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Beckman and Nobile Bank No. 1 Spots for Team Mopar at Brainerd

• Defending NHRA Funny Car champion Jack Beckman scores his second straight pole in his Mopar HEMI-powered Dodge Charger R/T

• Beckman’s Don Schumacher Racing teammate Matt Hagan takes the No. 2 Spot in his Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car

• Vincent Nobile paces the Mopar-powered NHRA Pro Stock contingent with his first No. 1 spot of the season

• V. Gaines qualifies his Mopar-fueled Dodge Avenger No. 3 and locks up a spot in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship

• Defending NHRA Pro Stock champion Allen Johnson qualifies fifth in his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Avenger, while Jeg Coughlin Jr. will begin Sunday eighth in the Dodge

August 17, 2013 , Brainerd, Minn. -

Team Mopar will head into eliminations on Sunday for the NHRA Nationals at Brainerd (Minn.) International Raceway with a pair of drivers racing for the event win out of the No. 1 spot. Defending NHRA Funny Car world champ Jack Beckman recorded his second-consecutive pole in his Mopar-powered Dodge Charger R/T, while young Vincent Nobile also paced his class, seizing the top spot in his Mountain View Dodge Avenger Pro Stock car.

Beckman, sporting a special Don Schumacher Hall of Fame Tribute graphics wrap on his Dodge Charger to honor his team owner, was quickest after the first qualifying stanza on Friday, but fell to 12th in the night session. In his first shot on Saturday, Beckman reeled off a 4.038-second elapsed time at 313.37 mph to earn his second consecutive No. 1 qualifying effort, second of the season and ninth of his career.

"We’ve got a brand new car that only has four runs on it and two of them were low E.T. of the session,” said Beckman, who will race Bob Bode in the first round tomorrow as he seeks his first victory at Brainerd and also his first win of the season. “These guys went back after Seattle and put together a completely new chassis, we’ve got the old school body on it and I love the mix. I like the way it is running and I like our chances.”

Team Mopar will start 1-2 in Funny Car, with current points leader and Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar Dodge Charger R/T driver Matt Hagan taking the No. 2 spot with a 4.044-second pass on Friday. Hagan, who was tops on the charts until he was knocked off by his Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) teammate Beckman, will face Tony Pedregon in the opening round. All four DSR drivers will race for the money on Sunday: Johnny Gray (No. 6, 4.074) will draw Cruz Pedregon to begin his day, while Ron Capps (No. 9, 4.096) will face his friend Del Worsham. Jeff Arend (No. 12, 4.109) will face Tim Wilkerson.

Nobile, red hot with back-to-back wins at Sonoma and Seattle heading into Brainerd, retained the No. 1 qualifying spot he scored Friday with a 6.580/209.43 run in his Mountain View Tire Dodge Avenger Pro Stock car. Nobile, who competes with Mopar HEMI engines supplied by Allen & Roy Johnson’s J&J Racing team, will lineup in a Mopar vs. Mopar duel with Chris McGaha in the opening round of eliminations.

“This is pretty exciting, especially considering that we haven’t been qualifying very great this whole year,” Nobile said. “To be No. 1 at this race means a lot, and it means we have a fast race car. After coming off two wins, there’s nothing better than qualifying No. 1. I think this shows that things are going in the right direction and it couldn’t happen at a better time than now with the Countdown coming up.”

Three Mopar Pro Stockers will start in the top five at Brainerd. V Gaines put his Mopar-powered Dodge in the No. 3 spot with a 6.592 pass, and in the process punched his ticket into the six-race NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs, which begin at the NHRA Charlotte event in mid-September. Gaines will face Steve Kent in round one. Defending Pro Stock champion Allen Johnson, currently second in the point standings, was quickest in the final qualifying session with a 6.593 in his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Avenger, earning the fifth starting spot and a first-round battle with Roger Brogdon. Jeg Coughlin Jr. (No. 8, 6.605) will go head-to-head with Mike Martino. Deric Kramer (No. 15, 6.680) will post his Dodge against Greg Anderson.

Two hours of qualifying highlights from the NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway will be broadcast on ESPN2 and ESPN2HD at 11 p.m. ET on Saturday, Aug. 17, while three hours of eliminations coverage will be televised on Sunday, Aug. 18, starting at 9 p.m. (ET).

About Mopar Motorsports
Mopar’s commitment to professional motorsports competition was established in the 1950s when a partnership ignited with drag racing pioneer Don Garlits, resulting in the breaking of numerous speed and performance barriers in HEMI®-powered vehicles over the next several decades. In 2013, Mopar looks to defend its two NHRA 2012 World Championship titles in Pro Stock and Funny Car categories, and celebrates 25 consecutive years as title sponsor of the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals in Colorado. While Mopar remains involved in a various professional motorsports series, it continues to honor its roots by being a proud supporter of amateur racing within the NHRA with its sponsorship of the HEMI Challenge and Mopar Sportsman Cup.

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Discussion Starter #2
Capps Beats Hagan in All-Mopar Funny Car Final at Brainerd; Gaines Earns Runner-Up in Pro Stock
• Ron Capps scores the third-straight win for a Mopar-powered Funny Car driver, and the fifth in the last six races
• Current Funny Car points leader and Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar driver Matt Hagan takes the runner-up spot in an all-Mopar final
• Hagan, Capps and Mopar-powered driver Johnny Gray are now 1-2-3 in the NHRA Funny Car points standings
• Capps and Gray lockdown berths in the six-race NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs
• V. Gaines runs to his second final round of the season in a runner-up showing
• Mopar Express Lane Dodge Avenger Pro Stock driver and defending champ Allen Johnson goes to quarterfinals
• Mopar–powered Dodge Avenger Pro Stock drivers have now advanced to the final round in seven consecutive events

August 18, 2013 , Brainerd, Minn. -

Ron Capps continued a dominant winning streak by Mopar-powered Dodge Charger R/T NHRA Funny Car racers, earning his third win of the season on Sunday at the NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, Minn. The victory was also the third straight for a Don Schumacher Racing Dodge Charger R/T driver, and fifth in the last six events. In NHRA Pro Stock, V. Gaines scored a runner-up finish, placing a Mopar HEMI-powered Dodge Avenger in the final round for the seventh consecutive event.

