DSR Seattle Post-Race Recap
CatSpot NHRA Northwest Nationals
Event 16 of 24 (Seattle)
Pacific Raceways – Kent, Washington
August 3-5, 2018
DSR Seattle Elimination Highlights:
- DSR ‘doubles-up’ for the second time in 2018
- Antron Brown and Ron Capps achieve milestone victories
– Brown, 50th Top Fuel win
– Capps, 60th professional win
- Brown claimed his third consecutive Seattle Top Fuel victory
- All-DSR Top Fuel final between Brown and Leah Pritchett
- Capps reached the final round for the third straight event
Milestone Wins for Antron Brown and Ron Capps as DSR Doubles-Up in Seattle
KENT, Washington (August 5, 2018) – With three out of the four nitro final-round entries coming out of the Don Schumacher Racing stable, team owner Don Schumacher was able to ‘double-up’ at the CatSpot NHRA Northwest Nationals, the final event of the Western Swing. Antron Brown (Top Fuel) and Ron Capps (Funny Car) raced to the winner’s circle on Sunday afternoon, bringing DSR’s win total to an unprecedented 328 victories. It was Brown’s 50th Top Fuel Wally trophy, and Capps’ 60th professional Wally.
Brown opened the day with a win over Shawn Reed to set up a second-round matchup against teammate Tony Schumacher. Both cars smoked the tires early, but Brown recovered quickly to win the pedalfest. In the semifinals, he would face Steve Torrence in an epic matchup. Brown had a 0.020-second advantage at the light, then held off Torrence to win on a holeshot by 0.009 seconds.
In the finals against teammate Leah Pritchett, Brown took the immediate lead and never trailed for his third consecutive Seattle victory. The final margin of victory was 0.0047 seconds (approximately two feet) and enabled Brown to capture the elusive 50th Top Fuel victory he has sought since Brainerd 2017.
“It’s no secret that we struggled at the beginning of the year,” said Brown, who joined Schumacher, Larry Dixon and Joe Amato as the only NHRA drivers to win 50 Top Fuel events. “We lost (crew chief) Brian Corradi, and then we had a lot of our team moving around, so they’ve had to gel in new spots and positions. Our main focus has just been to get better every race and learn this new combination and how to make it work.
“We were good in Sonoma; we were good in Denver, we were good in Virginia. We were just losing close races. We used to be on the opposite side, and today all of the win lights turned on for our team. I couldn’t be more proud of my Matco Tools/U.S. Army/Toyota guys in how persistent they’ve been throughout the year. Now it’s happening at the right time with the Countdown approaching. Our car is showing it. We’re qualifying in the top five, and we just want to keep doing it. ‘Top three’ is our goal, but we’re going for the number one spot. Now we have a shot to move up a spot or two, and that really will help us in the Countdown.”
In Funny Car, Capps’ milestone 60th win came on the heels of two consecutive final round appearances for the driver of the Pennzoil Synthetics/NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car.
Along his way to the winner’s circle, the four-time Pacific Raceways event champion defeated Jonnie Lindberg, teammate Matt Hagan and powered to an impressive pass on a bye run during the semifinals to earn lane choice in the final round. The final, Capps’ 117th, was a battle of the NHRA Countdown to the Championship points leaders with No. 2-ranked Capps facing No. 1-ranked Courtney Force.
It was a nail-biter of a race against Force with both drivers nearly even leaving the starting line. Capps and Force kept pace with each other until just before the finish line when the Pennzoil Synthetics/NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge surged ahead for the win. Although Capps wasn’t able to close in on Force’s point lead by much, he was able to prevent her from widening the gap.
“They’ve got a target on their back,” said Capps of Force and her team. “They are the points leaders, obviously. We’re trying to make ground up on them, and you can’t do that when she’s next to me in the final round, you just get 20-points. But, it’s going to be fun. We’re just shooting to be as high as we can in points during the regular season, and they’re going to be tough.”
