Jack Beckman Drives Dodge//SRT Charger Hellcat to Funny Car Triumph at Auto Club NHRA Finals

November 17, 2019

, Pomona, Calif.

Dodge//SRT Mopar driver Jack Beckman closed the 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season by racing the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car of Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) to his second victory of the season at the 55th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, Calif.

The win for Beckman, his 30th career Funny Car class victory, concluded a season where four drivers raced Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Cars to 11 wins in the 24-race NHRA campaign.

Beckman and fellow Dodge//SRT Mopar and DSR driver Matt Hagan made strong championship bids, but both came up short in the end. Beckman finished second and Hagan, winner of the two previous NHRA events, finished third in the final season standings.

“I’ve never won in Funny Car at Pomona,” said Beckman. “If you win at the Winternationals (in February), the rest of the year is going to be okay because you’ve already won something, but if you do it in the finals (at the end of the year), your off-season is fantastic. My Infinite Hero Foundation guys have given me such a great race car lately. I stumbled a couple of times, and I don’t want to ‘woulda, coulda, shoulda’ myself in the off-season. We finished solidly in second, capped off the year with a win. We have a phenomenal Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, and things are awesome right now. I’m feeling on top of the world.”

Beckman opened the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoff with a victory in the Mopar Express Lane NHRA Nationals in Reading, Pennsylvania and was in contention throughout. He advanced to the final in Charlotte and established new track records in Las Vegas en route to a semifinal finish before this weekend’s season finale in Pomona. After qualifying second, “Fast Jack” was within two rounds of the top spot in his Dean Antonelli/John Medlen-tuned Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat. His machine-like performances all day included consistent runs for the 2012 Funny Car champion starting with his pass of 3.946 seconds to defeat John Hale.

He ousted J.R. Todd in the second round and took down upset-minded Blake Alexander in the semifinal to advance to his seventh final of the year. The final was a rematch of both the season opener, also at Auto Club Raceway, and the Charlotte Countdown race versus eventual Funny Car champion Robert Hight. Beckman made the fastest pass of race day with his lap of 3.920 to secure his first Auto Club NHRA Finals victory, but he came up just eight points short of earning his second Funny Car title.   

Hagan charged his way into the final race of the 2019 season championship on the heels of back-to-back Countdown wins. The two-time Funny Car world champion was looking to make it three straight wins to close the campaign and hoping that would clinch a third world title for the driver of the Mopar-powered Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody. The momentum continued in qualifying with Hagan grabbing the No. 1 position and 10 qualifying points to close to within 44 points of the top position and on Sunday, the ladder put his championship destiny in his team’s hands.

Hagan began eliminations with a rematch of the final from two weeks ago in the Dodge NHRA Nationals at Las Vegas. The result was the same with Hagan coming out victorious versus Jonnie Lindberg, but his run of 4.114 seconds at 275.11 mph wasn’t enough to keep lane choice in the second round. Fellow DSR and Dodge//SRT teammate Ron Capps was the next opponent and Hagan cruised to his 10th consecutive round win behind the wheel of the Dickie Venables-tuned Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody. The victory setup the season-defining race with points leader Hight. In his 600th career round of competition, Hagan lost the starting line advantage and never caught up en route to posting a lap of 4.015/326.95.

The surge during the later stages of the Countdown moved him from ninth after St. Louis to finishing third in the final Countdown standings.

In Top Fuel, Leah Pritchett started race day second on the eliminations ladder in her HEMI®-powered Mopar Dodge Top Fuel dragster of DSR and opened with a round win against Scott Palmer. She followed that with the quickest run of round two to defeat Jordan Vandergriff and earn her sixth trip to the semifinals. Her day and season ended when you she lost a cylinder early in her run against eventual event winner Doug Kalitta.

