Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) wheelman Jack Beckman earned his third win of the 2020 National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Drag Racing Series season at 35th annual AAA Texas FallNationals over Funny Car points leader Matt Hagan in an all-Dodge final. The win by Beckman extends his team’s undefeated streak to a NHRA record 12 consecutive Funny Car victories which DSR has maintained since last year’s event at Texas Motorplex.
Beckman made his way to the final elimination round by defeating Cruz Pedregon, Tim Wilkerson and Bob Tasca. He scored his first-ever victory at the Dallas track earning a Wally trophy, the 33rd of his career, and the track’s signature cowboy hat with a 0.070-second reaction time and 3.908 second pass at 328.46 mph to out run Hagan’s 0.069-sec. start and 3.943 sec./324.20 mph effort.
“Maybe the best weekend ever,” said Beckman. “I mean doubling up at Indy in 2015 is going to be awfully hard to exceed, but I so wanted to win at Dallas. My dad (Bob Beckman) lives close to here and he’s been supporting me my whole career and he’s 83-years-old. That might have been my last shot at Dallas and it’s going to be extra special to give him that cowboy hat from the (Texas) Motorplex. It’s perfect. I don’t know that I’ve ever had a better weekend at a drag strip than this.”
With just two national events remaining to determine a Funny Car world champion, the victory keeps the Infinite Hero Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat driver within four markers of the category leader Hagan and also keeps fans guessing as to which of the four DSR drivers might take the crown as Tommy Johnson Jr. and Ron Capps also remain in the mix.
From his No. 1 seeded position on the eliminations ladder, Hagan drove his special edition Pennzoil paint scheme Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat through eliminations with wins over Todd Simpson, J.R. Todd and teammate Capps to advance to his fourth final round appearance of the year. Despite the loss to Beckman, Hagan’s runner-up finishes in back-to back events have helped him maintain the points lead.
“All-in-all another really good day here at Dallas for this Pennzoil/Mopar team,” said Hagan who made his third final round appearance at Texas following wins in 2016 and 2019. “(Jack) Beckman just had a little better day. They have a great race car, but we have a great race car too. We’ve been keeping pace and we’re going to keep doing our thing for the next two races and see how this thing plays out. I’m super excited we get to do it again in a few days at Houston next weekend. We have a lot of momentum. The team is working great. The guys are doing a great job. We just have a little more work to do.”
Winner of the Mopar Express Lane NHRA Midwest Nationals near St. Louis two weeks ago, No. 2 seed Johnson Jr. was looking to go rounds in his MD Anderson Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat and keep the battle for the championship as close as possible heading into the final two races of the season that will conclude with a “points-and-a-half” format at the season finale. Unfortunately, Johnson saw his racecar lose tire adhesion in the quarterfinals against Bob Tasca and lost a little traction in the points as well while remaining third in the standings.
From his fourth place position on the ladder, Capps joined his teammates Beckman and Hagan in advancing to the semifinals aboard his DSR Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat in order to gain valuable points. His day came to a disappointing end after his (0.067-sec.) 3.958 sec./ 318.84 mph effort wasn’t enough to halt Hagan’s (0.062-sec.) 3.907 sec./326.08 mph run.
From her fifth place position on the Top Fuel eliminations ladder, Leah Pruett took her Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye for a hotshot win against Scott Palmer in the first round to advance to the next round and keep her championship hopes alive. However, a quarterfinal loss to Shawn Langdon thwarted her plans to make any gains in the points, but she still maintains her third place position in the Top Fuel standings behind Steve Torrance and Doug Kalitta.
For a fifth time this season, Pruett also doubled up on track time by taking her Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak for some laps in the Factory Stock Showdown (FSS) class alongside teammate Mark Pawuk. While her day was cut short with a first round loss to Arthur Kohn, her teammate had a more productive day.
Pawuk drove his Empaco Equipment Mopar Drag Pak to back-to-back holeshot wins against John Cerone and Jesse Alexandra to advance to the semifinals and face FSS points leader Aaron Stanfield. Pawuk’s 0.091-sec. reaction time and 7.992 sec./171.58 mph run wasn’t quite enough to beat Stanfield’s 0.051-second reaction time and 7.976/171.82 pass, but he remains second in class.
