Photos and video courtesy NHRA

(UPDATED with videos) NHRA at Joliet — The haves keep on having: Capps, Torrence, Tonglet win again

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JOLIET, Illinois — There doesn’t seem to be any stopping NHRA drivers Ron Capps in Funny Car, Steve Torrence in Top Fuel and motorcycle rider LE Tonglet, who all captured wins in Sunday’s final round of the Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway.

They are the haves of the sport, while those they keep beating are the have nots. Here’s how Sunday played out:

* In Funny Car, 2016 series champion Capps earned his career-high sixth win of the season, but it was his first win ever at Route 66. Capps (4.026 seconds at 319.67 mph) earned his 55th career win, defeating Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. (4.047 seconds at 319.90 mph).

“It’s been a season you can’t even dream about, especially coming off a championship,” Capps said.

Capps, who is in the running to become NHRA’s first winner of an ESPY (this Wednesday), increased his lead in the Funny Car point standings to 1,208 points, a nearly 200-point edge over second-ranked Matt Hagan (1,022).

It was also the 60th career win (both Funny Car and Top Fuel) for Capps’ crew chief, Rahn Tobler.

“60 wins is huge, he’s had a pretty storied career,” Capps said of Tobler. “To get together with him in 2012 is a dream. He’s become an older brother to me, he’s really become family to me.”

As for Capps, who has been racing for more than 30 years, he feels that he’s in his prime at the age of 52.

“I feel like I’m peaking right now, Capps said. “I took a lot of years for granted with Snake (when he raced for Don “Snake” Prudhomme). I was just living in the moment. Now, I’m in better shape than I’ve ever been, I work hard or harder than anybody.”

* In Top Fuel, Torrence rolled to his fifth win in the first 13 races of the 2017 NHRA national event season. Torrence (3.779 seconds at 326.08 mph) defeated two-time defending champ Antron Brown (3.786 seconds at 326.71 mph).

You can’t get much closer than this: Torrence defeated Brown by a mere .005 of a second at the finish line.

Ironically, Torrence is now 3-22 lifetime vs. Brown, including 2-1 in final round meetings this season.

“I didn’t have a good car for the first half of the races I raced (Brown) and then I had a mental block,” Torrence said. “Finally, I just got it in the back of my mind and pushed it out. The kind of driver he is, he’s just the whole package. If there’s anybody I would want to emulate, it would be him.”

It was Torrence’s 13th career Top Fuel win; he’s never won more than three races in a single season. With 11 more national events remaining, and the roll he’s been on of late, it’s likely he’ll keep the  most successful season of his career going.

“You don’t want to stop or slow that momentum down,” Torrence said. “We’re bringing our A game every time. It feels really great to have our car, the confidence in our car and tuner and guys on the team. We used to have bullets to drop, but now we’re dropping bombs.”

Torrence remains No. 1 in the Top Fuel point standings with a 101 point edge (1,188 to 1,087) over Leah Pritchett.

“I’m not even thinking championship, I don’t even want to say the word ‘championship,'” Torrence said. “That’s a goal, but the only way you can get to that is one round at a time.”

* In Pro Stock Motorcycle, LE Tonglet continued to be the hottest rider in the sport, earning his fourth win in the last six races (in one of those other two races, teammate Jerry Savoie won, meaning the White Alligator/Nitro Fish team has won five of the last six national events).

Tonglet (6.835 seconds at 195.99 mph) defeated Hector Arana Jr. (6.878 seconds at 193.29 mph).

Tonglet remains No. 1 in the rider stanings, leading Eddie Krawiec (601 to 460 points).

* In Pro Stock, Drew Skillman became the ninth different winner in the category in 2017 and also earning his fourth career Pro Stock win. Skillman (6.627 seconds at 209.23 mph) defeated Erica Enders (6.655 seconds at 207.37 mph).

Skillman is eighth in the Pro Stock points (723 points); Bo Butner remains No. 1 in the standings (1,148 points to second-ranked Greg Anderson (1,009).