The Redlands, California native began her racing career competing in NHRA’s Jr. Drag Racing series at age eight and on Sunday at the Auto Club NHRA Finals, she wrapped up her 23rd consecutive NHRA season by tying her career-best finish of fourth in the championship rankings.
After posting his best regular season results, Tommy Johnson, Jr. was confident in his team’s 2019 championship chances driving the Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car. Unfortunately for Johnson, the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoffs didn’t play out the way he hoped. Johnson qualified seventh and his season ended with a first round loss to J.R. Todd, snapping four consecutive final-round appearances in the season-ending event.  He finished eighth in the 2019 championship standings.

Ron Capps was also seeking to close the season with a victory since his championship asipriations were dashed following qualifying. The 2016 Funny Car champion qualified the NAPA Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat eighth and took down fellow Dodge//SRT runner Cruz Pedregon in the opening round. Capps had lane choice in the second round, but his machine slowed dramatically just past the 330-foot mark. He coasted to the finish line, finishing sixth in the final Funny Car standings marking the 15th consecutive season he has finished inside the top-10.

Mopar Dodge//SRT drivers from DSR finished the 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season with 12 total race wins in the NHRA Nitro classes — 11 in Funny Car and one in Top Fuel.
2019 season win summary in Funny Car includes:
Matt Hagan
·       Phoenix on Feb. 24
·       Epping, New Hampshire on July 7
·       Dallas on Oct. 20
·       Las Vegas on Nov. 3     
Ron Capps
·       Atlanta on May 5
·       Dinwiddle, Virginia on May 19
·       Brainerd, Minnesota on Aug. 18
Tommy Johnson Jr.
·       Chicago on June 2
·       Denver on July 21
Jack Beckman
·       Reading, Pennsylvania on Sept. 15
·       Pomona, California on Nov. 17
Leah Pritchett captured her Top Fuel race win at Brainerd, Minnesota on Aug. 18.

Mopar Dodge//SRT NHRA Sportsman Spotlight
John Shaul and Joe Faherty were winners of the Dodge Top Finisher honors in Stock Eliminator and Super Stock, respectively.

Shaul drove his AA/SA 1964 Plymouth Sport Fury to a semifinal finish in Stock Eliminator. He utilized the power of his Mopar 426 cubic-inch Max Wedge V8 to place his Plymouth 12th among 60 class entries. With consistent runs of high-nine seconds, he advanced through four rounds before coming up short in his fifth race.

In Super Stock, California native Faherty drove his SS/AS 1968 Dodge Dart to a semifinal finish after qualifying his high-flying 383 cubic-inch Mopar powered machined to low nine-second ETs. He broke out in round five of eliminations by running a 9.38 ET on a 9.42 ET dial-in.

The Dodge Top Finisher award, now in its third year, awards $500 to Stock Eliminator and Super Stock drivers who advance the furthest behind the wheel of a Mopar-powered Dodge, Chrysler or Plymouth race car at all 24 NHRA national events.

Dodge Garage: Digital Hub for Drag Racing News
Fans can follow NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship at Dodge Garage, the one-stop portal for Dodge//SRT and Mopar drag racing news. The site includes daily updates and access to an online racing HQ, news, events, galleries, available downloads and merchandise.

@DodgeMoparMotorsports on Instagram
The @DodgeMoparMotorsports Instagram channel will share content capturing Dodge//SRT Mopar drivers in action in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, NHRA Sportsman grassroots racers competing in classes such as Factory Stock Showdown, Stock and Super Stock, as well as additional motorsports series.

