Beckman Takes Two of Last Three with NHRA Norwalk Win in Mopar Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car

  • Jack Beckman wins 11th annual NHRA Nationals at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio
  • Mopar HEMI®-powered Funny Cars have won 11 of 12 events this season
  • Victory is 26th of Beckman’s career, third at Norwalk and second in last three events
  • Two Mopar Dodge Charger R/T Funny Cars from Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) advance to semis, all four team cars go to second round
  • Leah Pritchett puts Papa John’s Pizza/Mopar Pennzoil Top Fuel dragster in semifinal round
  • Mopar holds top three spots in Funny Car point standings, second and fourth positions in Top Fuel
  • Bob Marshall is awarded Dodge Top Finisher in Stock Eliminator, David Turner takes honor in Super Stock

June 25, 2017 , Norwalk, Ohio – Jack Beckman continued his stellar month of June in the 11th annual NHRA Nationals this weekend at Summit Motorsports Park, driving his Mopar HEMI®-powered Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T to the Funny Car winner’s circle for the second time in the last three weeks.

Beckman also won two Sundays ago in Englishtown, and his Norwalk win was the ninth in a row overall for Mopar Funny Cars from Don Schumacher Racing (DSR), as well as their 11th in 12 races to date on the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule. In addition, the win meant that a Mopar Funny Car or Top Fuel dragster has claimed a win in a total of 13 consecutive races, dating to 2016.

With the conclusion of the Norwalk event, the current season has reached its halfway point and the end of a grueling four-race stretch.

Beckman turned in a pass of 4.073 seconds at 311.85 mph from the left lane in the final round, then provided some fireworks with an explosion just past the finish line. Beckman’s lap bettered Robert Hight’s 6.673 at 98.53, as Hight smoked the tires when the light turned green. Beckman’s reaction time was .060, while Hight was .053 on the Christmas Tree.

Beckman’s Sunday began by powering past Cruz Pedregon to set up a second-round contest with DSR Mopar teammate Matt Hagan. “Fast Jack” bested his in-house opponent on a clean run when Hagan suffered mechanical issues down track. The match-up evened the two Mopar drivers’ head-to-head record at 19-19. Beckman then took on another teammate in the form of Tommy Johnson Jr. in the semis, where Beckman went straight down the track to set up his showdown with Hight while Johnson shook the tires and was forced to pedal.

The Norwalk win was the 26th Funny Car victory of Beckman’s career, his third at Norwalk and his second of the season. Not only has he won two of the last three races, he also went to the final round last week at Bristol Dragway.

Mopar DSR driver Tommy Johnson Jr. also turned in a valiant effort as he advanced through the elimination rounds, driving his Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T past J.R. Todd in round one to match up with teammate Ron Capps, who won last week at Bristol and is the current points leader. The two raced side-by-side for 1000 feet, with Johnson bettering Capps at the finish line by just .005. Johnson’s day then ended in the semis with the loss to Beckman.

All of the Mopar Funny Car drivers from DSR advanced to at least the second round of the NHRA Nationals.

DSR’s Matt Hagan set a track elapsed-time record in his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T on Friday night to claim the No. 1 qualifying spot during eliminations, making a pass of 3.865 seconds at 333.33 mph. Hagan first bested Jeff Diehl on Sunday, who lost traction at the initial hit of the throttle. It was a lucky round for Hagan, as he had an issue with tire shake and needed to pedal near the finish. He then went out with the loss to Beckman.

Ron Capps and his Dodge Charger R/T team qualified 13th, but still drove past a tire-smoking Jonnie Lindberg in round one before the 2016 champion’s day was ended by Johnson. It was only Capps’ third defeat in the last eight races. He maintained the points lead, however, with a won-loss record on the year of 31-7.

In Top Fuel, HEMI-powered Leah Pritchett made two great initial passes, driving her Papa John’s Pizza/Mopar Pennzoil dragster from DSR past Ike Maier in round one as Maier smoked his tires off the line, then defeated defending Top Fuel champion Antron Brown when he blazed the tires during his run in round two. Pritchett finally bowed out in the semis to No. 1 qualifier and event runner-up Doug Kalitta.

Tony Schumacher and the Mopar U.S. Army Top Fuel team from DSR first knocked out Mike Salinas to earn the right to race against Kalitta, where Schumacher was defeated in the second round after losing traction around the 330-foot mark.

The 11th annual NHRA Nationals were contested under pristine and sunny weather conditions on Saturday and Sunday in front of massive crowds full of die-hard fans. Rain delayed action throughout the day on Friday, but by the evening the skies had cleared enough to get in qualifying in all the Pro categories. Multiple track records were set during the first two qualifying sessions in both Top Fuel and Funny Car.

