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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-03-2015, 10:48 AM Thread Starter
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NHRA U.S. Nationals

Mopar Racers in the Staging Lanes at the ‘Big Go’ and Driving for Coveted NHRA U.S. Nationals Title



Mopar racers revved up for this weekend’s 61st annual National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway near Indianapolis

Mopar HEMI® Challenge marks its 15th anniversary at the NHRA U.S. Nationals with qualifying and eliminations on September 3-4

Mopar to host Sportsman Racers Appreciation event with special guests and giveaways on Sept. 3 from 7- 9 p.m. at Lucas Oil Raceway

Mopar “Top Eliminator” to be selected among the top Mopar performance rides racing down the quarter-mile track in the Sportsman category

Don Schumacher Racing quartet of 2015 Dodge Charger R/T Funny Cars will try to break into the winner’s circle at U.S. Nationals for the first time since 2001

Top-three spots in standings held by DSR 2015 Mopar Dodge Charger R/T Funny Cars with one regular season event left before the NHRA ‘Countdown to the Championship’ begins

20-year Pro Stock veteran Allen Johnson chasing a coveted first national title at the “Big Go” aboard the Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar Dodge Dart

Johnson will have a teammate this weekend with addition of young talent and last year’s U.S. National’s Pro Stock stand-out Aaron Stanfield in a Dodge Dart


September 3, 2015 , Brownsburg, Indiana -

Anticipation is rising for Mopar fans and racers alike as they get ready for the oldest and most prestigious of National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Mello Yello Drag Racing series events, the 61st annual U.S. Nationals, contested yearly on Labor Day weekend at Lucas Oil Raceway near Indianapolis, Indiana. It is also the final regular season contest prior to the six-event NHRA “Countdown to the Championship” playoff series.

Before the Mopar contingent of Pro Stock and Funny Car entries take to the track for five qualifying sessions starting Friday evening and extending through Sunday, leading into eliminations on Monday, the racing spotlight will be on the largest gathering of Sportsman racers of the season.

Among them, and in keeping with the historic nature of the U.S. Nationals, will be a fleet of vintage 1968 HEMI-powered Dodge Darts and Plymouth Barracudas competing on the quarter-mile dragstrip in the ever-popular annual Mopar HEMI® Challenge. For a 15th consecutive season, Mopar will underscore its commitment to Sportsman racing competition within the NHRA with the presentation of the classic muscle car heads-up shootout scheduled to take place September 3-4 and provide a $15,000 award, a unique HEMI Challenge trophy, and a custom Mopar HEMI Challenge jacket to the winner. Cash prizes will also be awarded to the top-16 qualified cars that advance to the elimination rounds.

Once again, Mopar will host a Sportsman Racer’s Appreciation event for HEMI-powered participants on Thursday, Sept. 3 from 7-9 p.m. at Lucas Oil Raceway. On display will be the new supercharged Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak with Mopar engineers on hand to answer questions. Additional special guests will include Hellcat engineer Jim Wilder and shock specialist Mike Alex. In addition to food and beverages, attendees will be treated to a drawing for giveaways every 15 minutes, including a grand prize offering of a Mopar Gen II 426 HEMI engine block.

Among the sportsman racers competing this weekend at U.S. Nationals, a “Top Eliminator” winner will be selected among the top Mopar performance rides racing down the quarter-mile track. This is the ninth year that FCA US LLC’s service, parts and customer-care brand, has held the challenge to spotlight passionate and dedicated muscle car enthusiasts who exemplify unmatched skills in modifying or preserving a classic or modern-day Mopar vehicle, as well as their restyled, accessorized and performance-enhanced ride.

As the very first NHRA national event, the U.S. Nationals has been contested yearly since 1955 and is nicknamed the "Big-Go". This year’s edition is being touted as the “Bigger Go” because of a special world championship points system that is in effect with drivers in each category earning points based on a point-and-a-half system. There will be 150 points awarded for a win rather than the usual 100, round wins will be worth 30 points instead of 20, and the possibility of a total of 208 points up for grabs. Teams also will get 15 points rather than the ten typically awarded for making a qualifying attempt. Qualifying bonus points, however, remain the same with three (3) points for the quickest, two (2) points for second and one (1) point for third spot among the top-3 passes in each of five qualifying sessions for the U.S. Nationals with the regular 1-8 points awarded for qualifying positions. The standard 20 points will go to a driver who sets a national elapsed time record.

The Mopar contingent of Don Schumacher Racing Funny Car drivers, Matt Hagan, Jack Beckman, Ron Capps, and Tommy Johnson Jr., has just one thing on their mind going into this weekend; earning a coveted first victory at the world’s most prestigious drag race.

Defending NHRA world champion, Hagan has earned No. 1 qualifier honors three times (2010, 2013, and 2014) at Indy, but has never made it to the final elimination round. He’s hoping to change that aboard the new Mopar Express Lane / Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T this year.

“Everyone wants to win the U.S. Nationals,” said Hagan who set the track record at Indy last year with a 3.998-second run in the final qualifying session. It was also the very first 3-second run for a Funny Car at the famed event.

“We want to win it for Mopar,” added Hagan who is currently second in the standings with four wins. “Everybody that was out testing at Indy (last week) was running so strong and you can see the numbers were dipping into the low 3s. We have to learn how to do that on a hot race track. We just have to working hard, keep our heads down, and stay humble. Dickie Venables is doing a great job and my Mopar Express Lane / Rocky Boots guys are doing everything right and we’re right back where we need to be.”

Meanwhile, Beckman, who has five wins this year and is the points leader in the Funny Car category, has been on a tear aboard his Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T posting record runs in the 3-second range at the last few national events, as well as during testing at Lucas Oil Raceway last week.

“I have to tell everyone at Mopar ‘Thank you’,” said Beckman in reference to the introduction of the new Mopar body at the start of the season and which has since contributed to 13 wins to the DSR team’s tally. “When we first got the new 2015 Dodge Charger body, from a driver’s standpoint, we all loved it and we could see way better. From a crew chief stand point, it wasn’t yet a more effective package than our last one, which was still an excellent body, but as we put more laps on it, it now holds both ends of the national record, it hold the quickest and fastest runs of all time. I can’t say enough about what they have done for us to keep us competitive out here. I’m very happy with what we have been able to cross off our list in testing at Indy last week. Oh and by the way, we went 3.91 at 325 mph.”

