By Patrick Rall
The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series stopped in Kansas this past weekend for the Kansas Nationals and Dodge drivers claimed both of the branded classes – with Johnny Gray winning Funny Car while Jeg Coughlin claimed the win in Pro Stock.
In the Funny Car class, five Dodge Charger race cars qualified (Gray, Beckman, Capps, Hagan, Arend) in the 16 car field with Johnny Gray being the top qualifying Dodge driver in the 4th spot. In round one, Jack Beckman beat Cruz Pedragon, Johnny Gray beat Alexis DeJoria and Ron Capps beat Tim Wilkerson while Jeff Arend lost to Robert Hight and Matt Hagan lost to Bob Tasca. Jack Beckman had the best ET and trap speed in round one with a pass of 4.052 at 315.49 miles per hour. In round two, Beckman beat John Force, Capps beat Courtney Force and Gray beat Del Worsham with the best run of the round at 4.047 at 313.66mph. This sent three Dodge Chargers into the final four with Gray facing Beckman while Capps would take on Robert Hight and his Mustang.
Ron Capps jumped out to a starting line advantage against Hight but the Charger lost traction and handed the win to Hight’s Mustang. Beckman and Gray had a great drag race with Beckman pulling the better reaction time but Gray drove around him for the win. Hight’s best run of the round (4.044 at 311.92) gave him lane choice in the finals against Johnny Gray but it would back fire as after pulling the starting line advantage, Hight lost traction around 300 feet out and allowed Gray to race to his second straight win. With this win, Gray now holds the top spot in the Funny Car race for the championship – ten points ahead of Cruz Pedregon while Matt Hagan sits 3rd and Ron Capps sits 4th.
Over in the Pro Stock class, there were six Dodge Avengers in the 16 car field with the quickest of those drivers being Allen Johnson, who qualified 3rd. In round one, Johnson beat fellow Dodge driver Deric Kramer, Jeg Coughlin beat Greg Stanfield, Matt Hartford beat Jason Line, and another Dodge versus Dodge race saw Vincent Nobile take down V Gaines. In round two, Nobile knocked out top qualifier Mike Edwards, Coughlin beat Rickie Jones and Johnson beat Greg Anderson while Matt Hartford lost to Rodger Brogdon. Allen Johnson had the best ET of round two (6.674) while Coughlin had the best trap speed (206.39). As was the case in Funny Car, Pro Stock saw three Mopars in the final four with a Chevrolet Camaro completing the field for the third round.
Allen Johnson overcame a starting line disadvantage against Brogdon to win and sent himself to the finals while the battle between Coughlin and Nobile saw Jeg also give away a quick lead on the line only to drive around Nobile on the big end of the track. Coughlin turned in the best ET and speed of round three with a time of 6.665 @ 207.18 miles per hour. In the finals, Allen Johnson and Jeg Coughlin turned identical 0.013 reaction times and while Johnson had a higher top speed – Jeg got to the line first, beating Johnson with a 6.680 to AJ’s 6.698. On the season, Jeg now sits in second place while Allen Johnson holds third.