On Saturday, the British Drag Racing Hall of Fame (BDRHoF) announced it is presenting the 2015 Lucas Oil Global Achievement award to Mopar.
The award, which will be awarded at the Hall of Fame’s Gala Awards Dinner on November 21, honors the role the Hemi V8 has played in drag racing.
Les Downey, Managing Director and Director of European Operations of Lucas Oil Products UK, said “… there can be few more worthy of receiving the trophy than the Mopar brand; not just for the Hemi V8 engine, but for their constant involvement and support of drag racing. Within the world of drag racing we know the heritage and the tremendous impact that Mopar and the Hemi V8 have had on our sport.”
Introduced last year, the Global Achievement Award is presented to a person, team, company or institution that has had a global impact on drag racing. It is not presented every year, but when, in the opinion of the judges, recognition is merited. Last year, the trophy went to the legendary Don Garlits, known for his use of Hemi engines beginning with a 331 CID Chrysler engine the first “Swamp Rat” in 1957.
The award bears the inscription “To The Memory of Pat Garlits” on its base, a tribute to Don Garlits’ wife, who passed away last year.
Thanks to Mike L’Alouette for the tip and Eurodragster.com for the details.
ARCA: Kyle Weatherman captured the checkered flag in the ARCA 150 that ran Sunday at New Jersey Motorsports Park, Millville, New Jersey.
Driving the No. 22 Cunningham Motorsports Dodge, the Wentzville, Missouri native picked up his career-first ARCA win in spite of going into the dirt after a restart and stalling trying to get off pit road.
He led the last five laps of the race, edging out Cunningham Motorsports teammate Tom Hessert and the No. 77 Barbera Autoland Dodge.
The Cunningham Motorsports team gave Dodge a rare 1-2 finish in ARCA NASCAR-style racing.
“We’ve been fast everywhere we’ve been this year, we just haven’t had the good luck on our side,” said Weatherman, who was also making his career-first road course start. “Finally, to have good luck on our side and to get the victory here is just amazing.”
Bo LeMastus finished 12th, two laps off the lead, in the No. 42 Crosley Brands-T&T Construction-Glad Precision Dodge. Bobby Hamilton Jr. finished 13th in the No. 97 Nitroforce Industries Titan 1000 Dodge.
Three Dodges were DNF: Scott Edwards had engine trouble with the No. 40 Carter 2 Motorsports Dodge and had to retire after 50 laps; Emerson Newton-John only got 12 laps out of the No. 95 Carter 2 Motorsports Dodge before carburetor problems forced him out and Robert Mitten was in an accident in the No. 53 Torriere Racing Dodge and was out after seven laps.
Formula 1: Sebastian Vettel was the runner-up in Sunday’s running of the Monaco Grand Prix, thanks to a bad call by Lewis Hamilton’s crew.
“Today we took everything we could and it is nice to end up in second place,” said Vettel. “I tried to be aggressive on the start, but I couldn’t get the second position straight away. We had a good pace and we put the Mercedes under pressure, closing the gap on the pit stop and not letting them get away at any point, but obviously it was not enough.”
Hamilton had a more than 25-second lead over his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg and Vettel in the Ferrari SF15-T when he was called in for a tire change during a caution. Neither Rosberg nor Vettel stopped for tires and they finished 1-2. This is the third consecutive Monaco victory for Rosberg.
“I can’t express how I feel right now so I won’t attempt to,” Hamilton said after the race.
Mercedes Formula One team boss Toto Wolff publicly apologized for the call, “What a crazy day. I don’t think there has ever been a more bittersweet feeling than this one. We have won the Monaco Grand Prix and we have lost the Monaco Grand Prix all at the same time. First of all, we must apologize to Lewis. We win and we lose together and what I am proud of in this team is that we take collective responsibility. But this is a day when we simply have to say sorry to our driver, because our mistake cost him the victory here.”
Kimi Räikkönen finished sixth in the second Ferrari.
Ferrari drivers have now been on the podium in every race in the 2015 Formula One season. Vettel and Räikkönen are third and fourth in the F1 driver standings behind Hamilton and Rosberg.
Trans Am TA2: In Round Four of the Muscle Car Challenge that ran Saturday at Lime Rock, Cameron Lawrence was running at the head of the pack, sometimes in the lead; always in the top three, for most of the race. On lap 49, Tony Ave, driving the No. 70 Lamers Motor Racing Ford Mustang, was running in third when he made a move on Lawrence’s No. 1 Mopar Dodge Challenger going into turn one. The cars made contact, which track officials determined was a racing incident, and Lawrence got knocked off the course and back to 14th position. He wound up finishing tenth. Ave went on to win the race.
Joe Stevens, in the No. 11 Mopar Dodge Challenger, finished 13th.
Lawrence remains in first place in the standings, having won all three prior events in the 2015 season.
Sunday evening, Jack Beckman picked up his second Fuel Funny Car Nationals title at Heartland Park in Topeka, Kansas.
