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Mopar and Dodge Nitro Drivers Hunt for Third Consecutive Win, 2017 Factory Stock Showdown Kicks Off at 48th Annual NHRA Gatornationals

Mopar-backed Funny Car and Top Fuel drivers each look for third win of season in class during prestigious NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway
Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak machines will take part in first of five Factory Stock Showdowns
Official Dodge display trailer debuts on NHRA Manufacturers Midway
Event serves as East Coast kickoff on NHRA national event calendar

March 15, 2017 , Auburn Hills, Mich. -

Florida’s Gainesville Raceway has been synonymous with speed since 1969. For close to five decades, some of drag racing’s most revered records have been set at the track’s prestigious NHRA Gatornationals each March. This year, Mopar and Dodge will look to continue that tradition in both the Pro and Sportsman classes across four days of competition.

The four Mopar-backed Dodge Charger R/T Funny Cars from Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) are off to a stellar start on the young season and hope to carry that momentum into the first East Coast race on the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series calendar. To kick off the year, two-time series champion Matt Hagan has collected two consecutive Wally trophies with wins in the NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona and the Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park behind the wheel of his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T. All four DSR Funny Cars currently sit in the top eight in the point standings.

In the Top Fuel ranks, DSR’s Mopar drivers are off to as hot a start as their Funny Car brethren. Leah Pritchett won her hometown Winternationals in the Papa John’s/Mopar Pennzoil Dragster, then followed it up two weeks later with a win in the Arizona Nationals for the second year in a row. She also set a new national elapsed-time record during qualifying for that event with a pass of 3.658 seconds at 329.34 mph. While Pritchett leads the point standings and her team is looking to make even more power in Gainesville, Tony Schumacher is solidly in the second spot in the Mopar-powered U.S. Army Dragster.

2016 Funny Car World Champion Ron Capps is the most recent Mopar-powered Dodge winner of the Gatornationals, claiming the event title in 2015. He is a three-time Gatornationals champion, while Tony Schumacher has won the event four times. One of Florida’s favorite sons, drag racing pioneer and longtime Mopar driver Don Garlits, won the 1972, 1977, 1978 and 1986 editions of the event in Top Fuel. In 1986, he also broke the 270-mph barrier at his home track.

Factory Stock Showdown Gets Underway
At Gainesville this year, many eyes will be on the Sportsman ranks when the first Factory Stock Showdown of 2017 takes to the track. Five events will take place throughout the year in which modern muscle cars from American manufacturers competing in Stock Eliminator are pitted head-to-head for trophies, cash prizes and bragging rights. Several Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak vehicles are on the entry list.

The Mopar-powered Factory Stock Showdown drivers will receive points toward the Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar Drag Pak Rewards program, which is designed specifically for Mopar Dodge Drag Pak racers. Competitors can still register for the program, which will reward the top 20 in points at the end of the season based on their performance in all national events. All Mopar Sportsman drivers are also eligible for monetary awards through the Mopar Contingency Program as well. Contingency rewards are available for drivers who compete and win with Mopar valve covers, intake manifolds and cylinder heads. The contingency decal is available at the Mopar display trailer.

In addition, the recently introduced Dodge Top Finisher award will provide $500 to the highest finishing Dodge or Plymouth driver in both Stock and Super Stock competition in all 24 national events.

Dodge Display Trailer Debuts on Manufacturers Midway

The Mopar display will be joined by the debut of the official Dodge display trailer on NHRA Manufacturers Midway at Gainesville. The Dodge display will feature a formidable lineup of vehicles from America’s mainstream performance brand, including the Dodge Charger Hellcat, Dodge Durango R/T, Dodge Challenger R/T 392 Scat Pack Shaker, Dodge Charger R/T 392 Scat Pack and Dodge Viper GTC TA 1.0.

New for 2017, the addition of the Dodge display to the long-standing Mopar exhibit on NHRA Manufacturers Midway highlights the teaming of the brands in support of NHRA Sportsman racers and fans. The Mopar and Dodge display trailers will be on hand at 15 of the 24 stops on the national event calendar.