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

FINAL FINISHING ORDER:

TOP FUEL: 1.  Steve Torrence; 2.  Antron Brown; 3.  T.J. Zizzo; 4.  Clay Millican; 5.  Brittany Force; 6.  Shawn Langdon; 7.  Blake Alexander; 8.  Leah Pritchett; 9.  Tony Schumacher; 10.  Scott Palmer; 11.  Kyle Wurtzel; 12.  Troy Coughlin Jr.; 13.  Pat Dakin; 14.  Luigi Novelli; 15.  Terry McMillen; 16.  Doug Kalitta.

FUNNY CAR: 1.  Ron Capps; 2.  Tommy Johnson Jr.; 3.  Matt Hagan; 4.  Tim Wilkerson; 5.  J.R. Todd; 6.  Alexis DeJoria; 7.  Jim Campbell; 8.  Jack Beckman; 9.  Cruz Pedregon; 10.  Jonnie Lindberg; 11.  Brian Stewart; 12.  John Force; 13.  Courtney Force; 14.  Del Worsham; 15.  Robert Hight; 16.  Bob Bode.

PRO STOCK: 1.  Drew Skillman; 2.  Erica Enders; 3.  Bo Butner; 4.  Jason Line; 5.  Greg Anderson; 6.  Tanner Gray; 7.  Vincent Nobile; 8.  Kenny Delco; 9.  Allen Johnson; 10.  Chris McGaha; 11.  Alex Laughlin; 12.  Mark Hogan; 13.  Shane Tucker; 14.  Jeg Coughlin; 15.  Alan Prusiensky; 16.  Val Smeland.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1.  LE Tonglet; 2.  Hector Arana Jr; 3.  Karen Stoffer; 4.  Eddie Krawiec; 5.  Scotty Pollacheck; 6.  Angie Smith; 7.  Mike Berry; 8.  Jerry Savoie; 9.  Matt Smith; 10.  Melissa Surber; 11.  Joey Gladstone; 12.  Andrew Hines; 13.  Steve Johnson; 14.  Chip Ellis; 15.  Angelle Sampey; 16.  Cory Reed.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

FINAL RESULTS: 

TOP FUEL: Steve Torrence, 3.779 seconds, 326.08 mph  def. Antron Brown, 3.786 seconds, 326.71 mph.

FUNNY CAR: Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.026, 319.67  def. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.047, 319.90.

PRO STOCK: Drew Skillman, Chevy Camaro, 6.627, 209.23  def. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.655, 207.37.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.835, 195.99  def. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.878, 193.29.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

FINAL ROUND-BY-ROUND RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: ROUND ONE — T.J. Zizzo, 3.793, 324.36 def. Pat Dakin, Foul – Red Light; Antron Brown, 3.776, 322.42 def. Doug Kalitta, 6.478, 152.78; Clay Millican, 3.813, 323.81 def. Kyle Wurtzel, 3.906, 300.80; Leah Pritchett, 3.858, 294.18 def. Troy Coughlin Jr., 3.968, 279.50; Brittany Force, 4.309, 240.94 def. Luigi Novelli, 4.927, 255.34; Steve Torrence, 3.828, 325.53 def. Scott Palmer, 3.901, 315.12; Blake Alexander, 3.940, 301.54 def. Tony Schumacher, 3.883, 306.26; Shawn Langdon, 3.835, 318.69 def. Terry McMillen, 5.170, 141.08;

QUARTERFINALS — Torrence, 3.843, 324.20 def. Alexander, 4.087, 257.48; Zizzo, 3.787, 324.75 def. Force, 3.817, 322.88; Millican, 3.888, 314.61 def. Langdon, 3.909, 309.91; Brown, 3.853, 305.29 def. Pritchett, 5.247, 139.10;

SEMIFINALS — Torrence, 3.815, 320.05 def. Zizzo, 3.983, 285.77; Brown, 3.784, 325.53 def. Millican, 4.689, 165.64;

FINAL — Torrence, 3.779, 326.08 def. Brown, 3.786, 326.71.

