Tommy Johnson Jr. drove his Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T to the final round at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, leading the charge for all Mopar Dodge//SRT drivers during weekend action at zMAX Dragway near Charlotte, N.C.
Johnson’s Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) teammates and fellow Mopar-powered Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car drivers Jack Beckman and Ron Capps advanced to the second round at zMAX Dragway, with Beckman retaining the points lead heading to Atlanta for the next event.
Johnson, as the No. 3 qualifier, faced and defeated fellow DSR teammate Matt Hagan in his first-round quad to finish in the runner-up position. In the next round, Johnson beat Capps despite his teammate’s advantage off the starting line, once again advancing as the runner-up.
For the final elimination, Johnson was keeping pace until just before the finish line when the tires broke loose, and Cruz Pedregon was able to drive away with the race win.
Beckman, last year’s event runner-up, advanced his Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car out of round one as runner-up. Next up, he faced a tough trio of father/daughter John and Courtney Force, along with Round one winner J.R. Todd. Beckman started skating early in the pass and let off the throttle a little early, with the Force duo taking the round.
Defending NHRA Charlotte Four-Wide event champion Capps was the No. 2 qualifier, earning an impressive six bonus points. Capps moved out front early in the first-round elimination then struck the tires at about the 700-foot mark and pedaled it with enough momentum to pick up the runner-up spot and advance while Robert Hight took the win.In round two Capps was one of several drivers with problems in his quad. He suffered traction problems in lane one and let off the throttle early, with Cruz Pedregon taking the win and DSR teammate Johnson advancing as runner-up.
Three-time zMAX Dragway winner Matt Hagan, driver of the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car, qualified in 11th position. In the first-round elimination Hagan went to the 600-foot mark before the tires started smoking and he had to pedal. When engine issues ended his run, advancement went to Cruz Pedregon and the runner-up spot to DSR teammate Tommy Johnson Jr.
Leah Pritchett, who celebrated her 100th pro race, pulled double duty this weekend, competing in both Top Fuel and the Factory Stock Showdown Series. She struggled with qualifying her Pennzoil/Mopar Dodge Top Fuel Dragster and was ranked 15th. In the first round, Pritchett lost traction and pedaled it as she tried to regain traction but could not recover.
Pritchett had better luck in the Factory Stock Showdown Series, where she drove her HEMI-powered Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak to the top qualifying spot, although bowing out early in round one eliminations.
U.S. Army Mopar-powered DSR driver Tony Schumacher, last year’s Four-Wide Top Fuel runner-up, qualified second, setting his best time of 3.692 seconds in the second qualifying round. DSR teammates Pritchett and Schumacher faced off in side-by-side action against Clay Millican and Dom Lagana in the four-wide first round Top Fuel eliminations. Schumacher had the fastest reaction time out of the gate but lost traction and was unable to hold it down the track to hook up properly. Lagana won the round and Millican took the runner-up spot.
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