Mopar Dodge//SRT Driver Capps Takes 60th Career Victory at Pacific Raceways

  • Capps seizes Funny Car Wally trophy in his Mopar-powered Dodge Charger R/T
  • Leah Pritchett takes runner-up spot in Sparkling Ice/Mopar Dodge Top Fuel Dragster
  • Matt Hagan captures first No. 1 qualifier spot for new Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
  • Tommy Johnson Jr. goes to semifinals with Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
  • Bill Bushmaker and Darcy Clarke collect Dodge Top Finisher awards

August 5, 2018,  Auburn Hills, Mich. – Mopar power was strong this weekend at the 31st annual CatSpot NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways near Seattle as Funny Car racer Ron Capps took his Dodge Charger R/T all the way to victory for a milestone 60th career win.

The win in the finale of the three-race Western Swing, set in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, was the ninth of the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series for Mopar Dodge//SRT Don Schumacher Racing competitors, and the sixth of the season for a Mopar Dodge Charger Funny Car driver.

Capps squared off in his Mopar-powered NAPA Dodge Funny Car dragster with Jonnie Lindberg in round one eliminations on the track where he won his first race in 1995 (in Top Fuel). He made a 3.989-second pass to take the win with ease. In the second round Capps had to face off against his DSR teammate, Matt Hagan, the No. 1 Funny Car qualifier of the weekend. Another three-second pass gave the 700-plus round winner the victory and lane choice for the semifinals against Tim Wilkerson. Capps powered down the track to a 4.002 pass as Wilkerson’s day came to an early end with a major leak from the valve cover.

The final round, the 117th of Capps’ career, saw him placed against Funny Car points leader Courtney Force. Force ran out front until the 660 lights, but when her engine got unsettled, Capps powered right past her and to his 60th career win, his second this season.

Leah Pritchett, the No. 6 Top Fuel qualifier, beat Troy Buff in the first round of eliminations with her Mopar Dodge dragster on a holeshot win. She faced No. 3 qualifier Clay Millican in the quarterfinals. They had near identical reaction times, but Pritchett took her tenth victory against Millican. She then faced Mike Salinas, who had starting line advantage in the semifinals. Pritchett had a strong pass until right in the lights when it let go with a quick flash of flames, but held onto the win to face DSR teammate Antron Brown for her 12th final round.

Pritchett had starting line advantage, but Brown had the lead when they went by the Christmas tree and went on for the win. The final-round appearance was Pritchett’s second in the last three races, including her victory in Denver at the Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals Powered by Mopar.

Matt Hagan collected the first No. 1 qualifier for the new Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car body this weekend, as well as his first at Pacific Raceways and fourth of the season. Hagan started eliminations against first-round opponent Cruz Pedregon, eclipsing him at the 60-foot block and charging down the track for the decisive win.

Unfortunately, in round two, the 2013 Northwest Nationals event champion had to go up against his teammate Capps. The race was very close between the two Mopar-powered Dodge Funny Cars, but Capps was able to take the win and ended Hagan’s chances at picking up his fourth victory of the season.

Tommy Johnson Jr., driver of the Make-A-Wish Dodge, is one of the few drivers who has won in both Top Fuel and Funny Car at Pacific Raceways. This weekend, Johnson was able to advance to the semifinals before missing the opportunity for another victory in the Pacific Northwest. In first round eliminations he faced off with starting line advantage against longtime NHRA champion John Force and was quick on the throttle. Both drivers had issues – Force lost traction and Johnson had a hole out, but Johnson charged on and crossed the stripe first.

In the quarterfinals, Johnson defeated the reigning world champion Robert Hight, with a 4.074 run versus Hight’s 4.551. He then faced Courtney Force and had the better reaction time, but Force was able to pull ahead before the 330-foot mark and capture with the win, ending Johnson’s chances for a second consecutive Northwest Nationals final round appearance.

The four-time Pacific Raceways victor, Tony Schumacher, qualified his Mopar-powered U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster fourth and faced last year’s runner-up Terry McMillen in the first round. Schumacher had the starting line advantage and never trailed for the win. In the second round Schumacher had to go up against fellow DSR teammate Antron Brown, who had starting line advantage. Both smoked they tires at nearly the same time, but Brown pedaled to hook it up enough for the win.

Fast Jack Beckman, the 2007 Pacific Raceways Funny Car champion, faced Shawn Langdon in round one of eliminations. Beckman was 2-0 versus Langdon in prior events but was unable to extend his lead on Sunday morning. The two world champions were nearly even after launching from the line with the Infinite Hero Dodge Charger keeping pace until the 660-foot mark when Langdon was able to pull ahead for the round win, despite it being Beckman’s fastest run of the weekend.

