Another national event Funny Car win was within sight as the second All-Dodge Charger SRT® Hellcat final round showdown in as many weeks had Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) teammates Matt Hagan and Jack Beckman set to go head-to-head at the Lucas Oil NHRA Summernationals, when the skies opened up above the Indianapolis drag strip and spoiled the day.
Hagan, coming off an event win last week in another all-Mopar® final against teammate Tommy Johnson Jr., worked his way through eliminations after qualifying 13th and was headed back into a battle for the Wally trophy with a new red, black, and chrome SRT Hellcat Redeye livery. For his part, after qualifying sixth, Beckman was poised for his 66th career and third final round appearance in four races this season, and was looking to add to the pair of wins he already had under his seatbelt in the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat.
The National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Mello Yello Drag Racing Series has rescheduled the rained-out final to take place during the U.S. Nationals Sept. 3-6., at Lucas Oil Raceway.
To get to the finals, Hagan defeated DSR teammate Ron Capps, JR Todd and Bob Tasca, while Beckman sent Chad Green, Tim Wilkerson and DSR teammate Johnson Jr. home early.
No. 2 qualifier, Johnson Jr. began his day with wins over Bob Bode and Cruz Pedregon for a semifinal round match against Beckman. Johnson, who earned a Wally at Phoenix earlier this year, had the early lead but saw his 4.027 second run overshadowed by Beckman’s 3.969 to move on to the final. Johnson however remains second to Beckman in the Funny Car standings.
The Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat of Ron Capps had a solid qualifying performance that put the DSR driver No.4 on the ladder and gave him lane choice over his first round opponent. Unfortunately, for a second week in a row, that first round pairing was against a DSR teammate and last week’s race winner, Hagan. While Capps’ 3.967-sec./ 324.59-mph run was the third quickest of the round, it wasn’t enough to oust Hagan and his 3.931 sec/321.58 mph effort.
In Top Fuel competition, No. 2 qualifier Leah Pruett and her red-hot Mopar Dodge SRT Hellcat Redeye dragster looked solid throughout the weekend and early elimination rounds with first round victory over Lex Joon and a hole shot to beat Billy Torrence to advance to a semifinal appearance against Justin Ashley. Misfiring cylinders ended her hopes of beating Ashley but still put Pruett in second in the Top Fuel rankings.
Pruett pulled double duty this weekend joining Mark Pawuk for some SAMTech.edu NHRA Factory Stock Showdown action. The pair took their Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Paks to their first elimination round runs of the year in the first of eight FSS events this season.
Sporting a fresh new livery on his Empaco Equipment Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak, 12th-seeded Pawuk lined up next to No. 5 qualifier Arthur Kohn in the opening round, but his 8.135 second elapsed time run at 169.85 mph wasn’t quite enough to beat his opponent’s 8.057 sec. /170.88 mph pass to move on to the next round.
A similar fate awaited Pruett who, from her 16th place qualifying position on the ladder, drove her Angry-Bee themed Mopar Challenger Drag straight down the lane to post a 8.200 second E.T. at 168.07 mph but wasn’t able to challenge No. 1 qualifier Chris Holbrook’s 7.980 sec./ 174.55 mph pass.
The pair will get back in their drag paks next month at the second FSS event of the season, scheduled to take place at the NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway (Aug 28-30). Next on the updated 2020 NHRA schedule will be a third consecutive national event to take place at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis, replacing the previously slated 32nd edition of the Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway near Denver, Colo., on Aug 7-9. The Dodge-sponsored event, which boasts the longest continuous sponsorship in the NHRA and one of the longest in all of motorsports, has been postponed due to pandemic-related issues, but hopes to be rescheduled for a later date this season.