With the win, Beckman and fellow Don Schumacher Racing Dodge Charger drivers Ron Capps and Matt Hagan have each won two Wallys. DSR and Dodge now have six wins in eight events in the 2015 Mello Yello NHRA drag racing season. This was also the 250th win for Don Schumacher Racing.
Capps, Hagan and Beckman are now first, second and third in the driver standings.
In addition to the win, Beckman lived up to his “Fast Jack” nickname, becoming the first driver in Fuel Funny Car history to have four consecutive passes under four seconds.
“We did not have a good weekend of racing, we had an incredible weekend of racing,” Beckman said. “I thought we had a car that that nobody could touch.”
After starting the day at No. 6 in the order, Beckman eliminated Courtney Force, who won at Topeka last year and set a national speed record yesterday, but was only quick enough to qualify 11th. In the quarterfinals, it was Charger vs. Charger as Beckman was matched up with John Hale in the Jim Dunn ALO Drink Dodge. The race was over before it started when Hale’s car had a blower problem and was unable to make the pass. Beckman, in the meantime, posted a career-best ET of 3.972 seconds.
Beckman faced Del Worsham in the semifinals. The race was a pedalfest, but Beckman was able to get control and tripped the lights 55 feet in front of Worsham.
In the final round, Beckman and the Infinite Hero Dodge Charger were up against John Force and the Peak Anti-Freeze & Coolant Chevy Camaro. Force had already eliminated Tommy Johnson Jr., Ron Capps and Matt Hagan. Jack Beckman got a slightly quicker start and posted yet one more sub-four-second ET of 3.984 at 316.45 mph, crossing the line about 11 feet ahead of Force who was faster, at 324.51 mph, but 0.0223 seconds behind Beckman with a 4.002-second ET.
Matt Hagan had a good run right up until his semifinal round race with Force. In the opening round, he ended Robert Hight’s race day with a clean pass while Hight went up in smoke. In the quarterfinals, Hagan bumped off top qualifier Chad Head, who set a track record ET on Friday. Hagan had the early lead in his semifinals race with Force but had to drop back while Force made the best pass of his career to win the round.
Ron Capps beat Brian Stewart in the opening round but lost traction about halfway down the track in his quarterfinals match with Force.
In Pro Stock, Allen Johnson was eliminated in the opening round when problems robbed power from the Team Mopar Dart. Johnson was slower off the line and never could catch Vincent Nobile.
“We made some real good progress all weekend,” said Johnson. “The weather changed today and we just miscalculated. We had a misfire again that’s been plaguing us, but every time we encounter it we learn, so we won’t encounter it again in the same condition.”
V. Gaines pulled off a bit of an upset by eliminating Jason Line, who has been a contender for the Pro Stock points lead all season. Gaines made a clean pass while Line had trouble and had to give up on the run. Gaines eliminated himself with a red light in the quarterfinals. Making it to the second round bumped Gaines up to No. 12 in the standings.
Erica Enders was the Pro Stock winner and is the current leader in the class.
It was a Sunday of close but no cigar for Dodges in NHRA, NASCAR/Canadian Tire Series and ARCA competition.
At the NHRA Southern Nationals in Atlanta, Ron Capps made it all the way to the Fuel Funny Car finals, where he lost to Tim Wilkerson who hasn’t won a Wally since Seattle in 2011.
With the track temperature on the Atlanta Dragway tarmac getting up to a toasty 129 degrees, traction was once again an issue and there weren’t any speed records in danger. Wilkerson made the quickest run of every elimination round and his final-round ET was 4.318 seconds. Capps hazed the tires and posted a disappointing ET of 5.781 seconds.
“Sure, we want to want; we expect to win,” said Capps. “But when you take a step back and look to see, it was a great weekend for our Dodge. It was a great team effort with great job by (Crew Chief Rahn) Tobler and all the guys. This was much like when we looked at the ladders before we won at Gainesville and Houston this year and the guys we had to beat were some of the best out here.”
Capps was pitted against teammate Matt Hagan in the semifinals and got an easy pass when Hagan went up in smoke at the start.
All the Don Schumacher drivers survived the opening round, but John Hale, in the ALO Drink Dodge Charger, was eliminated by Cruz Pedregon, the top qualifier in Funny Car this weekend.
In the quarterfinals, Capps was first off the line and hung on to win a pedalfest with Pedregon; Jack Beckman became the first Dodge to fall to Wilkerson when Beckman’s Infinite Hero Charger started wandering and he had to back off the pedal.
Hagen ended Tommy Johnson Jr.’s racing Sunday. Neither Hagan nor Johnson had a clean pass: Johnson went up in smoke about 60 feet from the start and Hagan’s Mopar Express/Rocky Boots Charger started to do the shimmy and he had to back off the gas.
In Pro Stock, Allen Johnson shut down V. Gaines in the opening round but lost his transmission in the first race of the quarterfinals and lost to Rodger Brogdon.