Beckman has seen action in two final round elimination battles (2008 and 2013) at the U.S. Nationals and is hoping three times is the charm.

“I’ve won the Traxxas Shootout here twice. I’ve never won the race but had two final round appearances. Right now I want to say it’s just another race and you tell yourself that until you’re able to win it. I hope this year I’ll get to say that it is truly a special race. If you’re calculating the odds, you have to put the DSR cars 1-2-3 with what we’ve been doing lately and Capps is right there. All that said, there are no teams when you’re on the starting line and I want to put the Infinite hero one in the winner’s circle.”

Rounding out the Top-3 in points heading into this weekend’s competition, Johnson Jr. has been on the fast track, driving into Indy with three consecutive final round appearances at the Nationals in Sonoma, Seattle and Brainerd. Those results combined with an encouraging test at Lucas Oil last week, has the Mopar driver feeling very optimistic about his chances of seeing the winner’s circle.

“Our team really has been on a roll lately and with Indy being the biggest drag race of the year for all of our teams, you test and try to be as prepared as you can,” said Johnson Jr. who has a runner-up finish at the U.S. Nationals in (2002) and two pole positions (1999 and 2000). “It’s was a successful test. I’ve never tested and ran in the 3-second zone so I can’t say it hasn’t been successful.”

The four DSR Mopars are also looking to break a streak this weekend. The last DSR Funny Car to win the U.S. Nationals title was in 2001 with former driver Whit Bazemore, and the only other DSR Funny Car driver to win the Indy title was team owner Don Schumacher in 1970.

“If you look at our season so far this year with the amount of races we’ve won and the dominance we’ve had in the Funny Car class you would sure hope that this year at Indy we can break the dry spell,” Johnson Jr. said. “I’ve never won Indy either so as much as a roll as our team has been on lately, I’d like to be the one to do it. As much as you try to tell yourself it’s just another race, it’s not. It’s Indy. It’s one that you want on your resume. It’s one that you want sitting on your mantle. It’s a must.”

Capps feels the same way.

“For me as a kid growing up reading my dad’s hot rod magazines and reading about the U.S. Nationals, it’s always been the pinnacle of our sport,” said Capps who is looking to make his first appearance in a final round at Indy. “It’s probably more important to me to win Indy than it is a NHRA World Championship. You could have the best running car by a tenth of a second ahead of everyone heading into Indy and that will mean nothing to the spirits of the U.S. Nationals. They will throw good conditions out for you on Friday and Saturday night qualifying which is great for the fans and great for the racers. It’s great to go out and run in the 3.90s and maybe even 3.80s, but come Monday race day morning, the spirits of the U.S. Nationals will throw hot temperatures and humidity at you. I haven’t won it yet but I know that with this particular race, you have to earn it.”

“We ran 3.96 in 2012 and that was a pretty amazing run at the time,” Capps recalled. “Now if you don’t run quicker than a 3.92 you might not have lane choice come Monday. The game just got upped a lot these last few races in Funny car. The competition is the best it’s ever been, times ten. It’s going to be fun to battle.”

On Sunday, all four DSR Funny Car will also compete in the Traxxas Nitro Shootout, a special bonus race that takes place during qualifying with a $100,000 prize for the victor.

20-year Pro Stock veteran and 2012 NHRA World Champion, Allen Johnson is also looking to add the coveted U.S. Nationals title to his list of accomplishments. After a difficult start to the season, Johnson and his Mopar team overcame the challenges and have been making consistent runs of late in the “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” Dodge Dart, building on a win at Chicago’s Route 66 Nationals and a runner-up finish at Denver’s Mopar Mile-High Nationals in July. The team seems poised to end the regular season on a strong note and make a run for the Pro Stock championship.

“We tested this week in St. Louis and feel like we’re ready for the Big Go,” said Johnson who is looking to turn on four win lights on Monday. “The goal this week is to get the Magneti Marelli Mopar Dodge Dart in the winner’s circle and get a good start on the countdown. We’ll have some help with the addition of a teammate with Aaron Stanfield. We’ve worked well together and we’re looking forward to getting in some good runs this weekend.”

Aaron Stanfield, son of Greg Stanfield who joined Johnson & Johnson Racing in May, made his Pro Stock driving debut last year at Indianapolis, qualifying eighth and making it to the quarterfinals.

Fellow HEMI-powered Dodge Dart driver, V. Gaines, who finished runner-up at Indy in 2013, will be amongst the Mopars looking to find their way to the prestigious U.S. Nationals winner’s circle for the first time.

ESPN will televise two and a half hours of qualifying highlights on Sunday, Sept. 6 at 11 a.m. ET and then another two and a half hours of qualifying coverage on ESPN2 starting at 11 p.m. ET. Three hours of eliminations coverage of the 61st annual U.S. Nationals will be shown on ESPN on Monday, Sept. 7 starting a 4 p.m. ET.

2015 NHRA Championship Points Standings
(following Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in Brainerd)

PRO STOCK (season wins in parentheses)
1. Erica Enders-Stevens* – 1391 (5)
2. Greg Anderson* – 1375 (4)
3. Chris McGaha* – 1254 (2)
4. Jason Line* – 1197 (2)
5. Allen Johnson* – Dodge Dart – 1011 (1)
6. Larry Morgan – 958 (2)
7. Shane Gray – 918
8. Johnathan Gray – 855
9. Vincent Nobile – 821
10. Drew Skillman – 812
11. V. Gaines – Dodge Dart – 636

FUNNY CAR (season wins in parentheses)
1. Jack Beckman* – (2015 Dodge Charger R/T) – 1279 (5)
2. Matt Hagan* – (2015 Dodge Charger R/T) – 1229(4)
3. Tommy Johnson Jr. – (2015 Dodge Charger R/T) – 1158 (2)

4. John Force – 1084 (2)
5. Del Worsham – 1037
6. Ron Capps – (2015 Dodge Charger R/T) – 1020 (2)
7. Tim Wilkerson – 942 (1)
8. Robert Hight – 935 (1)
9. Cruz Pedregon – 884
10. Alexis DeJoria – 856

*clinched playoff spot in NHRA Countdown to the Championship


About Mopar Brand
Mopar (a simple contraction of the words MOtor and PARts) was trademarked in 1937 with the launch of an antifreeze product, but it truly made its mark in the 1960s during the muscle-car era. From Mopar Performance Parts to enhance speed and handling for both road and racing use, the brand soon expanded to include technical service and customer support.

