First Trophy of Year for Dodge Driver Beckman, Eighth Win of Season for Mopar at NHRA Chicago

  • Beckman wins first Funny Car trophy of season, 23rd of career in HEMI®-powered Dodge Charger R/T
  • Team Mopar’s Route 66 Raceway trophy is 800th awarded in the Funny Car category in NHRA’s 50th year of Funny Car
  • Chicago victory is eighth of season, seventh consecutive for Team Mopar Funny Cars
  • Route 66 Raceway Funny Car win is fourth consecutive Chicago victory for Mopar Dodge entries
  • Points leader Capps drives Dodge Charger to 600th round of racing in nitro Funny Car category
  • Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T pilot Matt Hagan No. 1 qualifier; records low elapsed time of raceday
  • Winning DSR Mopar Funny Cars raise awareness through charitable sponsor
  • Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar Dodge Dart driver Jeg Coughlin Jr. protects position in Pro Stock Top 10

Joliet, Illinois (July 10, 2016) – Just like last season at Route 66 Raceway just outside of Chicago, there were two Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) Mopar Dodge Charger R/T Funny Cars battling it out for the trophy in the waning moments of the 19th annual Route 66 NHRA Nationals. At the 2015 event, Tommy Johnson Jr. scored the win over Matt Hagan in their head-to-head HEMI® battle, and this time around it was Jack Beckman and Ron Capps locking horns with the trophy in sight. Ultimately, it was Beckman who scored the win, putting an exclamation point on a weekend of powerful performances and memorable milestones for Team Mopar.

“On behalf of everyone at Mopar, I would like to congratulate Jack Beckman on his first victory of the season with the title win at Chicago,” said Pietro Gorlier, Head of Parts and Service (Mopar), FCA – Global. “It’s great to see a Mopar Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car in the winner’s circle for an eighth time this season.”

The win was the seventh in a row for the Dodge Charger Funny Cars, and it came in the sixth all-Mopar final of the year. Of particular note, a DSR Dodge Charger has won the Chicago trophy in each of the last four seasons.

Beckman’s Dodge Charger was hot in the Windy City this year, and he blazed into Sunday with a 3.928-second pass at 327.59 mph that was the fastest speed of the first round in a swift defeat of a traction-troubled John Hale. Beckman had the second quickest and fastest pass of round two, a 3.939/325.92, in a decisive victory over another troubled opponent, Courtney Force, who limped to a 6-second pass. Beckman disposed of Force’s teammate, Robert Hight, in the semifinals with a 3.955/324.05 to 3.970/323.12. With the win light came Beckman’s ticket to the 48th Funny Car final round of his career and 4th of the season.

In the final, Beckman and Capps left the starting line nearly together in their respective HEMI-powered Funny Cars, but Beckman and the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T kept ahead to claim victory on a 3.955/324.05 over Capps, who rattled the tires down track and slowed to a 4.522/194.74. The win was Beckman’s first of the season and 23rd of his career.

“With the newer Charger bodies, the windshield is much farther back, and we can see out the sides a lot more,” said Beckman. “I saw a whole lot of [Capps’] front fender out there, and I go, ‘Oh….’ and about the time I got to ‘no,’ it disappeared. When a car disappears out of your peripheral vision that fast, you know they’ve smoked the tires, and unless you have a huge problem, there is no way they’re getting around you. At this point, it’s keep it in the middle of the lane, don’t hit anything, and get the ‘chutes out. It was a great feeling watching that win light come on.

“Our Infinite Hero Dodge Charger was darn near flawless today,” continued Beckman, who also has two wins in NHRA’s Super Comp sportsman category. “I thought we had so much momentum last year. We won Maple Grove [Reading, Pa.] in the Countdown, but we hadn’t seen a winner’s circle since then. Even though we’ve been to three final rounds this year, set the national record this year and qualified No. 1 four times, we just couldn’t put it together. We would either run good in the heat and not in the cool track conditions, or we’d run great in the ‘hero’ conditions and couldn’t get down the track in the heat. But we found some things [in testing] that started pointing us in the right direction.

“The thing I’ve recognized over my 10-year career in Funny Car is patience. That pendulum always goes both ways. You just keep picking away at it. It was a little bit frustrating to have been the only one of our four DSR Funny Cars that hadn’t closed the deal, but we knew. We knew we would find it.”

Mopar Dodge Charger R/T pilot Jack Beckman won the eighth trophy of the 2016 season for Team Mopar at the Route 66 NHRA Nationals in Chicago. Photography: Auto Imagery/Richard Shute

Mopar Dodge Charger R/T pilot Jack Beckman won the eighth trophy of the 2016 season for Team Mopar at the Route 66 NHRA Nationals in Chicago.
Photography: Auto Imagery/Richard Shute

The Big 600

Beckman claimed the Chicago win, and Capps – the incoming points leader and a four-time winner this season – also had reason to celebrate on Sunday.

In the second round of eliminations, veteran nitro campaigner Capps scored a monumental 600th round win in a Funny Car with a smooth and steady defeat of Bob Tasca.

“I’ve been lucky to have driven for some great team owners, like ‘Snake’ [Don Prudhomme] and Don Schumacher,” said Capps, who went on to compete in the 96th final round of his career in Chicago. “And I’ve had so many hall-of-fame crew chiefs. My 600th round win in this Dodge Charger will always remind me that I did it with the best Funny Car I’ve driven in my 19 years of racing. I know my name will be on the list, but there are so many others who deserve to share the credit.”

