Capps Earns Runner-up Finish in Mopar Dodge Funny Car at NHRA FallNationals

  • Ron Capps finishes as runner-up in Mopar Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car from Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) during 32nd annual NHRA FallNationals at Texas Motorplex
  • At least one Mopar HEMI®-powered Dodge Funny Car from DSR appears in final round for 19th time this season
  • Capps and Jack Beckman represent Mopar in Funny Car semifinals
  • Leah Pritchett finishes in second round in Mopar-powered Top Fuel dragster
  • Capps maintains Funny Car points lead, Pritchett moves to fifth to lead Mopar in Top Fuel standings
  • Derek Hake drives 1969 Plymouth Road Runner to semifinals in Stock Eliminator
  • Hake wins Dodge Top Finisher in Stock Eliminator category, Jacob Pitt takes prize in Super Stock Eliminator

October 15, 2017,  Ennis, Texas – For the second year in a row, Mopar Funny Car driver Ron Capps went to the final round of the NHRA FallNationals at Texas Motorplex near Dallas, but he again came up just short of winning at the all-concrete drag strip for the second time in his career. Still, Capps’ final-round appearance was the 12th of the year for his HEMI®-powered Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car from Don Schumacher Racing (DSR), and the 19th time this season that at least one Mopar Dodge from DSR has gone to the final round in the category through 22 events.

Capps qualified No. 2 and matched up against stout No. 1 qualifier Robert Hight in the final round. Capps moved first with a .038-second reaction time and turned in a solid 3.927-second lap at 329.18 mph. It was not enough to overtake Hight though, who made a pass of 3.877 at 332.34 after a reaction time of .054.

Capps, the 2016 Funny Car champion, maintained his points lead, but the eight-time winner this season is now just 24 markers ahead of Hight with only two races remaining in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship playoffs.

Capps opened his day by besting Del Worsham as both cars got in trouble, with Capps’ car striking the tires down track and Worsham smoking his near the starting line. However, Capps was able hold on to take the win light. He then matched up against John Force, who turned on the red light as Capps made a clean pass down track. In the semifinal round Capps bested his DSR Mopar teammate Jack Beckman on another textbook run as Beckman hazed the tires.

Despite his final-round defeat, Capps’ won-loss record this year is now a remarkable 52-14. In addition to last season, Capps also appeared in the final round at the Texas Motorplex in 2011 and won at the Dallas-area track 1998.

Beckman and the Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T team from DSR took an unusual path to the semis. He first took down J.R.  Todd in round one as both cars lost traction, forcing the drivers to pedal, but Beckman reached the finish line first. He next was scheduled to face Daniel Wilkerson in round two, but Wilkerson had a mechanical issue at the starting line, necessitating that his team shut the car off. Beckman won the race on a solo even as his car went up in smoke near half-track. His valiant march then came to an end at the hands of Capps, but not before he moved to fourth in the standings.

Matt Hagan and Tommy Johnson Jr. went out in the first round in their Dodge Charger R/T Funny Cars from DSR. Hagan hazed the tires just off the starting line in the Mopar Pennzoil car and could never catch opponent Jonnie Lindberg, despite the Swedish driver having to pedal the car near half-track. Tommy Johnson Jr. also bowed out in round one after his Make-A-Wish machine was defeated by John Force. Both cars struck the tires, and Force’s car later backfired, but he was still able to turn on the win light.

In the Top Fuel category, Leah Pritchett drove her Papa John’s Pizza/Mopar Pennzoil dragster from DSR past Scott Palmer on a clean pass in round one, then took on Antron Brown, where her day came to an end after a close race. Even with her early exit, Pritchett still jumped from seventh to fifth in the point standings thanks to collecting a handful of qualifying bonus points and her closest competitors going out in the first round.

Also in Top Fuel, No. 2 qualifier Tony Schumacher was defeated in his Mopar-powered U.S. Army dragster from DSR in round one after smoking the tires, giving the win to Terry Haddock.

The 32nd annual NHRA FallNationals featured extreme swings in weather from the qualifying sessions to elimination rounds. Qualifying on Friday and Saturday was contested primarily under extremely hot and humid conditions, but overnight rains early Sunday morning led to a twenty-degree temperature drop, creating an extremely fast track. The day saw a number of early-round upsets, as well as a massive crash by Top Fuel points leader Steve Torrence in round two. He walked away unhurt.

