By Patrick Rall
This past weekend marked a rare occurrence in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series – neither the Pro Stock or Funny Car classes were won by someone piloting a Dodge race car. The success of multiple drivers in each of those two branded classes has made for a great 2013 championship season and Dodge drag racing fans have rarely had to worry about not seeing either a Dodge Charger or Avenger (or both) in the winner’s circle. However, with the drivers taking to Texas for the second of six stops in the Countdown to the Championship, things didn’t go as well for the Dodge teams as they have throughout the rest of the season.
In the Pro Stock class, there were six Dodge Avenger race cars in the field with Allen Johnson being the best qualifying Dodge in the 4th spot. Vincent Nobile qualified 8th, V Gaines was 9th, Jeg Coughlin was 10th, Matt Hartford was 15th and Chris McGaha was 16th but with Nobile, Hartford and McGaha losing in the first round, just three of those cars moved onto round 2. V Gaines was able to beat Erica Enders and Jeg Coughlin beat Rickie Jones to advanced to round 3 while Allen Johnson lost of Jason Line. In round 3, Line also knocked out V Gaines with Gaines red lit while Shane Gray beat Jeg Coughlin with a great reaction time. The final run saw Jason Line’s Summit Camaro beat Gray’s Camaro for the win.
The win allowed Jason Line to jump up into the top spot in the run for the Pro Stock championship but thanks to Jeg advancing to the third round, Coughlin still sits in the 2nd spot – just 8 points out of first. Allen Johnson sits in the 5th spot, 74 points out of the lead.
The Funny Car class also had six Dodge team cars in the race with the quickest of the qualifiers being Matt Hagan in the 3rd position. Ron Capps qualified 4th, Jack Beckman was 6th, Johnny Gray was 8th, Jeff Arend was 14th and Blake Alexander started in the 15th spot. Gray, Hagan and Beckman won their way out of round1 but for Capps, Arend and Alexander, it was one and done. Johnny Gray lost to Robert Hight in round 2 while a shootout between Hagan and Beckman saw Jack Beckman and his Charger advancing to the third round – where he was knocked out be Cruz Pedregon and his Toyota Camry. In the finals, Pedregon beat John Force with the starting line advantage and a strong run.
Fortunately, Matt Hagan’s powerful lead coming into the Countdown to the Championship has allowed him to maintain a 51 point lead over Cruz Pedregon with 4 events left in the season.