Mopar-powered Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT Funny Car driver Tommy Johnson, Jr. raced to a runner-up finish Sunday in the Four-Wide NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and ranks third in the NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car championship standings after the fourth of 24 2019 national events.
Johnson, who was competing in the 450th professional event of his career, charged his way to his first final of the season behind the wheel of the Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT Funny Car, but his final run of 3.975 seconds at 313.29 mph wasn’t enough to defeat reigning NHRA Funny Car world champion J.R. Todd. Fellow DSR and Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT driver Jack Beckman advanced to the final elimination quad and finished third behind Todd and Johnson. Matt Hagan and Ron Capps were also Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT drivers that raced past the first round. Leah Pritchett qualified the Mopar Dodge Top Fuel dragster fourth, but she was unable to advance past the opening round.
The run to his sixth career final appearance began with Johnson turning the fastest pass in his first round quad to advance to a loaded second round quad where he was joined by DSR teammates Beckman and Capps as well as 16-time world champion John Force. In the second round, Johnson was first off the line with his .058 reaction time and he never trailed posting a pass of 3.994 to reach the 49th final of his career and second consecutive Vegas Four-Wide Nationals final.
Beckman, who defeated Johnson at “The Strip” in 2006 to earn his first career Funny Car Wally, followed Force to the finish line in his first quad driving his DSR Infinite Hero Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT before coming home second behind Johnson in the second quad to reach his second final of the season. The run to the final pushed Beckman up to second in the championship standings.
Hagan’s bid to capture his second victory of 2019 came up short in the second round. After qualifying the DSR Pennzoil/Mopar Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT Funny Car fifth, the two-time Funny Car world champion raced to an opening round win with his pass of 4.073/288.03 to defeat Todd, Gary Densham, and Jim Campbell. In the second round, Hagan posted an impressive lap of 4.017 but lost on a holeshot to Todd. Hagan heads to the Mopar Express Lane NHRA Spring Nationals ranking fifth in the Funny Car standings.
Capps started from the second position Sunday in the DSR NAPA Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT and followed Johnson to the second round quad with his run of 4.280. Despite making a solid run of 4.037, he wasn’t able to race past Johnson or Beckman to advance to the final.
Cruz Pedregon had lane choice as a result of his best qualifying positions of the season but lost to John Force and Beckman in the first round quad. Jim Campbell was the sixth Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT Funny Car driver in competition Sunday and was defeated by Hagan and Todd in round one.
In Top Fuel, Pritchett entered the fourth race of the season second in the championship standings and seeking her first Las Vegas triumph. With three qualifying-point earning runs to begin the weekend, she positioned herself to close the gap during eliminations. Unfortunately, Pritchett’s Dodge Mopar Top Fuel dragster lost traction almost immediately in lane three during the opening quad. While watching Clay Millican and Terry Totten made clean runs down the track in front of her, Pritchett coasted to the finish with a lap of 6.768 seconds at 114.02 mph. Pritchett heads to Houston next week fourth in the Top Fuel championship standings.
2019 NHRA Championship — Point Standings After Round 4 of 24
(Season Wins in Parentheses)
NHRA Funny Car
1. Robert Hight (2) – 363
2. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT – 297
3. Tommy Johnson, Jr., Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT – 283
4. J.R. Todd (1) – 280
5. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT (1) – 271
6. John Force – 258
7. Tim Wilkerson – 246
8. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT – 205
9. Bob Tasca III – 198
10. Cruz Pedgregon, Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT – 179
NHRA Top Fuel
1. Doug Kalitta (1) – 319
2. Mike Salinas (1) – 286
3. Steve Torrence – 256
4. Leah Pritchett, Mopar HEMI – 244
5. Richie Crampton (1) – 233
6t. Billy Torrence (1) – 231
6t. Clay Millican – 231
8. Brittany Force – 224
9. Terry McMillen – 198
10. Antron Brown – 184