Westcott Jr. dominates, completes second consecutive Mopar HEMI Challenge sweep
INDIANAPOLIS, IN – Charlie Westcott Jr. and Mopar® HEMI® Challenge mastery - the two go hand-in-hand. The Parma, Mich., native took his 1968 "Warfish" Plymouth Barracuda all the way to the bank on Friday at the 12th Annual Mopar HEMI Challenge at the NHRA Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, defeating the 1968 Dodge Dart of Jim Daniels, to complete his second straight sweep at the Indianapolis Mopar HEMI Challenge, seizing his fifth overall victory at the venue and pocketing the $15,000 winner's purse from Mopar.
"Congratulations to Charlie Westcott Jr. for winning the Mopar HEMI Challenge during the U.S. Nationals," said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group LLC's service, parts and customer-care brand. "Mopar is extremely proud to support sportsman drag racing, which is the backbone of the sport. The Mopar HEMI Challenge is an event that we always look forward to, and the turnout was fantastic again this year. Hats off to all the dedicated Mopar Sportsman racers who competed in the event."
Westcott Jr.'s path to the final included a first-round bye, a pass of 8.498-seconds at 158.91 mph to defeat the 1968 Dodge Dart of David Barton in the second round, an 8.447/159.44 to best former Indy HEMI Challenge champ Rick Houser (who also redlighted), and a 8.434/158.89 pass to win a close match in the semifinals with fellow '68 Plymouth Barracuda driver Tyler Hard and earn lane choice over Daniels.
In the final, Westcott Jr. unleashed an 8.397/159.06 pass to reel in Daniels (8.485/156.92), who left quicker off the line with a .022 reaction time to Westcott's slower .091 mark. The horsepower in Westcott's HEMI proved too much, as the 'Cuda passed the Dart just after the 1,000-foot mark, with only five-foot margin of victory. "We come here to win," said Westcott Jr. "We're not here for the party. All we do is work on the car, and all I want to do now is take a nap. I'm whipped to the max. The clutch was getting aggressive and I kept tuning it a little bit at a time. I didn't want to take a big swing at it and throw it away. In the final I turned up the starting line RPM and had the clutched backed off a little and it did a fairly good-sized wheelie for my car. It got a little crooked and he (Daniels) got out front a little ways, but then I started pulling on him. I was pretty sure I passed him, but it was close.
"It's a great deal, especially for Mopar, with the big crowd. It's great exposure deal for Mopar. Thank God they put up the money for this, because I wouldn't be here if they didn't."
Daniels road to the money round featured a single run of 8.475/157.36 after Lloyd Wofford was unable to meet the bell in the opening stanza, a solid 8.480/157.83 effort to knock off the always-tough Jim Pancake in his Carriage Towne Chrysler 1968 Dodge Dart, a 8.490/157.41 mark to run down Steve Comella's Dart, and an 8.487/157.45 pass in his semifinals bye into the finals.
"I couldn't be happier with the car," said Daniels. "We worked pretty hard on it yesterday. Thanks to Ray and David (Barton), my son, everybody that helped out. I can't thank these guys enough. We come and we have a great time. It's a great race, and you see people around the country you don't see a lot.
"Charlie and his father (Charlie Westcott Sr., a former champion at the event), they work hard at it. I give them all the accolades. I told them before the race, 'Let's put on a good show for the fans,' and I think we did. I wish it would have had a different outcome, but I'm completely happy with everything."
A crowded field of 23 Mopar-powered Super Stock A/HEMI (SS/AH) 1968 Dodge Darts and Plymouth Barracudas duked it out at Lucas Oil Raceway. Daniels earned $1,500 with his runner-up finish, with Hard and Houser earning $500 each for their third- and fourth-place finishes, respectively.