Today, Mopar is FCA’s service, parts and customer-care brand and distributes more than 500,000 parts and accessories in over 150 markets around the world. With more than 50 parts distribution centers and 27 customer-contact hubs globally, Mopar integrates service, parts and customer-care operations in order to enhance dealer and customer support worldwide. Mopar is the source for genuine parts and accessories for FCA brands.

Mopar parts are engineered together with the same teams that create factory-authorized specifications for FCA vehicles. This offers a direct connection that no other aftermarket parts company can provide. A complete list of Mopar accessories and performance parts is available at Mopar Parts ? Buy Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Fiat Parts & Accessories Online.


Rick

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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-05-2015, 08:35 PM Thread Starter
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Wofford Captures Historic 15th Anniversary Mopar HEMI® Challenge

Wofford Captures Historic 15th Anniversary Mopar HEMI® Challenge Victory at NHRA U.S. Nationals

Lloyd Wofford and his 1968 Plymouth Barracuda earn a first career Mopar HEMI® Challenge win in 15th anniversary edition held during the NHRA U.S. Nationals
Wofford rewarded with $15,000 check, a unique Mopar HEMI Challenge trophy and a custom winner’s jacket
Runner-up Gus Mantas drives his ’68 Barracuda to his first Mopar HEMI Challenge final-round appearance
Mike Wagner earns Indy Mopar ‘Top Eliminator’ Award for his Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak Ramchargers tribute car

September 5, 2015 , Brownsburg, Indiana -







The 15th anniversary edition of the Mopar HEMI® Challenge at the 61st annual National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) U.S. Nationals saw a new winner crowned from the 22 classic 1968 Plymouth Barracudas and Dodge Darts competing in the fan favorite vintage muscle car showcase on the quarter-mile Lucas Oil Raceway near Indianapolis.

Two first-time finalists, Lloyd Wofford of Jonesboro, Arkansas, and Gus Mantas of Toronto, Canada, staged their Mopar-powered Super Stock/Automatic-HEMI (SS/AH) class vehicles on the start-line Saturday afternoon in front of thousands of fervent drag racing fans after it was rescheduled from the previous evening due to rain and lightning.

The two classic Mopar machines didn’t quite get the opportunity to battle it out as they had hoped. A red-light start by his competitor gave Wofford’s 1968 Plymouth Barracuda an instant win and his first Mopar HEMI Challenge victory.

“It just goes beyond explanation because we’ve worked so hard – six years, and we finally made it,” said Wofford, who purchased and began to prepare his ‘Cuda for competition in 2009. “I’ve got one of the best crews in the world. I don’t think I would be any more elated and excited if I won the Super Stock eliminator. This to me is the pinnacle, to win the Mopar HEMI Challenge, and in its 15th year. I just love a HEMI car – best car ever."

On his drive to the winner’s circle, Wofford and his ‘68 Barracuda defeated Fred Henson (Dart), Jim Pancake (Dart), pole sitter Gary Wolkwitz (Dart) and Mark Howes (Dart) before staging next to Mantas for the final elimination showdown.

“We had (Gary) Wolkwitz in the first round, and of course he was No. 1 qualifier and we were No. 4, so we tuned it up,” Wofford explained. “We knew we had to go hard, and we blew the tires off (smoked the tires), but he went red. That was our lucky round. We stuck with our program. The car was really running good, the guys were working hard and thankfully the driver did most of his job.”

In the final elimination, Wofford posted a .015-second reaction time and ran a full elapsed time pass at 8.621-seconds and 152.62 miles per hour to make it official.

“We were prepared for the final last night, and then the rain came down. This morning I woke up at 5 a.m., wide awake. The anticipation – the clock was just crawling. I was probably as nervous as I’ve ever been in my life. I’m thinking, ‘Please don’t do anything stupid, drive the car and do what you know how to do.’ My wife (Linda) was a great help. She told me to take a deep breath and do your job. I got up, staged the car and did my job. And now we’re here.”

With the coveted victory, Wofford received a $15,000 winner’s prize, a unique HEMI Challenge trophy weighing 42.6 lbs., and a custom Mopar HEMI Challenge winner’s jacket.

“This is what started Pro Stock,” added Wofford in appreciation for the classic muscle cars that contributed to the Mopar brand’s legendary reputation and success at the drag strip. “When people in the crowd see these 1968 ‘Cudas and 1968 Dodge Darts, it takes them back to 1968 and to racers like Dick Landy, Ronnie Sox, Herb McCandless, you just name them on and on, the HEMI guys that started Pro Stock. And that’s what this is all about.

“I want to thank Mopar for putting on the HEMI Challenge, and thank Tom Hoover for building such a great engine, and God be with him,” said Wofford of Tom Hoover, father of the 426 HEMI engine that powers the HEMI Challenge cars, who passed away earlier this year. “It means so much to the racers. I think Mopar probably supports the Sportsman racers more than anybody, and that really helps.”

“I don’t think Sportsman racers get the recognition they deserve,” Wofford added. “There are people out here who sacrifice and eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, just so they can buy parts for their race cars.”



Mantas’ journey to his runner-up finish began by advancing past the first round to battle Ken Warburton (Barracuda) and Jim Daniels (Dart), then benefited from a bye in the semifinals before fouling-out in the final with a -0.216 second red light. He received a $1,500 check for his efforts.