Fan-friendly activities will also be on tap at the Dodge display trailer, with additional interactive features to be added throughout the season. The Mopar exhibit will also offer fans a variety of unique activities and promotions, and will host Mopar Dodge driver autograph sessions at many events as well. The next autograph session is slated for 10:45 a.m. ET on Saturday, March 18 in Gainesville.

Mopar/Dodge Notes & Quotes

Matt Hagan, Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car

“The Gators are a big event, it’s the East Coast kick off and that place is packed. I remember going to the Gators when I was little and it being just such a big event; it’s so full and there are so many people there. It’s one that I haven’t won yet and I’d like to check it off of my list.

“We’ve got some serious momentum rolling into Gainesville. The car’s running good, the guys are confident. This new Mopar body came out and we tied our national record in miles per hour and E.T. Everybody seems focused and driven, but they all do when you win two races in a row and you’re on top. But sometimes the thing about being on top is you find bottom really quick. So as good as things are going, you know that this sport is very humbling. I think you have to keep that in perspective.

“We’re carrying this high right now but you also have to be prepared for the other side of it, too. I think we’re mentally focused. So we’re just living it up and loving it right now but we know that things are going to get tough and guys are going to try to catch up. We’ve just to keep fighting and digging and make sure this Mopar stays in the front.”

Leah Pritchett, Papa John’s/Mopar Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster

“I think it would be really easy to get ahead of ourselves and focus on a third win of the season and make it a three-peat – something we’ve never done before. But honestly, we’re going to go into it with the exact same mentality we had for Pomona, knowing we had a fast car from testing and continue to just take it round by round. We’re going to be testing a couple of things when we go to the Gatornationals, but trying not to lose our lead and leave in the number one spot.

“I kind of feel like it’s a new season all over again because for our fans, it’s the East Coast debut. We’re going to experience fans that have been waiting months and months to smell that nitro. It’s going to have the same feeling as if we just went to Pomona, and we kind of thrived off that feeling. The Gainesville fans appreciate the heritage of the sport and of that racetrack, and they’re so grassroots, they’re camping out all weekend. There are thousands of them that bring a very positively contagious, hardcore drag racing feel. I feel like that matches where we’re at right now.”

(On Representing Mopar in Gainesville)

“This will be my first time going into the Gatornationals as someone wearing shoes with very big footsteps to fill. What Don [Garlits] has done there, breaking records on his way to the championships, and creating new technology along the way, inspires me. I would say the biggest word is I’m inspired by the confidence that Mopar has instilled in us and the resources they’ve provided. We already have our own set of goals, but that [being a Mopar driver] adds another one. I want to live up to and pick up where that success left off. So that’s an additional goal of mine when I’m in that Mopar Top Fuel Dragster. It’s a pretty phenomenal feeling.”

Tune-In Info
The 48th annual NHRA Gatornationals will be broadcast on FS1, with elimination rounds live on the network from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 19.

For more information on Mopar and Dodge in NHRA, check out the Mopar brand’s official blog, Mopar Blog ? Mopar Blog.

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Discussion Starter #2
Schumacher Leads Mopar-powered Drivers

Schumacher Leads Mopar-powered Drivers at 48th Annual NHRA Gatornationals with 81st Career No. 1 Qualifier Position

Mopar-powered Tony Schumacher qualifies in No. 1 spot in Top Fuel for 81st time in his career
Mopar power three-for-three in Top Fuel qualifying in 2017
Five Dodge Charger R/T Funny Cars qualify for 16-car field
Leah Pritchett defeats Papa John’s Pizza founder and CEO John Schnatter in Charity Challenge match race
Eileen Daniels presented with Pat Garlits Award at International Drag Racing Hall of Fame induction

March 18, 2017 , Gainesville, Fla. -

The Mopar and Dodge-backed teams out of the Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) stable continued their early-season roll during qualifying for the prestigious 48th Annual NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway. Eight-time Top Fuel champ Tony Schumacher set a track record for elapsed time during round two of qualifying on Friday with a pass of 3.682 seconds at 328.22 mph and held on through all of Saturday to claim the top spot on the ladder going into Sunday’s eliminations. It’s the 81st No. 1 qualifier position of his illustrious career.

