Mopar Wins Big At Pomona: Johnson Scores PS Title, Beckman Wins FC CrownMopar, NHRA, Allen Johnson, Jack Beckman
November 12 2012 12:17 PM
Mopar News, SCOTT ROSS
How'd you like the action yesterday at the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals. (You mean you didn't watch it? What were you doing, watching football or something?)
Two Mopar drag racers wrapped up 2012 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series titles at Pomona...come on in for more...
The 2012 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season can now be dubbed ‘Year of the Hemi,’ as Pro Stock World Champion Allen Johnson wrapped up his winning season by taking the victory in an all-Mopar final round battle, while Jack Beckman added another Championship trophy to Mopar’s mantle by earning the Funny Car crown for Don Schumacher Racing on Sunday, at the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals in Pomona.
The two championships highlight the brand’s 75th anniversary year in which Mopar-powered drivers also captured 10 wins in each of the Pro Stock and Funny Car classes.
“All of us are very proud of Allen Johnson and Jack Beckman on bringing home two NHRA World Championships for Mopar,” says Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group LLC’s service, parts and customer-care brand. “Allen’s impressive win at Pomona solidified his mark on his Championship, and all the hard work behind it. It was also amazing to watch Jack and Ron Capps battle each other in their Dodge Charger R/Ts for the crown.”
“Mopar-powered cars have either led or been near the front of the field all year in both Pro Stock and Funny Car, which shows the strength of our Mopar Hemi engines that compete in the NHRA,” adds Gorlier. “It was tremendous to watch our Team Mopar drivers battle for wins all season long and be rewarded with two championships.”
After clinching the World Championship on Saturday (all he needed to clinch was to make the 16-car field for Sunday's eliminations-Scott), Johnson drove his Mopar Dodge Avenger to the win over teammate Vincent Nobile, earning a career-best seven wins in one season, and his first at Pomona.
“Our team is so awesome, and the Mopar Dodge Avenger has just performed flawlessly,” said Johnson after punctuating his first championship with the win.
When asked what kept him going for 17 years he added, “Determination and my father (who is his engine builder). He wanted to do this all his life and my whole focus was winning this with him. A lot of hard work and determination went into winning this.We had a dominating performance in this Countdown, won a championship and ended with a win. What more can we do? That has added just a little more emotion to it.”
Johnson, starting from the #2 qualifying spot, first dispatched of Greg Stanfield in the opening round with a run of 6.513 seconds at 212.76 mph, to Stanfield’s 6.564/210.77. In the quarterfinals, Johnson (6.520/212.63) took out veteran Ron Krisher (6.537/211.79), earning lane choice for his semifinal battle with Mike Edwards. Johnson was quickest of the round with a 6.526/211.16 to best Edwards, who slowed after launch, and advanced to his 11th final of the year, and his third against teammate Vincent Nobile, who competes with Hemi engines built by Johnson’s J&J Racing team.
Nobile was stellar off the starting line at Pomona, recording a perfect .000 reaction time in his first-round defeat of Mopar/JEGS.com Dodge Avenger driver Jeg Coughlin Jr. (Jeg finished ninth in the final NHRA Pro Stock standings). Nobile nearly matched that in the quarterfinal round with a .002 reaction time, scoring a stunning hole shot victory over Jason Line, who posted the quickest run of the round--and a PS track record at the time--with a 6.495/213.13, but still fell to Nobile’s 6.546/211.79. Nobile was quickest again against Erica Enders in the semis, scoring yet another holeshot win thanks to a .015 reaction time and 6.543/211.49 run to Enders’ .023 mark and 6.542/211.86 pass.
With sunset upon Auto Club Raceway, Johnson and Nobile lined up for the final race of the 2012 Pro Stock season. The veteran was quicker off the tree (.024 to Nobile’s .026) and also had the better run, a 6.528/212.76 to his opponent’s 6.533/211.66. The victory was the tenth of the season out of 23 events for a Mopar-powered NHRA Pro Stock racer.
The result gave Nobile the third spot in the final NHRA Pro Stock points standings, behind Johnson. Fellow Dodge driver V. Gaines (who finished 7th in the final standings) exited in the quarterfinals against Erica Enders on a red-light foul, after he left the starting line too early. Chris McGaha bowed out in the opening round in his Dodge.
Whereas Johnson locked up the 2012 NHRA Pro Stock championship during qualifying on Saturday, the NHRA Funny Car crown came down to a final-day slugfest between a pair of Hemi-powered heavyweights, lasting until the second-to-last round of the season. The Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) duo of Jack Beckman and Ron Capps treated the NHRA Finals audience to an entertaining back-and-forth battle that saw the lead change hands five times.
Beckman entered the day with just a two-point lead over Capps, who was first out of the pair in the opening round. Capps seized the points lead, defeating Tony Pedregon with a 4.092/311.13 effort, but Beckman quickly regained it by powering to a win over Alexis Dejoria with a 4.038/317.19 pass.
With the onus back on Capps in the quarterfinals, the veteran racer came through with a defeat of Robert Hight, laying down a number of 4.071/315.19. Beckman held serve with a hearty exclamation point, trailering Jeff Arend with a 4.027/317.79 mark, the quickest of the round, and again retaking the lead by two points.
Those two points made all the difference. Capps, needing to win to stay alive, came up just short against Courtney Force in the semifinals, his 4.091/313.95 not enough to best Force’s 4.069/318.25.
Already declared champ, Beckman also fell in the semis, losing to Cruz Pedregon. The '12 FC crown was the first for Beckman, and the second straight for a Mopar-powered DSR driver in Funny Car, and third for a Mopar in the last eight years. (Gary Scelzi claimed the 2005 championship in a DSR Mopar Dodge.)
“You think about this, and dream about this, but I couldn’t root against my teammate Ron Capps,” said Beckman as he watched from the seat of his Dodge Charger R/T-bodied Funny Car in the staging lane, as his Don Schumacher Racing teammate lost the semi-final round to give Beckman the Championship. “The team let me know that we'd just won it, but I couldn’t celebrate, as I was trying to win the round but we even though we didn’t, I’m not too upset about it.”
A pair of Mopar-powered Dodge Charger R/T FC drivers fell in the first round. Johnny Gray exited in a first-round loss to Hight, and finished the season sixth in the points. Mopar Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car driver Matt Hagan, the 2011 Funny Car champion, was defeated by Force and wrapped up his season 11th in the standings.
The 2013 NHRA Mello Yellow Drag Racing Series opens at the same venue where the 2012 season ended, Auto Club Raceway at
Pomona, California, with the 53rd Annual NHRA Winternationals, scheduled for February 14–17. (You'll hear the first "birds of spring" on valentine's Day, when the first Top Fuel car to make a first-round qualifying run will set off all the car alarms in the parking lot! --Scott)
Get more information on the NHRA when you visit visit www.nhra.com.