May 17, 2015,
Following up on his title win at the NHRA Spring Nationals in Houston three weeks ago, Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) pilot Ron Capps drove his new 2015 Dodge Charger R/T to a runner-up finish at this weekend’s NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway. The DSR team has put at least one of their four 2015 Mopar Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car entries into the championship round of eliminations at six of seven events this season thus far, and Capps has been in four of them, come away with two wins, and following Sunday’s runner-up result, retains the Funny Car points lead with a 21 points over teammate and defending NHRA Funny Car world champion, Matt Hagan.
"Sure, we want to want; we expect to win,” said Capps of the 44th
runner-up finish of his career with the loss to title winner Tim Wilkerson. “But when you take a step back and look to see, it was a great weekend for our Dodge. It was a great team effort with great job by (Crew Chief Rahn) Tobler and all the guys. This was much like when we looked at the (elimination) ladders before we won at Gainesville (Fla.) and Houston this year and the guys we had to beat were some of the best out here."
Capps and his crew qualified ninth as they worked to overcome a number of gremlins through qualifying. To get to the final elimination round, Capps defeated Alexis DeJoria and No. 1 qualifier Cruz Pedregon before facing No.4 seed Hagan. The teammates were just one point apart heading into their semifinal match-up with the advantage to Capps with lane choice. Capps took the semifinal win while Hagan hazed the tires to close out his day second in the standings.
"It's tough when it's hot like this and then you add in racing your teammates and that just makes it tougher,” said Hagan who drove the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T to his 200 round win by beating Dave Richards and then teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. to meet up with Capps. “We have the best teams in drag racing in our own building and that's who you have to beat on race day. There's no doubt it was a tough race track out there today too. It gets hot out, it gets sticky and you just have to calm these cars down and that's not easy to do. The left lane was challenging for everyone and it was for us too."
Capps found himself in that same dreaded left lane and suffered a similar fate as Hagan, hazing the tires in his final round showdown against Wilkerson, who posted his first win since 2001 in Seattle and the 18th
of his career.
Top DSR qualifier and No. 3 seed Jack Beckman took his Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T straight down the lane to beat Robert Hight in the opening round, but fell to eventual title winner Wilkerson in the second round.
"Tim Wilkerson made a statement with his run in the first round (4.035) that was low E.T. of the first round,” said Beckman who remains fifth in the standings. “We felt getting lane choice gave him a big advantage and the right lane seemed to be the better lane. We were stout; we had the Infinite Hero Dodge tuned up and we hung with him. I thought there was only one car that could beat us this weekend and unfortunately we raced him in the second round. But it's still a good feeling to leave here knowing we have a car that can win every race."
In Pro Stock eliminations action, Allen Johnson and his “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” Dodge Dart posted a holeshot win in an all-HEMI first round match-up against V. Gaines. While Gaines posted his best lap of the weekend with a 6.579-second elapsed time run at 210.70 mile per hour, Johnson had the better reaction time, 0.060 seconds to his opponent’s 0.093 second, giving him the round win after posting a 6.586/210.28. Johnson’s slower time was reason enough for the Mopar team to decide on an engine change before his quarterfinal match against Roger Brogdon. However, while working to add a win to the one he earned at Atlanta Dragway in 2002, Johnson’s day ended with at the 300 foot mark.
“We had him by two hundredths at the 60 foot mark but our transmission broke,” said Johnson who remains tenth in points with this weekend’s result, but leaves feeling more optimistic. “We had a much better qualifying than we’ve had in a while but race day wasn’t so easy when we had to make a motor change between the first and second round. However, we are walking away feeling a bit better because it was a good weekend for us directionally.”
Competitor Jason Line earned the Southern Nationals title win over Greg Anderson, his second win of the year, and took over the Pro Stock points lead.
Mopar teams and drivers’ next stop will be Topeka, Kansas, for the 27th annual NHRA Kansas Nationals held at Heartland Park from May 22-24, the eighth event on the 2015 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.
2015 NHRA Championship Points Standings
(following the NHRA Southern Nationals in Atlanta):
(season wins in parentheses)
1. Jason Line – 624 (2)
2. Erica Enders Stevens – 592 (2)
3. Greg Anderson – 555 (1)
4. Chris McGaha – 464
5. Rodger Brogdon – 460(1)
6. Drew Skillman – 392
7. Larry Morgan – 375 (1)
8. Vincent Nobile – 369
9. Shane Gray – 348
10. Allen Johnson (Dodge Dart) – 335
13. V Gaines (Dodge Dart) – 242
(season wins in parentheses)
1. Ron Capps (2015 Dodge Charger R/T) – 523 (2)
2. Matt Hagan (2015 Dodge Charger R/T) – 502 (2)
3. Del Worsham – 435
4. Robert Hight – 428
5. Tommy Johnson Jr. (2015 Dodge Charger R/T) – 424
6. Jack Beckman (2015 Dodge Charger R/T) – 413 (1)
7. John Force – 407 (1)
8. Tim Wilkerson – 387 (1)
9. Alexis DeJoria – 361
10t. Courtney Force – 356
10t. Cruz Pedregon– 336
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 2015, Mopar looks to add to its streak of five NHRA World Championship titles in the Pro Stock (2012 and 2013) and Funny Car (2011, 2012, and 2014) categories in four years. 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’s Tom Hoover Sportsman Challenge.
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: www.mopar.com.
Mopar has introduced numerous industry-first features including:
- Vehicle-information apps: first to introduce smartphone vehicle-information applications, a new channel of communication with customers
- Electronic owner manuals: first to introduce traditional owner manuals in a DVD and brief user-guide format. First to offer complete vehicle-information kits in Spanish
- Wi-Fi: first to offer customers the ability to make their vehicle a wireless hot spot
- Wireless charging: first to introduce in-vehicle wireless charging for portable devices
- Electronic Vehicle Tracking System (EVTS): first to market with interactive vehicle tracking device that sends owner a text when vehicle is driven too fast or too far based on pre-set parameters
- wiADVISOR: first to provide factory-connected tablet technology in the service lane for instant vehicle diagnosis
- wiTECH: first to support vehicle diagnosis and software updates leveraging off-the-shelf personal computers and a dedicated wireless tool network
- 2011 Mopar Challenger Drag Pak: first to introduce a 500-plus cubic-inch V-10 drag-race package car