“It’s been great and it’s been a rush,” Mantas said. “We thrashed hard. It’s not easy, I’ll tell you that. That track has been a variable continuously with the weather, and it’s been a tuning challenge. But it’s been great. This is our fourth Indy (Mopar HEMI Challenge) and we’re coming along, considering that we’re independents. We’re doing it on a budget, we work hard and our motor runs strong.”

The inaugural Mopar HEMI Challenge was won by Bucky Hess (2001), followed by drivers Richard Beshore (2002), Jerry Jenkins (2003), and Jeg Coughlin Jr. (2004). The driver with the most HEMI Challenge trophies is Charlie Westcott Jr., of Parma, Michigan, who has earned six career wins, (2005, 2006, 2008, 2011, 2012 and 2014) with his father, Charlie Westcott Sr. (2009), Jim Daniels (2010) and Rick Houser (2007 and 2013) interrupting those victories with their own trips to the winner’s circle.

Every Mopar-powered SS/AH class competitor participating in this year’s Mopar HEMI Challenge received a 15th anniversary event hat, commemorative poster and participant decals to display on their vehicle. Cash prizes were also awarded to the top-16 qualified cars that advance to the elimination rounds.

Wagner named third and final 2015 Mopar “Top Eliminator” winner



Mike Wagner of Lapeer, Michigan, was awarded the third and final 2015 Mopar “Top Eliminator” trophy at the NHRA U.S. Nationals for his 2009 Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak Ramchargers tribute car.

The car, No. 39 of Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak race cars produced in 2009, honors the legendary Ramchargers drag race team. The Ramchargers passion for high-performance engine design and racing helped launch and build FCA’s motorsports program in the 1960s.

“It’s a big honor,” said Wagner of the award. “I’m a big Mopar collector and have many Mopar cars. I’ve been a Mopar guy since right out of high school in in 1981. It’s been Mopar ever since.”

Wagner’s Drag Pak features a Mopar 426 HEMI engine under the hood and competes in the NHRA Stock class. He purchased the Drag Pak in 2009 and spent the intervening years perfecting his Mopar, which appeared in just its second race, and first NHRA national event, this weekend.

“We want it to look good, we want it to run good and be representative of the way the cars were back in the day,” said Wagner.

The Mopar “Top Eliminator” program spotlights enthusiasts who display extreme passion and skill in restyling or customizing their Mopar rides. Wagner’s Drag Pak follows the first two 2015 Mopar “Top Eliminator” winning vehicles. Carlisle Chrysler Nationals Mopar “Top Eliminator” winners Kevin Kanak and Mark Novakovich were honored for the rare 1973 Dodge Charger SE four-speed sunroof car they co-own, while Terry Peterson was recognized for his 1969 Plymouth Barracuda, named Mopar “Top Eliminator” at the Midwest Mopars in the Park national car show.

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Beckman Tops Provisional Qualifying with Record Run

Beckman Tops Provisional Qualifying with Record Run Aboard 2015 Dodge Charger R/T at 61st Annual NHRA U.S. Nationals

Jack Beckman earns provisional No.1 qualifier with track records in Funny Car qualifying at 61st annual National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) U.S. Nationals near Indianapolis
Beckman tops qualifying aboard Infinite Hero Mopar with Funny Car track records for elapsed time at 3.936 elapsed time and speed at 323.74 mph at Lucas Oil Raceway
Tommy Johnson Jr. puts his #RileyDreamRacer 2015 Dodge Charger R/T third with two qualifying session left
Defending World Champ Matt Hagan and Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T round out the top-10 in provisional qualifying
Quartet of DSR Dodge Charger R/T Funny Cars will compete in Traxxas Nitro Shootout on Sunday
Allen Johnson’s Magneti Marelli Dodge Dart provisionally fifth after two qualifying runs at the “Big Go”


September 5, 2015 , Brownsburg, Indiana -

After rain washed out Friday evening’s first qualifying session for the 61st annual National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway near Indianapolis, two rounds of provisional qualifying are now in the books, with Mopar’s Jack Beckman closing out the day in memorable fashion after driving his Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) 2015 Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car to the provisional No.1 qualifier position with two more track records in tow.



Beckman was listed No. 6 following the first session, recording a 4.282 second pass at 225.82 miles per hour (mph), but that was simply a prelude to yet another record-setting run by “Fast Jack” and the Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T team. In the Saturday evening session the current Funny Car points leader lit up the night and claimed the provisional pole with a 3.936 elapsed time at 323.74 mph — both track records at the prestigious race nicknamed the “Big Go.”



Beckman, who has earned the pole position at the last three races in a similar manner, is aiming to make it four in a row.

“It’s cloud nine,” Beckman said. “You dream of stuff like this. There’s still that little kid in me that daydreams about, ‘Wouldn’t it be neat to be that person on the mountain looking down?’ But the problem in drag racing, and especially Funny Car, is that the view is not the same very long. These things are so temperamental and things change so quick in our sport.

“The things we did to the DSR Funny Cars to make them quicker make them a little tougher to drive,” Beckman added. “They want to hunt around in the middle of the racetrack. They’re right on the edge, they're super-fast, but they’re twitchy. And, boy, I could feel it on that (run) as it was wanting to move. We went 3.91/325 mph in testing last week in way better conditions, but that long delay brought the track back into that zone where you know you can run in the mid-3s. And we had the data to go on it.

"When I watched Hight go out there and run a 3.97, I thought, “Man, if this thing is doing what (crew chief Jimmy) Prock and (John) Medlen have been doing in the last month and a half, we’re going to run a .94. And we ran a .93. I just think it’s such a great statement to make, especially for our car. We’ve got a lot of military vets here in Indy. When I get back to the pits there are so many people lined up to donate and get the coins that we just ran there. Just knowing that every time we run that good, we raise more money to help the injured vets, it’s such a special feeling.”

Tommy Johnson Jr. had two very consistent runs aboard his #RileyDreamRacer Mopar to put himself third in both Funny Car qualifying sessions with a 4.117/303.23 and a 3.976/318.32 pass. DSR teammate Ron Capps was initially No. 1 after his first session run at 4.064/308.00, but fell to eighth in the second after hazing the tires.