“We had him by two hundredths at the 60 foot mark but our transmission broke,” said Johnson. “We had a much better qualifying than we’ve had in a while but race day wasn’t so easy when we had to make a motor change between the first and second round. However, we are walking away feeling a bit better because it was a good weekend for us directionally.”
Alan Prusiensky rolled the beam and turned on the red light in his first round matchup with top qualifier Jason Line, who went on to win.
NHRA 2015 MELLO YELLO DRIVER STANDINGS
Team/Sponsor & Car
Ron Capps (2 wins)
NAPA Auto Parts Charger
Matt Hagan (2 wins)
Mopar Express/Rocky Boots Charger
Auto Club Camaro
Tommy Johnson Jr.
Jack Beckman (1 win)
Infinite Hero Charger
John Force (1 win)
Peak Anti-Freeze Camaro
Tim Wilkerson (1 win)
Levi, Ray & Shoup Mustang
Patron XO Cafe Incendio Camry
Snap-on Tools Camry
Team/Sponsor & Car
Jason Line (2 wins)
Summit Racing Equipment Camaro
Erica Enders-Stevens (2 wins)
Racing in Red Camaro
Greg Anderson (1 win)
Summit Racing Equipment Camaro
Harlow Sammons of Odessa Camaro
Rodger Brogdon (1 win)
Ray Skillman Chevy Camaro
Larry Morgan (1 win)
Mountain View Tire Camaro
Gray Motorsports Camaro
Team Mopar Dart
History repeated itself Sunday in the Canadian Tire Series season opening Clarington 200. Rookie Gary Klutt, who also captured the pole position, drove the No. 59 CTL Corp/Legendary Motorcar Chevrolet to victory, making this the second consecutive bowtie win in this event. This is Klutt’s first win in NASCAR/Canadian Tire Series racing.
It took a bit of bad luck for Klutt to win: Scott Steckly in the No. 22 Canadian Tire Dodge and Andrew Ranger in the No. 27 Mopar/Pennzoil/Exide Dodge were ahead of Klutt, as they had been much of the race, when the pair made contact in turns 9 and 10 on the final lap. Steckly’s Dodge actually rode up and over the front of Ranger’s car. Klutt, who had led the first 11 laps, was able to get by and take the checkered flag. Steckly finished fifth and Ranger came in ninth.
Jeff Lapcevich, in the No. 76 Tim Hortons Dodge, was the runner-up, J.F. Dumoulin was third in the No. 04 Bernier Crepeau Chrysler/Bellemare Dodge, 2013 season champion D.J. Kennington was fourth across the line in the No. 17 Castrol Edge/Mahindra Tractors Dodge. 2014 season champ L.P. Dumoulin, at the wheel of the No. 47 WeatherTech Canada/Bellemare Dodge, was just behind Steckly, finishing sixth.
In the ARCA Menards 200 presented by Federated Car Care that ran at the Toledo Speedway on Sunday, Bobby Hamilton Jr., driving the No. 97 TroopAid.org-The Brenton Hall Fundraiser Dodge owned by Carter2Motorsports, was the top Dodge finisher. He was eighth across the finish line.
“Fast Jack” Beckman qualified third in the NHRA Southern Nationals on Saturday while Matt Hagan finished the qualifying rounds in the No. 4 spot, closed to within a single of Ron Capps, the current Funny Car leader.
Hagan finished the qualifying rounds with the top speed of 319.37 miles per hour.
“We blew it up pretty good Friday night and our guys were at the track late getting it ready, but they came back today and got us down the track pretty good,” said Beckman, referring to the blower that let loose, damaging the body of the Infinite Hero Dodge Charger. Beckman will race Robert Hight in the today’s first round.
Allen Johnson qualified fourth in Pro Stock, which ties his best position so far this season. One Dart is guaranteed to make it to at least the quarterfinals as Johnson and V. Gaines, who took the Number 13 spot, face each other in today’s first round of eliminations. Alan Prusiensky made the final rounds only because there were only enough cars to fill the available slots. Prusiensky has had traction troubles all weekend.
In fact, traction troubles were the rule on Saturday. With track temperatures hitting 130 degrees at the Atlanta Dragway, there was a whole lotta smokin’ going on – and few changes in the qualifying order.
Ron Capps, whose victory over Beckman in Houston put him in the lead in the points race, struggled Friday and Saturday and finished ninth in the order.
Capps said, “We had little glitches here and there that our guys were able to find within those four runs of qualifying. When you can find them that quick it says a lot about your team.”
Tommy Johnson Jr., the only member of the Don Schumacher Racing team who hasn’t picked up a Wally this season, qualified fifth.
“We did some testing in Indy before this event to try to get our Make-A-Wish Dodge on track,” said Johnson. “It was nice to see the results of testing paying off. We came out Friday that first run and went straight down the racetrack with a nice pass. Then to come back last night and step it up with a 4.04, which is what we ran in Indy testing, was a very good first day. We right away had a lot of confidence with how the weekend was going.”
