Capps, Schumacher Score NHRA Bristol Wins, Double Up for Mopar Dodge//SRT

  • Ron Capps rumbles to second consecutive NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals win in his Mopar-powered NAPA Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
  • Capps’ victory is fifth consecutive win for a Mopar Dodge Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) Funny Car at Bristol Dragway
  • Mopar-powered U.S. Army Top Fuel driver Tony Schumacher scores record sixth career win at Bristol
  • Victories by Capps and Schumacher are fifth of 2018 for Mopar Dodge//SRT in NHRA Nitro classes
  • Randy Parker, Ed Longhaney claim back-to-back Dodge Top Finisher awards

June 17, 2018,  Auburn Hills, Mich. – It was a Father’s Day to remember for Mopar Dodge//SRT drivers Ron Capps and Tony Schumacher, who raced to victory in the Funny Car and Top Fuel classes, respectively, at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol, Tennessee. Capps’ victory marked the fifth straight for a Mopar Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car driver at Bristol Dragway.

The win by Capps was also the third of 2018 for a Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) Funny Car driver and moved him to fifth in the Funny Car standings. Along with Tony Schumacher’s victory, Mopar Dodge drivers have now claimed five wins in the NHRA Nitro classes this season.

Capps, the Mopar-powered NAPA Dodge Charger R/T pilot, picked up his second consecutive NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals Funny Car Wally and first trophy of the 2018 season. The 2016 world champion defeated John Force, reigning world champ Robert Hight, J.R. Todd and Bob Tasca III on his way to becoming the most decorated Funny Car driver in Bristol Dragway history, with five victories at the picturesque facility.

Both Capps and Force entered the race weekend tied for the most Funny Car wins at Bristol Dragway, with four trophies each. No. 11 starter Capps was quick on the throttle against the veteran driver, launching his Dodge off the starting line in 0.049-seconds and never trailing for the win. Matched up in the quarterfinals against Hight, Capps was machine-like, gaining the holeshot start over his opponent. Hight was able to catch up early in the run, and the veteran drivers battled neck-and-neck until Capps was able to surge ahead and take the win with his 4.208 run.

Capps made a clean pass against Todd in the semifinals, driving right down the groove to take the win and advance to his second final round of the season and second in three races. Capps has now run for the Funny Car trophy 112 times — second only to John Force in Funny Car career final-round appearances.

In the finals, Capps quickly made up a small starting line advantage by Tasca and added to his lead all the way down to the finish stripe. The victory earned him his 58th Funny Car win, 59th overall and a milestone 300th nitro event Wally for DSR.

Mopar-powered U.S. Army Top Fuel driver Schumacher notched the 301st Nitro event win for DSR. He led all DSR drivers in qualifying, racing to the No. 2 spot and earning two bonus points. “The Sarge” opened up against No. 15 Terry McMillen, and used the second quickest run of the first round to advance, then was quickest of the quarterfinal round with a 4.028 ET that knocked out Pat Dakin in a close race, decided by a margin of about five feet.

In the semifinals, Schumacher was first off the starting line with a .064 reaction time against Steve Torrence, and paired it with a 4.038/297.02 run to advance to his 150th final round and third of the season. With lane choice over Mike Salinas, Schumacher once again left first with a near-identical .065 reaction and never trailed. He wrapped up his Father’s Day with a sub-four second, 3.946/313.58 run to seize the first win of the season for the U.S. Army team.

The victory was a record sixth for Schumacher at Bristol, the most of any driver, and also the 84th of his career.

Jack Beckman, a two-time runner-up at Bristol Dragway, including at last year’s event, was quickest of the four-car DSR Funny Car squad in qualifying, posting his Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T seventh. An event winner earlier this year at the NHRA Gatornationals, Beckman opened Sunday with a victory over Shawn Langdon, using a .055 reaction time to jump to a lead he would not relinquish.

Beckman waged a tight race against the higher-qualified No. 2 qualifier Todd in the second round, with both drivers making clean, solid runs down the hot dragstrip. Beckman trailed slightly off the starting line and stayed within striking distance, but the 2012 Funny Car World Champ was unable to reel in Todd.

Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T pilot Tommy Johnson Jr. banked four bonus points during qualifying, earning a berth in the top half of the field in the No. 8 spot. The Ottumwa, Iowa, native entered Sunday gunning for his third win in the last five years at Bristol and was matched up in round one against Matt Hagan in a battle of Mopar-powered DSR Funny Cars. Johnson trailed slightly at the start but sailed solidly down the strip to collect the round win after Hagan smoked the tires.

Hoping for another even-year Bristol victory (his previous wins at the venue came in 2014 and 2016), Johnson lacked lane choice in the quarterfinals against pole-sitter Courtney Force. He put a cylinder out shortly after launch and encountered more trouble before shutting it down, as Force pulled away for the win.

Two-time Funny Car World Champion Hagan started from the No. 9 position in his Shell ROTELLA/Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T, after wrapping up qualifying on Saturday evening with a final 4.188-pass that was quickest of the session, earning the DSR driver three bonus points. The 2015 NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals event champ faced off with teammate Johnson in the first round. Hagan left the starting line first, but lost traction at about the 200-foot mark and was on-and-off the throttle before he was forced to back off, while Johnson’s clean pass moved him on to the next round.

Leah Pritchett’s schedule was a full one at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, as she juggled duties in the seats of both her Papa John’s Pizza/FireAde/Mopar Dodge Top Fuel dragster and a Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak in the NHRA Factory Stock Showdown class.

Pritchett, the 2017 event runner-up in Top Fuel at Bristol, drew Mike Salinas in round one after qualifying ninth. The two drivers had just one previous meeting, with Pritchett emerging the victor, but on Sunday at Bristol Dragway Salinas was able to even the score against the six-time Top Fuel winner. Both cars dropped cylinders, and both drivers stayed in it, but Pritchett’s machine encountered problems first and she was unable to catch up to her opponent.

Mopar Dodge//SRT NHRA Sportsman Spotlight
In NHRA Factory Stock Showdown competition, Joe Welch qualified No. 2 in his 2015 Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak and drove to the event win at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals. Welch’s 8.275/164.67 run in the final round knocked out Arthur Kohn to earn his first NHRA National event win.

Mopar Dodge Top Fuel driver Pritchett’s busy Bristol weekend included a round one Factory Stock win in her 354-cubic-inch HEMI engine-powered Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak. After qualifying 13th in the stacked 24-car field, the Mopar-powered driver raced to victory over Leonard Libersher to open eliminations, but fell to Kohn in a close side-by-side race in round two. Pritchett left first with a .030 reaction time, but Kohn just edged out her 8.330/165.46 effort at the stripe with a winning margin of approximately three inches.

After struggling to hit on the right combination in his Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak at the first two NHRA Factory Stock events, longtime Mopar driver Allen Johnson raced to a qualifying spot in the top half of the field before his home crowd at Bristol Dragway. The Tennessee native qualified No. 7 in making his first Factory Stock eliminations field, before falling in round one to Bill Skillman.

Pritchett’s DSR teammate, Mark Pawuk, made his Factory Stock Showdown debut at Bristol. Pawuk posted a best qualifying attempt of 8.756 seconds in his Mopar Dodge Drag Pak but was unable to crack the top 16 and advance to the elimination rounds.

For the second race in a row, Randy Parker of Four Oaks, North Carolina, was the Dodge Top Finisher winner in Stock Eliminator. Parker drove his I/SA 1980 Dodge Mirada, powered by a Mopar 360 cubic-inch small block through two rounds of competition at Bristol.

Like Parker, Mopar Sportsman Racer Ed Longhaney from Wade, North Carolina, repeated as Dodge Top Finisher in Super Stock, after also winning the award last week at the NHRA Richmond event. Driving his fast and consistent SS/KA 1974 Plymouth Duster 360, Longhaney raced through six rounds of competition to reach the final round and earn a runner-up spot in the highly competitive Super Stock class.

The Dodge Top Finisher award, now in its second year, awards $500 to the Stock Eliminator and Super Stock drivers who advance the furthest behind the wheel of a Mopar-powered Dodge, Chrysler, or Plymouth race car. The honor is awarded in both Sportsman categories at all 24 NHRA national events.