Auto Club NHRA Finals: Elimination Rounds Summary/Notes Quotes

Jack Beckman, Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car
(No. 2 Qualifier – 3.876)

Rd. 1: (.082-second reaction time, 3.946 seconds at 321.65 mph) beat No. 15 John Hale (.151/13.434/39.58)
Rd. 2: (.077/3.958/324.20) beat No. 10 J.R. Todd (.056/4.005/318.47)
Rd. 3: (.067/3.956/320.28) beat No. 11 Blake Alexander (.088/4.020/308.85)
Rd. 4: (.074/3.920/323.27) beat No. 5 Robert Hight (no time)

“I don’t know if it would be a stretch to say we had the best Funny Car this year, or at least the last several races. Guido (Dan Antonelli) and John (Medlin) treated this season like a regular-season in the Countdown. We sacrificed a few races early in the year to get the clutch package right, to get dialed-in to the new track prep, to get all our spare parts sorted out. And it paid off. Once we got into the Countdown, the car was thumping from the get-go. We runnered-up at Indy, won the next race at Maple Grove, we were always a factor out there, and I’m certain they’re as fired up about next season as I am.”

Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody Funny Car  
(No. 1 Qualifier – 3.872)

Rd. 1: (.078-second reaction time, 4.114 seconds at 275.11 mph) beat No. 16 Jonnie Lindberg (.094/4.998/162.98)
Rd. 2: (.067/4.005/323.04) beat No. 8 Ron Capps (.076/6.338/83.99)
Rd. 3: (.079/4.015/326.95) lost to No. 5 Robert Hight (.041/3.977/324.59)

“I think we gave it a great shot. I know we might have been counted out after St. Louis. We finished really strong and gave ourselves a chance. I’m really proud of my guys – Dickie Venables, Mike Knudsen, Alex Conway – those guys fought all the way through and never gave up. I think we put on a great show for everyone including our sponsors Mopar, Pennzoil, Sandvik Coromant. I’m proud to wheel the car for them. It’s one of those things where you never give up. We fought all the way to the end. We lost lane choice today and couldn’t push as hard which put us at a disadvantage. We came in here and earned the No. 1 position in qualifying and put on a good show. We gave the fans what they wanted. It was a great show all the way up to the end. Congratulations to Robert Hight. Those guys won more races than anyone out here this year. They beat us today in the semis and deserve to be champions.””

Leah Pritchett, Mopar Dodge Top Fuel Dragster  
(No. 2 Qualifier – 3.694)

Rd. 1: (.074-second reaction time, 3.753 seconds at 319/90 mph) beat No. 15 Scott Palmer (.058/3.813/312.50)
Rd. 2: (.128/3.748/323.12) beat No. 7 Jordan Vandergriff (.067/18.760/59.83)
Rd. 3: (.077/3.908/302.08) lost to No. 6 Doug Kalitta  (.057/3.730/331.85)

“On a high note, we had our best Countdown performance yet. We didn’t have any first-round losses, but on the other hand, the semifinals were as far as we went. We definitely have room for improvement, but most impressively, our hot rod has been very responsive. We dropped a cylinder right at the hit in the semifinals against Doug (Kalitta), but we’ll get to the bottom of what caused that. In all, it was a satisfactory race day. We’re looking forward to making more Mopar power and putting it to the ground next year, and we can’t wait to get back here in February. This team is dedicated to improving and reigniting our championship chase next year. We’re focusing on the positives and working to improve on our weaknesses.”

Tommy Johnson Jr., Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car
(No. 7 Qualifier – 3.918)

Rd. 1: (.067-second reaction time, 4.101 seconds at 258.02 mph) lost No. 10 J.R. Todd (.062/3.974/323.19)

“Our race day wasn’t good obviously. Just not the way we wanted to finish. Especially having so much success here every year. I felt pretty confident coming in. The track today was just incredibly tricky. You try to make all the right calls. We were good until we hit the bump out there. We hit the bump and came loose. We have a tremendous team and had a great season. Unfortunately, we just had a horrible Countdown. It’s tough when your race is based on the last six races. The guys did a great job all year and we just stumbled when it came time to run for a championship. Our two wins and five final rounds still shows we have a really good team. We’ll regroup and have a nice offseason and come back strong for next year.”

