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Jack Beckman Continues NHRA Countdown Momentum, Takes Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car to Final of NHRA Carolina Nationals

    • Jack Beckman drives Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car to sixth final of 2019 and second of the Countdown at zMAX Dragway near Charlotte
    • Matt Hagan qualifies Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody Funny Car No. 3, reaches seventh semifinal of 2019
    • Ron Capps powers NAPA Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car to semifinals, ranks fourth in Countdown standings
    • Leah Pritchett qualifies second, climbs to fourth in Countdown standings
    • Steve Comella and Larry Hill earn Dodge Top Finisher honors in Sportsman classes
    • New @DodgeMoparMotorsports Instagram channel features Dodge//SRT Mopar drivers in NHRA action

October 14, 2019 , Auburn Hills, Mich. -

Jack Beckman led the brigade of Dodge//SRT Mopar drivers into Monday’s rain-delayed elimination rounds of the 13th annual NTK NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway near Charlotte, driving the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car to the final round. His weekend run moved Beckman up to second place in the point standings halfway through the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoffs.

Beckman opened the weekend earning his 26th career No. 1 qualifier and led five other HEMI®-powered Dodge//SRT Mopar drivers into the Funny Car field. He was joined in the semifinals Monday by fellow Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) teammates Matt Hagan and Ron Capps.


Sunday’s rain delay didn’t seem to faze Beckman, who was fast out of the gate Monday, putting up the best run in the class of the weekend, 3.864 seconds, in his opening-round victory over Dale Creasy. In the second round, he and DSR teammate Tommy Johnson, Jr. squared off. Beckman was smooth again, turning on the win light with a pass of 3.932 seconds at 323.27 mph over a tire-smoking Johnson. Beckman faced another Dodge//SRT and DSR teammate in the semifinals. This time it was Capps and Beckman was able to avenge an earlier loss to reach his sixth final of the season and second in three Countdown races.

Beckman had the opportunity he was hoping for, facing points leader Robert Hight in the final. Unfortunately, his chance at career win No. 30 turned up red when Beckman left the starting line 0.080 seconds early, giving Hight the win. It was Beckman’s first red light in a final in more than a decade. He resumes his championship run Friday in Dallas trailing Hight by 44 points.

The goal for Hagan entering the weekend was to pick up a third Charlotte Countdown victory to supercharge his chances for a third Funny Car world championship. To accomplish that, Hagan and crew chief Dickie Venables knew consistency was going to be the key to their success.

Hagan and his Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody Funny Car continued getting better as the weekend went along. He qualified third with his final qualifying run of 3.880 seconds. Hagan defeated Dave Richards in Monday’s opening round with a lap of 3.937 seconds. He made it three straight wins over Bob Tasca III in the second round with a holeshot victory to reach his seventh semifinal of 2019. Hagan had the opportunity to take out points leader Robert Hight and took the starting line advantage with a .066-second reaction time but couldn’t hold Hight off for the win. Hagan heads to Dallas trailing Hight by 147 points.

Capps continued his qualifying prowess aboard his Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car, earning the No. 4 position and landing in the top half of the field for the sixth consecutive race, setting up a first round matchup with fellow Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat driver Jim Campbell. Capps made it nine straight wins in nine races with a strong pass of 3.962 seconds. That set up a race between two of the winningest Funny Car drivers of all-time in Capps and John Force. In the duo’s 105th career matchup, Capps came out on top with his 3.908-second ET versus Force’s 3.912-second run. In his way for a second consecutive Charlotte Countdown Wally was Beckman, whom he had faced only once previous this season. In his second semifinal appearance during the first three Countdown events, Capps was not able to overcome his teammate. Capps leaves Charlotte fourth in the championship standings, 90 points behind Hight.

Tommy Johnson, Jr. made his best qualifying run during his final opportunity Saturday afternoon, clocking a pass of 3.950 seconds to qualify eighth and earn a top-half starting positing for 17th time this year. He faced follow Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat driver Cruz Pedregon in the first round, where Johnson drove his Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat to his quickest pass of the weekend, 3.916 seconds at 322.04 mph, to earn the win over a tire-smoking Pedregon.

Johnson’s win set up a seventh meeting this year against fellow DSR and Dodge//SRT runner Beckman. Johnson was first on the throttle but started to haze the tires early into the run. He pedaled it and was able to get his machine to recover but Beckman had already powered away en route to his fifth triumph of Johnson in 2019. Johnson still has a chance at the 2019 Funny Car crown but it will be an uphill climb from the eighth position with only three events left.

