All-Dodge Charger Final Four in Bristol gives DSR 10th Win in 11 Events
The domination of the Don Schumacher Racing teams in the NHRA Funny Car ranks continued this past weekend, with Ron Capps beating teammate Jack Beckman in the finals after the two advanced out of an all-Mopar semifinal round by beating their other two Don Schumacher Racing teammates.
In other words, in a season of dominance by Don Schumacher Racing, the DSR Dodge Charger funny cars were particularly tough on the competition at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol.
The entire funny car class got off to a slow start in qualifying for the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals with quickest car in the class – Tommy Johnson Jr – running just a 4.05 at 309mph. While the entire field was slow in the first qualification pass, only five cars ran in the 4.0X range and those were the only cars to break the 300mph barrier. The other 3 DSR drivers all turned in bad runs, as did Courtney Force and Robert Hight from the JFR Camaro teams, while only John Force turning in a solid 1st round run (4th place, 4.069).
That would all change in the 2nd round of qualifying, with 5 drivers breaking into the 3-second range and of the quickest five cars in the 1st round – the only one to turn in a strong run in the 2nd round was John Force. Tim Wilkerson in the Ford Mustang was the quickest car in round #2 of qualifying with a 3.895, followed by all 3 of the JFR Camaros in the 204 spots and Don Schumacher’s Matt Hagan was the last driver in the 3s in 5th place. Jack Beckman laid down a strong run of 4.00 to get the 6th spot, while Johnson and Capps did not turn in good runs on their 2nd attempt.
Capps would move up to 13th with his 3rd qualifying round, but there was no movement among the top 5 or with any of the other John Force Racing or Don Schumacher Racing teams in round #3.
Finally, in the 4th round of qualifying, Hagan and Beckman both turned in strong times to jump into the top 5 to break up the party for the JFR Camaro teams while Johnson jumped to 8th and Capps moved up to 10th.
Headed into eliminations, the top six spots were Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Charger, Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Charger, Chevrolet Camaro.
Qualifying Order for the 2017 NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals:
01 -Tim Wilkerson -3.895 -328.22
02 -Robert Hight -3.918 -324.28
03 -Matt Hagan -3.925 -326
04 -Courtney Force -3.952 -324.9
05 -Jack Beckman -3.959 -318.62
06 -John Force -3.983 -322.96
07 -Alexis Dejoria -3.998 -295.08
08 -Tommy Johnson Jr -4.00 -315.93
09 -Jonnie Lindberg -4.024 -279.44
10 -Ron Capps -4.032 -316.15
11 -Del Worsham -4.043 -295.79
12 -Cruz Pedregon -4.048 -309.49
13 -J.R. Todd -4.067 -307.72
14 -Jim Campbell -4.996 -162.49
15 -Jeff Diehl -7.634 -89.65
16 -Bob Bode -8.365 -73.8
In the 1st round of eliminations, all four Don Schumacher Dodge Chargers and all three John Force Chevrolet Camaros advanced, along with the top-qualifying Ford Mustang of Tim Wilkerson. In that 1st round, Robert Hight ran the quickest ET, but after struggling through qualifying, Ron Capps turned in the 2nd-best ET of the round.
In the 2nd round of eliminations, we saw three battles between a DSR Dodge Charger and a JFR Chevrolet Camaro and one battle between the top-running Ford Mustang and a DSR Charger. Tommy Johnson Jr (Charger) ran the quickest run of the round while beating Tim Wilkerson’s Mustang, Jack Beckman beat Courtney Force, Matt Hagan beat John Force and in a matchup of the quickest cars from the 1st round – Ron Capps knocked off Robert Hight.
That is all four Don Schumacher Racing Dodge Charger funny cars in the four semifinals spot, so with two rounds left in the Thunder Valley Nationals, we already knew that a Don Schumacher Charger would be taking home another win for the team.
In the semifinals, Jack Beckman beat Tommy Johnson Jr off of the line and drove away, turning the best run of the 3rd round. On the other half of the ladder, Hagan took the starting line lead, but when he ran into problems – Ron Capps cruised to the win.
That win was the 10th in 11 events for the Don Schumacher Racing funny car quartet along with being the team’s 8th win in a row. That was also Capps’ 5th win of the season in his 7th final round, having lost to Hagan and Beckman earlier in the year.
In addition to winning 10 of the 11 events this year, the DSR Dodge Charger funny cars teamed up for an all-Mopar finals five times, along with accounting for three of the four cars in the finals of the unique 4-Wide Nationals.
A season of domination has led to Ron Capps, Matt Hagan and Jack Beckman all pulling out to a huge lead in the championship run. Robert Hight is 4th and Courtney Force is 5th, but they are both more than 300 points behind series leader Ron Capps.
At this point, if not for the ridiculous “chase phase” where the scores are evened out to give everyone in the top 10 a chance, Don Schumacher Racing could already be planning on making space in the trophy case for another championship piece, but with the leveling system for the last 6 races of the season, Capps will have to make sure to finish as strong as he has started.
2017 Funny Car Standings after 11 Events:
1 - Ron Capps - Dodge Charger – 1,044
2 - Matt Hagan - Dodge Charger – 881
3 -Jack Beckman - Dodge Charger – 748
4 -Robert Hight – Chevrolet Camaro – 707
5 -Courtney Force – Chevrolet Camaro – 704
6 -Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger – 663
7 -John Force - Chevrolet Camaro – 641
8 -Tim Wilkerson – Ford Mustang – 490
9 -JR Todd – Toyota Camry – 476
10 -Cruz Pedregon – Toyota Camry - 397