Defending World Champ Matt Hagan took his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T to the 12th spot with his first run at 4.954/152.95. Moving up two spots to No. 10 on his second attempt, Hagan’s HEMI-powered machine posted a 4.153/237.46 mph pass even after it pushed towards the centerline as it neared the finish, forcing the driver to let off the throttle.

While the quartet of DSR Dodge Charger R/T Funny Cars have two more sessions on Sunday to prepare for race day or improve their positions on the eliminations ladder, they will also all compete in the Traxxas Funny Car Shootout on Sunday, a specialty event that offers a $100,000 bonus to the winner.

Additional Mopar Funny Car entries making attempts to qualify for Monday’s elimination rounds at the U.S. Nationals include John Hale, who sits 12th with a best pass of 4.196/306.88, and Justin Schriefer, who posted a 5.910/116.48 to occupy the16th place on the provisional qualifying sheets.

In Pro Stock competition, Mopar is looking to hit the bull’s-eye with one of four Dodge Darts in a field of 21 entrants looking to qualifying for the 16 available spots on the eliminations ladder in order to make a run at the coveted U.S. Nationals title.

Top Mopar qualifier Allen Johnson posted the fourth quickest run of the opening session by taking his “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” Dodge Dart for a 6.621 second elapsed time run at 208.78 mph on a hot track. The Greeneville, Tennessee, native improved on his second pass with a 6.576 sec/209.26 mph run to put him fifth on the timing sheets.

“That run right there will be the run,” said Johnson, who knows a position in the top half of the ladder and lane choice is key at Indy. “Tomorrow morning (conditions) might be okay, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed to pick up a few spots but our run tonight will probably be our best (qualifying) run. Today’s qualifying run in the heat was probably race day conditions. We’ve got the best of both, we’re top five and we’ll go out there and see if we can do better tomorrow.”

While he looks forward to driving his way to a first final round appearance at the famed drag race, Johnson looks back on his 20 years of chasing a win at the “Big Go” and recalls one opportunity that got away.

“The year we had the fastest car and Jeg Coughlin Jr. beat me in the semi-finals,” recalled Johnson of his 2002 battle in which he lost to his opponent by .004 seconds at the stripe after both cars ran identical 6.945 seconds passes. “That was my first water bottle throwing incident that was caught on camera. When I backed up for my burnout he had already lit up both bulbs and I learned a lot that day. He beat me on a holeshot after we had been fastest in nearly every session and that’s probably the maddest I’ve ever been at myself. I’ll never forget that.”

“I’d love to win this thing,” Johnson added. “It would be a feather in our cap. Anytime you can win Indy, or the championship, or the K&N Challenge, all those things everybody wants to do, it’s big. I’d love to do it before the end of my career, so we’ll see.”

Johnson’s teammate this weekend, Aaron Stanfield, posted a 6.678-second run at 207.46 mph on his first pass to sit 13th. On his second attempt, he clicked off quickly after his ride made a move towards the wall and ended up 18th overall with two more sessions left to improve and try to make the field.

The HEMI-powered Mopar of Deric Kramer is tenth with his best run of 6.602/208.84. Meanwhile V. Gaines, who finished runner-up at Indy in 2013, saw a first session qualifying pass at 6.659/207.72 to put his Dodge Dart 11th, then improved his elapsed time to a 6.620/209.01 for the 12th provisional spot with two qualifying sessions left on Sunday. The provisional pole position is held by Greg Anderson with his best run of 6.562/210.70.

ESPN will televise two and a half hours of qualifying highlights on Sunday, Sept. 6 at 11 a.m. ET and then another two and a half hours of qualifying coverage on ESPN2 starting at 11 p.m. ET. Three hours of eliminations coverage of the 61st annual U.S. Nationals will be shown on ESPN on Monday, Sept. 7 starting a 4 p.m. ET.

Rick

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Mopar Dodge Driver Beckman Collects $100,000

Mopar Dodge Driver Beckman Collects $100,000 Traxxas Funny Car Shootout Win, Claims NHRA U.S. Nationals Pole

Mopar-powered 2015 Dodge Charger R/T NHRA Funny Car driver Jack Beckman scores his first career pole at the prestigious NHRA U.S. Nationals
Points leader Beckman has now earned four consecutive No. 1 spots
Beckman is looking to double up tomorrow with his first-ever U.S. Nationals victory
Five HEMI-powered Dodge Charger R/T Funny Cars will race for the U.S. Nationals win on Monday
Allen Johnson, also seeking his first “Big Go” triumph, will lead four Mopar Dodge Dart NHRA Pro Stock cars into battle at Lucas Oil Raceway


September 6, 2015 , Brownsburg, Indiana -

Jack Beckman drove his Infinite Hero 2015 Dodge Charger R/T to the win in the Traxxas Nitro Shootout on Sunday during qualifying at the NHRA U.S. Nationalsï¾ along with the $100,000 top prize by defeating Robert Hight, 4.051 to 4.138. Beckman also earned the No.1 qualifier honor on Saturday night for hisï¾ 3.936 elapsed time at 323.74 mph — both track records at the prestigious race nicknamed the “Big Go.”







Mopar HEMI®-powered 2015 Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car driver Jack Beckman is $100,000 richer and one step closer to his goal of capturing a first career win at the prestigious National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) U.S. Nationals. Beckman outran Robert Hight to bank the Traxxas Funny Car Shootout bonus money on Sunday, and will start from the pole on Monday as he seeks to double up at Lucas Oil Raceway near Indianapolis, Indiana.

The Traxxas Funny Car Shootout victory is the second career at the all-star bonus event for Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) Mopar Dodge driver Beckman, who also captured the 2013 Shootout win. The No. 1 spot is his fourth in a row, fifth of the season and 15th of his career. After claiming the pole, track records and the $100,000 check, all that remains to cap off “Fast Jack’s” dream weekend is a main-event triumph at the “Big Go.”

