Jack Beckman was three-hundredths of a second away from having in his words “a phenomenal weekend” at the 65th NHRA U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. The driver of Don Schumacher Racing’s (DSR) Mopar-powered Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT Funny Car raced to the Indy final for the third time in his career but came up tantalizingly short of scoring a second U.S. Nationals triumph in NHRA’s signature event.
Beckman continued the run of Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT Funny Cars reaching the final to seven straight events, and 14 of 18 in 2019, and led a brigade of six Mopar-powered machines into eliminations Monday after securing his 25th career No. 1 qualifier. The run to his 60th career final appearance began with a fifth sub-3.9 second run of the weekend in a first-round victory over Justin Schriefer, but his elapsed time wasn’t enough to secure lane choice for his race with Bob Tasca III in the quarterfinals. Beckman leaned on his Dean Antonelli/John Medlen-led team and they delivered with a car that made it down the less-than-desirable right lane with a time of 3.922 seconds to defeat Tasca’s run of 3.943. Next up was the two-time and defending champion J.R. Todd and Beckman powered to victory again in the right lane to push Beckman to his fourth final in 2019.
In the final, Beckman matched up with John Force and he was first to hit the gas. Force drove around the 2012 Funny Car world champion with his pass of 3.919 run to defeat Beckman and his lap of 3.940. The weekend provided Beckman with momentum heading to Countdown where he will start from the fourth position.
For two-time Funny Car world champion Matt Hagan, consistency has been the focus and that continued during the U.S. Nationals. After qualifying the Mopar Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT Widebody Funny Car second in the field, the 2016 U.S. Nationals champion opened his competition with a smooth run of 3.892 seconds to advance over Bob Bode, who wasn’t able to make a full pass. In the quarterfinals, Hagan made another clean pass of 3.939 seconds while his opponent Shawn Langdon went up in smoke. The result moved Hagan into his fourth consecutive semifinal where he faced John Force for the 43rd time in his career. Hagan raced from the right lane and lost traction almost immediately coasting to the finish with a run of 13.019 seconds. Hagan will start the Countdown to the Championship playoffs from the sixth position in Reading.
Ron Capps ventured into “The Big Go” with the single goal of finally tasting Indy glory in his NAPA Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT. The second-winningest Funny Car driver of all-time has been victorious at every stop along the current NHRA tour except for Lucas Oil Raceway. His qualifying efforts provided hope that Monday things would go his way when he earned qualifying points in four of the five sessions and locked into the No. 4 spot. In the first round, he faced off with newcomer Ray Martin where Capps took the early advantage and looked to be on his way to victory until his machine lost traction near half-track and he was forced to give up the run allowing Martin to claim his first professional round win against the 2016 Funny Car world champion. Capps will begin the Countdown to the Championship in the fourth position.
After struggling during the first two days of qualifying, Tommy Johnson, Jr. put the Riley’s Kids Dodge SRT Charger HELLCAT in the field Sunday with a pair of solid runs to grab the No. 10 position for Monday’s eliminations. Unfortunately, in his first-round race with Shawn Langdon, the issues resurfaced when, despite leaving first, his machine overpowered the track and lost traction. Langdon was solid with his run of 3.895 to defeat Johnson, who coasted to a pass of 9.686 seconds at 88.23 mph. Johnson, a two-time 2019 Funny Car winner, will now turn his focus to the Mopar Express Lane NHRA Nationals in Reading where he will continue chasing his first Funny Car championship from the third position in the Countdown standings.
Paul Lee and Cruz Pedregon put their Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT Funny Cars in Monday’s field, but each lost in the first round.
In Top Fuel, Leah Pritchett was looking to follow her victory in Brainerd two weeks ago with a strong performance in the U.S. Nationals. After qualifying the DSR Mopar Dodge//SRT Top Fuel Dragster seventh in the field, she squared off with Shawn Reed in the first round. The two had five previous races with Pritchett winning them all. Pritchett took a starting line advantage, but immediately lost traction, knocked off the blower and coasted to a pass of 20.604 while Reed cruised to victory with his pass of 3.772. Pritchett will start her quest for a championship in two weeks from the seventh position in the Countdown standings.
2019 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Championship – After 18 of 24 Rounds:
(Season Wins in Parentheses)
NHRA Funny Car Points Standings:
1.Robert Hight (5) – 1481
2. John Force (2) – 1376
3. Tommy Johnson, Jr. Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT (2) – 1269
4. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT – 1259
5. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT (3) –1234
6. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT Widebody (2) – 1165
7. 6. Bob Tasca III (2) – 1116
8. J.R. Todd (1) -1095
9. Shawn Langdon (1) – 997
10. Tim Wilkerson – 863
NHRA Top Fuel Point Standings:
1. Steve Torrence (8) – 1742
2. Doug Kalitta (2) – 1184
3. Antron Brown – 1109
4. Brittany Force (1) – 1108
5. Mike Salinas (2) – 1071
6. Clay Millican – 1058
7. Leah Pritchett, Mopar HEMI (1) – 957
8. Austin Prock (1) – 931
9. Richie Crampton (1) – 842
10. Billy Torrence (1) – 819