In defeating Force, Capps and the Pennzoil Synthetics/NAPA AUTO PARTS team was able to prevent John Force Racing from ‘sweeping’ the Western Swing by earning all three of the swing’s Funny Car Wally trophies.
“I’m in the waterbox, and there’s Don Schumacher, and all I’m thinking is they’re going to try and ‘sweep the swing.’ I was on the bad end of those (two final rounds) in Denver and Sonoma, so more than anything, I wanted to end that for Don. That was in my head, ‘don’t let John Force sweep the swing in Funny Car,’ so I’m glad we could put a stop to that.”
It was a quintessential Rahn Tobler/Ron Capps performance that allowed the duo to pick up their 24th win together on Sunday afternoon. It was at Pacific Raceways in 1995 where Capps claimed his first professional win, his only Top Fuel victory. Capps was nostalgic as he recalled a day he considers a crucial turning point in his career.
“I won here in 1995. It was on a Tuesday. I was in an unsponsored car, I borrowed money for a firesuit, and Pennzoil was on my suit, my mom sewed it on. That was a big moment. I’ve been here many times and have been able to win in Funny Car, but that was a fateful day. From what (former team owner) Don Prudhomme told me, that was the day he started watching me on the track, how I drove, the way I carried myself. That day probably propelled me to the next step of getting a phone call from Don ‘The Snake’ Prudhomme, and from there led me to be able to drive for Don Schumacher. I’ve driven for two of the biggest names in the sport, represented three Fortune 500 companies in my 20+-year career. I love racing cars, I live for it, so it’s neat to come full circle and stage the car in that same lane where I won on that Tuesday.”
Driver of the Matco Tools/U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 5 (3.761 E.T. at 326.48 MPH)
E1: 3.796 E.T. at 327.03 MPH defeated Shawn Reed 3.887 E.T. at 322.58 MPH
E2: 4.137 E.T. at 301.74 MPH defeated Tony Schumacher 4.718 E.T. at 213.00 MPH
E3: 3.811 E.T. at 323.97 MPH defeated Steve Torrence 3.800 E.T. at 325.85 MPH
E4: 3.835 E.T. at 322.88 MPH defeated Leah Pritchett 3.849 E.T. at 320.13 MPH
Driver of the Pennzoil Synthetics/NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 9 (4.008 E.T. at 315.42 MPH)
E1: 3.989 E.T. at 321.04 MPH defeated Jonnie Lindberg 4.049 E.T. at 317.79 MPH
E2: 3.998 E.T. at 320.43 MPH defeated Matt Hagan 4.032 E.T. at 311.27 MPH
E3: 4.002 E.T. at 315.49 MPH defeated Tim Wilkerson (no time, broke)
E4: 4.033 E.T. at 314.90 MPH defeated Courtney Force 4.115 E.T. at 255.63 MPH
Driver of the Sparkling Ice Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 6 (3.764 E.T. at 321.73 MPH)
E1: 3.809 E.T. at 325.53 MPH defeated Troy Buff 3.798 E.T. at 315.71 MPH
E2: 3.823 E.T. at 319.60 MPH defeated Clay Millican 3.957 E.T. at 266.79 MPH
E3: 3.838 E.T. at 304.74 MPH defeated Mike Salinas 4.045 E.T. at 237.63 MPH
E4: 3.849 E.T. at 320.13 MPH defeated by Antron Brown 3.835 E.T. at 322.88 MPH
Pritchett qualified the Sparkling Ice dragster sixth and raced to the final round, starting with a gutty first-round win over Troy Buff. She scored a holeshot victory with her lap of 3.809-seconds at 325.53-mph besting Buff’s pass of 3.798-seconds at 315.71-mph.
Pritchett used another consistent run of 3.823-seconds to defeat Clay Millican in round two for the second time on the swing to advance to the semifinals. Upset-minded Mike Salinas was the next competitor trying to stop Pritchett and her black raspberry-hued machine. Salinas had the initial jump, but Pritchett drove around him to claim the win with a pass of 3.838 seconds at 304.74 mph. The victory secured a second final round appearance during the Western Swing, and Pritchett’s first at Pacific Raceways.