Cruz Pedregon and John Force were the top qualifiers in Funny Car. Jason Line and Erica Enders-Stevens, who had identical ETs, were the top two in Pro Stock. Line got the top spot because the Summit Racing Equipment Camaro was 0.53 mph faster than the Lupe Tortilla Camaro.
Two teams that fielded Dodges in the 2014 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series have switched brands for the new season, which kicks off Sunday with the Clarington 200.
Canada’s Best Racing Team (CBRT), which gets its name from its primary sponsor, Canada’s Best Store Fixtures, has switched to Ford Fusions for its three drivers. Tagliani Motorsports’ No. 18 EpiPen car will be a Chevrolet Impala. In 2014, Tagliani fielded a Dodge Challenger.
Both switches were driven by non-automotive changes. CBRT became affiliated with the Green Sports Alliance and moved to Ford because of its stand on environmental issues. Tagliani Motorsports cut a deal with Gravel Auto, a Quebec-based dealership group that sells General Motors vehicles.
Even with the changes, Dodge continues to be the favored brand in the Canadian Tires Series.
The overall makeup of the 27-car field for this year’s Clarington 200 is very similar to the 28-car field for last year’s race. There are eight Chevrolets, exactly the same number as last year, and four Fords, also the same as last year. There are 15 Dodges, one fewer than in 2014, but there is also one fewer car in the field.
Six-time winner of the Clarington 200, J.R. Fitzpatrick in the No. 84 Equipment Express Chevrolet, isn’t competing on Sunday. Three of the four top five Dodge entries (Jeff Lapcevich, who finished second, L.P. Dumoulin, 2014 Canadian Tires Series champion, who finished fourth, and D.J. Kennington, 2013 series champion, who was fifth across the finish line, will be returning for this year’s event.
The Clarington 200, the first race of the 2015 Canadian Tires Series season, gets under way at 12:30 PM Eastern Time on Sunday, May 17.
Three races: three wins for Cameron Lawrence and the No. 1 Mopar Dodge Challenger as he won today’s Trans Am TA2 Foametix Muscle Car Challenge race.
The is the third consecutive victory for the 22-year-old from Windermere, Florida, who is the defending champion in TA2.
The race began at 9:30 this morning at Road Atlanta and by the time it ended, Lawrence was 1.407 seconds ahead of the runner-up, rookie driver Dillon Machavern in the No. 24 UniFirst/PPG/Ford Mustang.
Lawrence had a tough race, running behind Machavern for much of the second half. It look a lucky break on the last lap for Lawrence to clinch the win. The rear end went out on Machavern’s Mustang, allowing Lawrence, who was right behind, to pass between turns six and seven.
“We never really had, or at least I didn’t think we had, the pace to win all weekend,” said Lawrence after the race. “We had some issues in practice with the power steering and the transmission, and the team worked really hard to prep the car as well as they did. This was a battle though; we didn’t get to run out-front much. We were running second and third—just dogging the guys ahead of us. There’s nothing left in the car, and we were lucky Dillon had some issues at the end of the race. We were almost ready to settle for second. Dillon drove an amazing race and probably deserved that win but, unfortunately, things happen—but I imagine he’ll get a win soon enough.”
Lawrence qualified second yesterday, coming in 0.622 seconds behind Adam Andretti in the No. 44 Engineered Components Company/Ford Mustang. Today, Lawrence crossed the finish line 12.486 seconds ahead of Andretti, who finished fourth. This is the first time this season that Lawrence missed the pole position.
Rookie Joe Smith, in the No. 11 Mopar Dodge Challenger, finished 12th today after qualifying 22nd. Today’s finish matched his performance at the season-opening race at Sebring in March.
With victories at Sebring and Homestead-Miami Speedway, Lawrence now has a commanding lead in the driver point standings. Gar Robinson, who was second in the standings, lost ground with a third-place finish in today’s race.
In the world of Japanese factory-built performance cars, few (if any) have ever offered the performance capabilities of the 2015 Nissan GTR Nismo. This 600 horsepower, all-wheel drive supercar is one of the quickest production cars of all time, dashing from 0-60 in just 2.7 seconds while running through the quarter mile in under 11 seconds flat — in stock form.
On paper, the 2015 Nissan GTR Nismo should be able to easily outrun the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat when both cars are 100% stock, right down to the tires. The advanced all-wheel drive of the GT-R makes launching much easier than the rear wheel drive Hellcat Challenger, which is why the GT-R has a 2.7 0-60 and a 10.80 quarter mile time stock while the Challenger “only” dashes to 60 in the low 3 second range while running the quarter mile in the 11.20 range. When you fit drag radials up to the Hellcat, the performance times dip into a similar range to that of the wicked Nissan.
However, those smokin’ fast 0-60 and quarter mile times are manufacturer’s figures (including the Hellcat drag radial times) and as we all know, real world figures can vary a great deal in the hands of the right (or wrong) driver. Even though the best performance Japanese sports car of all time has better manufacturer’s numbers doesn’t mean that it will win in the real world and that is why people take their cars to the track.