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

Pietro Gorlier, Head of Parts and Service (Mopar), FCA
“The wins by Ron Capps and Tony Schumacher this weekend at Bristol reinforce the successful combination of Mopar and Dodge//SRT in NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series competition. We look forward to carrying this momentum into the NHRA event in Norwalk next weekend.”

Steve Beahm, Head of Passenger Cars, Dodge//SRT, Chrysler and FIAT, FCA North America
“Congratulations to Ron Capps and Tony Schumacher on their victories this weekend at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals. Teamwork at the dragstrip between Dodge//SRT and Mopar has yielded multiple wins for our brands, and we feel we’re just getting started.”

Ron Capps, NAPA Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 11 Qualifier – 4.193 ET)

Rd.1: (.049-second reaction time, 4.243 seconds at 296.37 mph) beat No. 6 John Force (.073/5.824/128.57)
Rd.2: (.057/4.208/299.33) beat No. 3 Robert Hight (.073/4.233/300.73)
Rd.3: (.049/4.242/298.93) beat No. 2 J.R. Todd (.034/4.372/285.65)
Rd.4: (.061/4.234/296.37) beat No. 4 Bob Tasca III (.056/4.300/286.98)

“(Crew chief) Rahn Tobler looked so down on himself (on Saturday morning). We didn’t run well the night before, and he just had that look. Those are the times you have to play cheerleader, and that’s what I think my job is. I said, ‘Tobler, you’re going to find it today. Today is going to be like tomorrow (Sunday). You were the bar for the last three years. You were the one who went out and made other crew chiefs want to retire in these hot conditions,’ and he did. He found that clutch disc problem and away we went.”

On his first-round match against John Force:

“That’s a final round matchup. It’s a matchup for a championship, it always is. We didn’t have lane choice, we’re running John Force, and someone had just spilled oil in that lane, but typical Rahn Tobler, he put it right down the track, over the bump and it was just on a great run and set the tone for the rest of the day.”

Tony Schumacher, U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
(No. 2 Qualifier – 3.830 ET)

Rd.1: (.079-second reaction time, 3.917 seconds at 316.82 mph) beat No. 15 Terry McMillen (.080/5.112/141.40)
Rd.2: (.090/4.028/288.64) beat No. 10 Pat Dakin (.088/4.041/298.14)
Rd.3: (.064/4.038/297.02) beat No. 6 Steve Torrence (.083/4.104/254.04)
Rd.4: (.065/3.946/313.58) beat No. 8 Mike Salinas (.093/5.251/152.18)

“(Crew chief) Mike (Neff) was telling me to get the fact it’s my 150th final round and his first (Top Fuel event win) out of my head, to just do what I do, get a 60 light, go down the racetrack, keep it in the middle and pull the parachutes. We’ve been in 150 final rounds, and people are going to win some of those against us. When you race in the final round, you have to be calm, relaxed, do your job and get that win. We try to be the best we can, try to be a machine and just replicate what we do best. I was definitely prepared to do my best on that last run today because he had run very, very close to us. I didn’t expect it to be an easy round by any means. So, great job for the Army team. It was Father’s Day, which makes it a big moment day and those are the kinds we’ve been the best at over the years.”

Leah Pritchett, Papa John’s Pizza/FireAde/Mopar Dodge Top Fuel Dragster
(No. 9 Qualifier – 4.001 ET)

Rd.1: (.092-second reaction time, 4.011 seconds at 287.72 mph) lost to No. 9 Mike Salinas (.062/4.023/295.53)

“We definitely felt hopeful – felt good – going into today after finishing with a strong qualifying effort. It’s been a little while since we’ve been the first pair out. There’s no sugar coating it at all. The numbers don’t lie. I was the weak link within our team and I wasn’t able to get to the finish line first. (Mike) Salinas had a jump on me out of the gate. I’ve been struggling with my reaction times all over the board and this weekend it got us.