“I feel phenomenal about the car, the team, the headspace and the momentum. Today was a great way to finish off the Western Swing. Of course, we were just one round shy of the ultimate finish to it, but my proudest moment of the weekend wasn’t even the win lights. It was the ability this team had to overcome the insane challenges we had facing us after the semifinals. We had engine damage. We had blower damage and the confidence (crew chief) Tod Okuhara had using a blower that never had any type of boost put to it before for the final round should how good he is. When you change a blower there could be at least 15 other things that are affected, so you just don’t know what to expect. From burnout to turnout, this was basically a new machine compared to what we had all weekend long. So to show out as well as we did in the final was very impressive. I’m very proud to be part of this team and we’ll continue this momentum on to Brainerd.”
Driver of the U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 4 (3.751 E.T. at 327.03 MPH)
E1: 4.137 E.T. at 258.47 MPH defeated Terry McMillen 6.626 E.T. at 91.90 MPH
E2: 4.718 E.T. at 213.00 MPH defeated by Antron Brown 4.137 E.T. at 301.74 MPH
After making four solid runs during qualifying, last week’s runner-up started from the No. 4 position and faced Terry McMillen in the opening round. Schumacher had the quicker reaction time, and despite hazing the tires, never trailed for the win against McMillen who was up in smoke early into the run.
In the quarterfinals, Schumacher drew teammate Antron Brown. Both drivers smoked the tires at around the same time, and both veteran pilots were on and off the throttle. Brown was able to get his rail to hook up enough to take the win, ending Schumacher’s day at the quarterfinals.
“Smoked the tires twice today after four beautiful runs during qualifying. It kind of caught me off guard a couple of times. It was a rough one. Hate to give up any points, we were doing so well, but I look forward to getting to Brainerd, and to Indy test, and getting into that Countdown. We’ve got a great car, but we haven’t had very much luck. When that luck finally turns, it’s going to be a stout deal.”
Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 11 (4.028 E.T. at 317.79 MPH)
E1: 4.026 E.T. at 315.56 MPH defeated by Shawn Langdon 4.017 E.T. at 318.69 MPH
The 2007 Pacific Raceways Funny Car champion faced Shawn Langdon in round-one of eliminations. Beckman was 2-0 versus Langdon in prior events but was unable to extend his lead on Sunday morning. The two world champions were nearly even after launching from the line with the Infinite Hero Dodge keeping pace until the 660-foot mark when Langdon was able to pull ahead for the round win.
“I would rather win ugly, in other words smoke the tires but get down there and get the win light, than run fast and lose. Losing is never what we want to do and we’ve lost pretty the last few times out. I think the carrot on the stick for us is that even when our car doesn’t run what we want it to run, it runs respectively. That tells me that we’ve got it back in the tune-up window where we ought to be able to start stepping on it and running quicker. Right now, we’re just trying to control clutch wear. It’s a problem that every nitro car has. I definitely have reason for optimism. This is only our third first-round loss this year and that underscores how consistent our team has been. We need to ratchet it up a notch, qualify better, get a better first-round matchup and capitalize on that.”
Driver of the Sandvik Coromant Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 1 (3.913 E.T. at 324.75 MPH)
E1: 4.045 E.T. at 316.52 MPH defeated Cruz Pedregon 4.854 E.T. at 166.11 MPH
E2: 4.032 E.T. at 311.27 MPH defeated by Ron Capps 3.998 E.T. at 320.43 MPH
With his first Pacific Raceways No. 1 qualifier, Matt Hagan earned the advantage of lane choice to start Sunday versus his first-round opponent, Cruz Pedregon. In his Sandvik Coromant Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, Hagan eclipsed Pedregon at the 60-foot block and charged down the track for the decisive win.