FUNNY CAR: ROUND ONE — Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 4.162, 251.95 def. Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 5.718, 133.68; Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.082, 310.48 def. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 6.473, 107.50; J.R. Todd, Camry, 4.480, 242.71 def. Courtney Force, Camaro, 5.680, 135.61; Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.020, 320.28 def. Bob Bode, Charger, Foul – Centerline; Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 3.974, 322.81 def. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.024, 321.88; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.026, 319.07 def. John Force, Camaro, 4.982, 157.39; Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.361, 222.29 def. Brian Stewart, Mustang, 4.825, 176.70; Ron Capps, Charger, 4.005, 320.89 def. Jonnie Lindberg, Camry, 4.072, 321.19;

QUARTERFINALS — Johnson Jr., 4.026, 317.72 def. Todd, 4.260, 248.75; Capps, 4.119, 309.98 def. Campbell, 4.432, 204.60; Wilkerson, 4.107, 314.61 def. Beckman, 5.061, 172.65; Hagan, 4.006, 319.60 def. DeJoria, 4.399, 210.67;

SEMIFINALS — Johnson Jr., 4.015, 317.87 def. Wilkerson, 7.734, 117.15; Capps, 4.038, 318.84 def. Hagan, 4.088, 313.58;

FINAL — Capps, 4.026, 319.67 def. Johnson Jr., 4.047, 319.90.

PRO STOCK: ROUND ONE — Erica Enders, Chevy Camaro, 6.651, 208.91 def. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.665, 208.59; Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.636, 209.26 def. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.658, 207.78; Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.606, 209.49 def. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.666, 208.62; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.617, 209.62 def. Alan Prusiensky, Dart, 8.300, 118.12; Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.624, 209.23 def. Shane Tucker, Camaro, 6.762, 204.54; Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.605, 209.88 def. Mark Hogan, Pontiac GXP, 6.761, 202.79; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.595, 209.85 def. Val Smeland, Camaro, Broke; Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.722, 206.67 def. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.791, 207.56;

QUARTERFINALS — Line, 6.637, 209.33 def. Delco, Foul – Red Light; Skillman, 6.622, 208.91 def. Gray, 6.639, 209.10; Butner, 6.623, 209.52 def. Nobile, 6.647, 208.52; Enders, 6.649, 208.68 def. Anderson, 6.614, 209.59;

SEMIFINALS — Enders, 6.649, 208.46 def. Line, 6.654, 208.88; Skillman, 6.625, 209.14 def. Butner, 6.621, 209.69;

FINAL — Skillman, 6.627, 209.23 def. Enders, 6.655, 207.37.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: ROUND ONE — Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.819, 197.05 def. Chip Ellis, 6.946, 193.10; Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.943, 193.16 def. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.922, 194.60; LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.830, 196.36 def. Cory Reed, Foul – Red Light; Angie Smith, Buell, 6.894, 194.38 def. Melissa Surber, Buell, 6.873, 193.38; Mike Berry, Buell, 6.890, 192.66 def. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.931, 192.77; Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 6.851, 194.72 def. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.889, 195.22; Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.852, 195.90 def. Angelle Sampey, 6.972, 188.73; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.940, 192.52 def. Matt Smith, Foul – Red Light;

QUARTERFINALS — Stoffer, 6.946, 192.99 def. Savoie, 7.212, 151.14; Krawiec, 6.938, 193.46 def. Berry, 6.949, 191.67; Tonglet, 6.843, 195.65 def. Pollacheck, 6.881, 193.29; Arana Jr, 6.882, 193.88 def. A. Smith, 6.946, 192.25;

SEMIFINALS — Arana Jr, 6.844, 195.03 def. Krawiec, 6.963, 193.07; Tonglet, 6.843, 195.82 def. Stoffer, 6.904, 192.82;

FINAL — Tonglet, 6.835, 195.99 def. Arana Jr, 6.878, 193.29.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

UPDATED POINT STANDINGS

TOP FUEL: 1.  Steve Torrence, 1,188; 2.  Leah Pritchett, 1,087; 3.  Antron Brown, 1,085; 4.  Tony Schumacher, 894; 5.  Doug Kalitta, 813; 6.  Brittany Force, 795; 7.  Clay Millican, 773; 8.  Terry McMillen, 509; 9.  Scott Palmer, 496; 10.  Troy Coughlin Jr., 480.

FUNNY CAR: 1.  Ron Capps, 1,208; 2.  Matt Hagan, 1,022; 3.  Jack Beckman, 914; 4.  Robert Hight, 853; 5.  Tommy Johnson Jr., 833; 6.  Courtney Force, 749; 7.  John Force, 718; 8.  Tim Wilkerson, 599; 9.  J.R. Todd, 559; 10.  Cruz Pedregon, 463.

