Jack Beckman advanced to his third final round of the season and 59th of his career, finishing runner-up in his Dodge//SRT Mopar machine in the 13th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio. At the halfway point of the 2019 season, Dodge//SRT Mopar drivers own three of the top five positions in the Funny Car standings.
“Fast Jack” and his Infinite Hero Foundation team closed out an impressive four-race stretch, reaching the semifinals all four races, making two final rounds and climbing from seventh to fourth in the standings. Beckman wasn’t the only Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) driver to make a deep run Sunday. Tommy Johnson, Jr. powered his Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT Funny Car to the semifinals for the sixth time this season and Leah Pritchett turned on a pair of win lights in her HEMI-powered Top Fuel dragster.
Beckman’s quest for a fourth Norwalk triumph opened with a pass of 3.950 seconds, the second-fastest run of the first round, to defeat Jonnie Lindberg. After dispatching Shawn Langdon with a solid run in round two, it was an all-DSR/Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT battle in the semifinals with Beckman and Johnson. The 2012 Funny Car world champion did lose traction about the half track, but he kept his machine going down the track to defeat Johnson, who lost traction immediately and reach his fourth career final at Summit Motorsports Park.
In the final, Beckman was up in smoke at the hit of the throttle and Bob Tasca III raced away for the win.
Before Johnson’s day ended abruptly versus Beckman in the semifinal round, he continued his dominance over Tim Wilkerson with a run of 4.288/215.62 to advance and face fellow DSR and HELLCAT teammate Capps in round two. Johnson was clean from start to finish clocking a run of 4.058 and was never challenged by the No. 1 qualifier who lost traction at the hit.
After qualifying second for the second consecutive event, Pritchett was focused on advancing past the first round for the first time in six races. She accomplished that mission by chasing down Luigi Novelli with her run of 3.807/327.11. It took the best run of the second round, 3.821, for Pritchett to knock out three-time Top Fuel world champion Antron Brown. In the semifinal round, Pritchett went up in smoke at the launch and she wasn’t able to recover and lost to Pat Dakin.
After earning his first No. 1 qualifier and 23rd of his career, 2016 Funny Car world champion Capps opened the competition with a smooth run of 3.961/318.69 in his Pennzoil-backed Mopar Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT to dispatch Bob Bode in round one. His run for a second Norwalk triumph came to an end when he lost traction at the hit and was forced to watch DSR teammate Johnson drive to victory.
Two-time Funny Car world champion and 2018 Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals winner Matt Hagan qualified the Sandvik Coromant Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT 11th and was eyeing a strong finish to the four-race stretch. Hagan faced last week’s winner Bob Tasca III in the opening round and he uncharacteristically stood on the gas prematurely and activated the red light to automatically hand the victory to Tasca.
In other first-round action with Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT Funny Cars competing, Cruz Pedregon lost to John Force and Dale Creasy was defeated by fellow HELLCAT competitor Paul Lee, who also fell to Tasca.
In Factory Stock Showdown, Leah Pritchett raced the DSR Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak to the 13th position in the 16-car field at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals. The reigning FSS champion took on Bill Skillman in the first round and Pritchett had the early advantage with her .036-second reaction time. Skillman drove around her with his pass of 7.919/172.72. Pritchett’s run of 8.047/171.60 wasn’t enough to score the round win.
With next week off, the Mopar Dodge//SRT Top Fuel, Funny Car and Sportsman drivers and teams will head to the East Coast for the New England NHRA Nationals in Epping, New Hampshire, scheduled for July 5th to 7th. Mopar-powered Dodge drivers Matt Hagan (2017, 2018) and Ron Capps (2014, 2016) have won the Funny Car Wally four of the last five years.
2019 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Championship After Round 12 of 24
(Season Wins in Parentheses)
NHRA Funny Car Points Standings:
1. Robert Hight (4) – 1,022
2. John Force – 869
3. Tommy Johnson, Jr., Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT (1) – 856
4. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT – 819
5. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT (2) – 809
6. J.R. Todd (1) – 764
7. Bob Tasca III (1) – 689
8. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT (1) – 656
9. Tim Wilkerson – 619
10. Shawn Langdon (1) – 580
NHRA Top Fuel Points Standings:
1. Steve Torrence (6) – 1164
2. Doug Kalitta (1) – 760
3. Brittany Force (1) –744
4. Antron Brown – 733
5. Mike Salinas (2) – 732
6. Leah Pritchett, Mopar Dodge – 651
7. Clay Millican – 649
8. Richie Crampton (1) – 532
9. Terry McMillen – 524
10. Austin Prock – 518