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Shortened NHRA Qualifying Produces Mixed Results for Mopar in Seattle; Beckman Earns No.1 Qualifier

Friday qualifying sessions were rained out at the 26th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries, the 15th of 24 NHRA events

Beckman is No.1 qualifier in Funny Car by setting a new track record

Last week’s Sonoma winner Capps was unable to qualify for Funny Car elimination rounds

This weekend marks Johnson’s participation in his 400th career NHRA national event

Johnson is top Mopar qualifier in third ; Gaines, Coughlin, Nobile all in top half of the Pro Stock field


August 3, 2013 , Kent, Wash. -

After rain washed out Friday’s two qualifying session at Pacific Raceways, the last two sessions took place under overcast skies and in cool temperatures to determine the field for Sunday’s eliminations at the 26th annual NHRA Northwest Nationals near Seattle, Wash., the 15th of 24 NHRA events. Jack Beckman drove his Don Schumacher Racing Dodge Charger R/T to the top of the order in Funny Car qualifying on his first run, setting the track record with an elapsed time of 4.049 seconds (303.64 mph), to earn his first No.1 qualifier of the season, the ninth of his career.

The defending NHRA world champion’s last win at Seattle came in 2007 and although he is sixth in the championship standings, Beckman is hoping to earn his first trip to victory lane this season on Sunday.

“We’ve got a lot of ground to make up in the points, but we just want a trophy right now,” said Beckman who will face his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Johnny Gray, who has a category leading four wins this year, in the first round. “It’s been a while and we want to win a race so bad right now. It’s just that tough out there. We just have to try to keep winning rounds and hopefully we can put four together (on Sunday).”

Funny Car points leader Matt Hagan qualified his “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” machine fourth with a 4.067 second e.t. (303.78 mph) to race against Todd Lesenko as his first round match-up.

An unexpected victim of the weather-shortened qualifying was fellow Mopar teammate Ron Capps who won last week’s NHRA event at Sonoma and sits in second place in the points battle. Capps struggled with grip on both his passes and missed making the field for the first time since spring of 2012 at Las Vegas.

Mopar’s Pro Stock driver Allen Johnson marked his participation in the 400th NHRA national event of his career by posting back-to-back elapsed time passes of 6.53 seconds in the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Avenger to run second quickest in both sessions. Johnson was second to Ricky Jones’ who sat on the provisional pole until that spot was taken away in the final qualifying session by Mike Edwards, the current Pro Stock points leader, with a 6.526 second e.t. (212.29 mph) to break the Pacific Raceways speed and time record to grab a 12th No.1 qualifier position this year. Johnson ended up third of the timing sheets overall and will match up against J.R. Carr in the first round of eliminations.

“To be around as long as we’ve been around, I still feel 29 like when I started and I don’t feel like it’s been that long but I guess it has,” said Johnson who has participated in nearly half of the NHRA’s 801 national events and won his first World Championship in 2012. “We knew after the first run we were solidly in the field, so the second round we got after it but Mike (Edwards) got after it a little more. I think we’ve got a good tune up and Sunday is going to be hotter so it will likely be a crew chief’s race tomorrow.”

HEMI-powered driver V. Gaines was fourth quickest and faces Shane Gray as his first opponent.

Last weekend’s runner-up at the Sonoma Nationals, Jeg Coughlin Jr. was 11th after the first session but after some changes to the rear of his JEGS.com Mopar Dodge Avenger he improved to a fifth place qualifying spot with a run of 6.560 seconds (210.70 mph) and will see Steve Kent in the first round.

After a trip taking his Mopar to the winner’s circle at the Sonoma last week, Vincent Nobile clinched a playoff berth with his sixth place qualification effort at Pacific Raceways and will see Chris McGaha as his first round match-up.

Two hours of qualifying highlights from the 26th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries, the 15th of 24 NHRA Mello Yello Series national events, will be broadcast on ESPN2 and ESPN2HD at 10 p.m. ET on Saturday, Aug. 3, while three hours of elimination rounds coverage will be televised on Sunday, Aug. 4, starting at 7 p.m. (ET).


2013 NHRA Championship Points Standings (following the Sonoma Nationals):

PRO STOCK (season wins in parentheses)
1. Mike Edwards (4) – 1339*
2. Allen Johnson (4) - Dodge Avenger – 1273*
3. Jeg Coughlin Jr. (2) - Dodge Avenger – 1147*

4. Shane Gray – 948
5. Vincent Nobile (2) - Dodge Avenger – 918
6. Jason Line (1) – 902
7. Greg Anderson – 821
8. Erica Enders-Stevens (1) – 743
9. V. Gaines - Dodge Avenger – 742
10. Rodger Brogden (1) – 660
*clinched berth in Countdown to the Championship

FUNNY CAR (season wins in parentheses)
1. Matt Hagan (3) - Dodge Charger R/T – 1034
2. Ron Capps (2) - Dodge Charger R/T – 1007

3. Cruz Pedregon (3) – 983
4. John Force (1) – 961
5. Johnny Gray (4) - Dodge Charger R/T – 945
6. Jack Beckman - Dodge Charger R/T – 910

6. Courtney Force (2) – 910
8. Tim Wilkerson – 804
9. Del Worsham – 799
10. Robert Hight – 782
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Mopar Cleans up with Two Wins in Seattle; Sweeps Pro Stock NHRA Western Swing

Mopar earns wins in both Funny Car and Pro Stock at 26th annual NHRA Northwest Nationals

Hagan posts his fourth win of the 2013 season; clinches a playoff spot and maintains lead in championship standings

Last week’s Sonoma winner Nobile earns his second consecutive win, and the third of the year against Coughlin

Nobile’s win helps complete the sweep of the western swing by HEMI-powered J&J tuned engines


August 5, 2013 , Kent, Wash. -
Mopar capped-off the three race NHRA western swing with important wins by Matt Hagan aboard his “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” Funny Car and Vincent Nobile at the wheel of his HEMI®-powered Pro Stock at the 26th annual NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways marking the fifth time this season that national titles were won by Dodge entries in both Mello Yello Drag Racing Series categories.