Mopar/Dodge Notes & Quotes

Ron Capps, NAPA Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 2 Qualifier – 3.872 seconds at 329.58 mph)

Rd. 1: (.078-second reaction time, 4.287 seconds at 220.58 mph) defeated No. 15 Del Worsham (.096/4.474/244.43)
Rd. 2: (.057/3.921/329.10) defeated No. 10 John Force (no show – red light)
Semis: (.058/3.905/329.10) defeated No. 3 Jack Beckman (.067/4.468/196.13)
Final: (.038/3.927/329.18) lost to No. 1 Robert Hight (.054/3.877/332.34)

“It was a great weekend by the guys. It always hurts a little bit when you get into the final and then you fall a little bit short. But reflecting right now, we didn’t beat ourselves. We gave them a great race and that’s where you’ve just got to go over and shake their hand and tell them, ‘great race’ because that was a pretty awesome side-by-side run.

“We didn’t want to give it away. We went up there to run a high .80 and we just lost a little bit in the middle of the track and that’s where they got us on speed. So it was another close race. It’s going to come down to the wire.”

Leah Pritchett, Papa John’s Pizza/Mopar Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster 
(No. 6 Qualifier – 3.748 seconds at 323.12 mph)

Rd. 1: (.067-second reaction time, 3.724 seconds at 324.05 mph) defeated No. 11 Scott Palmer (.065/3.795/313.22)
Rd. 2: (.076/3.709/326.63) lost to No. 3 Antron Brown  (.054/3.687/323.74)

“Against Antron, we were facing a three-time world champion. It was a great race for the fans, just not for our Papa John’s team. We made a good run with our 3.709 but his 3.687 was one of the best all day. We lost some points in our chase for the championship but we still believe it’s possible. We you believe, anything is possible. We know we’ll move up in the standings in these next two races.”

Matt Hagan, Mopar Pennzoil Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 13 Qualifier – 3.991 seconds at 324.51 mph)

Rd. 1: (.075-second reaction time,  5.186 seconds at 257.38 mph) lost to No. 4 Jonnie Lindberg (.088/4.372/303.78)

“We’ve kind of hit a little rough patch here with some of these races in the Countdown. We’ve changed some wholesale pieces coming into this. We’ve got a brand new car out here that we’ve been ironing out and we’re changing some of our stuff in our bellhousing. So it’s just not really working the way that we hoped or would like to see it work. So when things  don’t go the way you want you go back to what you know, and that’s what we’re going to do on Monday. We’re going to go and get the old car back, set some stuff up and make some laps and try to finish as strong as we can.”

Jack Beckman, Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 3 Qualifier – 3.873 seconds at 332.34 mph)

Rd. 1: (.102-second reaction time, 4.590 seconds at 229.70 mph) defeated No. 14 J.R. Todd (.062/5.140/190.78)
Rd. 2: (.086/5.082/145.89) defeated No. 11 Daniel Wilkerson (no show – red light)
Semis: (.067/4.468/196.13) lost to No. 2 Ron Capps (.058/3.905/329.10)

“I’m going to take the silver-lining approach to this. Yeah, it’s crushing to not leave here with the trophy, but we’ve picked up points positions. We could’ve left here having closed the gap on first and second quite a bit. We let those two pull away from us. But our day could’ve ended in the first round. We went up there and smoked the tires in what was of the oddest first rounds I’ve seen in a long time. Then we could’ve been beat second round, too. So the fact of the matter is we’re going to leave here with 40 points, we’re going to leave here fourth in points, within one round of third. So we checked a bunch of things off our list except getting that darn trophy at Texas. So we’ll just have to settle for one at Vegas and one at Pomona.”

Tommy Johnson Jr., Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 7 Qualifier – 3.930 seconds at 327.59 mph)

Rd. 1: (.053-second reaction time, 4.467 seconds at 192.44 mph) lost to No. 10 John Force (.048/4.413/234.61)

“It was just a weird first round, a lot of people were having issues and we were going right down there and came loose. I tried to pedal it and it wouldn’t go. I could hear him (John Force) coming. It’s frustrating to lose that close after all the issues. We actually had a better race car this weekend; we’re just still not on top of it. We’ve got to get better. Going to back to Vegas where we won in the spring will hopefully bring a little bit of our luck back and we can get back on track.”