After setting both ends of the track record and seizing the provisional pole on Saturday night with a 3.936-second elapsed time at 323.74 mph, 2012 Funny Car World Champ Beckman kept the pedal down on Sunday. His Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T outraced Courtney Force to the finish line in the first round of the Traxxas Shootout. Beckman was quickest of the round, clicking off a 4.052/311.99 and earning three bonus points.

In the Traxxas semifinals (which did not count toward qualifying), “Fast Jack” finished first in an all-Mopar DSR duel with teammate Ron Capps. Beckman was a tad slower than Capps off the starting line but his Mopar Dodge once again flexed its muscles, putting down a 4.027/314.09. Beckman, undefeated against John Force Racing drivers in 2015, lined up against JFR racer Hight in the Traxxas Funny Car Shootout final. His record against JFR remains unblemished after he used a 4.051/309.06 to beat Hight to the stripe and bring home the big money. Beckman was also quickest of the final session, adding an additional three bonus points.


“We’ve got a chance to make it a perfect weekend,” said Beckman, who earned his first career U.S. Nationals No. 1 spot and a date with Bob Bode in the opening round. “I bet you a lot of crew chiefs are going to have a tough time sleeping tonight, knowing they have to go up against that Dodge tomorrow, and knowing that it’s got four hundredths on the field.

“We’ve got two objectives tomorrow, and if we do the first one it takes care of the second one. We want to win Indy, but we also want to finish first in the regular season, because that’s a 30 point bonus (for the start of the six-race NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs, which begin after the U.S. Nationals).

“I’m not looking past Bob Bode. He could end our day tomorrow, or the racetrack could end our day. But I wouldn’t trade our car for anybody’s in the pits right now — not by a longshot.”

A red light start kept Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T driver Matt Hagan from advancing past Hight in the first round of the Traxxas Funny Car Shootout, but it didn’t hinder the defending World Champ from moving up the qualifying charts. Red light starts don’t apply in qualifying, so Hagan’s 4.023-second elapsed time boosted the DSR driver to eighth.

Hagan hazed the tires at the top end in his fourth and final qualifying attempt and was unable to advance further up the charts, meaning he’ll have an unfortunate first-round fight against DSR teammate and No. 9 qualifier Capps in round one. Capps knocked off John Force in round one of the Traxxas Shootout, also earning two bonus points for being second quickest in the round with a 4.033/317.34.

“Everybody wants to win Indy,” said Hagan, currently second in the standings, who is also seeking his first U.S. Nationals win. “You never want to walk away from your driving career and not have won Indy. They’re all hard to get, but we want to knock this one off our bucket list. The competition out here in Funny Car is fiercer than any of the other pro classes.”

DSR Dodge driver Tommy Johnson Jr. exited in the first round of the Traxxas Shootout, losing to Tim Wilkerson. Johnson will start third in his #RileyDreamRacer Mopar on the strength of a 3.976/318.32 on Saturday and will face fellow Dodge driver and No. 14 starter John Hale.

Solidly consistent best describes Allen Johnson’s U.S. Nationals qualifying experience. The 20-year Pro Stock veteran kept his “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” Dodge Dart in the top five during all four sessions.

After clicking off runs of 6.621/208.78 and 6.576/209.26 on Saturday, AJ stayed No. 5 with a 6.579/210.28 in his first attempt on Sunday, which was fourth-quickest of the round. He closed his qualifying with a 6.617/207.40 to remain fifth on the eliminations ladder and will have lane choice over Larry Morgan to start his bid for a first U.S. Nationals win

“The last qualifying run will probably be closer to what the first round of eliminations will be like,” said Johnson, the 2012 Pro Stock World Champ. “It would have run in the low 60s but we broke a motor right at the end of that run. We’re putting in the motor we ran at the St. Louis test session, which was really strong.

“We have a good set up on the Dodge Dart and it’s acting happy. Yes, it’s the ‘Big Go,’ but you can’t approach it any differently that you would any other race day. For the driver it’s a matter of keeping focus and hitting my shift points. We’ve just got to go out there tomorrow and be consistent and maintain lane choice. That will be big.”

Aaron Stanfield, driving a Mopar HEMI-powered Dodge Dart for Johnson’s J&J Racing team, wasn’t qualified after the first two sessions on Saturday. He wasted no time on Sunday in cracking the field with a 6.636/208.84 run, moving to 15th. His final run of 6.683/208.88 was enough to keep him from being bumped from the field. Stanfield will make his second U.S. Nationals start from the 16th place on the eliminations ladder and face No. 1 qualifier Greg Anderson in the first round.

Deric Kramer had a solid final qualifying pass at 6.640/208.59, and remained 10th on the timing sheets based on his previous best run of 6.602. He’ll see Jason Line in the lane next to him for the first round of eliminations. Seeded 13th, V. Gaines took his Dodge Dart to a best run of 6.620 and will line up against Erica Enders for the opening round.

Eliminations for the 61st annual U.S. Nationals will begin at 11 a.m. Monday at Lucas Oil Raceway.

ESPN2 will televise two and a half hours of qualifying highlights on Sunday, Sept. 6 starting at 11 p.m. ET and three hours of eliminations coverage of the 61st annual U.S. Nationals will be shown on ESPN on Monday, Sept. 7 starting a 4 p.m. ET.

2015 NHRA Championship Points Standings
(following NHRA U.S. Nationals Final Qualifying)


PRO STOCK (season wins in parentheses)
1. Erica Enders-Stevens* – 1443 (5)
2. Greg Anderson* – 1439 (4)
3. Chris McGaha* – 1304 (2)
4. Jason Line* – 1245 (2)
5. Allen Johnson* – Dodge Dart – 1060 (1)
6. Larry Morgan – 1005 (2)
7. Shane Gray – 969
8. Johnathan Gray – 909
9t. Vincent Nobile – 867
9t. Drew Skillman – 867
11. V. Gaines – Dodge Dart – 682

FUNNY CAR (season wins in parentheses)
1. Jack Beckman* – (2015 Dodge Charger R/T) – 1338 (5)
2. Matt Hagan* – (2015 Dodge Charger R/T) – 1280(4)
3. Tommy Johnson Jr.* – (2015 Dodge Charger R/T) – 1211 (2)