In round two, the 2013 event champ faced teammate Ron Capps. It was a very close race between the two Pennzoil-powered Dodges, but Capps was able to set off the win light, ending Hagan’s chances at picking up his fourth victory of the season.
“Great qualifying position with this new Mopar Hellcat body. There’s a lot of tough draws out here, we had Cruz (Pedregon) first-round, (Ron) Capps second-round, and none of them are easy. Capps and the Pennzoil/NAPA team have had our number for the last few races. They ran strong beside us, he had a good light, and that’s just a hard combo to beat right now. Their car is running well; our car is running well too. It was a good drag race; we just happened to be on the back side of it. We’ll move on to the next one and hopefully do big things at (the next event in) Brainerd.”
TOMMY JOHNSON JR.
Driver of the Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 7 (3.977 E.T. at 321.35 MPH)
E1: 4.177 E.T. at 301.74 MPH defeated John Force 5.598 E.T. at 138.27 MPH
E2: 4.074 E.T. at 318.09 MPH defeated Robert Hight 4.551 E.T. at 215.37 MPH
E3: 4.062 E.T. at 316.08 MPH defeated by Courtney Force 4.011 E.T. at 320.20 MPH
It was an all-John Force Racing day for Tommy Johnson Jr., who picked off John Force and Robert Hight, before succumbing to Courtney Force in the semifinals.
Johnson was quick on the throttle and had the starting line advantage against the elder Force. Both drivers had issues – Force lost traction and Johnson had a hole out, but Johnson charged on in the Make-A-Wish Dodge and crossed the stripe first.
In the quarterfinals, Johnson defeated the reigning world champion with a 4.074 versus Hight’s 4.551. Johnson, who has wins in both Top Fuel (career first) and Funny Car at Pacific Raceways, had the better reaction time versus C. Force, but Force was able to pull ahead before the 330-foot mark and drive away with the win, ending Johnson’s chances for a second consecutive Northwest Nationals final round appearance.
“Sure, we would’ve liked to win, but two semis on ‘the swing’ is not bad. It’s important right now to get the points. The Countdown is coming, and the Make-A-Wish Dodge is improving every race, and we’re doing better every race, so if you’re going to peak, it’s getting close to the right time to peak.”
NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship Points Standings:
1. Steve Torrence – 1251*
2. Tony Schumacher – 1090*
3. Clay Millican – 1084*
4. Leah Pritchett – 1083*
5. Doug Kalitta – 995*
6. Antron Brown – 927
7. Terry McMillen – 759
8. Brittany Force – 731
9. Richie Crampton – 660
10. Scott Palmer – 649
1. Courtney Force – 1300*
2. Ron Capps – 1146*
3. Robert Hight – 1085*
4. Matt Hagan – 1064*
5. Jack Beckman – 999
6. J.R. Todd – 914
7. Tommy Johnson Jr. – 892
8. John Force – 824
9. Shawn Langdon – 736
10. Bob Tasca III – 691
*Clinched berth in NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship
ABOUT DON SCHUMACHER RACING
Don Schumacher Racing, headquartered in Brownsburg, Ind., fields seven professional NHRA teams. In Top Fuel, the U.S. Army dragster driven by eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher, the Matco Tools/U.S. Army dragster driven by three-time world champion Antron Brown and the Mopar/Papa John’s Pizza/Pennzoil/FireAde/U.S. Army dragster driven by Leah Pritchett; and in Funny Car, 2016 world champion Ron Capps in the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T; two-time world champion Matt Hagan in the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T, and 2012 NHRA world champion Jack Beckman in Terry and Doug Chandler’s Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge and the Chandlers’ Make-A-Wish Dodge driven by Tommy Johnson Jr.
DSR also campaigns two Sportsman teams. The two-car Factory Stock Showdown duo is piloted by Pritchett and veteran Pro Stock racer Mark Pawuk. Both drivers compete in Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Paks.
DSR has won 328 NHRA national event titles and 16 world championships.
Photo Credit: Auto Imagery via Don Schumacher Racing, Driver photos: NHRA