Ron Capps, NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car
(No. 8 Qualifier – 3.940)
Rd. 1: (.066-second reaction time, 3.949 seconds at 326.00 mph) beat No. 9 Cruz Pedregon (.053/3.982/321.58)
Rd. 2: (.076/6.338/83.99) lost No. 1 Matt Hagan (.067/4.005/323.04)

“We really had our focus on coming here and trying to get our car’s performance back and finishing as high in the point standings as possible. We ran third-quickest in round one, but then had a tough matchup with our teammate Hagan who was the No. 1 qualifier. We knew Hagan’s team was going to make a good run, and we were going for it. Something broke in our car and it caused a pretty substantial backfire, and that was the end of our day. But, I’ve really got to thank Dodge. These new Charger bodies, besides being one of the greatest aerodynamic Funny Car bodies out here, they really did a lot of work on the safety aspect and the burst panels in the body. I’ve been in my fair share of explosions over the years and the impact this time was half of what you would expect. The car really took the brunt of it. So, thank you Dodge for really making our Charger as safe as possible.”
2019 NHRA Championship Point Standings: Through 24 of 24 Rounds
(Season Wins in Parentheses)

Funny Car
1. Robert Hight (6) –2,637
2. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat (2) –2629
3. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody (4) – 2,563

4. John Force (2) – 2,471
5. Bob Tasca III (2) – 2,446
6. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat (3) – 2, 414
7. J.R. Todd (1) – 2,391
8. Tommy Johnson, Jr. Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat (2) – 2,360
9. Shawn Langdon (2) – 2,358
10. Tim Wilkerson – 2,283

Top Fuel
1. Steve Torrence (9) –2,607
2. Doug Kalitta (3) –2,604
3. Brittany Force (2) –  2,555
4. Leah Pritchett, Mopar HEMI (1) – 2,474
5. Billy Torrence (1) –2,458
6. Richie Crampton (2) –2399
7. Mike Salinas (2) – 2,381
8. Austin Prock (1) – 2,379
9. Antron Brown – 2,329
10. Clay Millican – 2,300
About Dodge//SRT
For more than 100 years, the Dodge brand has carried on the spirit of brothers John and Horace Dodge. Their influence continues today as Dodge proudly offers a complete lineup of performance vehicles that stand out in their own segments. For 2020, Dodge literally expands its high-performance Charger model lineup, adding a Widebody exterior to America’s only four-door muscle car. The 2020 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat maintains its reign as the most powerful and fastest mass-produced sedan in the world. 
The 2020 Dodge lineup also features the 2020 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye, 2020 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, the Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebody and the 2020 Challenger R/T Scat Pack 1320. The 2020 Dodge Durango SRT, the fastest, most powerful and most capable American three-row SUV, completes the brand’s performance lineup. These visceral performance models join a 2020 brand lineup that includes the Durango, Grand Caravan, Journey, Charger and Challenger.  Dodge is part of the portfolio of brands offered by global automaker Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. For more information regarding FCA (NYSE: FCAU/ MTA: FCA), please visit www.fcagroup.com.
Follow Dodge, SRT and FCA US news and video on:  
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About Mopar
Mopar (a simple contraction of the words MOtor and PARts) is the service, parts and customer-care brand for FCA vehicles around the globe. Born in 1937 as the name of a line of antifreeze products, the Mopar brand has evolved over more than 80 years to represent both complete care and authentic performance for owners and enthusiasts worldwide.

Mopar made its mark in the 1960s during the muscle-car era, with Mopar Performance Parts to enhance speed and handling for both road and racing use, and expanded to include technical service and customer support. Today, the Mopar brand’s global reach distributes more than 500,000 parts and accessories in over 150 markets around the world. With more than 50 parts distribution centers and 25 customer contact centers globally, Mopar integrates service, parts and customer-care operations in order to enhance customer and dealer support worldwide.

Mopar is the source for genuine parts and accessories for all FCA US LLC vehicle brands. Mopar parts are engineered together with the same teams that create factory-authorized specifications for FCA vehicles, offering a direct connection that no other aftermarket parts company can provide. Complete information on the Mopar brand is available at www.mopar.com.