By Patrick Rall
Team Mopar had a great weekend as the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series took to the track in Joliet Illinois for the Route 66 Nationals – with a Dodge racer taking the win in both the Pro Stock and Funny Car classes.
Things started off strong for the Mopar drivers in the Funny Car class as Chargers accounted for three of the top six starting positions with Ron Capps taking the top qualifying spot with a run of 3.988 at 320.28 miles per hour. Jack Beckman qualified 3rd, Matt Hagan started 6th, Johnny Gray started 11th and Jeff Arend started in the 15th spot. In round 1, Jeff Arend lost to Bob Tasca and Johnny Gray lost to Matt Hagan while Jack Beckman beat Alexis DeJoria, Ron Capps beat Bob Bode and – as mentioned – Hagan bested Gray with the fastest pass of the round (314.83mph) to move onto round #2. In round 2, Capps knocked off Robert Hight with the best run of the round (4.073) while Hagan beat the second Mopar driver in a row as he took down Jack Beckman. Capps lost traction around 200 feet from the starting line to hand the win to John Force while Hagan knocked out Bob Tasca after Tasca pulled out to the starting line advantage.
This set up a final round shootout between Matt Hagan and John Force. Force’s Mustang took the starting line advantage but Hagan quickly drove around the drag racing legend and he held Force off for the 8th win of his career and his 3rd of the season.
Hagan now sits in first place in the Funny Car championship standings – 106 points ahead of Cruz Pedregon. Johnny Gray is current 4th (161 points back), Capps is 5th (169 points back) and Beckman sits 6th (187 points out)..
Over in the Pro Stock ranks, Dodge Avenger race cars claimed the 2nd and 3rd starting position while Vincent Nobile started 8th and V Gaines started 14th. In round 1, Vincent Nobile beat Greg Stanfield, Allen Johnson beat Steve Kent, and Jeg Coughlin beat Rodger Brogdon while V Gaines lost on the line to the slower Greg Anderson. In round 2, Nobile took on top qualifier Mike Edwards and even though Vincent pulled the better reaction time, Edwards took him down with a smoking fast run. Allen Johnson turned the second best time of round 2 as he beat Shane Gray and Jeg Coughlin turned the quickest ET of the round (6.595) and the best speed (209.65) to beat Jason Line. This set up a final four run between Allen Johnson and teammate Jeg Coughlin with Jeg making a statement – taking the big starting line advantage and turning in the best ET of the round (6.584) to secure his place in the finals.
In the finals, Jeg Coughlin lined up with Greg Anderson, who took down top qualifier Mike Edwards in round 3 to set up a Jeg’s versus Summit battle. Anderson grabbed the starting line advantage but when he lost traction shortly into the run, Coughlin soared to the easy win. This was Jeg’s 2nd win of the year and the 54th of his career.
Jeg Coughlin now sits in the 2nd spot in the 2013 Pro Stock championship standings, 128 points behind Mike Edwards. Allen Johnson sits 3rd (130 points back of Edwards), Nobile is 8th (414 points back) and Gaines sits in the 10th spot (559 points out).
“It was great to have Matt Hagan and Jeg Coughlin Jr. add two more wins in their Dodge vehicles today with their efforts at the Route 66 Nationals and everyone at Mopar is very proud of the strong first half of the season we’ve had,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group LLC’s service, parts and customer-care brand. “Earning wins in both Pro Stock and Funny Car classes at the same event for the third time this year, is a great way to showcase all the hard work that Mopar HEMI-powered teams and drivers are putting in to defend both world titles this season.”