Summer of Dodge Continues: Capps Wins Thunder Valley Nationals

6 years ago Racing

June 18, 2017, Bristol, Tenn. – The hits just keep coming for Dodge this summer as Ron Capps stormed to another win, his fifth this year, at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol, Tennessee, on Father’s Day.

On Sunday afternoon, Capps drove his Mopar® HEMI®-powered Dodge Charger R/T from Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) to his 54th career Funny Car win at Bristol Dragway. He defeated his teammate Jack Beckman in an all-Dodge final round.

The win was a fitting Father’s Day tribute for Capps and his dad. “I was blessed with a dad that took me to drag races every weekend,” said Capps. “Whether we raced or not, we were at some drag race somewhere. Those were my weekends and I was okay with it. Now I get to take this (trophy) home to my dad.”

Capps’ win was the 10th for Mopar in the Funny Car category out of 11 events contested in 2017. It also extended the number of consecutive races won by a HEMI Nitro car to 12, dating back to the end of last season. All four Mopar-powered DSR Funny Cars advanced to the semifinals at Bristol.

In the Funny Car final, Capps defeated Beckman on a holeshot from the left lane. Capps turned in a lap of 4.054 seconds at 317.05 mph to reach the finish line before his opponent, despite Beckman making a 4.040-second pass at 319.29 mph. Capps’ reaction time was .026 compared to Beckman’s solid .044.

The win broke an all-time tie between the two drivers, with Capps now leading Beckman 5-4 in final rounds. The final was a rematch of last week in Englishtown, where Beckman got his first win of the season.

Capps first powered past Alexis DeJoria in round one to set up a showdown with the stout Robert Hight. Capps got by Hight in a side-by-side race and then squared off with Mopar and DSR teammate Matt Hagan. Hagan hazed the tires early and Capps, the 2016 Funny Car champion, advanced to his seventh final round of the season and won for the fifth time. It was also his fourth Bristol win, tying John Force.

With the win, Capps extended his already large points lead even further, despite the team deciding to change cars before the Saturday qualifying sessions.


Beckman began his run to the final by racing his Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T past Cruz Pedregon in round one as both cars had cylinders out. Beckman next matched up against Courtney Force in a rematch of last week’s Englishtown semifinal, with Beckman again coming out on top after Force lost cylinders and she fell into Beckman’s clutches at the finish line. Beckman next defeated his DSR stablemate Tommy Johnson Jr. on a side-by-side run in the semis to reach the final for the second week in a row.

The two remaining Mopar Dodge Charger R/T Funny Cars from DSR also had successful days despite being bested by their teammates.

Leah Pritchett, meanwhile, put her Mopar-powered dragster from DSR in the Top Fuel final, meaning a HEMI machine has advanced to the final round in that category on eight occasions this year.

She escaped with a win in the first round over rookie Troy Coughlin Jr. as both cars had issues and Pritchett coasted to the stripe. She next defeated Scott Palmer when her opponent went red as she smoked the tires off the starting line. That set up a semifinal contest against Shawn Langdon, who had uncharacteristically qualified No. 15. Pritchett dispatched of the Langdon machine to reach the final round, where she narrowly lost to Clay Millican, who won his first NHRA national event.

Tony Schumacher represented the only Mopar driver in the Nitro categories to not advance to at least the semifinal round. The eight-time champion’s bid for his sixth Thunder Valley Nationals win was ended early, as his U.S. Army team was upset in the first round by Palmer.



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