Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) teammates Jack Beckman and Ron Capps led the brigade of Dodge//SRT Mopar machines to semifinal finishes in the 19th Annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway in Bristol, Tennessee on Sunday, June 16.
Mopar-powered Dodge//SRT drivers Capps and Beckman now sit fourth and fifth, respectively, in the standings just behind DSR teammate Tommy Johnson, Jr., who currently holds the third position.
“Fast Jack” Beckman and his Infinite Hero Foundation team followed last week’s run to the final in the NHRA Heartland Nationals with another consistent weekend in Bristol. Beckman piloted the Mopar-powered Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT Funny Car to the fourth position in qualifying and envisioned capturing his first Thunder Valley triumph with his strong run in the opening round of eliminations of 3.912 seconds at 326.24 mph to defeat Tim Wilkerson.
In round two, Beckman posted another stout run, a triumphant 4.076 ET over reigning Funny Car champion J.R. Todd. His third consecutive semifinal appearance pitted him against John Force where Beckman’s day ended approximately 60 feet after his launch when he lost traction. He tried to recover, but Force was gone.
Two-time defending Thunder Valley Nationals winner and NAPA Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT Funny Car driver Ron Capps began his run for a third consecutive Father’s Day triumph from the No. 7 position. He began the day by making a smooth run of 4.005 seconds to dispatch Blake Alexander and advance to round two.
Capps faced Shawn Langdon in the second round and used the quickest run of the quarterfinals at 4.039 seconds to capture the victory. With the round win, he faced Bob Tasca III in the semifinal where the two were nearly even off the starting line, but when his machine lost a cylinder near the midway point of the run it drifted near the centerline forcing Capps to end his run.
Johnson earned his position in the top half of Sunday’s field by closing qualifying with an impressive run of 4.003 seconds to grab the eighth position. It marked the second time in the last five events where Johnson and DSR teammate Matt Hagan squared off in round one. Johnson was on the money in this race posting his best run of the weekend, 3.964 ET, to capture his third consecutive win over a slowing Hagan. The momentum from his first-round victory was short-lived as Johnson went up in smoke after the hit against John Force to end his chances of a second victory in three races.
After qualifying the Mopar Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT ninth with his second round qualifying run of 4.012 seconds, two-time World Champion Hagan continued his recent trend of running into fellow DSR and Hellcat Funny Car racers during the early rounds of eliminations. He was paired against Johnson to open eliminations Sunday. Both left the starting line with identical .080-reaction times, but Hagan lost a cylinder near the half-track and his machine pulled hard toward the center line forcing him to take evasive action and his lap of 4.736 wasn’t enough to avoid his fifth consecutive loss against another HELLCAT Funny Car.
In other first-round action with Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT Funny Cars competing, Cruz Pedregon lost to Robert Hight and Jim Campbell was defeated by Tasca.
In Top Fuel, Leah Pritchett scored five bonus points during qualifying aboard the Mopar Dodge Top Fuel dragster and started from the No. 2 position, her best of the season. Pritchett was eyeing her first career triumph at Bristol Dragway and first of the 2019 campaign. In her first-ever race versus Lex Joon, Pritchett left the starting line first but quickly had her hands full trying to pedal her machine down the track. Ultimately, she was able to get her dragster to recover, but not in time to catch Joon.
Up next for Mopar Dodge//SRT drivers and teams is the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio, scheduled for June 20-23. The event concludes a stretch of four consecutive races 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 Matt Hagan will attempt to defend his 2018 event win in the NHRA Funny Car class.
2019 NHRA Championship — Point Standings After Round 11 of 24
(Season Wins in Parentheses)
NHRA Funny Car Points Standings:
1. Robert Hight (4) – 990
2. John Force – 786
3. Tommy Johnson, Jr., Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT (1) – 783
4. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT (2) – 741
5. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT – 720
6. J.R. Todd (1) – 711
7. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT (1) – 624
8. Tim Wilkerson – 587
9. Bob Tasca III (1) – 574
10. Shawn Langdon (1) – 528
NHRA Top Fuel Points Standings:
1. Steve Torrence (5) – 1048
2. Doug Kalitta (1) – 709
3. Antron Brown – 676
4. Mike Salinas (2) – 691
5. Brittany Force (1) –663
6. Clay Millican – 611
7. Leah Pritchett, Mopar HEMI – 571
8. Richie Crampton (1) – 499
9. Austin Prock – 486
10. Terry McMillen – 470