Jack Beckman raced to victory in an all-Mopar Dodge//SRT Funny Car final round matchup with teammate Tommy Johnson Jr., at the NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, Minnesota, taking his second win of the season and the seventh of the year for a Mopar-powered Dodge//SRT Funny Car driver.
Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) driver Beckman’s triumph is the 28th of his career in 56 final rounds, and his first at Brainerd International Raceway. Both Beckman and Johnson clinched spots in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs during the weekend, meaning all six DSR Mopar Dodge//SRT drivers in Funny Car and Top Fuel have earned berths with one race to spare before the start of the six-race playoffs in mid-September. Mopar Dodge//SRT competitors have now combined for 10 wins this season in the NHRA Funny Car and Top Fuel classes.
The Infinite Hero Dodge driver’s road to the final was anything but easy after starting in the bottom half of the field at No. 14. First up was Mopar DSR teammate and three-time 2018 event winner Matt Hagan, who Beckman was able to defeat with a 4.044-second elapsed time (ET) at 312.64 mph despite dealing with a dropped cylinder. In the 650th round of his career, Beckman’s 3.980 run knocked out Shawn Langdon in the quarterfinals. It wasn’t enough to earn the 2012 Funny Car champion lane choice in the semifinals against points leader Courtney Force, but Beckman used a slight starting line advantage and 3.968/325.14 pass to take down Force and advance to the all-Mopar Dodge final against Johnson.
Beckman’s third career final round appearance at Brainerd was a charm, as a sharp .027 reaction time off the starting line paired with his quickest run of race day, 3.961 at 325.69 mph, propelled “Fast” Jack to his first winner’s circle celebration at Brainerd. Beckman’s other win of 2018 came back in March at the NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida. The final-round appearance was Beckman’s third of the 2018 season.
Johnson, last year’s Brainerd Funny Car runner-up, was looking to take it one step further and finish Sunday in the BIR winner’s circle for the second time in his career. Behind the wheel of his Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T, Johnson started race day from the fifth spot, knocking out Del Worsham in round one. Against Tim Wilkerson in round two, Johnson and the John Collins-led team threw down a monster 3.937-second pass which held up to be low E.T. of race day and earned the team a spot in the semifinals for the third time in three races.
Versus semifinal opponent J.R. Todd, Johnson was out of the gate first and never trailed for the win, setting up the all-DSR matchup in the finals against Beckman. Although his losing 4.031/319.67 mark in the final was not enough to end the day with the Wally trophy, Johnson clinched his Countdown to the Championship playoff berth on Sunday.
Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT driver Hagan, a three-time event winner this season, entered eliminations on Sunday searching for his first career win at Brainerd International Raceway. Hagan, starting solidly in the top half of the field in the No. 3 spot, drew DSR teammate Beckman in a matchup of Mopar HEMI machines. Both drivers dropped a cylinder, but Hagan’s Dodge was unable to match Beckman’s quicker and faster pass, keeping a Brainerd win as one of the few “to-do” items on the two-time Funny Car champion’s bucket list.
Mopar Dodge Top Fuel driver Leah Pritchett, who took the top qualifier spot and event win in 2017 at Brainerd, started Sunday from the No. 8 position. Pritchett, runner-up in the most recent NHRA stop at Seattle and a two-time event winner this year, lined up in the first round against No. 9 qualifier Scott Palmer. The DSR driver’s hopes for a deep eliminations run ended when her dragster smoked the tires, with Palmer earning the win.
Fresh off of his 60th NHRA win and three consecutive final round appearances, Ron Capps entered Brainerd seeking his sixth title at the Minnesota track. Capps’ dominance continued in qualifying, earning the No. 2 spot in his Mopar-powered NAPA Dodge. In round one, Capps had the advantage at the starting line and held the lead over Jonnie Lindberg until just past halftrack when his car made a hard move toward the centerline followed by an engine malfunction, allowing Lindberg to claim the round win. Capps remains second in the standings.
Tony Schumacher, “The Sarge,” qualified No. 7 in his HEMI-engine fueled U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster and knocked off Terry McMillen in round one. The eight-time Top Fuel champion clocked a quick 3.771 run in the quarterfinals, but was edged out at the finish stripe on a holeshot loss to Steve Torrence by a margin of about six inches.
|POSITION||DRIVER||POINTS||POINTS BEHIND LEADER||VEHICLE|
|01||Steve Torrence||1251||0||Capco Racing/Torrence Motorsports|
|02||Tony Schumacher||1090||-161||U.S. Army Dragster|
|03||Clay Millican||1084||-167||Parts Plus/ Great Clips/ UNOH dragster|
|04||Leah Pritchett||1083||-168||Papa John’s Dragster|
|05||Doug Kalitta||995||-256||Mac Tools Dragster|
|06||Antron Brown||927||-324||Matco Tools Dragster|
|07||Terry McMillen||759||-492||Amalie Motor Oil Dragster|
|08||Brittany Force||731||-520||Monster Energy Top Fuel Dragster|
|09||Richie Crampton||660||-591||Kalitta Air/DHL dragster|
|10||Scott Palmer||649||-602||CatSpot/Tommy Thompson Motorsports|
|POSITION||DRIVER||POINTS||POINTS BEHIND LEADER||VEHICLE|
|01||Courtney Force||1300||0||Advance Auto Parts Chevy Camaro SS|
|02||Ron Capps||1146||-154||NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T|
|03||Robert Hight||1085||-215||Auto Club Chevy Camaro SS|
|04||Matt Hagan||1064||-236||Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT|
|05||Jack Beckman||999||-301||Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T|
|06||J.R. Todd||914||-386||DHL Toyota Camry|
|07||Tommy Johnson Jr||892||-408||Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T|
|08||John Force||824||-476||PEAK Chevrolet Camaro SS|
|09||Shawn Langdon||736||-564||Global Electronic Technology Toyota|
|10||Bob Tasca III||691||-609||AutoAlert Shelby Mustang|
Clinched playoff berth
Source: Mopar and NHRA