Trio of Semifinal Appearances for Mopar<sub>®</sub> at NHRA SpringNationals in Houston
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Trio of Semifinal Appearances for Mopar® at NHRA SpringNationals in Houston

A trio of Mopar vehicles, made up of two Funny Cars and a Pro Stock, battled their way through eliminations to semifinal appearances at the 29th annual National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) SpringNationals. While in the Sportsman ranks, a Stock Eliminator title win and runner-up finish in Super Stock were also earned at Royal Purple Raceway near Houston, Texas.

Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) drivers Jack Beckman — seeded 12th — and Tommy Johnson Jr. — seeded seventh — made some good gains with the Dodge Charger R/T Funny cars through eliminations to make it to the semifinals.

Beckman, who despite having been the No. 1 qualifier at three of the six NHRA events this season, struggled in qualifying at Houston but seemed to have made some progress on race day after posting his best lap of the weekend, a 3.958 second pass at 319.67 mph, to earn the first round win over Robert Hight.

In the second round, Beckman’s quicker reaction time at the starting line allowed his slower 3.949/325.22 to post the holeshot win over Del Worsham‘s 3.944/324.59 and advance to a semifinal matchup against Tim Wilkerson.

“It’s disappointing to not win but the silver lining is that we found some things about this car that will help us down the line,” Beckman said. “We came out of here with semifinals points and we’re headed in a direction that makes me very excited to get to the next race in two weeks in Atlanta.”

Johnson and his Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T crew were also bolstered by two round wins against John Force and Alexis DeJoria, prior to his semifinal loss to eventual title winner Courtney Force, who also took over the points lead with her first win of the season.

“We had a really good race day,” Johnson said. “Coming into this race, we had struggled a bit this season so today we were really happy with how the car performed and how well our guys adjusted to the conditions because they were totally different than yesterday. The guys did a nice job making really solid, consistent runs. It seems like we’ve got our race car back to where we’re able to tune and make changes and it responds how we want it to. That’s big, that will help give us a little momentum going forward.”

NHRA Drag RacingPro Stock Action

Top Mopar Pro Stock qualifier Allen Johnson drove from his fifth seeded position to his second semifinal appearance of the season at Royal Purple Raceway on Sunday.

Johnson began his day with a 0.027-second reaction time to his first round opponent Shane Gray’s 0.040, then drove his Marathon Petroleum Dodge Dart to a 6.635 second/208.46 mph pass, to advance to the quarterfinals. It also gave his Mopar lane choice over Drew Skillman for the next battle, where Johnson took another round win with a 6.655/208.42 while his opponent ran into trouble and had to push in the clutch.

That gave Johnson the opportunity to do battle against Greg Anderson in the semifinals for a second time this season after they had previously met at the Gatornationals. Despite a 0.023 second reaction time and a solid 6.644/208.23 run, Johnson fell short of beating Anderson’s (0.038) 6.604/209.85. Anderson went on to win his third national title of the season by beating his teammate Jason Line in the final.

“We made great strides this weekend and we’re leaving here with our heads held high,” said Johnson about the progress being made with the new electronic fuel-injection system. “We know what direction to work in now and we’ll be even better in Atlanta.”

Seeded sixth on the Pro Stock ladder, the two-time defending title winner at Houston, Erica Enders had hoped to challenge for a third consecutive title. However, a 0.035 second reaction time and 6.659/207.18 pass aboard her Mopar Performance Dodge Dart, wasn’t enough to counter Chris McGaha’s 0.018 second reaction time and 6.668/206.26 lap, for the loss on a holeshot that served up some disappointment along with a side dish of motivation.

“Winning only makes you want to win more, and when you don’t, you’re clearly disappointed,” Enders said. “We’ve had a lot of fun here the last couple of years, but I guess it just wasn’t meant to be this time around. That’s OK, it only makes all of us fight that much harder to get back to the winner’s circle.”
2016 NHRA Championship Points Standings
(Following the NHRA SpringNationals Race Final)

PRO STOCK (season wins in parentheses)

  1. Jason Line – 689 (3)
  2. Greg Anderson – 610 (3)
  3. Bo Butner – 508
  4. Drew Skillman – 399
  5. Chris McGaha – 339
  6. Allen Johnson – Dodge Dart – 318
  7. Vincent Nobile – 262
  8. Erica Enders – Dodge Dart – 257
  9. Jeg Coughlin Jr. – Dodge Dart – 255
  10. Alex Laughlin – 220
  11. V. Gaines – Dodge Dart – 186

 

FUNNY CAR (season wins in parentheses)

  1. Courtney Force 439 (1)
  2. Tim Wilkerson – 439 (2)
  3. Ron Capps – Dodge Charger R/T – 417 (1)
  4. Robert Hight – 404 (1)
  5. John Force – 384
  6. Jack Beckman – Dodge Charger R/T – 379
  7. Del Worsham – 376
  8. Alexis DeJoria – 339 (1)
  9. Chad Head – 303
  10. Matt Hagan – Dodge Charger R/T – 280
  11. Tommy Johnson Jr. – 2015 Dodge Charger R/T – 274

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