4. John Force – 1113 (2)
5. Del Worsham – 1089
6. Ron Capps – (2015 Dodge Charger R/T) – 1072 (2)
7. Tim Wilkerson – 992 (1)
8. Robert Hight – 989 (1)
9. Cruz Pedregon – 908
10. Alexis DeJoria – 905

*clinched playoff spot in NHRA Countdown to the Championship

Rick

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Beckman Races 2015 Mopar Dodge Charger R/T to First Career U.S. Nationals Victory

Beckman Races 2015 Mopar Dodge Charger R/T to First Career U.S. Nationals Victory

“Fast Jack” Beckman follows up win in Traxxas Funny Car Shootout bonus event on Sunday with his first career triumph at the NHRA U.S. Nationals
Beckman completes dream weekend in which he set both ends of the track record at Lucas Oil Raceway, banked $100,000 in Traxxas event and wins the prestigious “Big Go”
Victory is the 14th in 18 events for the 2015 Mopar Dodge Charger R/T and 17th final-round appearance
Beckman finishes first in regular-season standings, will have a 30-point lead over teammate Matt Hagan when the six-race NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs commence
Mopar Dodge Don Schumacher Racing Funny Car drivers hold the top three spots heading into the Countdown playoffs
Defending Funny Car champ Hagan falls in round one but puts his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T in the No. 2 spot in the playoffs
Early Indy exit for “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” Dodge Dart NHRA Pro Stock driver Allen Johnson softened by locking in top five Countdown playoff berth
Johnson competes in his 450th career race at U.S. Nationals

September 7, 2015 , Brownsburg, Indiana -



Jack Beckman capped off a dream weekend by bringing home a victory in the event every drag racer wants to win, racing his Mopar-powered 2015 Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car to a Labor Day triumph at the 61st annual National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis. Beckman set both ends of the track record at Lucas Oil Raceway on Saturday, banked $100,000 in the Traxxas Funny Car Shootout bonus event on Sunday and doubled up with a win on Monday at the historic race nicknamed the “Big Go.”

The victory was the first for Beckman at Indy in three final appearances, his sixth of the season and 21st of his career in 42 final rounds. It also marks the first NHRA U.S. Nationals win for a Mopar-powered machine in the NHRA Funny Car class since Mike Ashley scored the 2007 victory in a Dodge.


The new 2015 Mopar Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car body ends the regular season with 14 wins in 18 events, and final round appearances in all but one race. Beckman heads into the six-race NHRA “Countdown to the Championship” playoffs, which begin in two weeks near Charlotte, holding a 30-point edge over the No. 2 spot, held by Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car driver Matt Hagan, and 40-point spread over yet another Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) Mopar Dodge driver, Tommy Johnson Jr.



“On behalf of everyone at Mopar, I would like to congratulate Don Schumacher Racing and especially Jack Beckman for earning the prestigious U.S. Nationals title and his sixth win of the year with the new 2015 Dodge Charger R/T,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO — Mopar Brand Service, Parts and Customer Care, FCA. “The success the DSR team has had with the new body in the regular season is phenomenal and a testament to the investment and hard work that went into bringing to fruition the new 2015 Mopar Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car. We can’t wait to see what our Mopar drivers can do with it in the Countdown in defense of the 2014 Funny Car Championship.”

Driving his Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T, Beckman started from the U.S. Nationals pole after setting both ends of the track record with a 3.936-second elapsed time at 323.74 mph, earning his fourth consecutive No. 1 of the year and first-ever at the “Big Go.” He had the quickest car in the first round, using a 4.047-second elapsed time at 302.55 mph under hot, humid track conditions to eliminate No. 16 qualifier Bob Bode.

It was an all-Mopar Dodge matchup in the quarterfinals, with Beckman pitted against his DSR teammate, Ron Capps. The two Mopar drivers had nearly identical reaction times (Beckman’s .060 to Capps’ .062), but Beckman pulled away with a 4.057/311.41 (once again quickest of the round), and soon after Capps slowed to a 4.516/219.54.

In the semis, Beckman (4.058/307.72) took out Del Worsham (4.189/299.20), setting up a classic DSR vs. JFR fight against Robert Hight. Entering the final round, Beckman was 12-0 against JFR cars in 2015, but his previous two final round appearances at the U.S. Nationals had ended in runner-up finishes to Robert Hight.

Given a third opportunity, Beckman wasn’t about to let his chance at a first U.S. Nationals victory slip away. The DSR veteran proved it takes both driver and machine to win races, notching a holeshot win with a faster .034 reaction time to Hight’s slower .063 mark, which provided his 4.058/310.77 effort enough advantage to hold off Hight’s quicker 4.045/309.77 by about eight feet at the finish line.

“I guess it’s about like getting to the top of Everest” said Beckman of his first U.S. Nationals event win “You really don't get to celebrate until you get down, get back home and into a cozy area. I don't know when it will sink in. A lot of times the problem is it’s hard to enjoy what just happened because you’re just worn out.

“Yesterday after Traxxas (the bonus event), I was trashed. It was a miserably hot day that ended up wonderful. Getting through today was the key. I think surviving this is an effort onto itself. I'm going to let that trophy sit on the shelf for a while so I can realize that we actually did it.

“When Jimmy (Prock) was let go last year (from his previous team) and Don (Schumacher) brought him on and put him on our car for the last two races, maybe in a greedy sort of way I started looking ahead,” said Beckman of his crew chief. “I knew what Jimmy was capable of doing and I felt like if we could just stay together on this, maybe we would be able to go win some races and do something like this.”

No. 3 starter Tommy Johnson Jr. had the second quickest pass of the first round, 4.054 seconds at 312.42 mph, defeating fellow Dodge driver John Hale (4.777/177.32). In the quarterfinals, Johnson ended the championship hopes of driver Courtney Force, who needed to advance past Johnson to keep alive her chances of qualifying for the Countdown playoffs.