Capps’ milestone victory set him up for a meeting with No. 1 qualifier and DSR Mopar Dodge teammate Hagan in the semifinals. Hagan had low elapsed time of raceday in the first round with a 3.917 and was on a tear in his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T, but when he smoked the tires ferociously just as he left the starting line, the round win was virtually handed to Capps, who finished with a strong 4.003/314.02.

Mopar Notches Milestone Win

With the Route 66 Raceway victory in his Mopar Dodge Charger R/T, Beckman won the 800th NHRA Funny Car race in the 50th anniversary year of NHRA Funny Car competition.

“The cool stat is that my crew chief, Jimmy Prock, won No. 500 with Gary Densham driving, he won No. 600 with Robert Hight driving, I won No. 700, and now together we’ve won No. 800. That’s a pretty cool deal,” said Beckman, who is currently No. 2 in the Funny Car standings. “The thing that makes that extra special is that because this is the 50th anniversary of Funny Car, you have a lot of legends out here: Pat Minick and the Chi-Town Hustler, Arnie ‘The Farmer’ Beswick, Gary Dyer in Mr. Norm’s Grand-Spaulding Dodge. Those guys were just the absolute hitters when I was a baby. To have them come by and acknowledge you and get to spend a few minutes with them, and then to get to cap that off with a trophy at the end of the day – this is one of those perfect drag race weekends.”

DSR Mopar Funny Cars Raise Awareness

Through a partnership with Don Schumacher, New Mexico-based philanthropist Terry Chandler has funded two of the Don Schumacher Racing Dodge Charger R/T Funny Cars for multiple seasons in order to raise awareness for two charities near to her heart: The Make-A-Wish Foundation (Wish.org) and the Infinite Hero Foundation (InfiniteHero.org). Just two races ago, in Bristol, Chandler watched as Tommy Johnson Jr. took the Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T to the winner’s circle with a final-round defeat of DSR teammate Matt Hagan in an all-Mopar final. In Chicago, it was Beckman winning the trophy in another all-Mopar final, wheeling his eye-catching purple and black Infinite Hero Dodge Charger to victory over teammate and points leader Ron Capps.

“Everything this Infinite Hero team has accomplished is because of Terry Chandler’s generosity, and I won’t ever forget that,” said Beckman at the beginning of the season. “No matter what happens, I know we all can be proud of the things we have done on and off the racetrack.”

Mopar in Top Fuel

Five-time Chicago winner Tony Schumacher was off to a good start in his Don Schumacher Racing U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster powered by Mopar as he easily got the win light in a first-round match with a tire-smoking Pat Dakin. He kept right on truckin’ in the second round as he knocked out Doug Kalitta, 3.781/322.73 to 3.806/320.05, before he was stopped just one round short of the final by J.R. Todd in a close semifinals match, 3.781/323.35 to 3.815/315.49. Schumacher exited the Route 66 NHRA Nationals as the No. 5 man in the Top Fuel standings.

Fuel-Injected HEMI®-powered Mopar Dodge Dart Pro Stock Cars

Jeg Coughlin Jr. had the upper hand in his first-round meeting with Drew Skillman, taking the lead at the starting line in style true to form for the five-time Pro Stock champion. Coughlin turned the head start into victory as he kept ahead in his speedy Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar/JEGS.com Dodge Dart, clocking a 6.641/208.23 to a 6.644/208.52.

“They’re all big right now,” said Coughlin regarding the first-round win light. “The name of the game is to be in the top 10 for the Countdown to the Championship, and we’ve been making strides with our Mopar power. This team has been working hard, and it’s certainly starting to show.”

Coughlin was halted in the second round by Jason Line and leaves Chicago in the No. 9 position in the Pro Stock points. His Elite Motorsports teammate Erica Enders, the reigning and back-to-back Pro Stock champion, had the best reaction time of the first round in her Mopar performance Dodge Dart with a .005-second start, but she fell to Vincent Nobile. Enders is eleventh in the standings.

Allen Johnson wheeled his Mopar-powered Marathon Petroleum Dodge Dart to a first-round win over Kenny Delco with a nice 6.649/208.91 to a 6.670/207.82 before he was ousted in the second round by Greg Anderson. Johnson was consistent, though; his final time of the day was a 6.647/208.97. Johnson leaves Chicago No. 4 in the Pro Stock points.

Next Up

NHRA’s 2016 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues with race 14 of 24 on the circuit and one of the most noted and unique events on tour, the 37th annual Mopar Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, Colo., July 22-24, 2016. Tickets: www.bandimere.com.

2016 NHRA Championship Point Standings

(Following the NHRA Chicago event)

Pro Stock (season wins in parentheses)

  1. Jason Line (7) – 1,472
  2. Greg Anderson (6) – 1,392
  3. Bo Butner – 898
  4. Allen Johnson, Mopar Dodge Dart – 773
  5. Drew Skillman – 717
  6. Vincent Nobile – 666
  7. Shane Gray – 619
  8. Chris McGaha – 610
  9. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Dodge Dart – 580
  10. Alex Laughlin – 530
  11. Erica Enders, Mopar Performance Dodge Dart – 522

Funny Car (season wins in parentheses)

  1. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger R/T (4) – 1,068
  2. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger R/T (1) – 942
  3. Courtney Force (1) – 892
  4. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger R/T (2) – 828
  5. Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger R/T (1) – 803
  6. Robert Hight (1) – 799
  7. Del Worsham – 796
  8. Tim Wilkerson (2) – 760
  9. John Force – 699
  10. Alexis DeJoria (1) – 697