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

Pietro Gorlier, Head of Parts and Service (Mopar), FCA
“It’s great to see the success Ron Capps is having in his Mopar-powered Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car, taking the victory today in his third straight final-round appearance. As we head into the final eight races of the season, we look forward to cheering on Ron and all his Don Schumacher Racing teammates.”

Steve Beahm, Head of Passenger Cars, Dodge//SRT, Chrysler and FIAT, FCA North America
“Congratulations to Ron Capps and Don Schumacher Racing on bringing home the win for Dodge//SRT and Mopar this weekend at the NHRA Northwest Nationals. There’s no better way to wrap up the three-race Western Swing than in the winner’s circle on Sunday.”

Mopar Dodge//SRT NHRA Sportsman Spotlight
Mopar Sportsman racer Bill Bushmaker from Auburn, Washington, drove his I/SA 1976 Plymouth Road Runner to the quarterfinals in Stock Eliminator at the NHRA Northwest Nationals, earning the Dodge Top Finisher award for the class. Powered by a Mopar 360 small block, Bushmaker’s quest for a victory ended in round four of eliminations despite having a great reaction time against his opponent. Running off an 11.41 dial-in, Bushmaker lost by mere 0.0062 seconds (approximately 12 inches) at the finish line.

Alberta, Canada, resident Darcy Clarke piloted his 1964 SS/EA Plymouth Belvedere to a round three finish in Super Stock at the NHRA Northwest Nationals, earning the Dodge Top Finisher award in Super Stock. Powered by a high-compression 426 Max Wedge Mopar big-block, Clarke had qualified his potent Plymouth in the 16th spot out of 30 entries with a stout 9.74-second run on a 10.35 index.

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 Dodge, Chrysler, or Plymouth race car at all 24 NHRA national events.

Dodge Garage: Digital Hub for Drag Racing News
Fans now have a one-stop destination for Mopar and Dodge drag racing news. Dodge Garage
(http://www.dodgegarage.com) 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, http://blog.mopar.com.

Ron Capps, Pennzoil Synthetics/NAPA Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 9 Qualifier – 4.008 ET)

Rd.1: (.075-second reaction time, 3.989 seconds at 321.04 mph) beat No. 8 Jonnie Lindberg (.138/4.049/317.79)
Rd.2: (.054/3.998/320.43) beat No. 1 Matt Hagen (.077/4.032/311.27)
Rd.3: (.100/4.002/315.49) beat No. 5 Tim Wilkerson (No Time)
Rd.4: (.084/4.033/314.90) beat No. 3 Courtney Force (.078/4.115/255.63)

“I won here in 1995. It was on a Tuesday. I was in an unsponsored car, I borrowed money for a firesuit, and Pennzoil was on my suit, my mom sewed it on. That was a big moment. I’ve been here many times and have been able to win in Funny Car, but that was a fateful day. That day from what (former team owner) Don Prudhomme told me, that was the day he started watching me on the track, how I drove, the way I carried myself. That day probably propelled me to the next step of getting a phone call from Don ‘The Snake’ Prudhomme, and from there led me to be able to drive for Don Schumacher. I’ve driven for two of the biggest names in the sport, represented three Fortune 500 companies in my 20+-year career. I love racing cars, I live for it, so it’s neat to come full circle and stage the car in that same lane where I won on that Tuesday.”

Leah Pritchett, Sparkling Ice/Mopar Dodge Top Fuel Dragster
(No. 6 Qualifier – 3.764 ET)

Rd.1: (.067-second reaction time, 3.809 seconds at 325.53 mph) beat No. 11 Troy Bluff (.107/3.798/315.71)
Rd.2: (.086/3.823/319.60) beat No. 3 Clay Millican (.088/3.957/266.79)
Rd.3: (.083/3.838/304.74) beat No. 7 Mike Salinas (.052/4.045/237.63)
Rd.4: (.056/3.849/320.13) lost to No. 5 Antron Brown (.066/3.835/322.88)

“I feel phenomenal about the car, the team, the headspace and the momentum. Today was a great way to finish off the Western Swing. Of course, we were just one round shy of the ultimate finish to it, but my proudest moment of the weekend wasn’t even the win lights. It was the ability this team had to overcome the insane challenges we had facing us after the semifinals. We had engine damage. We had blower damage and the confidence (crew chief) Tod Okuhara had using a blower that never had any type of boost put to it before for the final round should how good he is. When you change a blower there could be at least 15 other things that are affected, so you just don’t know what to expect. From burnout to turnout, this was basically a new machine compared to what we had all weekend long. So to show out as well as we did in the final was very impressive. I’m very proud to be part of this team and we’ll continue this momentum on to Brainerd.”