Johnson had a slight starting line advantage (.075 to Force’s .078) and a quicker pass of 4.093/309.13, enough to beat Force’s 4.117/312.93 to the stripe by approximately 12 feet. The roles were reversed in the semifinals, with Johnson falling to Force’s teammate Robert Hight. Johnson smoked the tires almost the moment he hit the pedal and watched Hight motor down the track for the win.

Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car driver and defending World Champion Hagan came out on the wrong end of a wild Mopar vs. Mopar first-round duel with Capps. Both drivers smoked the tires, pedaled their Mopar machines and came perilously close to crossing the center line and suffering a DQ. Both cars were able to reach the finish, but Capps crossed first with a 4.490/211.63 to Hagan’s 4.528/237.34.

“Obviously Indy is tough,” said Hagan, who collected four wins during the regular season. “The competition, period, is just tough, DSR or not. Everyone out here is tough. There is not a car that qualifies for the 16-car field that in some way, shape or form can’t win on Sunday.

“Your teammates are even tougher. Ron was there for the taking and it ended up being a pedal fest. If I maybe caught it a little earlier or left a little earlier it may have been different, but at the end of the day we didn’t get a win light, so we move on. All in all, we have to put this behind us and move on. There are no do-overs in drag racing. It’s time to get focused and go out and try to win another championship.”

“Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” Dodge Dart NHRA Pro Stock driver Allen Johnson owns a 2012 Pro Stock World Championship ring and victories at legendary drag strips including Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California, and Gainesville (Florida) Raceway, but after Monday the 20-year veteran is still chasing that elusive first career triumph at the U.S. Nationals.

The No. 5 qualifier, Johnson left first in an opening-round race against Larry Morgan, recording a .027 reaction time to his opponent’s .030. The starting line advantage wasn’t enough to boost Johnson into the second round, as his 6.621/209.17 pass was about two hundredths slower than Morgan’s winning 6.603/209.85. The luck of the draw wasn’t on Johnson’s side either — his run was quicker than all but four other cars in the first round.

On the bright side, Johnson ends the regular season in the fifth spot with one win and three runner-up finishes, and will start 60 points behind the leader when the Pro Stock Countdown to the Championship playoffs begin.

“It’s disappointing to run one of the quickest passes of that round and not advance, but that’s how it goes in eliminations,” said Johnson, who competed in his 450th career race this weekend. “We had good, consistent runs all weekend long and you have to take that as a positive and move on. It’s a whole new season now. We’re fifth to start the Countdown and anything can happen. We’ll start the playoffs by doing some testing at Charlotte (zMax Dragway) and getting our Magneti Marelli Dodge Dart ready for a knock-down, drag out fight for the final six events.”

V. Gaines, a two-time U.S. Nationals Pro Stock runner-up, also was quicker off the starting tree (.029) than his first-round foe, eventual event winner Erica Enders (.041). No. 13 qualifier Gaines was solid in his Dodge Dart, recording a 6.637/209.10, but Enders pulled away at about the 330 ft. mark for a winning 6.604/209.49. Dodge Dart drivers Aaron Stanfield and Deric Kramer also bowed out in round one.

Next up is the first event in the six-race NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs, the 8th Annual NHRA Carolina Nationals, scheduled for September 18–20 at zMAX Dragway near Charlotte, North Carolina.

2015 NHRA Championship Points Standings
(following NHRA U.S. Nationals Eliminations)


PRO STOCK (season wins in parentheses)
1. Erica Enders-Stevens* – 1563 (6)
2. Greg Anderson* – 1499 (4)
3. Chris McGaha* – 1304 (2)
4. Jason Line* – 1275 (2)
5. Allen Johnson* – Dodge Dart – 1060 (1)
6. Larry Morgan* – 1035 (2)
7. Shane Gray* – 999
8. Drew Skillman* – 957
9. Vincent Nobile* – 927
10. Jonathan Gray* – 909
11. V. Gaines – Dodge Dart – 682

FUNNY CAR (season wins in parentheses)
1. Jack Beckman* – (2015 Dodge Charger R/T) – 1458 (6)
2. Matt Hagan* – (2015 Dodge Charger R/T) – 1280(4)
3. Tommy Johnson Jr.* – (2015 Dodge Charger R/T) – 1271 (2)

4. John Force* – 1143 (2)
5. Del Worsham* – 1149
6. Ron Capps* – (2015 Dodge Charger R/T) – 1102 (2)
7. Robert Hight* – 1079 (1)
8. Tim Wilkerson* – 1022 (1)
9. Cruz Pedregon* – 908
10. Alexis DeJoria* – 905

*clinched playoff spot in NHRA Countdown to the Championship

Rick

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Racing History Continues At Mopar HEMI Challenge



Racing History Continues At Mopar HEMI Challenge

Published on Sep 8, 2015

The 1968 Dodge Dart and Plymouth Barracuda were ground-breaking factory-built drag race cars. Their legacy lives on in the Mopar HEMI Challenge, staged at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis as part of the NHRA’s U.S. Nationals event. For the 15th year, Mopar sponsored a competition in the special class created for the legendary cars. Twenty-two ’68 Darts and Barracudas lined up to battle for the $15,000 top prize and unique HEMI Challenge trophy. Watch the video to see who wins it all.

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"Top Eliminator" Winner at NHRA U.S. Nationals



Mopar Names "Top Eliminator" Winner at NHRA U.S. Nationals

Published on Sep 10, 2015

Many Mopar enthusiasts devote extra effort and care in the restoration or customizing of their vehicles. Mopar recognizes some of the best of those efforts with its "Top Eliminator" award.

The latest "Top Eliminator" winner is Mike Wagner of Lapeer, Mich., who drew upon the heritage of the legendary Ramchargers drag race team to create his 2009 Dodge Challenger Drag Pak race car. Mike's car got just its second outing at the NHRA's U.S. Nationals event in Indianapolis over Labor Day weekend.

Two other vehicles earned "Top Eliminator" awards this year: A 1969 Plymouth Barracuda owned by Terry Peterson, shown at the Midwest Mopars in the Park; and a rare 1973 Dodge Charger SE with four-speed and sunroof, owned jointly by Kevin Kanak and Mark Novakovich and shown at the Carlisle Chrysler Nationals.

Rick

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