POMONA, Calif., Nov. 11, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --
- Johnson caps his championship season with his first career win at the historic Pomona venue
- Mopar-powered Dodge driver Jack Beckman captures NHRA Funny Car crown, gives Mopar a pair of 2012 NHRA championships
- Beckman edges out follow Mopar-powered driver Ron Capps by two points in one of the closest Funny Car title fights in history
- In Mopar's 75th anniversary year, Mopar-powered drivers captured 10 wins in each of the Pro Stock and Funny Car classes
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," said 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," added 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, Johnson drove his Mopar Dodge Avenger to the win over teammate Vincent Nobile earning a career-best seven wins in one season and 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 No. 2 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 semifinals 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 Mopar 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. (Coughlin finished ninth in the final NHRA Pro Stock standings). Nobile nearly matched that in the quarterfinals with a .002 reaction time, scoring a stunning hole shot victory over Jason Line, who posted the quickest run of the round 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 victory was the tenth of the season out of 23 events for a Mopar-powered NHRA Pro Stock racer.
Mopar-powered Dodge driver V. Gaines (No.7 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 Mopar 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 a miniscule 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 crown was the first for Beckman and 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 who watched from the seat of his Dodge Charger R/T in the staging lane as his Don Schumacher Racing teammate lost the semi-final round to give him the Championship win. "The team let me know that we 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 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 will kickoff at the same venue where the 2012 season ended, Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, Calif., with the 53rd Annual NHRA Winter Nationals, scheduled for Feb. 14–17, 2013. For more information on the NHRA, visit www.nhra.com.
About Mopar Motorsports
Mopar's commitment to professional motorsports competition was established in the 1950's when a partnership ignited with drag racing pioneer, Don Garlits. Combined efforts between Garlits and the Mopar brand resulted in the breaking of numerous speed and performance barriers in a HEMI-powered car over the next several decades. Mopar has remained a fixture on the racing scene in the North America ever since and is currently involved with the NHRA, NASCAR, USAC and TORC series. Mopar also sponsors many motorsports events, including title sponsorship of the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals in Colorado for nearly 25 consecutive years; and it is a proud supporter of amateur racing within NHRA and USAC.
Mopar has introduced numerous industry-first features including:
- Vehicle-information apps: first to introduce smartphone vehicle-information applications, a new channel of communication with consumers
- Electronic owner manuals: first to introduce traditional owner manuals in a DVD and brief user-guide format
- Wi-Fi: first to offer customers the ability to make their vehicle a wireless hot spot
- Wireless charging: first to introduce in-vehicle wireless charging for portable devices
- Electronic Vehicle Tracking System (EVTS): first to market with a new interactive vehicle tracking device that sends owners a text when the vehicle is driven too fast or too far based on pre-set parameters
- 2011 Mopar Challenger Drag Pak: first to introduce a 500-plus cubic-inch V-10 drag-race package car
- Camper trailers: first to introduce off-road camper trailers
- WiTECH: first to support vehicle diagnosis and software updates leveraging off-the-shelf personal computers and a dedicated wireless tool network
About the Mopar Brand
Mopar is Chrysler Group LLC's service, parts and customer-care brand and distributes 280,000 parts and accessories. With the creation of the Chrysler Group and Fiat S.p.A. partnership, Mopar is extending its global reach, integrating service, parts and customer-care operations in order to enhance dealer and customer support worldwide. Combined with Fiat SpA, Mopar's global portfolio includes more than 500,000 parts and accessories that are distributed in more than 120 countries. Mopar is the source for all genuine parts and accessories for Chrysler Group and Fiat SpA brands.
Mopar parts are unique in that they are engineered with the same teams that create factory-authorized vehicle specifications for Chrysler Group and Fiat S.p.A.vehicles — a direct connection that no other aftermarket parts company can provide. A complete list of Mopar accessories and performance parts is available at www.mopar.com.75 Years of Mopar
Mopar (a simple contraction of the words MOtor and PARts) was trademarked for an antifreeze product in 1937. The Mopar brand made its mark in the 1960s — the muscle-car era. The Chrysler Corporation built race-ready Dodge and Plymouth "package cars" equipped with special high-performance parts. Mopar carried a line of "special parts" for super-stock drag racers and developed its racing parts division called Mopar Performance Parts to enhance speed and handling for both road and racing use. The brand has expanded to include technical service and customer support.
SOURCE Chrysler Group LLC