luck that goes on. At the end of the day this is not an easy thing to go out and do. We’ve got a great team. We keep our chins up. We’re happy with all the guys, they’re doing a great job. The car is performing as well as anything we’ve seen in a long time. It’s good to be here.”

Ron Capps, NAPA Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 2 Qualifier – 3.844 ET)

Rd. 1: (.090-second reaction time, 3.908 seconds at 325.30 mph) beat No. 15 Tim Wilkerson (.074/4.091/256.89)
Rd. 2: (.097/4.651/182.30) lost to No. 10 Shawn Langdon (.072/3.927/328.14)

“It takes a little while for it to sink in because we really felt like we had a car that was capable of taking the win today. We’re disappointed. It’s part of the growing pains, but we had such a great race car, and to have a chance of winning like we did, and have lane choice going back into round two, it’s been a very interesting weekend. We didn’t hurt any parts. The car is in one piece and we’re looking forward to Gainesville.”

Jack Beckman, Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 3 Qualifier – 3.845 ET)

Rd. 1: (.075-second reaction time, No Time) lost to No. 14 Richard Townsend (.098/5.503/179.90)

“The Infinite Hero team is going to stay and test tomorrow. We’re testing because, even though I think we have a phenomenal and versatile car good in all conditions right now, we’ve still got some different parts and pieces and some of our spare parts that we need to cycle through to make sure that we’re good to go for the hard push in the summer months. So, we will cross two more things off our list before we leave here tomorrow afternoon. We will eliminate the cause of our first-round explosion and we will test enough things that we’ll roll into Gainesville with even more confidence.”

Mopar Dodge//SRT NHRA Sportsman Spotlight
In the Stock Eliminator class Jerry Stein from Brentwood, California, drove his 1969 Dodge Dart GTS 440 to the Stock Eliminator quarter finals at the NHRA Phoenix Nationals. Stein raced through four rounds of tough competition only to lose by a mere 0.0018 seconds, roughly four inches, at the finish line. Stein’s Dart GTS 440 advanced the furthest in the eliminations and had the best package to earn the Dodge Top Finisher award in Stock Eliminator at the NHRA Arizona Nationals.

Longtime Mopar Sportsman Racer Mike Cotton of Cave Creek, Arizona piloted his 1970 big-block powered Plymouth ‘Cuda to a Super Stock runner-up finish at the 2018 NHRA Phoenix Nationals. Cotton’s ‘Cuda advanced through six rounds of intense competition at Wild Horse Motorsports Park before falling just short of another career win by 0.021 seconds. For advancing the furthest in Super Stock, Cotton will receive the Dodge Top Finisher award.

The Dodge Top Finisher award, now in its second year, awards $500 to Stock Eliminator and Super Stock drivers who advance the furthest behind the wheel of a Mopar-powered car at all 24 NHRA national events.

Dodge Garage: New Digital Hub for Drag Racing News
Fans now have a new one-stop destination for Mopar and Dodge drag racing news. Dodge Garage is a digital content hub and premier destination for drag racing and muscle car enthusiasts.

Fans can view daily updates and get access to an online racing HQ, news, events, galleries, available downloads and merchandise. Dodge Garage features include exclusive content, such as a three-part video series “Chasing the Title,” that offers fans a unique, behind-the-scenes glimpse at Pritchett and her DSR team in action.
For information on Mopar on and off the track, check out the Mopar brand’s official blog,

Up Next: NHRA Gatornationals  
Mopar and Dodge//SRT competitors will head next to the NHRA Gatornationals, March 15-18, at Gainesville Raceway in Gainesville, Florida. Top Fuel track record holder, Tony Schumacher, the winningest Top Fuel driver at Gainesville Raceway, will be seeking his sixth victory at the popular track.

2018 NHRA Championship — Point Standings After Round 2 of 24
(Season Wins in Parentheses)

NHRA Funny Car
1. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger R/T (1) – 179

2. Courtney Force – 160
3. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger R/T – 139
4. Robert Hight – 133
5. Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger R/T – 128
6. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger R/T – 122

7. Jonnie Lindberg – 107
8. Shawn Langdon – 104
9. J.R. Todd – 83
10. Cruz Pedregon – 82

NHRA Top Fuel
1.  Steve Torrence – 183
2.  Doug Kalitta – 144
3.  Tony Schumacher, Mopar HEMI – 140
4.  Scott Palmer – 139
5.  Antron Brown – 133
6.  Clay Millican – 122
7.  Leah Pritchett, Mopar HEMI – 90
8.  Brittany Force – 86
9.  Billy Torrence – 71
10.  Greg Carrillo – 66