In Top Fuel, Leah Pritchett used a strong pass in Saturday’s final qualifying session in her HEMI-powered Okuma Dodge//SRT Top Fuel Dragster for DSR to earn the No. 2 position in eliminations for the fifth time in 2019. Pritchett was scheduled to face No. 15 Chris Karamesines in the opening round but “The Greek” had a problem following the burnout and backed his machine off the starting line. In her solo run, Pritchett lost traction early and clicked off the run, coasting to 1,000 feet with a pass of 5.466 seconds at 123.42 mph. In round two Pritchett faced Doug Kalitta for the 21st time of her career, looking to gain ground in the Countdown standings by knocking out a fellow title contender. Unfortunately, her chances for victory vanished quickly again as smoked tires just past the 60-foot mark led to her demise. Despite the second-round defeat, Pritchett climbed to fourth in the championship standings.

Mopar Dodge//SRT NHRA Sportsman Spotlight
Steve Comella and Larry Hill were winners of the Dodge Top Finisher honors in Super Stock and Stock Eliminator, respectively.

Comella drove his 1968 HEMI Dodge Dart to a fourth-round finish in Super Stock. The Webster, New York, racer had dialed in a 8.65 ET but posted a pass of 8.647 and broke out of his bracket by 0.003 seconds.

Hill’s A/SA 1970 Plymouth ‘Cuda powered through the third round consistently running low 10-second times throughout the weekend. His run toward victory ended with a pass .080 seconds too fast and he was eliminated.

The Dodge Top Finisher award, now in its third year, awards $500 to Stock Eliminator and Super Stock drivers who advance the furthest behind the wheel of a Mopar-powered Dodge, Chrysler or Plymouth race car at all 24 NHRA national events.

@DodgeMoparMotorsports on Instagram
The @DodgeMoparMotorsports Instagram channel will share content capturing Dodge//SRT Mopar drivers in action in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, NHRA Sportsman grassroots racers competing in classes such as Factory Stock Showdown, Stock and Super Stock, as well as additional motorsports series.

NTK NHRA Carolina Nationals : Elimination Rounds Summary/Notes & Quotes

Jack Beckman, Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car
(No. 1 Qualifier – 3.873)

Rd. 1: (.093-second reaction time, 3.864 seconds at 329.99 mph) beat No. 16 Dale Creasy (.093/4.863/164.03)
Rd. 2: (.077/3.932/323.27) beat No. 8 Tommy Johnson, Jr. (.065/6.911/102.45)
Rd. 3: (.071/3.957/324.44) beat No. 4 Ron Capps (.083/4.025/293.41)
Rd. 4: (-.080/4.911/158.07) lost to No. 2 Robert Hight (.049/3.917/329.02)

“That final round loss is bitterly disappointing. As a driver, you have to keep your head in that zone where you perform your best and I was OK today and I just lapsed in the final round. I found my focus going away and my right foot started going down right about then. It’s important locking your vision on an amber bulb (on the starting line tree) and staying on that, and I just wasn’t where I needed to be. I’m not sure how that race would have unfolded had we both been green but we can’t afford to give those away. We gained points on every car this weekend except the one we most needed to gain points on and that was due to a driver error. So, I’m going to shake it off. I’ve got four days to get my head straight. I’m going to come back in Dallas and there’s going to be a lot of big smiles on this team because we’re going to put this thing in the winner’s circle there.”

Matt Hagan, Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody Funny Car
(No. 3 Qualifier – 3.880)

Rd. 1: (.078 second reaction time, 3.937seconds at 330.55 mph) beat No. 14 Dave Richards (.108/7.801/86.00)
Rd. 2: (.062/3.922/331.53) beat No. 6 Bob Tasca (.097/3.915/328.86)
Rd. 3: (.066/3.947/327.35) lost to No. 2 Robert Hight (.078/3.912/328.78)

“I know we didn’t win the race today but getting to the semifinals gives me a lot of confidence. I know our car has gotten a lot more consistent this weekend and (crew chief) Dickie (Venables) continues to make it more tunable. I think that showed this weekend by us making six consecutive full runs that we have a strong racecar. This Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car is driving good. I’ve been good on the (timing) tree. We know we are up against it now as far as the championship goes but I’m looking forward to getting to Dallas. We’ll just try and to make up as much ground as we can in qualifying with those small points and see if we can close the gap.”