“On behalf of everyone at Mopar, we offer our congratulations to both Matt (Hagan) and Vincent (Nobile) for their wins at Seattle,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group LLC’s service, parts and customer-care brand. “We’ve celebrated victories in both classes on five different occasions this year and we’re very proud to have the hard work and quality teamwork on display in this way as we approach the playoffs and look to defend our two championships.”

Hagan’s fourth win of the season and sixth final round appearance helped the Don Schumacher Racing driver clinch a spot in the “Countdown to the Championship” and maintain the lead in the tightly contested Funny Car points standings with just two events remaining before the start of the six-race playoff series. After disposing of Todd Lesenko, Paul Lee and beating Courtney Force on a holeshot, Hagan secured his first win at Seattle by defeating Bob Tasca in the final elimination.

"The charisma and the chemistry I have with these guys is unbelievable," said Hagan who rebounded from two first round losses in the last two events to win his ninth career title. “It's showing on the racetrack. It trickles down from the top. Dickie [Venables, Crew Chief] is a great leader and it's phenomenal to be able to strap into a race car that DSR puts underneath me and be able to know that you have an opportunity to win anytime I sit in the Magneti Marelli Rocky Boots machine. Right now we have one goal; pull on the helmet, get focused, get up on the wheel, and turn on four win lights.”

Hagan’s Mopar teammates saw their fair share of upsets in Seattle as last week’s title winner Ron Capps struggled in his two qualifying attempts, shorten by inclement weather on Friday, and was not able to qualify for the elimination rounds. No.1 qualifier, Jack Beckman saw his Mopar Dodge Charger R/T upset on a holeshot win by fellow DSR teammate Johnny Gray in the first round. Gray, who has four wins this season, then fell to Courtney Force in the next round.

The Pro Stock title win by Nobile at the Northwest Nationals was notable as it came on the heels of his trip to the winner’s circle last week at Sonoma, but also because it was the third time he had faced his Mopar teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. in a final elimination showdown this season and emerged the victor. Allen Johnson’s victory at the Mopar Mile-High Nationals in Denver combined with Nobile’s consecutive wins at Sonoma and Seattle gave the HEMI-powered entries tuned by Roy Johnson a clean sweep of the three-race western swing. All three national events featured a Mopar versus Mopar final elimination showdown as Johnson defeated V. Gaines at Denver, and Nobile beat Coughlin in their last two final round match-ups.

“It was a great sweep for Roy and Allen Johnson's engines and to be able to put Mopar in the winner’s circle means a lot and it’s a real team effort,” said Nobile faced both of his teammates on his way to earning his eighth career win to jump up to fourth place in the points standing. “I think I try a little bit harder when I’m going up against my teammates in Jeg (Coughlin) and Allen (Johnson), and it definitely means a lot beating Jeg again in a final. He’s just unbelievable and to be able to beat a champion, it means a lot to me and my team. It’s a great time to turn it on for the Countdown.”

Coughlin’s fourth runner-up finish of the year came about with round wins against Steve Kent, Shane Gray and points leader Mike Edwards in the semifinals. The JEGS.com Mopar driver sits third in points with two wins so far this season.

Johnson saw his day cut short in the second round against Nobile who beat him by four thousandths of a second on a holeshot after second guessing himself.

“Lane choice played pretty big there as all the cars in front of us shook (their tires) a little bit in the left lane and so we changed lanes when we probably shouldn’t have,” said the driver of the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Avenger who remains second in the points battle. “It was a close race and I lost to a teammate that went on to help us sweep the western swing so I am definitely happy for the team.”

After contesting seven races in eight weeks, Mopar teams and drivers will have two weeks to prepare for the 32nd annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway, the 16th of 24 NHRA Mello Yello Series national events, held from Aug. 15-18 near Brainerd, Minnesota. Only two events remain before the “Countdown to the Championship” playoffs begin.

2013 NHRA Championship Points Standings (following the Seattle Northwest Nationals):

PRO STOCK (season wins in parentheses)
1. Mike Edwards (4) – 1421 *
2. Allen Johnson (4) - Dodge Avenger – 1333*
3. Jeg Coughlin Jr. (2) - Dodge Avenger – 1241*
4. Vincent Nobile (3) - Dodge Avenger – 1032*

5. Shane Gray – 999*
6. Jason Line (1) – 955*
7. Greg Anderson – 894*
8. V. Gaines - Dodge Avenger – 778
9. Erica Enders-Stevens (1) – 743
10. Rodger Brogden (1) – 692
*clinched berth in Countdown to the Championship


FUNNY CAR (season wins in parentheses)
1. Matt Hagan (4) - Dodge Charger R/T – 1151*
2. Cruz Pedregon (3) – 1034
3. Ron Capps (2) - Dodge Charger R/T – 1017
4. John Force (1) – 996
5. Johnny Gray (4) - Dodge Charger R/T – 991
6. Courtney Force (2) – 983
7. Jack Beckman - Dodge Charger R/T – 951
8. Tim Wilkerson – 877
9. Bob Tasca III – 874
10. Robert Hight – 841
*clinched berth in Countdown to the Championship
 
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