NHRA competition will head south from Dallas to a second consecutive national event in the Lone Star State and the penultimate of the 2020 season. Rescheduled from its original April date, the upcoming Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals Presented By Pennzoil will take place at Houston Raceway Park near Baytown, Texas from Oct. 23-25.
Two NHRA nitro qualifying sessions are scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 24, at 1:45 and 4:45 p.m. local time. Elimination rounds at the Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals Presented By Pennzoil are scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. ET on Sunday, Oct. 25, with the television broadcast on FS1 beginning at 2:00 p.m. ET featuring LIVE coverage of the final rounds.
ADDITIONAL NOTES and QUOTES:
Jack Beckman, Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car
(No.6 Qualifier – 3.917 seconds at 328.70 mph)
Round 1: (0.081-second reaction time, 3.933 seconds at 326.16 mph) defeated No. 11 Cruz Pedregon (0.071/3.981/324.98)
Round 2: (0.094/3.908/327.35) defeated No. 3 Tim Wilkerson (0.106 /4.796/164.43)
Round 3: (0.101/3.903/329.34) defeated No. 7 Bob Tasca (0.084/3.934/328.22)
Round 4: (0.070/3.908/328.46) defeated No. 1 Matt Hagan (0.069/3.943/324.20)
“Maybe the best weekend ever. I mean doubling up at Indy in 2015 is going to be awfully hard to exceed, but I so wanted to win at Dallas. My dad (Bob Beckman) lives close to here and he’s been supporting me my whole career and he’s 83-years-old. That might have been my last shot at Dallas and it’s going to be extra special to give him that cowboy hat from the (Texas) Motorplex. It’s perfect. I don’t know that I’ve ever had a better weekend at a drag strip than this.”
Matt Hagan, Pennzoil Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car
(No. 1 Qualifier – 3.860 seconds at 328.54 mph)
Round 1: (0.082-second reaction time, 3.885 seconds at 330.63 mph) defeated No. 16 Todd Simpson (0.105/6.845/100.28)
Round 2: (0.055/3.928/326.63) defeated No. 8 J.R. Todd (0.078/3.987/326.00)
Round 3: (0.062/3.907/326.08) defeated No. 4 Ron Capps (0.067/3.958/318.84)
Round 4: (0.069/3.943/324.20) lost to No. 6 Jack Beckman (0.070/3.908/328.46)
“All-and-all another really good day here at Dallas for this Pennzoil/Mopar team. (Jack) Beckman just had a little better day. They have a great race car, but we have a great race car too. We’ve been keeping pace and we’re going to keep doing our thing for the next two races and see how this thing plays out. I’m super excited we get to do it again in a few days at Houston next weekend. We have a lot of momentum. The team is working great. The guys are doing a great job. We just have a little more work to do.”
Tommy Johnson Jr., MD Anderson Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car
(No. 2 Qualifier – 3.871 seconds at 315.34 mph)
Round 1: (0.070-second reaction time, 3.948 seconds at 321.88 mph) defeated No.15 Jim Campbell (0.122/4.134/312.21)
Round 2: (0.055/4.348/218.09) lost to No. 7 Bob Tasca (0.096/3.972/324.83)
“That was surprising and disappointing. We had such a great running car all weekend. I didn’t expect the tires to come loose. We needed to win that round to keep pace, but that didn’t happen. We aren’t out of this thing yet. There’s two races left and points-and-a-half at the last one. We need to do our job and go rounds and try to win the next two. Still, very happy with this team and happy to be able to race with such a great group here at DSR.”