His teammates in the DSR Funny Car ranks all put their Dodge Charger R/T machines in the top eight during qualifying, led by Matt Hagan’s Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T in the No. 3 spot.

Leah Pritchett, winner of the first two Top Fuel events of 2017, will start from somewhere other than the No. 1 position for the first time this year in her Papa John’s Pizza/ Mopar Pennzoil Dragster. Pritchett will begin from the seventh spot on the ladder.

Leah Pritchett Defeats Papa John’s Pizza Founder John Schnatter in First Charity Challenge of 2017

On five occasions throughout 2017, Leah Pritchett will participate in head-to-head match races with Papa John’s Pizza founder and CEO, John Schnatter. Known as the Charity Challenge, the events benefit the Infinite Hero Foundation. In Gainesville, Pritchett was behind the wheel of a Dodge Challenger configured for drag racing and featuring a supercharged Mopar Gen III HEMI® engine under the hood. She bested Schnatter with a time of 9.560 seconds at 148.54 mph. The next Charity Challenge will take place at zMax Dragway in Charlotte on April 28-30 during the Four-Wide Nationals.

International Drag Racing Hall of Fame Induction
During the 27th Annual Banquet and Induction Ceremony for the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame on Thursday evening, Mopar Motorsports Marketing Manager Dale Aldo helped honor Pat Garlits Memorial Award Presented by Mopar winner Eileen Daniels for her contributions to the sport. Daniels worked in NHRA Division 3 with her husband, Bob, and later they were involved with the operations of Indianapolis Raceway Park. After retiring to Florida, the Daniels’ were instrumental in setting up NHRA “Hot Rod Reunion” events.

The award is named for longtime Dodge and Mopar driver Don Garlits’ late wife, Pat. Don Garlits is a four-time Gatornationals winner and one of the sport’s most iconic personalities. The Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing and International Drag Racing Hall of Fame is located in Ocala.

Mopar Dodge Notes & Quotes

Tony Schumacher, U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified No. 1, will face No. 16 Smax Smith
Friday: (3.768 seconds at 325.22 mph – Q1); (3.682/328.22 – Q2)
Saturday: (3.710/324.36 – Q3); (3.798/266.06 – Q4)

“I am so proud of (crew chief) Mike (Green), (assistant crew chief) Phil (Shuler) and all the guys on the U.S. Army team. The preparation to come down to the Gatornationals, one of our biggest races, and be this good says a lot about their desire to win. Every run has been spot on and we’re ready for tomorrow. We have a chance to make history and winning the Gatornationals would be a big one.

“If we can go out there and do what we did today and what we did yesterday, we might have a chance and that’s all you can ask for. It would be a record that I wouldn’t forget for a long, long time. As a kid, the Gatornationals was always one of the biggest races for my father. Here we are today with a great chance.”

Leah Pritchett, Papa John’s Pizza/Mopar Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified No. 7, will face No. 10 Scott Palmer
Friday: (No time, too light – Q1); (4.686 seconds at 142.09 mph – Q2);
Saturday: (3.750/327.66 – Q3); (4.571/165.72 – Q4)

“Most of our efforts are in our supercharger program, and our motor is so happy right now. Last night we were getting down the track on a mid .60s run, that’s what we were shooting for, and we broke a rear end. That snapped our output shaft and the motor zinged up to almost 11 grand (rpm).

“We came back, and when you look at something like that, if your motor is struggling and you get anywhere close to being way over red like that, you sustain tons of damage. But for us, we came back and everything was fine, rods were in it, even the pistons weren’t stretched. That shows that the type of power we are making is true power, it’s not living on the edge. That’s why I have confidence that what we run on the track is safe power, and we can attribute that to Mopar’s help in development of parts.”