Mopar/Dodge Notes & Quotes

Pietro Gorlier, Head of Parts and Service (Mopar) FCA – Global
“As the season reaches its halfway point, the success of our Mopar HEMI-powered NHRA Nitro teams continues to roll on. Congratulations to Jack Beckman on winning the NHRA Nationals in his Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T. As our brand continues its 80th anniversary celebration, it will be very fun to see what the second half of the year has in store for our Mopar drivers and teams.”

Jack Beckman, Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 9 Qualifier – 3.971 seconds at 322.04 mph)

Rd. 1: (.050-second reaction time, 4.060 seconds at 319.82 mph) defeated No. 8 Cruz Pedregon (.057/4.180/266.11)
Rd. 2: (.085/4.078/310.84) defeated No. 1 Matt Hagan (.074/4.152/275.06)
Semis: (.049/4.074/319.45) defeated No. 5 Tommy Johnson Jr. (.058/6.049/118.22)
Final: (.060/4.073/311.85) defeated No. 2 Robert Hight (.053/6.673/98.53)

“What happens when you start running consistent is the other cars know that they have to step up a little, and I think that we just enjoyed a little bit of that for the last couple weekends. We weren’t spectacular, but our car went to the finish line pretty consistently and folks knew they had to step up. When I say we weren’t spectacular, I’m talking about a tenth of a second off of where we’d like to be, which is not even a blink of an eye. But we need to pick that up. I have every confidence we will pick that up. If it doesn’t happen tomorrow we’re going to keep testing this thing.

“We want to win some more races and we want to win the championship, which means by Indy we have to have a combination that listens to us. But between now and then they’re giving a trophy away every weekend.”

Leah Pritchett, Papa John’s Pizza/Mopar Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster 
(No. 4 Qualifier – 3.720 seconds at 322.27 mph)

Rd. 1: (.066-second reaction time, 3.760 seconds at 324.12 mph) defeated No. 13 Ike Maier (.117/8.295/105.60)
Rd. 2: (.081/3.848/322.04) defeated No. 5 Antron Brown (.066/5.187/142.16)
Semis: (.081/3.800/314.46) lost to No. 1 Doug Kalitta (.061/3.768/328.62)

“It’s a good way to wrap up the swing. We’re constantly learning with our power. We’re confident we make some of the highest amounts of power in comparison to our competition. Our overall fuel setup still needs some proper fine-tuning. (The crew) is still discovering how to harness that power in heat conditions.

“Everyone’s done a stand-up job. Our parts have held together. Halfway through the season, if I were to give a progress report right now, I would give us a solid A.”

Matt Hagan, Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 1 Qualifier – 3.865 seconds at 333.33 mph)

Rd. 1: (.057-second reaction time,  4.349 seconds at 216.62 mph) defeated No. 16 Jeff Diehl (.139/14.165/61.22)
Rd. 2: (.074/4.152/275.06) lost to No. 9 Jack Beckman (.060/4.073/311.85)

“We couldn’t do anything wrong in qualifying and set the track record. We just did everything right. For some reason race day wasn’t our day. We smoked the tires both laps. We thought we could change and fix some stuff, but race day just wasn’t as kind to us as qualifying was.

“We get a weekend off to let these boys (the crew) recover and rest a little bit. We’ll get back after it in Chicago.”

Tommy Johnson Jr., Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 5 Qualifier – 3.925 seconds at 329.34 mph)

Rd. 1: (.076-second reaction time, 3.942 seconds at 322.34 mph) defeated No. 12 J.R. Todd (.069/4.032/318.69)
Rd. 2: (.055/3.960/324.44) defeated No. 13 Ron Capps (.074/3.965/324.83)
Semis: (.058/6.049/118.22) lost to No. 9 Jack Beckman (.049/4.074/319.45)

“It was a good day; the car was on and running great. We had low E.T. second round and just thought we were really on track, and just out of nowhere smoked the tires. We’ll have to look and find what changed. We didn’t really change anything on the car for it, so something happened and we’ll keep searching. But I’m really happy with the way the car’s running, especially on race day. The guys are doing a great job of racing and that’s what we’ve done over the last few years to get where we were at the end of last season. They’re doing a great job with that and we’ll continue to progress.”

