Beckman Wins All-Mopar Final to Complete Dominating Performance at NHRA Sonoma Nationals
August 2nd, 2015
Beckman collects back-to-back national titles on NHRA ‘western swing’ with wins at Sonoma Nationals and Mopar Mile-High Nationals
Tommy Johnson Jr. drives his Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) 2015 Dodge Charger R/T to runnerup finish in fifth all-Mopar final elimination of the year
Matt Hagan retains points lead despite quarterfinal loss after qualifying No.2 and posting fastest pass in Funny Car history at 325.77 miles per hour in Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T
New DSR Mopar Funny Car body has won 12 national titles and advanced to 14 final rounds in 15 NHRA events this season to date
August 2, 2015 , Sonoma, California - It was as near perfect a weekend as a National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) drag racer could hope to have. Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) driver Jack Beckman piloted his 2015 Dodge Charger R/T to five three-second runs, was quickest in three of four qualifying sessions, set a Funny Car national record for elapsed time with an extraordinary 3.921-second lap, earned the No.1 qualifier position, and then continued his impressive performance through eliminations to earn his place in winner’s circle at the 28th annual NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma Raceway.
“This is far and above my most dominating Funny Car win ever,” said Beckman of his 20 th career Funny Car victory. “Qualifying No.1 is a statistic, but getting that trophy at the end of the day is satisfaction that your team did everything better than anybody else that day. I’ll take qualifying 16 th if I can get that trophy. Since we got the trophy and qualified first and set the national record, it’s icing on top of icing on top of the cake. It couldn’t have been any better.”
Beckman’s national title win came against his DSR teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. in what was the fifth all-Mopar final elimination showdown of the year. “Congratulations to Jack Beckman for his dominating win at Sonoma and his fifth of the year at the wheel of the new 2015 Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO — Mopar Brand Service, Parts and Customer Care, FCA. “The success the DSR team is having with the new Mopar body is a source of pride for us. Having it drive to a 12th national title and advance to all but one final elimination this season to date is a tribute to the time and investment, as well as hard work and collaboration that was dedicated to designing and building the new 2015 Mopar Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car.”
The new Mopar body has powered its way to 22 three-second passes so far this year. Seven of those came this weekend alone with contributions from Beckman, who added a pair of three-second runs in eliminations to the trio he posted in qualifying to bring his tally to 13 this season, and two from DSR teammates Matt Hagan and Ron Capps in qualifying.
On his first pass of the day against Tony Pedregon, Beckman put up a 3.993 second lap (314 mph) and then added a 3.979-second (319.67 mph) quarterfinal lap against Chad Head. He disposed of Robert Hight in the semifinal with a 4.037 /310.91 over his opponent’s 4.095/311.27 to face Johnson Jr. in the final round. The driver of the Infinite Hero Mopar machine won that showdown with a 4.037/310.63 to beat his teammate’s 4.073/308.99.
“Everything about this win makes it extra special but I haven’t had a bad win this year,” added Beckman whose five wins are the most he has collected in a single season. “If you look at the five wins they’ve been very, very different and all special. I don’t know that this will sink in until I’m on an airplane flying to Seattle.”
The win came on the heels of his victory last weekend at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals in Denver.
Beckman’s only previous back-to-back titles came in 2007, also during the NHRA’s three-event “Western Swing” with wins in Denver and Seattle, and helps keep any hopes alive of becoming only the second Funny Car driver to accomplish the feat of sweeping the three-week marathon.
Seeded 10th for Sunday’s eliminations, Tommy Johnson Jr. drove his HEMI-powered machine past Tim Wilkerson in the first round, won a side-by-side drag race against his DSR teammate and points leader Hagan’s Mopar Express Lane 2015 Dodge Charger R/T, and then defeated Cruz Pedregon to advance to the final.
“I am happy with the way I drove and I am happy with the way the team performed,” said Johnson who took his Make-A-Wish 2015 Dodge Charger R/T from sixth to fourth in the standings with the runner-up result. “I had good lights when I needed them, we ran as good as we could on the track without smoking the tires. The crew chief and I were in sync today. It usually leads to good things.”
No.2 qualifier, Hagan set the fastest speed recorded by a Funny Car at 325.77 mph in qualifying, then secured his position in the NHRA Mello Yello “Countdown to the Championship”, the six-event playoff series, by defeating Paul Lee in the first round before seeing his day shortened by Johnson. “We really want to position ourselves in that No.1 spot for the Countdown,” said Hagan who saw his second place teammate Beckman close the gap in the points with three events left before the playoff series begins and points are reset. “We know what it’s like to not have those 30 points and have to work your way back up to win the thing. That cushion is huge. We have a great car and team. All these DSR teams are on the same clutch dynos, the same blower dynos, we run all the same parts and pieces and we have a great Dodge Charger body. When you’re able to win, you do feel like you’ve done a better job. You take it in stride and there’s not a doubt in my mind this car will be back in the winner’s circle really soon.”
Capps, who hails from nearby San Luis Obispo, Calif., qualified his 2015 Dodge Charger R/T fourth and ran two solid laps in his 450th race in the NHRA Mello Yello Series but lost in the quarterfinals to Robert Hight and dropped one spot in the standings to fifth place. In Pro Stock action, Allen Johnson lined up his 10th seeded “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” Dodge Dart next to Bo Butner for his first round match-up, but lack of lane choice put him at a disadvantage. While Johnson had a stout 0.011-second reaction time to Bo Butner’s 0.024, his 6.537/211.83 run wasn’t quite enough to beat his opponent’s 6.516/211.93 at the stripe.
“We just never did get a hold of this place you know,” said Johnson who sits fifth in the Pro Stock standings. “We just slowed to the eighth mile just never did really make any great runs. Today was close I think there is only two cars that could have beat that round with our package. Some days it’s not your day and some weekends it’s not your weekend. This just wasn’t our weekend. We’ll go to Seattle and try to start off with a good run up there. We have a good car and good power team is doing a great job but it just wasn’t our weekend.”
Deric Kramer qualified his HEMI-powered Dodge Dart in 11th place but in his first round match up against Jonathan Gray, an issue with the transmission had his team pushing it back off the starting line following the burnout to end their day prematurely.
Seeded 16th,V. Gaines attempted to upset No.1 qualifier Chris McGaha in the opening round but fell short with a 6.561/211.33 to his competitor’s 6.530/212.19. McGaha advanced through eliminations to a final round battle with Jonathan Gray to win his first career Pro Stock national title.
Next up for the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series is the final leg of the famed three week “Western Swing” at scenic Pacific Raceways for the 28th annual NHRA Northwest Nationals, scheduled for Aug 7- 9.