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NHRA at Joliet, Illinois

Capps Takes Sixth Win of Season

Ron Capps (near lane) defeated Matt Hagan in the semifinal round.

 

Mopar driver Ron Capps continued his dream season during the NHRA Route 66 Nationals this weekend, picking up his sixth win of 2017 in his Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car as the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule kicked off its second half.

 

Funny Cars featuring Mopar HEMI® power from Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) have now won an amazing 12 of 13 events this year and 10 in a row.

 

Mopar has also now claimed wins in 14 consecutive events across the Funny Car or Top Fuel categories, dating back to last year’s NHRA Finals at Pomona. In addition, John Force is the only non-Mopar driver to have won an NHRA Funny Car event since last September’s U.S. Nationals.

Terry Chandler, commemorated here on Tommy Johnson Jr’s car, died on July 4th and was laid to rest Saturday. July 8, in a private ceremony in New Mexico after a valiant three-month battle against brain cancer.

 

Yet despite the team’s success, it was an emotional weekend for DSR and the entire NHRA community at Route 66 Raceway as it mourned the loss of Terry Chandler. Chandler funded both DSR Mopar driver Tommy Johnson Jr.’s and teammate Jack Beckman’s teams, but put charities Make-A-Wish and the Infinite Hero Foundation on their cars as a way to give back.

 

The beloved sponsor succumbed to brain cancer after a valiant fight earlier in the week.

 

“It was a tough weekend for everybody with the loss of Terry,” said Johnson. “I’m proud of the guys for sticking together and wanting to go out here and win this thing for Terry. To have to put the stickers on the car in memory of her was tough and we wanted nothing more than to win this race for her. No matter what I know she was proud of us. But we wanted to win this one awful bad for her.”

VOLUME XII,  ISSUE 2 - MAY/JUNE,  2017

During Sunday’s final round at Route 66 Raceway, Capps bested his motivated teammate Johnson from the left lane with a pass of 4.026 seconds at 319.67 mph after a .059-second reaction time. Johnson made a lap of 4.047 at 319.90, but was late on the Christmas Tree with a reaction time of .155.

 

The win was the 55th of Capps’ career. The defending Funny Car champion has now won six of the last nine races this year, while having advanced to a total of eight final rounds on the season. He also extended his already large points lead on Sunday after improving to a staggering 35-7 record.

 

Capps began his day by knocking out Jonnie Lindberg in round one, and then took on fellow Dodge driver Jim Campbell, who had bested No. 1 qualifier Robert Hight. Capps turned in a come-from-behind, second-round win against Campbell, getting away first but with a cylinder out at the hit of the throttle. He lost ground but came back to defeat his opponent when Campbell lost traction at half-track. Capps then beat teammate Matt Hagan on a clean, side-by-side run to reach the final round against Johnson.

Ron Capps (4.038/318.84) defeated Matt Hagan (4.088/313.58) in the semifinal.

 

“It’s been a season you can’t even dream about,” Capps said. “It may have looked on the outside like maybe we were struggling (this weekend) and I’m sure some of our opponents may have thought the same. But as every Sunday goes with (crew chief) Rahn Tobler, he wakes up in the morning and he is a big-picture guy.  It’s so fun to race with him and he’s taught me a lot. I get up to drive that car and make him proud.”

 

Tommy Johnson Jr. and the Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T team first dispatched of John Force on a clean pass as the 16-time champion smoked his tires and lost traction. Johnson then improved his record to 3-0 against J.R. Todd with a solid lap to set up a semifinal matchup with Tim Wilkerson, where Johnson advanced to the final on another textbook run as Wilkerson immediately went up in smoke.

 

Three DSR Funny Cars reached the semis, with Matt Hagan ending up the odd man out. Hagan drove his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T past Del Worsham despite losing cylinders to kick off his day, then took out a strong Alexis DeJoria in the second round when her car had mechanical issues. Hagan’s day came to an end, however, against teammate Capps in a close semifinal round.

The final member of the DSR contingent, Jack Beckman, qualified best among his teammates with a No. 2 effort and pushed his Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T past fellow Dodge driver Bob Bode on a solid pass in the first round when Bode crossed the center line. Beckman next took on Wilkerson but had to pedal and lost cylinders, putting an end to his bid for two consecutive wins in 2017 and his second in a row at Route 66 Raceway.

One of the highlights of the event was the match-up between Leah Pritchett driving a news Dodge Demon, and her sponsor, Papa John, driving his own golden Camaro. 

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