(On the Charity Challenge)
“We’re always looking for new ways to engage with the fans and what we just did is the epitome of drag racing. It’s grudge racing. He (John Schnatter) does not like to lose. He might have a smile on his face right now, but he does not like to lose. I was running a Mopar Drag Pak-inspired Dodge Challenger, supercharged, and this weekend was the first time I ever even sat in the car. I thought it was difficult to do a shakedown run during a national event, in front of thousands of people and on TV. I have respect for what (John) did, he hasn’t been in his car in about six months and he comes out here today straight out from what he was doing, gets in the car in front of everybody and tries to whip my butt.

“When I heard which charity we were going to be able to donate to, that touched my heart. I never thought that I would be a part of something like that.”

Matt Hagan, Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
Qualified No. 3, will face No. 14 Dave Richards
Friday: (No time; mechanical – Q1); (3.854 seconds at 328.70 mph – Q2)
Saturday: (3.986/326.32 – Q3); (4.632/178.45 – Q4)

“Gainesville is just one of those tracks I haven’t won at yet. It always seems to throw us a curve. Last night we had a fire, and the guys had to re-plumb everything and they were here until 1:30. It was a long night for them and an early morning again. For the car to come out and go down the racetrack this morning and get some data to build off of, you head into race day with some confidence.

“We’ve got a great team and a great crew chief, and my lights (reaction times) are where they need to be. As long as we keep this hot rod running, I think we’ll be fine tomorrow.”

Tommy Johnson Jr., Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
Qualified No. 5 , will face No. 12 Cruz Pedregon
Friday: (3.891 seconds at 327.98 mph – Q1); (3.865/329.83 – Q2)
Saturday: (4.444/195.34 – Q3); (3.896/328.30 – Q4)

Ron Capps, NAPA Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
Qualified No. 6, will face No. 11 Alexis DeJoria
Friday: (3.865 seconds at 329.58 mph – Q1); (4.302/204.66 – Q2)
Saturday: (4.291/205.66 – Q3); (3.927/325.69 – Q4)

Jack Beckman, Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
Qualified No. 8, will face No. 9 Tim Wilkerson
Friday: (3.883 seconds at 321.27 mph – Q1); (10.014/74.73 – Q2)
Saturday: (4.382/204.48 – Q3); (3.897/330.23 – Q4)

Tune-In Info
FS1 will broadcast the elimination rounds from the 48th Annual NHRA Gatornationals LIVE at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 19.

For more information on Mopar and Dodge in NHRA, check out the Mopar brand’s official blog, Mopar Blog ? Mopar Blog.

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Discussion Starter #3
Schumacher Gives Mopar Third Consecutive Top Fuel Victory

Schumacher Gives Mopar Third Consecutive Top Fuel Victory to Start 2017 at NHRA Gatornationals

Mopar-powered Tony Schumacher wins 83rd career Top Fuel event, fifth at Gatornationals
Mopar and Dodge continue early season success with third consecutive Top Fuel win and No. 1 spot to start 2017 season
Matt Hagan in Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car, Make-A-Wish Mopar Dodge driver Tommy Johnson Jr. run to semifinals
Mopar and Dodge hold three of top four positions in Funny Car points, top two in Top Fuel
Mike Volkman advances to Super Stock final round with 2000 Chrysler Sebring, claims Dodge Top Finisher honors
Geoffrey Turk qualifies for first Factory Stock Showdown of the year in 2015 Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak

March 19, 2017 , Gainesville, Fla. -

The streak continues. A Mopar-powered Top Fuel dragster raced to the winner’s circle for the third consecutive NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event to start 2017, as eight-time champion Tony Schumacher won the prestigious NHRA Gatornationals for the fifth time in his career.

