Mopar®/Dodge Notes & Quotes: NHRA Nationals, Las Vegas

5 years ago Racing

Mopar®/Dodge Notes & Quotes: NHRA Nationals, Las Vegas

Hagan Breaks Through in the Desert

Matt Hagan, Mopar® Pennzoil Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car

No. 4 Qualifier – 3.882 seconds at 330.15 mph

“Obviously, these Funny Cars are kind of finicky. Sometimes they love you and sometimes they rip your heart out and step on it. We just kind of got in a little bit of a rut and we just had to work hard and focus and make big, wholesale changes to dig ourselves back out. It’s a real testament to (crew chief) Dickie Venables and my crew what they can do and how far they can come and how fast they can bounce back. We had some pretty bad first-round losses earlier in the Countdown. You just kind of lose hope sometimes, but then you’ve got to get your pom-poms out and keep everybody going. But I just can’t say enough about Dickie. The guy’s one of the smartest crew chiefs out here. I’m just so blessed to have him in our corner. There’s no replacement for the feeling of winning. That’s a fix you can’t get anywhere else, man. Sometimes it takes a little struggle to really put things back into perspective of how special it is. That way, you don’t take it for granted.”

Leah Pritchett, Mopar Pennzoil Dodge Top Fuel Dragster 

No. 8 Qualifier – 3.742 seconds at 313.95 mph

“We had our most successful run of the Countdown so far going to the semis, so we are proud of that. We have a solid racecar and continue to prove it, which I feel good about. In the semifinals, we didn’t think that the track could take a .71, but, obviously, it could and our .75 wasn’t good enough, not quite the best package. But we are testing here on Monday, and we are not just practicing, we are testing. We’ve got some things we’ve been looking forward to improving about our operation and we are going to take that package and unleash it at Pomona. That’s what I’m looking forward to. Overall, for the Mopar Pennzoil car this weekend, it was a great showing and we’ve got great fans to back it up.”

Jack Beckman, Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car

No. 1 Qualifier – 3.854 seconds at 335.57 mph

“The frustrating thing is you really have to strike when the iron’s hot. We had a phenomenal car. Except for the first qualifying run, we were near the quickest every time down the racetrack after that, and not even close to being in trouble. So when you go out there and the car smokes the tires two feet into the run, we’re scratching our heads. We don’t know why it even would’ve thought about doing that. But, boy, that’s why in drag racing you don’t count your chickens before they hatch. I really thought we had a final-round car and the best overall Funny Car here this weekend. The odd thing is, right behind us in the same lane (right) Robert Hight’s car did exactly the same thing. So we’re scratching our heads. We will stay, we will test tomorrow, we will get some more data and we will go to Pomona with our heads up ready to win that race.”

Tommy Johnson Jr., Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car

No. 9 Qualifier – 3.922 seconds at 325.77 mph

“It’s been a tough year for our team. We’ve had a lot of issues with losing (long-time benefactor) Terry (Chandler), crew members losing family members, it’s just been a rough year but we keep fighting. We’ve had a little gremlin. We made a little improvement on it this weekend, just a tough weekend. We got a round win, but that’s not what we’re used to. So we’ll test tomorrow and try some new things for next season and see if we can’t start working towards that.”

Ron Capps, NAPA Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car

No. 6 Qualifier – 3.896 seconds at 326.08 mph

“We weren’t trying anything special, we weren’t trying to rotate the earth, but it spun the tires and then a quick backfire and I saw Force out there. Last night, we finished qualifying, we looked at the ladder and I’m sure Robert Hight and his team were thinking the same thing, but we thought, ‘this is a good opportunity for us to make some ground up.’ It just didn’t happen our way. But NHRA’s implementation of points-and-a-half (scoring) in Pomona is going to make it pretty exciting. We haven’t had to come from behind like this, like we’re going to have to at Pomona, but it’s going to be fun. I look forward to getting with my crew guys and trying to battle back on Sunday in Pomona and see if we can’t make it exciting.”

Tony Schumacher, U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster

No. 1 Qualifier – 3.673 seconds at 332.67 mph

“We started the day feeling like we had a great opportunity to win this race. We had a great race car, but we weren’t able to accomplish what we wanted to today. It’s really tough on this whole U.S. Army Racing team. Everyone works so hard and nobody wants to feel like we do right now. Timing is such a part of this deal. I would have beaten several other cars out there in that round, but I didn’t beat the one I was racing.”

Up Next: NHRA Finals

In two weeks, the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season draws to a close with the 53rd annual NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona on November 9 – 12. This year, the event will feature a special points-and-a-half format as it crowns the champions in all NHRA Pro classes. Mopar Funny Car driver Matt Hagan has won at the historic track five times, including during this year’s season-opening event; Ron Capps has three Pomona victories; and Tommy Johnson Jr. has visited the winner’s circle twice — including at the event last season. Last year, Jack Beckman was the No. 1 qualifier for the NHRA Finals in his Mopar-powered Funny Car.

In the Top Fuel ranks, Mopar driver Tony Schumacher has six victories at Pomona, while Leah Pritchett claimed her first win at the Southern California facility earlier in 2017.

The NHRA Finals will include an autograph session with Mopar Pro drivers at 10:45 a.m. local time at the Mopar display trailer on Saturday, November 11. The NHRA Finals will be broadcast throughout the weekend on FOX Sports 1, with LIVE eliminations coverage slated for 4 p.m. ET on Sunday, November 12.

For more information on Mopar and Dodge in NHRA, check out the Mopar brand’s official blog,

2017 NHRA Championship – Point Standings After Round 23 of 24

(Season Wins in Parentheses)

NHRA Funny Car

  1. Robert Hight (4) – 2,548
  2. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger R/T (8) – 2,533
  3. Courtney Force – 2,423
  4. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger R/T (2) – 2,396
  5. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger R/T (4) – 2,387
  6. John Force (1) – 2,306
  7. Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger R/T (1) – 2,276
  8. Tim Wilkerson – 2,237
  9. J.R. Todd (2) – 2,233
  10. Cruz Pedregon – 2,163

NHRA Top Fuel

  1. Steve Torrence (8) – 2,527
  2. Brittany Force (3) – 2,507
  3. Doug Kalitta (1) – 2,443
  4. Antron Brown (4) – 2,392
  5. Leah Pritchett, Mopar HEMI® (4) – 2,361
  6.  Tony Schumacher, Mopar HEMI (1) – 2,340
  7. Clay Millican (1) – 2,326
  8. Shawn Langdon – 2,267
  9. Terry McMillen (1) – 2,261
  10. Scott Palmer – 2,169



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