“Our car was there. It was the quicker car in the best conditions of the day. When something happens with the car or the team, what I love the most about it is, whatever goes wrong or if we have a situation, someone takes responsibility for it and I take responsibility for this one. But, I tell you what, it’s not going to be pretty for whoever I line up against first at Norwalk. These things sting and I’m going to find my way around it and over it. Already, we’re moving on to Norwalk. It’s unfortunate for my team. They don’t deserve that. It’s a learning process and I’ll never stop learning.”

Matt Hagan, Shell ROTELLA/Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T
(No. 9 Qualifier – 4.188 ET)

Rd.1: (.071-second reaction time, 5.381 seconds at 142.06 mph) lost to No. 8 Tommy Johnson Jr. (.093/4.253/291.26)

“It’s super-hot and we’re just trying to negotiate the race track. We had a blower belt break on Friday night and I think that kind of set the tone for qualifying and put us in the back side of the field. Not having lane choice going into race day was tough. Dealing with the track that’s out there, we’re pushing pretty hard to run some numbers, but it’s one of those things where we’re still learning these hot conditions. The race track is 140-degrees and we haven’t seen stuff like that. We’re learning as we go. Obviously, everyone wants results, but sometimes you just have to be patient and let it come to you.”

Jack Beckman, Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 7 Qualifier – 4.130 ET)

Rd.1: (.055-second reaction time, 4.283 seconds at 281.30 mph) beat No. 10 Shawn Langdon (.072/4.569/266.37)
Rd.2: (.082/4.333/277.49) lost to No. 2 J.R. Todd (.078/4.203/295.92)

“We’re better than a second-round car. We’ve got the best parts, we’ve got great people. What we have right now is an issue – we have a new chassis, we have a new clutch, and we have a different race track prep, with no data on any of the three. We’re racing while we’re collecting data, so we’re actually not doing a bad job of accruing points, and we’re going to get this Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger pointed in the right direction. The whole deal with this (series) is the first 18 races, you want to get some trophies. The championship will be decided in the last six, and I feel like we’re headed in the right direction to accomplish that.”

Tommy Johnson Jr., Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 8 Qualifier – 4.167 ET)

Rd.1: (.093-second reaction time, 4.253 seconds at 291.26 mph) beat No. 9 Matt Hagan (.071/5.381/142.06)
Rd.2: (.076/5.139/158.45) lost to No. 1 Courtney Force (.066/4.197/298.14)

“I thought we were running really well this weekend and had a car that would go down the racetrack, so I felt good about our chances. It’s unfortunate, we had a piston break at the hit of the throttle in the second round that cost us. But with the warm track conditions, I thought we had a really good setup. If the conditions are anywhere similar in Norwalk, I think we have a good shot at getting ourselves a win. We’re doing everything right to put ourselves in position to go rounds on Sunday, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Up Next: Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals 
Up next for Mopar Dodge//SRT drivers and teams is the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio, scheduled for June 21-24. The stop is the final race in a grueling stretch of four consecutive events for NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series competitors. Mopar Dodge driver Leah Pritchett will once again pull double duty in the Top Fuel and Factory Stock Showdown classes, while Jack Beckman will attempt to defend his 2017 event win in the NHRA Funny Car class.

Dodge Garage: New Digital Hub for Drag Racing News
Fans now have a new 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.

2018 NHRA Championship — Point Standings After Round 11 of 24
(Season Wins in Parentheses)

NHRA Funny Car
1.  Courtney Force — 937
2.  Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger R/T (1) — 736
3.  Robert Hight — 717
4.  J.R. Todd  — 694
5.  Ron Capps, Dodge Charger R/T (1) — 693
6.  Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger R/T (1) — 669
7.  Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger R/T — 606

8.  Cruz Pedregon — 508
9.  John Force — 502
10. Bob Tasca III — 500

NHRA Top Fuel
1.   Steve Torrence – 896
2.   Clay Millican — 786
3.   Tony Schumacher, Mopar Dodge HEMI (1) — 760
4.   Doug Kalitta — 717
5.   Leah Pritchett, Mopar Dodge HEMI (1) — 663
6.   Antron Brown — 588
7t.   Brittany Force — 552
7t.   Terry McMillen — 552
9.   Scott Palmer — 461
10. Mike Salinas — 421