In this video, we see a factory stock Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat drag racing against the 2015 Nissan GT-R Nismo at ZMax raceway. The Nissan is as stock as a rock, while the Hellcat is stock except for the sticky Nitto tires.
For the GT-R to beat the far more powerful Challenger, the Nissan needs to get off of the line better and as you can see, that doesn’t happen. Once the Hellcat gets out to an early lead, the driver uses all 707+ horsepower to maintain that lead. As a result, we get to watch the most powerful American production car of all time beating the best performing Japanese sports car of all time.
(The Nissan GT-R starts at $101,770 in the US, while the Nismo starts at $149,990, more than double the price of a $59,995 Hellcat Challenger, not to mention the $85,000 Viper.)
In the end, both cars run much slower numbers than expected, with the Hellcat running an 11.187 against the Nissan’s 11.277. The Hellcat pulled a better reaction time, a better 60 foot time and better trap speeds at the eighth mile and the quarter mile.
The No. 22 Uncle Ray’s Potato Chips Dodge Charger was first across the finish line in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame 200 that ran at the Talladega Superspeedway Friday night.
Rookie Blake Jones, 18, who will graduate from high school next week, took his first-ever checkered flag in the Cunningham Motorsports Charger. This was just the second restrictor-plate race in Jones’ career.
This is the first Dodge win of the 2015 ACRA Presented by Menard’s season but the it’s the brand’s second consecutive win at Talledega. Tom Hessert, driving the No. 77 CareGard/AxiomWarranty.com Dodge, was the winner of last year’s race.
Jones, of Sevierville, Tennessee, clinched the win on the last lap of the race when his Cunningham Motorsports teammate Tom Hessert ran out of gas in the No. 77 Barbera’s Autoland Dodge.
Hessert, who led the race for 60 laps, was going for his second consecutive Talladega win and his first win since the Federated Car Care Fall Classic 200 last September at Salem Speedway. A late caution stretched the race by three laps and Hessert couldn’t make the fuel last long enough. Hessert finished 15th.
Bo LeMastus in the No. 42 Crosley Brands/T&T Construction-Glad Precision Charger had his best finish of the season as he finished ninth.
Bobby Hamilton Jr., driving the No. 97 Nitroforce Industries Titan 1000 Dodge for Carter2Motorsports, finished 22nd, two laps down from the leaders. Scott Edwards was two cars behind in the No. 95 Carter 2 Motorsports Dodge.
Eric Caudell’s No. 40 Carter 2 Motorsports Dodge had electrical problems and had to drop out after Lap 37.
The Dodge Viper GTS-R race car that will battle for the 24 Hours of LeMans race in a few months has been revealed in a series of artwork and the sole image above. While we are almost two months out from the 2015 running of the legendary race, we know what the sole Viper in the field will look like and we know who will be behind the wheel of the Mopar supercar during the grueling 24 hour race.
As you can see in the images here, the Riley Motorsports-prepared #53 Viper GTS-R headed to Circuit de la Sarthe in LeMans France will have the Viper Exchange as the primary sponsor and Ben Keating’s Texas dealership has logos on the hood, doors, bumpers, roof and wing. Secondary sponsors logos for TI Automotive, Michelin, Pennzoil, Client Command and Motegi racing are prominently displayed on the fenders and there must be some sort of Chrysler Group backing, as there are several Dodge and Mopar logos around the exterior of the car.
The Dodge Viper GTS-R #53 team will compete in the GTE Am class, with official driver of record Jeroen Bleekemolen being joined by Tudor teammate Ben Keating and Viper newcomer Marc Miller. Miller was a big surprise considering the level of experience and success of other drivers already racing Vipers with Riley Motorsports in the United SportsCar Championship (formerly the American LeMans Series). Drivers like Marc Goossens, Kuno Wittmer and Dominic Farnbacher seem like more logical choices, but perhaps they are all busy that day – so Riley turned to the new face in Marc Miller.
“For sure, Le Mans has the most history and prominence in the sports car racing world,” Keating said. “There is nothing like it. Any 24 hour race is tough and filled with the drama that only a twice-around-the-clock race can create, but Le Mans is special. Whether it has been books, movies or careers, Le Mans has been the basis of so many incredible stories and challenges. For me to be able to race a Viper at Le Mans makes it even more incredible. This is a dream on so many levels.”
The 24 Hours of LeMans race will run on June 13 – 14, but the next stop for the Viper Exchange team is Round 3 of the 2015 IMSA TUDOR Championship at California’s Laguna Seca Raceway on May 3rd.