PRO STOCK: 1.  Bo Butner, 1,148; 2.  Greg Anderson, 1,009; 3.  Tanner Gray, 944; 4.  (tie) Jeg Coughlin, 856; Jason Line, 856; 6.  Erica Enders, 782; 7.  Vincent Nobile, 723; 8.  Drew Skillman, 696; 9.  Chris McGaha, 487; 10.  Allen Johnson, 480.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1.  LE Tonglet, 601; 2.  Eddie Krawiec, 460; 3.  Hector Arana Jr, 419; 4.  Scotty Pollacheck, 381; 5.  Jerry Savoie, 379; 6.  Andrew Hines, 349; 7.  Joey Gladstone, 310; 8.  Matt Smith, 300; 9.  Karen Stoffer, 291; 10.  Steve Johnson, 253.

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NHRA: Dodge/Mopar to unveil new Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car today in Denver

Photos/video courtesy Dodge/Mopar
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If you’re a fan of NHRA Funny Car racing and Dodge/Mopar, you may notice something different at this weekend’s Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in suburban Denver, Colorado.

Two-time (2011 and 2014) NHRA Funny Car champ Matt Hagan – who has won the last two NHRA national events in the last four weeks – will be piloting a newly-designed 2019 Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, a 10,000-horsepower Funny Car that makes its debut today at Dodge/Mopar’s premier NHRA national event.

The new Charger SRT Hellcat succeeds the former Mopar Dodge Charger R/T, which had been in use since 2015.

“We improved on the body design,” Hagan said of the new Charger Hellcat. “It was already a great design, a great body. But now, we’re going to have a little more downforce, a little more traction on these racetracks and it will be a huge performance advantage.”

The new Hellcat includes a number of innovations, including a new front splitter to increase downforce. Just like its predecessor, the R/T, the Hellcat will go head-to-head with Chevrolet’s Camaro in the NHRA Funny Car ranks.

“We will be able to press harder with more downforce on the nose, which translates into huge amounts of downforce on the run,” Hagan said.

According to a media release, the new Hellcat features major design changes in three key areas: the front end, bodysides and burst panel placement:

* “At the front, the shape of the nose has been tweaked and a new splitter (photo), built of carbon fiber and Kevlar like the rest of the Funny Car body, has been added. The splitter substantially mimics the look and shape of the production vehicle’s splitter while generating greater downforce to help plant the Funny Car to the track.

* “Bodyside scallops have been redesigned to more closely identify with the production Hellcat while also enhancing on-track function and performance. The deeper character lines provide greater visual ties to the street version of the Hellcat, while also helping to mitigate the “body burn” common on all Funny Cars due to the close positioning of the exhaust headers.

* “The location of the burst panel on the hood has also been reworked. The panel is now centered over the top of the engine to more efficiently release energy and pressure in the event of engine issues, a common occurrence in race cars that are pushed to the razor’s edge of performance.”

Since the R/T was first introduced into the Don Schumacher Racing corps, it has gone on to 50 wins, 42 runner-up finishes and 40 No. 1 qualifiers in NHRA national events and one NHRA Funny Car World Championship (Ron Capps, 2016).

The new Charger SRT Hellcat, which can exceed 330-plus mph and covers 1,000 feet in under four seconds, is the drag strip version of the supercharged, 707-horsepower production Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, the quickest, fastest and most powerful sedan in the world.

While Hagan will drive the first Hellcat, his other three Dodge-powered DSR teammates – Capps, Jack Beckman and Tommy Johnson Jr. – will soon take delivery of their own versions of the car over the remaining 11 races of the 2018 season.

One day after winning two weeks ago at Norwalk, Ohio, Hagan and crew chief Dickie Venables put the new Hellcat through its paces with several test runs. The results were so strong that it was decided to debut the car at Denver and run all qualifying and elimination rounds with it.

“We made four good, solid runs in testing at Norwalk,” said Hagan. “We put the body through a lot of different things and were really, really pleased with it.

“I really think it’s going to translate over to performance on the race track, and hopefully more win lights in the future.”

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