Ron Capps, NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car
(No. 4 Qualifier – 3.885 seconds at 326.79 mph)
Round 1: (0.103-second reaction time, 3.907 seconds at 327.98 mph) defeated No. 13 Terry Haddock (0.272/4.188/293.92)
Round 2: (0.109/3.903/327.35) defeated No. 5 Alexis DeJoria (0.147/11.211/76.74)
Round 3: (0.067/3.958/318.84) lost to No.1 Matt Hagan (0.062/3.907/326.08)
“It’s tough to gain points when these cars in front of us keep going rounds. We felt so good from qualifying to run 3.90 the first two rounds with back-to-back three point nine zero runs, we felt we had typical Rahn Tobler. Almost like a bracket racing car and we really only tried to improve a little bit against Dickie (Venables) and (Matt) Hagan and if we got beat, we got beat. For some reason the car slowed down a little bit and ran 3.95. It’s a major bummer. Those guys are running so good that you have to improve a little bit to outrun them. It’s nice to go again at Houston next week, but we’re kind of running out of rounds to make a run for the championship. We’ll head to South Texas and try to make some ground up.”
Leah Pruett, Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye Top Fuel Dragster
(No. 5 Qualifier – 3.732 seconds at 318.77 mph)
Round 1: (0.079-second reaction time, 3.780 seconds at 317.27 mph) defeated No. 10 Scott Palmer (0.094/3.778/317.57)
Round 2: (0.084 /3.863/293.86) loss to No. 4 Shawn Langdon (0.056/3.825/311.77)
“The resurrection of the Dodge SRT Hellcat Redeye wasn’t quite at fierce as we hoped it would be on this Sunday. We had a very competitive, stout first round against an always tough competitor in (Scott) Palmer. In the second round we had some fuel mixture mix-ups with the cylinders. That should have been an attainable round win and those win lights are just so important right now. We’re not out of this fight by any means and we’re thankful that Dodge is able put on the race at Las Vegas in two weeks. We know exactly where we’re at going into Houston and we hope it’s our time to shine in the big Lone Star State and getting that Wally at Houston.”
Mark Pawuk, Empaco Equipment Mopar Drag Pak– Factory Stock Shootout
(No. 6 Qualifier – 7.934 seconds at 174.21 mph)
Round 1: (0.018-second reaction time, 7.989 seconds at 171.82 mph) defeated No. 11 John Cerbone (0.141/7.997/175.07)
Round 2: (0.080/7.998/171.97) defeated No. 3 Jesse Alexandra (0.202/7.963/172.28)
Round 3: (0.091/7.992/171.58) lost to No. 2 Aaron Stanfield (0.051/7.976/171.82)
“It was another good weekend for this Empaco Equipment Dodge Drag Park. We had a shot to go to the final round at Dallas, but unfortunately the driver didn’t do his job in the semis. Overall, it’s a good weekend. We qualified sixth. We’re solid in second in the points and we look forward to doing it again at Houston next weekend.”
Leah Pruett, Mopar Dodge Challenger Mopar Drag Pak – Factory Stock Shootout
(No. 13 Qualifier – 8.001 seconds at 172.56 mph)
Round 1: (0.059-second reaction time, 8.047 seconds at 170.32 mph) lost to Arthur Kohn (0.009/8.015/171.23)
“We raced a tough car in (Arthur) Kohn today and at both ends of the track we didn’t have what it needed. It was a very close race and we’re pushing this Drag Pak to the max, but just getting beat right now. We can be down or know what it takes in the long term and we’re finding little wins that will add up, but Mark (Pawuk) is doing well for Mopar and Dodge and I can’t wait for the new Drag Pak Dodge in 2021 next spring.”
NHRA Championship Points Standings:
(Following the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals)
FUNNY CAR (season wins in parentheses)
1. Matt Hagan (Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat) – 762 (2)
2. Jack Beckman (Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat) – 758 (3)
3. Tommy Johnson Jr. (Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat) – 685 (2)
4. Ron Capps (Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat) – 588 (2)
5. Bob Tasca III – 538
5. Tim Wilkerson – 538
7. J.R. Todd – 526
8. Alexis DeJoria – 414
9. Paul Lee – 351
10. Cruz Pedregon – 335
TOP FUEL (season wins in parentheses)
1. Steve Torrance – 764 (4)
2. Doug Kalitta – 713 (1)
3. Leah Pruett (Mopar Dodge//SRT) – 616
4. Billy Torrance – 598 (1)
5. Shawn Langdon – 491 (1)
6. Antron Brown – 458
7. Justin Ashley – 453 (1)
8. Terry McMillen – 436
9. Clay Millican – 381
10. Tony Schumacher – 294