As of the end of racing at the 2015 NHRA Spring Nationals in Houston, Texas, these are the current driver point totals:
2015 NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING DRIVER STANDINGS
Driver, Sponsor & Car
Ron Capps, NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger (2 wins)
Matt Hagan, Mopar Express/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger (2 wins)
Del Worsham, DHL Toyota Camry
Robert Hight, Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro
Tommy Johnson Jr., Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger
Jack Beckman, Infinite Hero Dodge Charger (1 win)
Alexis DeJoria, Patron XO Cafe Incendio Toyota Camry
John Force, Peak Anti-Freeze and Coolant Chevrolet Camaro (1 win)
Courtney Force, Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro
Cruz Pedregon, Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry
Driver, Sponsor & Car
Erica Enders-Stevens, Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro (2 wins)
Jason Line, Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro (1 win)
Greg Anderson, Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro (1 win)
Chris McGaha, Harlow Sammons of Odessa Chevrolet Camaro
Rodger Brogdon, RoofTec Chevrolet Camaro (1 win)
Vincent Nobile, Mountain View Tire Chevrolet Camaro
Drew Skillman, Ray Skillman Chevy Chevrolet Camaro
Larry Morgan, FireAde Chevrolet Camaro (1 win)
Shane Gray, Gray Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro
Allen Johnson, Team Mopar Dodge Dart
There are still 12 events left in the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello drag racing regular season. It ends with the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis on Labor Day weekend. This will be followed by the six-event Countdown to the Championship. It runs through the NHRA Auto Club finals in Pomona, California in November.
Dodge has made a great start on the season in Funny Car, but there’s lots of racing to come. Fortunately, there’s also time for resolving the problems with the Pro Stock Darts.
The next event is the Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway May 15-17.
Ron Capps celebrated Hemi Day (4/26) by beating top qualifier Jack Beckman in today’s smoke-filled, all-Dodge, all-Hemi, all-Don Schumacher Racing final round at the Spring Nationals in Houston, Texas.
Capps picked up his second Fuel Funny Car Wally of the 2015 Mello Yello NHRA drag racing season and now has the lead in the driver standings.
Today’s win is Capps’ 45th national event victory in 88 final round appearances. It’s also his 44th Fuel Funny Car Wally, putting him second only to John Force in total career wins.
“This is one of those races that when you can win it, you feel like you really earned it,” said an exhausted Capps of his third Houston win. “With the conditions that we had to drive in and tune in this weekend it feels great to get a win here. It’s crazy to think that I am number two on that list. I am not that good, so it just shows you from my time with Don Prudhomme on down to my team at Don Schumacher Racing, all of the great people I have worked with over the years, it’s a credit to them.”
Don Schumacher Racing Dodge Chargers have won five out of the six Funny Car Wallys awarded this year. Three of the six final rounds have been all-Mopar races.
Capps ties Matt Hagan with two trophies apiece this season; Beckman has one.
Capps got the quicker start but it was a close race to 660 feet. At that point, both the NAPA Auto Parts Charger and Beckman’s Infinite Hero Charger started hazing the tires and fishtailing. Capps was able to get a couple car lengths ahead and that was all she wrote: Capp’s margin of victory was 0.254 seconds.
“I’m complaining about a runner-up finish because we are that good now,” said Beckman after his second trip to the finals. “We had a malfunction in the fuel system, the slide valve which bypasses fuel, the fuel curve was off. We didn’t have time to check it on the warm-up because you lose 20 minutes of turnaround time (for live TV coverage). This is the downside about live television. You take a chance of not getting into your normal routine. You have to take some shortcuts for the quick turnaround times and in our case it bit us. It bit Capps’ team too. They didn’t make an optimal run, theirs was just better than ours.”
It was a Charger-Camaro semifinals: Capps was 0.001 seconds quicker at the start in his race with Robert Hight’s Auto Club Chevy and that was his margin of victory. Both cars ran identical ETs but Capps was through the lights about three inches before Hight. Beckman got the quick start and never trailed in his race with the Traxxas Camaro driven by Courtney Force.
Tommy Johnson Jr. lost his quarterfinals matchup with Beckman when the Make-A-Wish Charger went up in smoke right after the start.
Matt Hagan got a good start in his race with Ron Capps but the big Hemi in the Mopar/Rocky Boots Charger started blowing white smoke and making costly sounds near the end of his pass. He was 33 feet behind Capps at the lights.
Capps also eliminated John Hale in the first round of Capps all-Dodge day. The ALO Drink Charger began toasting the tires about halfway down the track and Hale lifted.
Del Worsham was eliminated in the opening round, while Hagan made it to the quarterfinals leaving Capps and Hagan in the top two spots in the standings. Beckman leapfrogged John Force, Alexis DeJoria, Cruz Pedregon and John Hale as he moved from tenth to sixth in the standings. Tommy Johnson dropped from fourth to fifth and John Hale fell from the Top Ten.
In Pro Stock, a disappointing season continued as it was four up; four down in the first round of eliminations. Richie Stevens’ Mopar/Pierson Construction Dart made a move at the Christmas tree and turned on the red light, but every other Dart driver had a clean pass. They simply were not quick enough to keep up with the Camaros that have taken every Pro Stock win this year.