Tony Schumacher, U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
(No. 2 Qualifier – 3.692 seconds at 327.66 mph)

Rd. 1: (.099-second reaction time, 4.559 seconds at 220.08 mph) lost to No. 15 Terry Haddock (.150/4.043/285.95)

“It’s unfortunate. We’re too good of a team to go out that early. But it goes to show you that you need to bring your A-game each and every run because the guy in the other lane is doing the same, no matter who they are. I pedaled it four times and just could not get it to hook up. The car was just bucking left and right like a bull. It’s kind of a fun ride, but it’s certainly no fun at all to be out in the first round when there is a big chunk of points to be made up. But it goes to show even the best teams out there make mistakes. We’ll stay here and test tomorrow and figure this thing out. There are two more races to win before we’re ready to call it a season.”

Mopar/Dodge NHRA Sportsman Spotlight
Mopar-powered drivers also advanced deep into the elimination rounds in both the Stock Eliminator and Super Stock Eliminator categories at Texas Motorplex.

In Stock Eliminator, Derek Hake from Muskogee, Oklahoma, went to the semifinals in his I/SA 1969 Plymouth Road Runner. He made an 11.510-second pass at 112.52 mph in the semis after leaving the starting line with a .065-second reaction time. His dial-in was 11.57, however, meaning he broke out by .060, ending his successful weekend.

In the Super Stock Eliminator category, Jacob Pitt of Mansfield, Texas, turned in the best performance for Mopar. Pitt drove his FGT/H 2003 Dodge Stratus to the quarterfinal round on Saturday. Pitt made a lap of 9.631 at 139.16 with a superb .012 reaction time. His dial-in was 9.66 though, meaning he broke out by .029, putting an end to his march.

Hake and Pitt each received the Dodge Top Finisher award at the NHRA FallNationals. The program is in place at all 24 national events in 2017 and provides $500 to the Stock Eliminator and Super Stock Eliminator competitors advancing the farthest during the weekend in a Dodge or Plymouth vehicle. It supplements Mopar’s deep contingency program.

Super Stock competitors also took part in class eliminations at Texas Motorplex, where two Mopar-powered drivers claimed Wally trophies. James Caro from Houma, Louisiana, won in the FSS/K class in his 2010 Dodge Challenger Drag Pak, while Pitt claimed the FGT/H class win in his ’03 Stratus.

Up Next: NHRA Nationals at Las Vegas
On October 26 – 29 the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series makes its second trip of 2017 to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the fall edition of the NHRA Nationals. Last year Mopar Funny Car driver Jack Beckman qualified No. 1 with a 3.871-second pass. Beckman’s teammate Ron Capps has five wins at the track, Mopar driver Tommy Johnson Jr. has visited the winner’s circle twice in Vegas (including this spring) and Beckman has claimed one victory there. Mopar-powered Tony Schumacher has won at the track on eight occasions in Top Fuel.

At noon local time on Saturday, October 28, Mopar drivers will participate in an autograph session at the Mopar display trailer with special guest Ronald Leong. For many years Leong campaigned “Hawaiian” Mopar-powered Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars.

The NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway will be shown throughout the weekend on FOX Sports 1. Elimination rounds will be broadcast LIVE on the network at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday, October 29.

For more information on Mopar and Dodge in NHRA, check out the Mopar brand’s official blog, http://blog.mopar.com.

2017 NHRA Championship — Point Standings After Round 22 of 24
(Season Wins in Parentheses)

NHRA Funny Car
1. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger R/T (8) – 2,495
2. Robert Hight (4) – 2,471
3. Courtney Force – 2,324
4. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger R/T (2) – 2,309
5. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger R/T (3) – 2,269

6. John Force (1) – 2,252
7. Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger R/T (1) – 2,224
8. Tim Wilkerson – 2,206
9. J.R. Todd (2) – 2,199
10. Cruz Pedregon – 2,128

NHRA Top Fuel
1. Steve Torrence (8) – 2,465
2. Brittany Force (3) –2,408
3. Doug Kalitta – (1) 2,389
4. Antron Brown (4) – 2,360
5. Leah Pritchett, Mopar HEMI (4) – 2,285
6. Tony Schumacher, Mopar HEMI (1) – 2,273

7. Clay Millican (1) – 2,268
8 Shawn Langdon – 2,193
9. Terry McMillen – 2,147
10. Scott Palmer – 2,137

*Photo Credit Photo Credit Auto Imagery/Richard Shute