The win is Schumacher’s 83rd overall. His Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster defeated Antron Brown from the left lane in the final round with a pass of 3.703 seconds at 329.26 mph after a reaction time of .066. Brown turned in a lap of 3.764 seconds at 322.65 mph paired with a .034 reaction time to keep the race in doubt until Schumacher turned on the win light. Schumacher started from the No. 1 position after setting an elapsed-time track record during round two of qualifying on Friday with a pass of 3.682 seconds at 328.22 mph.

Schumacher defeated Smax Smith in the first round and took down Clay Millican in the second to set up a showdown with Steve Torrence in the semifinals. Torrence overpowered the track and slowed, allowing Schumacher to reach the final round.

Meanwhile, two Mopar HEMI®-powered Dodge Charger R/T Funny Cars advanced to the semifinals. Matt Hagan, already a two-time race winner in 2017, defeated Dave Richards in the first round to earn the right to face his DSR teammate Ron Capps in the second. Hagan beat Capps for the third time this season after the 2016 Funny Car champion was disqualified for a wild ride in which he crossed the center line. Hagan went on to face young driver Jonnie Lindberg, where he smoked the tires mid-track.

Tommy Johnson Jr. bested Cruz Pedregon in the first round in his Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T, then defeated fellow Dodge driver Jim Campbell in the second round even as he struggled to find traction. Johnson ultimately lost to eventual event winner John Force after smoking his tires again. Fellow DSR teammate Jack Beckman just edged Tim Wilkerson in round one, before being bested by John Force after Beckman’s Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T went up in smoke during the second round of eliminations.

Papa John’s Pizza/Mopar Pennzoil Top Fuel driver Leah Pritchett’s bid to become the first Top Fuel driver to start a season with three consecutive wins in the class was ended by veteran Doug Kalitta. Pritchett lost to Kalitta by just .0007 seconds on a holeshot in the second round. A mechanical issue forced Scott Palmer to shut off at the starting line in the first round, where Pritchett began her day from the No. 7 qualifier position. It was the first time this season that Pritchett hadn’t qualified in the top spot.

Mopar/Dodge Notes & Quotes

Pietro Gorlier, Head of Parts and Service (Mopar) FCA – Global
“Congratulations to Tony Schumacher on winning the 48th Annual NHRA Gatornationals in his U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster. We are proud to be associated with Don Schumacher Racing, and it’s great to see the team’s Mopar-powered Top Fuel squads achieving so much success throughout the spring.”

Tony Schumacher, U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster (No. 1 Qualifier)
Rd. 1: (.073 reaction time, 3.724 seconds at 321.27 mph) defeated No. 16 Smax Smith (red light)
Rd. 2: (.077/3.751/326.64) defeated No. 8 Clay Millican (.079/3.776/322.42)
Semis: (.098/3.715/326.40) defeated No. 5 Steve Torrence (.070/4.069/266.64)
Finals: (.066/3.703/329.66 defeated No. 3 Antron Brown (.034/3.764/322.65)

“Everything went right today. That final round with Antron was an absolute battle. He has had my number here for a while. I know he’s won more than I have and that pushes me to be better. Going against him makes me step up. Going against their team makes my U.S. Army guys step up. And to go out and win the Gatornationals for the fifth time is special. Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to be put on a list with “Big Daddy” Don Garlits and Joe Amato. Those guys are legends. And throw in Larry Dixon, who is just a tough competitor that I battled with for so long and had a true rivalry with for a long time. To do something that no one else has done is a huge accomplishment.

“We are in the fight every race. And it’s going to be a fun year. We are already in the Traxxas Shootout, so you can take that pressure away… let’s go out and win some races. “

Matt Hagan, Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car (No. 3 Qualifier)
Rd. 1: (.085 reaction time, 3.898 seconds at 331.94 mph), defeated No. 14 Dave Richards (.078/4.054/287.05)
Rd. 2: (.053/4.212/229.98) defeated No. 6 Ron Capps (DQ – crossed center line)
Semis: (.082/3.948/324.98) lost to No. 10 Jonnie Lindberg (.082/3.948/324.98)

“We just got stuck over in the right lane, and we had to keep backing it down and backing it down to make sure we got down the racetrack. It’s just one of those things where it’s a one-lane race track, and that’s really tough when you don’t have lane choice.