Ron Capps, NAPA Filters Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car
(No. 4 Qualifier – 3.882)

Rd. 1: (.071-second reaction time, 3.962 seconds at 308.92 mph) beat No. 13 Jim Campbell (.075/4.064/311.63)
Rd. 2: (.069/3.908/329.58) beat No. 5 John Force (.067/3.912/327.43)
Rd. 3: (.083/4.025/293.41) lost to No. 1 Jack Beckman (.071/3.957/324.44)

“Obviously, we qualified well, and we kind of checked all of the boxes on all of our goals coming into the race weekend. We had a great car all through qualifying, and we were one of the only teams to go down the track on a good pace all four runs, so we felt consistent. Race day started the same way but in the semifinals the car did something it hadn’t done all season long, which is, it had the No. 1 cylinder out right at the hit of the throttle. You’ve got to make hay when it’s daylight because the two guys that made it into the final round are two that are ahead of us in points. We did make a pretty good move on John Force, beating him in the second round; that was big. That was a big round win, especially during this time of the year because that’s a car you’re going to have to battle near the end there. We have a big weekend in Dallas coming up.”

Leah Pritchett, Okuma Dodge//SRT Top Fuel Dragster
(No. 2 Qualifier – 3.714)

Rd. 1: (.081-second reaction time, 5.466 seconds at 123.42 mph) beat No. 15 Chris Karamesines (broke)
Rd. 2: (.063/7.343/87.24) lost to No. 10 Doug Kalitta (.061/3.745/329.50)

“I think the most frustrating part of the weekend is knowing that we are halfway through the Countdown. What we experienced in E2 is something we have never seen before. Something systematically went wrong in the first 20 feet of the run and it basically had no chance. It shook and I pedaled it trying to catch it. We are dedicated to getting our racecar consistent and we have an issue that we haven’t solved. We have about five days to figure it out and I know this team will. We’ve done a good job of taking the data we’ve learned in qualifying and applying it to eliminations. We’ll leave here with our heads up and I guarantee you there is some vengeance to be had in Dallas.”

Tommy Johnson Jr., Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car
(No. 8 Qualifier – 3.950)

Rd. 1: (.086-second reaction time, 3.916 seconds at 322.04 mph) beat to No. 9 Cruz Pedregon (.088/7.183/90.97)
Rd. 2: (.065/6.911/102.45) lost No. 1 Jack Beckman (.077/3.932/323.27)

“After having such a good season and now having a very disappointing Countdown, we thought we were going to right the ship here in Charlotte. We didn’t expect the car to come loose early in the second round but we’ll go into Dallas with a car that’s running a bit better than it had been and see if we can’t be a spoiler from here on out and make this Countdown as exciting as we can.”

Up Next: AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals
The action continues next weekend with the 34th annual AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals at the Texas Motorplex in Ennis, Texas. Hagan is a two-time winner of the event (2010 and 2016) and will look to keep his championship aspirations alive with a third victory of 2019. Capps and Pedregon are also previous Dallas winners and will chase another Texas triumph in race four of the six-race NHRA Countdown for the Championship scheduled for October 17-20.

2019 NHRA Championship Point Standings: Through 21 of 24 Rounds
(Season Wins in Parentheses)

NHRA Funny Car
1. Robert Hight (6) –2,358
2. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat (1) – 2,314
3. John Force (2) – 2,279
4. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat (3) – 2,268
5. Bob Tasca III (2) – 2,215
6. J.R. Todd (1) – 2,214
7. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody (2) – 2,211
8. Tommy Johnson, Jr. Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat (2) – 2,191

9. Shawn Langdon (2) – 2,187
10. Tim Wilkerson – 2,152

NHRA Top Fuel
1. Steve Torrence (9) – 9 2,356
2. Doug Kalitta (2) – 2,326
3. Brittany Force (1) – 2,264
4. Leah Pritchett, Mopar HEMI (1) – 2,231
5. Mike Salinas (2) – 2,227
6. Richie Crampton (2) – 2,196
7. Antron Brown – 2,194
8. Billy Torrence (1) – 2,206
9. Austin Prock (1) – 2,204
10. Clay Millican – 2,178
 
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