Allen Johnson came into today’s eliminations after qualifying in the No. 13 spot, his worst position since Maple Grove in 2011. Matched up with Erica Enders-Stevens, who went on to win her second consecutive hometown Wally, he was 0.001 seconds faster off the line but 0.044 seconds slower at the end. Their speeds were close – just 0.10 mph difference.
“Fuel got us again even though we thought we had it figured out last night,” Johnson said. “It’s got us by the cahoochies. We thought we fixed it and then on that run it came right back. We’re going to have to go test somewhere in humidity (where the problem seems more evident) and run until we wear everything out and get it worked out. We don’t give up but right now this problem is like a big sledgehammer on the head. I knew if we made a good run, I could beat her and I got everything but the running part done. It’s not one person’s fault. It’s just something with this new fuel that seems to be plaguing the HEMI engines worse than any other motor. We’re being methodical and hunting in every direction to get this solved. We won’t give up.”
V. Gaines was the top Dodge Qualifier and the first Dodge driver eliminated. Larry Morgan’s FireAde Camaro was quicker off the line and quicker down the track, arriving 0.035 seconds, about 11 feet, before the Kendall Oil Dart. Through the timing lights, Morgan was 1.06 mph faster than Gaines.
Deric Kramer found his traction and made his first clean pass of the weekend, but the American Ethanol/Madcap/Novo Dart was no match for top qualifier Jason Line’s Summit Racing Equipment Camaro. The two had equal reaction times but Line’s pass was 0.108 seconds quicker and 2.4 mph faster than Kramer’s.
Allen Johnson remains the only Dodge driver in the Pro Stock top ten. He is still on the bump spot.
In NHRA action today, “Fast Jack” Beckman lived up to his name, posting the quickest ET of the final round of qualifying and keeping the record he set with the Infinite Hero Dodge Charger yesterday.
This is Beckman’s first time in the top spot in Houston and his first No. 1 since Brainerd in 2013.
“I feel really confident,” Beckman said. “I’ve always felt I could win the next race I go to because DSR always gives us the best ability to do that. I always feared pulling up next to [crew chief] Jimmy Prock’s car on race day even if I had driven a car that had performed better. Now I’m taking a lot of comfort in the fact that we might be doing that to the people in the other lane.”
All Dodges that entered the NHRA Spring Nationals Funny Car and Pro Stock classes qualified for the elimination rounds.
Ron Capps’ NAPA Auto Parts Charger dropped a couple of cylinders toward the end of his final qualifying pass. That slowed him down but he kept the No. 3 spot in the qualifying order and his track speed record.
Matt Hagan lost traction in his first run today, but recovered in Round Two, though he couldn’t beat his Friday time. The Mopar/Rocky Boots Charger goes into tomorrow’s eliminations in the No. 6 spot.
Tommy Johnson Jr. broke the Make-A-Wish Charger’s crankshaft last night but his time was better than either of his passes today. He stayed No. 8 in the order.
John Hale hazed the tires in today’s first round and was a no-show for the last round. The ALO Drink Charger got bumped down to the No. 14 spot when Bob Bode posted a faster ET in Round Three and Courtney Force beat his time in Round Four.
Over in Pro Stock, V. Gaines was the top Dodge qualifier, chopping 0.047 seconds from his best Friday time and jumping from 11th to the No. 6 spot in the Kendall Oil Dart with a 6.551 ET at 211.96 mph.
Allen Johnson couldn’t beat his Friday time and dropped from the No. 7 spot to No. 13 in the final order.
Richie Stevens wasn’t slow in his first outing in the MOPAR/Pierson Construction Dart; he just wasn’t fast enough. He made the field but his 6.597 ET at 210.14 mph dropped him from 14th in the order to No. 15.
Deric Kramer got into the game because there were only enough entries to fill the field. He had traction troubles with American Ethanol/Madcap/Novo Dart both days and his qualifying ET of 10.362 seconds at 209.39 dropped him from the No. 15 spot to the cellar. He better find some traction overnight: he faces top qualifier Jason Line, who set a new track ET record of 6.519 seconds at 212.33 mph in the Summit Racing Equipment Camaro.
ARCA Note: Rain in Salem forced cancellation of the practice and qualifying sessions of the Federated Auto Parts 200 at Salem Speedway. The starting grid was set per ARCA rules and James Swanson is the lead Dodge driver in the No. 06 Kan Do Dodge owned by Wayne Peterson. He’ll start from the No. 15 position.
Jack Beckman’s record-setting pass at Royal Purple Raceway in Houston, Texas, was captured on NHRA video.
It’s short, but this is Fuel Funny Car drag racing and each run only takes a handful of seconds unless something goes wrong.
Beckman in the Don Schumacher Racing Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T was paired up with Tim Wilkerson in the Levi, Ray & Shoup Mustang, the last Ford that’s really a player in professional Funny Car competition.
With flames blowing out of the headers, Beckman ran a 3.988-second ET at 318.17 mph, while Wilkerson posted a 4.041-second time at 308.78 mph.
The final rounds of qualifying are currently underway. Updates this evening.