Tommy Johnson Jr., Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 7 Qualifier – 3.977 ET)

Rd.1: (.069-second reaction time, 4.177 seconds at 301.74 mph) beat No. 10 John Force (.086/5.598/138.27)
Rd.2: (.076/4.074/318.09) beat No. 2 Robert Hight (.056/4.551/215.37)
Rd.3: (.062/4.062/316.08) lost to No. 3 Courtney Force (.072/4.011/320.20)

“Surely we would’ve liked to win, but two semis on ‘the swing’ is not bad. It’s important right now to get the points. The Countdown is coming, and the Make-A-Wish Dodge is improving every race, and we’re doing better every race, so if you’re going to peak, it’s getting close to the right time to peak.”

Matt Hagan, Sandvik Coromant/Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car
(No. 1 Qualifier – 3.913 ET)

Rd.1: (.092-second reaction time, 4.045 seconds at 316.52 mph) beat No. 16 Cruz Pedregon (.070/4.854/166.11)
Rd.2: (.077/4.032/311.27) lost to No. 9 Ron Capps (.054/3.998/320.43)

“Great qualifying position with this new Mopar Hellcat body. There’s a lot of tough draws out here, we had Cruz (Pedregon) first-round, (Ron) Capps second-round, and none of them are easy. Capps and the Pennzoil/NAPA team have had our number for the last few races. They ran strong beside us, he had a good light, and that’s just a hard combo to beat right now. Their car is running well; our car is running well too. It was a good drag race; we just happened to be on the back side of it. We’ll move on to the next one and hopefully do big things at (the next event in) Brainerd.”

Jack Beckman, Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 11 Qualifier – 4.028 ET)

Rd.1: (.095-second reaction time, 4.026 seconds at 315.56 mph) lost to No. 6 Shawn Langdon (.070/4.017/318.69)

“I would rather win ugly, in other words smoke the tires but get down there and get the win light, than run fast and lose. Losing is never what we want to do and we’ve lost pretty the last few times out. I think the carrot on the stick for us is that even when our car doesn’t run what we want it to run, it runs respectively. That tells me that we’ve got it back in the tune-up window where we ought to be able to start stepping on it and running quicker. Right now we’re just trying to control clutch wear. It’s a problem that every nitro car has. I definitely have reason for optimism. This is only our third first-round loss this year and that underscores how consistent our team has been. We need to ratchet it up a notch, qualify better, get a better first-round matchup and capitalize on that.”

Tony Schumacher, U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
(No. 4 Qualifier – 3.751 ET)

Rd.1: (.079-second reaction time, 4.137 seconds at 258.47 mph) beat No. 13 Terry McMillen (.091/6.626/91.90)
Rd.2: (.077/4.718/213.00) lost to No. 5 Antron Brown (.061/4.137/301.74)

“Smoked the tires twice today after four beautiful runs during qualifying. It kind of caught me off guard a couple of times. It was a rough one. Hate to give up any points, we were doing so well, but I look forward to getting to Brainerd, and to Indy test, and getting into that Countdown. We’ve got a great car, but we haven’t had very much luck. When that luck finally turns, it’s going to be a stout deal.”

Up Next: Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals
Next on the schedule for the Mopar and Dodge//SRT squad is the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, scheduled for August 17-19 at Brainerd International Raceway in Brainerd, Minn.

2018 NHRA Championship — Point Standings After Round 16 of 24
(Season Wins in Parentheses)

NHRA Funny Car
1.  Courtney Force — 1300
2.  Ron Capps, Dodge Charger R/T (2) — 1146
3.  Robert Hight — 1085
4.  Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger R/T (3) — 1064
5.  Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger R/T (1) — 999

6.  J.R. Todd — 914
7.  Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger R/T — 892
8.  John Force — 824
9.  Shawn Langdon — 736
10. Tim Wilkerson — 703

NHRA Top Fuel
1.   Steve Torrence – 1251
2.   Tony Schumacher, Mopar Dodge HEMI (1) — 1090
3.   Clay Millican — 1084
4.   Leah Pritchett, Mopar Dodge HEMI (2) — 1083
5.   Doug Kalitta — 995
6.   Antron Brown — 927
7.   Terry McMillen — 759
8.   Brittany Force — 731
9.   Richie Crampton — 660
10. Scott Palmer — 649