“This Mopar car has been running strong. We’ve won two races and went to the semis here and got some separation in our points lead over Capps. All in all a pretty good day, but obviously we would have wanted to hold the Wally (trophy) at the end, but it isn’t going to happen. We’ll focus on Vegas. We’ve got a weekend off, and we’re going to regroup and rest a little bit, do some farm work (at his cattle ranch), and then roll back into Vegas and try to get it done out there.”

Leah Pritchett, Papa John’s Pizza/Mopar Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster (No. 7 Qualifier)
Rd. 1: (.108 reaction time, 3.716 seconds at 323.12 mph) defeated No. 10 Scott Palmer (no time)
Rd. 2: (.083/3.738/323.97) lost to No. 2 Doug Kalitta (holeshot win) (.067/3.754/325.13)

“We had a nice, lucky break in the first round. We knew that Scott Palmer was running really, really well and that we just would have to go to A to B and we did. We ran a .71 and we actually probably had a little bit more. I would say that Doug (Kalitta) is one of the most intimidating cars right now. That car is incredibly intimidating and we brought everything we had to that party and at the end of the day our streak ended with me, and I’ll take the hit on that. But it’s not like I’m getting super, super down about it.

“I did the best job that I thought that I could do and the car is obviously there. So I’m personally taking all of my notes of still how to be a really good race car driver with a lot of stuff going on. But I think hands down we had the best race car this week and I feel especially good that we had the best race car in that round. So I feel good about Vegas.”

Tommy Johnson Jr., Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car (No. 5 Qualifier)
Rd.1: (.085 reaction time, 3.863 seconds at 328.46 mph) defeated No. 12 Cruz Pedregon (.061/12.342/71.413)
Rd. 2: (.096/6.019/177.37) defeated No. 13 Jim Campbell (.112/8.841/109.74)
Semis: (.065/5.544/134.32) lost to No. 1 John Force (.041/3.955/324.05)

“When we started out the day, running I think it was second quick of the first round, I was really confident. Then it threw us a curveball in second round, and we got a little lucky, got the win but we smoked the tires. We’ll have to look to see why because we smoked the tires again in the semis and we shouldn’t have with all the changes we made from the second round to the semis. So we’ll have to look at it real good. But still, overall another semifinal round and it’s a really good points day. So I’m happy with the way the weekend went. I’m happy with the way we’re headed; it’s just a matter of time now.”

Ron Capps, NAPA Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car – (No. 6 Qualifier)
Rd 1: (.105 reaction time, 3.895 seconds at 330.96 mph) defeated No. 11 Alexis DeJoria (.086/3.925/328.46)
Rd. 2: (DQ – crossed center line) lost to No. 3 Matt Hagan (.053/4.212/229.98)

“This is a big race. They’re all big, but this is one of the most historic ones we go to. I’ve been lucky enough to win here three times in the past, and every time you win this race, you’re in the winner’s circle and you look back on the day, and you realize how difficult it is to win this race.

“To make it into second round like we did, we just had a great car. The guys worked hard with our aerodynamics to help it become more drivable this season. The car went out there, and this time it spun the tires against Hagan. We’re teammates, but sometimes we like to beat each other more than we do any other team. The thing turned sideways on me, and thank God I was able to catch it and not go into Matt’s lane further and run into him. It (the car) was a handful. But it’s moments like that, I’m sick to my stomach over it because I think I should have caught it quicker, but it’s those moments that really make you enjoy the moments we have had in the winner’s circle.”