Capps, the No. 9 qualifier, defeated Del Worsham in the opening stanza to set up a second-round showdown with the top qualifier — teammate and fellow Mopar HEMI-powered Funny Car driver Jack Beckman. Capps was able to edge out the defending Funny Car champ with a winning 4.073-second elapsed time at 309.77 mph to Beckman’s 4.102/309.70. Capps knocked off Tim Wilkerson in the semifinals to arrange yet another battle with a Mopar-powered teammate and former Funny Car champ — Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar Dodge Charger R/T driver Matt Hagan, who defeated another DSR Dodge team member, Johnny Gray, in the semifinals to earn a spot in the money round.

Capps was slower off the starting line but not at the finish, reeling in Hagan at about the 600-ft mark to earn the win with a 4.063/312.28 mark — and about a seven-inch margin of victory. Hagan, winner at the recent Seattle race, posted a 4.095/312.78 in his close runner-up effort. Capps, winner at the Sonoma event but unable to qualify in Seattle, also overcame an engine explosion in Saturday qualifying on the road to his 41st career win.

“That is the nature of our sport and for sure the Funny Car division,” said Capps. “It is a fun class but that final round just epitomizes how tight our category is right now. You have to be on your absolute best and I wasn’t today as a driver but Rahn [Tobler, crew chief] made up for it and man, wow, what a weekend.”

“Congratulations to Ron Capps from all of us at Mopar on his win at Brainerd International Raceway,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group LLC’s service, parts and customer-care brand. “It’s great to see the Mopar-powered Funny Car package competing so strongly and back in the winner’s circle for the eleventh time this year. Seeing all four Don Schumacher Racing teammates contending for wins and battling to defend the world championship title throughout this very competitive season has been exciting for all of us.”

With their performance at Brainerd, Capps and Gray joined Hagan in locking down spots in the six-race NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs, scheduled to begin in mid-September in Charlotte. Hagan, Capps and Gray are now in the top three spots in the Funny Car standings (Gray is tied with Cruz Pedregon), while Beckman is seventh.

In Pro Stock, V. Gaines earned his second runner-up spot in the last four events, taking his Mopar HEMI-powered Kendall Oil Dodge Avenger all the way to the final, where he lost to current points leader Mike Edwards. Gaines bested Steve Kent in the opening round, defeated Larry Morgan with a near-perfect .001 reaction time in the quarterfinals and then took out former Pro Stock champ Greg Anderson on a holeshot win, recording a .017 mark off the line with a 6.632/208.65 pass to Anderson’s .060 time and 6.604/209.46 run. The final, in which Gaines fell to Edwards, marked the seventh straight final round appearance by a Mopar-powered Pro Stock driver.

No. 1 qualifier Vincent Nobile, coming off wins at Sonoma and Seattle, came up short in his bid for three in a row. He defeated fellow Mopar racer Chris McGaha in the first round and Mike Martino in the quarterfinals before falling to Edwards in the semis. Mopar Express Lane Dodge Avenger driver Allen Johnson also met the same fate as Gaines and Nobile — after trailering Rodger Brogdon with a 6.643/208.49 in round one, Johnson fell to Edwards in a second round battle of the top two in the standings. Johnson’s 6.622/208.62 wasn’t enough to overcome Edwards’ 6.619/208.26 pass. Dodge Avenger driver Jeg Coughlin Jr. also exited earlier than desired, losing to Mark Martino in the opening round.

Gaines clinched his spot in the Countdown to the Championship at Brainerd, putting four Mopar-powered Pro Stock racers in the six-race playoffs. Johnson, Coughlin and Nobile are currently second, third and fourth, respectively, in the Pro Standings, trailing only Edwards.

Three hours of eliminations coverage from the NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway will be broadcast on ESPN2 and ESPN2HD on Sunday, Aug. 18, starting at 9 p.m. (ET). Next up for the Team Mopar contingent is the U.S. Nationals, scheduled for Aug. 28 – Sept. 2 at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.

2013 NHRA Championship Points Standings (following the NHRA Nationals in Brainerd):

PRO STOCK (season wins in parentheses)
1. Mike Edwards (5) – 1540 *
2. Allen Johnson (4) - Dodge Avenger – 1390*
3. Jeg Coughlin Jr. (2) - Dodge Avenger – 1275*
4. Vincent Nobile (3) - Dodge Avenger – 1113*

5. Shane Gray – 1031*
6. Jason Line (1) – 1008*
7. Greg Anderson – 977*
8. V. Gaines - Dodge Avenger – 879*
9. Erica Enders-Stevens (1) – 779*
10. Rodger Brogdon (1) – 724*
*clinched berth in Countdown to the Championship

FUNNY CAR (season wins in parentheses)
1. Matt Hagan (4) - Dodge Charger R/T – 1253*
2. Ron Capps (3) - Dodge Charger R/T – 1129*
3. Johnny Gray (4) - Dodge Charger R/T – 1066*

Cruz Pedregon (3) – 1066*
5. John Force (1) – 1054*
6. Courtney Force (2) – 1039*
7. Jack Beckman - Dodge Charger R/T – 1015
8. Tim Wilkerson – 952
9. Bob Tasca III – 906
10. Robert Hight – 902
*clinched berth in Countdown to the Championship
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