Funny Car: Jack Beckman posted the first three-second time at Royal Purple Raceway in Houston, Texas, setting a new track ET record, and taking the top spot in Fuel Funny Car qualifying in the NHRA Spring Nationals running this weekend.
Four of five Dodge Chargers competing in Fuel Funny Car advanced in Round Two with three in the top half of the qualifying order.
Beckman, in the Infinite Hero Dodge Charger, had qualified tenth after hazing his tires in the first round, but came back with a clean pass of 3.988 seconds at 318.17 mph to take his first top qualifier spot in 36 races. But Beckman isn’t counting chickens yet:
“I remember at Indy last year after we hauled butt Saturday night and the forecast was hot and nasty for Sunday and there wasn’t any chance of anyone getting around us and then Sunday was overcast and cool and [Matt] Hagan took the spot,” Beckman said after Friday’s qualifying ended. “I am not counting anything until this deal is over. The thing I like better is the three points because we are 10th in points, and that’s going to help us out.”
Ron Capps set a new track speed record of 319.67 mph, though his 4.038 ET was only good enough for the No. 3 spot. It was still a big improvement over the No. 9 spot he occupied at the end of Round One. Capps lost a cylinder in the NAPA AutoParts Charger in his first-round matchup with John Force but he was firing on all eight the second time around.
Points leader Matt Hagen lost a cylinder almost at the start of Round One, qualifying sixth in the order. He came back and had a better pass in Round Two, 4.051 seconds at 314.61 mph, but the Mopar Express/Rocky Boots Charger remained in the No. 6 spot.
Tommy Thompson Jr. smoked the tires on the Make-A-Wish Charger early in his first run and failed to make the cut. He moved from the No. 15 spot to the No. 8 position with a 4.064-second, 310.05 mph run on his second pass but his supercharger let go as he slowed down, knocking the front end loose and popping the windshield out.
John Hale, running the Jim Dunn Racing/ALO Drink Charger, was matched up with Johnson in Round Two and also improved, moving from 12th to 11th going into Saturday qualifying.
Pro Stock: Allen Johnson was the top Dodge qualifier, moving up from No. 10 inthe first round to No. 7 in Friday’s last round of qualifying. Johnson’s best time was 6.574 seconds at 210.34 mph. He was 0.011 seconds and 0.99 mph behind top qualifier Shane Gray in the Gray Motorsports Camaro.
Richie Stevens in his first day racing the Mopar/Pierson Construction Dart, was 0.066 seconds and 1.94 mph slower than his wife, Erica Enders-Stevens, in the Lupe Tortilla Camaro. He qualified at No. 14, missed the cutoff, and will have to try again tomorrow. There are just 16 cars in the field so, unless another entry shows up on Saturday, everyone should make the eliminations.
Deric Kramer qualified No. 12 in the American Ethanol/Madcap/Novo Dart in the opening round but didn’t return for Round Two and dropped to No. 15 in the order. He’ll be back again on Saturday to try to post a qualifying ET.
Coming up: The ARCA presented by Menard’s 2015 series continues with the Federated Auto Parts 200 that runs Sunday at Salem Speedway, in Salem, Indiana. There are four Dodges in the 26-car field. Qualifying is scheduled for Saturday.
Next events in GT Daytona class of the IMSA/Tudor United Sports Car Championship and Trans Am TA2 are in May. Next race for the Vipers is the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway in Monterey, California, next weekend. Qualifying is Saturday, May 2 and the Race is on Sunday, May 3.
A week later, Cameron Lawrence and the No. 1 Dodge Challenger will try to keep the lead in the points standings in the Trans Am Foametix Muscle Car Challenge at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia. Qualifying is May 8 and the TA2 Muscle Car Challenge runs Saturday, May 9, beginning at at 9:30 AM (Eastern).
Richie Stevens Jr. takes his first qualifying runs at the wheel of 2105 Dodge Dart this afternoon as the NHRA Spring Nationals get under way at Royal Purple Raceway in Houston, Texas.
He will be running the Mopar/Pierson Construction Dart set up by Jerry Haas and powered by a J&J Racing engine.
The 36-year-old Steven’s return to Pro Stock was announced in March and Mopar fans are waiting to see if the second J&J Racing Dart can help Dodge get some more points on the board.
While Dodge has racked up four Fuel Funny Car Nationals wins so far in the 2015 Mello Yello drag racing season, Allen Johnson hasn’t made it past the Pro Stock semifinals and he is the top Dodge driver — and the only Dodge driver in the top ten. It took his semifinals appearance in Las Vegas to get him off the bump spot in the Countdown to the Chammpionship standings. V. Gaines, who drives the Kendall Oil Dart, is currently No. 13 in the points and Deric Kramer, who pilots the American Ethanol Dart, is tied for 14th.
For Mopar and J&J Racing the advantage of having two cars in the mix is the opportunity to try different setups on the two Darts during qualifying so the cars that make it to the eliminations on Sunday have a better shot at taking on the ranks of Camaros that have dominated the class this season.