Jack Beckman, Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car (No. 8 Qualifier)
Rd 1: (.064 reaction time, 3.899 seconds at 329.83 mph) defeated No. 9 Tim Wilkerson (.079/3.906/327.66 )
Rd. 2: (.065/8.835/82.48) lost to No. 1 John Force (.048/3.916/328.14)

“That was one of those odd rounds where so many cars smoked the tires that you start thinking there’s a track issue. But here’s the thing, we aren’t going to make any excuses. Our job is to figure out how to make our way down the racetrack, no matter what the conditions. Trust me when I tell you we will pick away at this data, and figure out if we get in this situation again, what we would do different to make sure we make a good race out of it.

“It’s upsetting to not win, but we’re philosophical. They’re 10,000 horsepower race cars and hard to harness, and we have a bunch more races coming up. I think that the more data you give a team like us, the more we are going to excel, simply because we are newer than most of the teams. We’ve changed more stuff probably then the average team, so every one run we make proportionally, we’re getting a bigger percentage of data than them.”

Mopar/Dodge NHRA Sportsman Spotlight

In the always-competitive NHRA Sportsman ranks, the Dodge Top Finisher award went to Gary Robillard of Walker, Louisiana, in Stock Eliminator, while Campobello, South Carolina’s Michael Volkman won the award in the Super Stock class. The Dodge Top Finisher award goes to the highest finishing Dodge or Plymouth vehicle in both Stock and Super Stock competition at all 24 NHRA national events. It pays $500 to the award winner in each class.

Mike Volkman and his 2000 Chrysler Sebring in the GT/LA class battled through intense competition in the Super Stock ranks to score a runner-up finish and claim the Dodge Top Finisher honors. Volkman, a Mopar-powered drag racer for decades who works in the automotive service industry, qualified 27th in Super Stock and advanced through five rounds to reach the finals, beating Kevin Riner and his ’98 Camaro in the semis.

Out of the 76 Stockers competing at the NHRA Gatornationals, Gary Robillard qualified his 2009 Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak running in FS/G in the 18th spot and began to march through the elimination rounds with a string of consistent reaction times and dial-ins. He advanced to the quarterfinals but “pushed” the Christmas tree a little too far and was disqualified on a redlight foul.

Wes Leopold of Bethel Park, Pennsylvania, also advanced to the finals of Competition Eliminator, driving his A/SMA 2005 Dodge to a runner-up finish. Geoffrey Turk of Yorkville, Illinois, qualified his 2015 Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak sixth in the field of eight during the first of this season’s five Factory Stock Showdowns before making a first-round exit.

Next Event
The NHRA returns to the West Coast on March 31 – April 2 for the NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Tony Schumacher has won the event eight times in Top Fuel, while Ron Capps has five wins in the Funny Car class. The NHRA Nationals will be broadcast on FS1, with Sunday’s elimination rounds airing live on the network at 6 p.m. ET.

For more information on Mopar and Dodge in NHRA, check out the Mopar brand’s official blog, Mopar Blog ? Mopar Blog.

2017 NHRA Championship — Point Standings After Round 3 of 24
(Season Wins in Parentheses)

NHRA Funny Car
1. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger R/T (2) – 308
2. John Force (1) – 238
3. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger R/T – 235
4. Tommy Johnson Jr. Dodge Charger R/T – 209

5. Courtney Force – 177
6. Robert Hight – 150
7. Jim Campbell Dodge Charger R/T – 148
8. Jack Beckman Dodge Charger R/T – 144

9. J.R. Todd – 138
10. Tim Wilkerson – 117

NHRA Top Fuel
1. Leah Pritchett, Mopar HEMI (2) – 300
2. Tony Schumacher, Mopar HEMI (1) – 279

3. Antron Brown – 243
4. Doug Kalitta – 220
5. Brittany Force – 202
6. Steve Torrence – 185
7. Troy Coughlin Jr. – 143
8. Shawn Reed – 136
9. Clay Millican – 133
10. Scott Palmer – 116
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Dodge Nitro Forum
We’re a forum community dedicated to Dodge Nitro SUV owners & enthusiasts. Come join the discussion about upgrades, towing capacity, reliability, and more!
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