Ron Capps, NAPA Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 13 Qualifier – 4.018 seconds at 321.19 mph)

Rd. 1: (.081-second reaction time, 3.993 seconds at 310.27 mph) defeated No. 4 Jonnie Lindberg (.078/8.596/84.51)
Rd. 2: (.074/3.965/324.83) lost to No. 5 Tommy Johnson Jr. (.055/3.960/324.44)

“I’ve said it time and time again, we could qualify dead last in 16th and I’d still feel like we have as good a chance, if not more, on race day. It’s just how (crew chief Rahn) Tobler and the guys race. We just kept sneaking up on it. You’ve got to look at the silver lining. We lost, but we learned quite a bit about this race car here. We can add to what we learned in Bristol, and I’m very excited about going to Chicago.”

Tony Schumacher, U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
(No. 8 Qualifier – 3.766 seconds at 325.06 mph)

Rd. 1: (.062-second reaction time, 3.789 seconds at 326.56 mph) defeated No. 9 Mike Salinas (.061/7.129/96.03)
Rd. 2: (.064/4.099/323.03) lost to No. 1 Doug Kalitta (.068/3.782/325.85)

“The U.S. Army car went down the track every time until that second-round run. This is a new car and we made six runs and my guys continued making changes to it. Doug (Kalitta) has been running well this weekend and we knew it was going to take our best run to beat him. Unfortunately, that was the first time we really spun the tires that far down the track. We know what is going on. We have to fix what is going on. We have all been frustrated, but we’ve been doing this a long time. We’re halfway through the year and we’ve won championships a lot of different ways. The big picture is still in focus. None of us like to lose. We will figure it out, no matter how hard we have to work at it.”

Mopar/Dodge NHRA Sportsman Spotlight
Hundreds of Sportsman competitors took to the track at Summit Motorsports Park during the NHRA Nationals, with Mopar drivers going deep into the elimination rounds.

Longtime Dodge racer Bob Marshall of Columbus, Ohio, was a standout in Stock Eliminator, advancing his F/SA 1973 Dodge Dart Sport 340 to the fourth round. Marshall’s run was 11.53 seconds at 111.66 mph on an 11.49 dial-in. He got off the line with a .037 reaction time.

Meanwhile in Super Stock, David Turner of Fresno, Ohio, took his original 1970 Dodge HEMI Challenger R/T SS/DA entry to the quarterfinals, where he turned in a run of 9.450 at 140.40 on a 9.42 dial-in with a reaction time of .070. Turner is the Challenger’s second owner, which was turned into a Super Stock car when it was brand new and has less than 100 street miles.

Marshall and Turner each earned the Dodge Top Finisher award during the event. The program is in place at all 24 NHRA national events in 2017 and provides $500 to the Dodge or Plymouth driver advancing the farthest in both the Stock and Super Stock categories.

Next Event
After a one-week break, the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series is back in action on July 6 – 9 at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois, for the 20th annual Route 66 NHRA Nationals.

In 2016, Mopar driver Jack Beckman defeated his teammate Ron Capps in the Funny Car final. Beckman also set the speed record during last year’s race weekend, reaching 322.50 mph. Matt Hagan set the E.T. record in 2016, turning in a 3.882-second pass.

Hagan has won three times at Route 66 Raceway, while Beckman, Capps and Tommy Johnson Jr. all have one Funny Car win there. Mopar-powered Top Fuel driver Tony Schumacher has won in that category five times – the most in history.

The Route 66 NHRA Nationals will be broadcast LIVE on FOX Sports 1. A qualifying show is scheduled for 5 p.m. ET on Saturday, July 8, while elimination rounds will air at 3 p.m. on Sunday, June 9.

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

2017 NHRA Championship — Point Standings After Round 12 of 24
(Season Wins in Parentheses)

NHRA Funny Car
1. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger R/T (5) – 1,095
2. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger R/T (3) – 946
3. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger R/T (2) – 855

4. Robert Hight – 809
5. Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger R/T (1) – 739
6. Courtney Force – 714
7. John Force (1) – 683
8. Tim Wilkerson – 525
9. J.R. Todd – 508
10. Cruz Pedregon – 431

NHRA Top Fuel
1. Steve Torrence (4) – 1,071
2. Leah Pritchett, Mopar HEMI (3) – 1,021
3. Antron Brown (2) – 990
4. Tony Schumacher, Mopar HEMI (1) – 856
5. Doug Kalitta – 781
6. Brittany Force (1) – 734
7. Clay Millican (1) – 695
8. Terry McMillen – 477
9t. Troy Coughlin Jr. – 464
9t. Scott Palmer – 464

*Photo Credit Auto Imagery/Richard Shute