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Don Schumacher Racing Pre-Race Report: Brainerd NHRA Nationals

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DSR 18Brainerd Pre-Race Report

NHRA Nationals
Event 17 of 24 (Brainerd)
Brainerd International Raceway – Brainerd, Minn.
Aug. 16-18, 2019

Highlights:

  • Jack Beckman returns as the defending Funny Car event champion
  • The 2018 Brainerd Funny Car final marked the first time the Chandler family’s ‘giving cars,’ piloted by Beckman and Tommy Johnson Jr., went head-to-head in the finals
  • Antron Brown has been to the Brainerd final round the past three years, earning a runner-up finish in 2016, 2017 and 2018
  • Johnson has competed in the final round three out of the last four years, finishing as the runner-up in 2015, 2017, 2018
  • Brown has been victorious in both the Top Fuel and Pro Stock Motorcycle categories in Brainerd
  • Matt Hagan recorded the first 3.8 second Funny Car pass during the 2015 Brainerd event (3.879 seconds)

DSR-Owned Track Records:
Top Fuel E.T.: 3.640 seconds, Leah Pritchett (2017)

DSR Driver Information:

Top Fuel:
ANTRON BROWNANTRON BROWN
Driver of the Matco Tools Top Fuel Dragster

Brainerd Event Highlights:

  • Five-time event champion
    – Top Fuel (2011)
    – Pro Stock Motorcycle (2000, 2001, 2003, 2006)
  • Four-time runner-up (2012, 2016-2018)
  • Four-time No. 1 qualifier
    – Top Fuel (2014, 2016)
    – Pro Stock Motorcycle (2001, 2004)

2018 Brainerd Recap:
Qualified third; Event runner-up (defeated Luigi Novelli in E1, Brittany Force in E2, Steve Torrence in E3; defeated by Billy Torrence in E4)

Last Event (Seattle):
Qualified 11th; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Richie Crampton in E1; defeated by Steve Torrence in E2)

2019 Season Statistics:
20 round wins; Ranked second in points

Career Statistics:
422 races; 66 wins (16 Pro Stock Motorcycle); 49 No. 1 qualifiers (11 PSM)

Noteworthy:

  • Has been to the Brainerd final round the past three years, earning a runner-up finish in 2016, 2017 and 2018
  • Has been victorious in both Top Fuel and Pro Stock Motorcycle in Brainerd

Quotable:
“Brainerd has always been a really good track. I love going up there. I really enjoy the people, they’re strong supporters of our sport, and I think that energizes our whole Matco Tools Toyota Hangsterfers team to go up there and do well. When you go around ‘the Zoo,’ and you get that surge of energy of people having a good time, it really brings back the memories of what drag racing means to me. It’s all about competing at a high-level on the track, but having a lot of fun while doing it, and that’s why I always look forward to Brainerd International Raceway each year.”

LEAH PRITCHETTLEAH PRITCHETT
Driver of the MOPAR Dodge Top Fuel Dragster

Brainerd Event Highlights:

  • 2017 event champion and No. 1 qualifier

2018 Brainerd Recap:
Qualified eighth; First round exit (defeated by Scott Palmer in E1)

Last Event (Seattle):
Qualified fifth; First round exit (defeated by Austin Prock in E1)

2019 Season Statistics:
12 round wins; Ranked seventh in points

Career Statistics:
133 races; seven wins; 11 No. 1 qualifiers

Quotable:
“There are specific spots on the schedule that have a unique event atmosphere to them, and Brainerd is definitely one of those. And although ‘the Zoo’ is great and many look forward to the party, we are focused on our first win of the season. We’ve had a great deal of success at Brainerd before, and the team is looking forward to building on that. We currently have a fast and consistent hot rod, with a driver that has never been hungrier and more eager to add to the Wally collection for MOPAR this weekend.”

Funny Car:
JACK BECKMANJACK BECKMAN
Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

Brainerd Event Highlights:

  • 2018 event champion
  • Two-time runner-up (2008, 2010)
  • Three-time No. 1 qualifier (2012, 2013, 2015)

2018 Brainerd Recap:
Qualified 14th; Event champion (defeated Matt Hagan in E1, Shawn Langdon in E2, Courtney Force in E3, Tommy Johnson Jr. in E4)

Last Event (Seattle):
Qualified eighth; Semifinal finish (defeated Tommy Johnson Jr. in E1, Bob Tasca III in E2; defeated by John Force in E3)

2019 Season Statistics:
24 round wins; ranked fifth in points

Career Statistics:
316 races; 28 wins; 24 No. 1 qualifiers

Noteworthy:

  • Returns as the defending Funny Car event champion
  • The 2018 Funny Car final marked the first time the Chandler family’s ‘giving cars,’ piloted by Beckman and Tommy Johnson Jr., went head-to-head in the finals

Quotable:
“Except for that 400-acre campground they call ‘the Zoo’ and all of the craziness that goes on there, Brainerd almost seems like the race that gets forgotten. It’s right before Indy and Indy is points-and-a-half and the last race before the Countdown, and, it’s Indy. But, I’ve got to tell you, all of the event trophies are the same size and I want one sooner rather than later, and I want one at Brainerd.”

RON CAPPSRON CAPPS
Driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

Brainerd Event Highlights:

  • Five-time event champion (1998, 2001, 2012-2014)
  • Three-time runner-up (1997, 2009, 2011)
  • 2000 No. 1 qualifier

2018 Brainerd Recap:
Qualified second; First round exit (defeated by Jonnie Lindberg in E1)

Last Event (Seattle):
Qualified seventh; Event runner-up (defeated Tim Wilkerson in E1, J.R. Todd in E2, Matt Hagan in E3; defeated by John Force in E4)

2019 Season Statistics:
23 round wins; ranked fourth in points

Career Statistics:
547 races; 63 wins (one Top Fuel); 23 No. 1 qualifiers

Quotable:
“Brainerd has been very, very good to me. I’ve had a lot of success there, and even when we didn’t win, we still had great race days there, and that has catapulted us into a strong Countdown showing in the past. My wife’s family is from the area, and there’s nothing better than to win at a track when you have a lot of family there. And on top of that, NAPA AUTO PARTS has done so much there since our partnership started. We’re very proud of ‘Capps’ Corner,’ and we always make sure we go out in ‘the Zoo’ and watch the fireworks and celebrate with the fans on Saturday night. What NAPA does with the Power Lodge across the street is fantastic. Mello Yello has set up an appearance for me at a Walmart in Baxter, and then we have a fishing event on Thursday with NAPA and our crew guys, so it’s just a fun-filled week leading into the race, and you can’t find a more fun race on the NHRA circuit.”

MATT HAGANMATT HAGAN
Driver of the MOPAR Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody

Brainerd Event Highlights:

  • Two-time runner-up (2013, 2016)
  • Two-time No. 1 qualifier (2011, 2016)

2018 Brainerd Recap
Qualified third; First round exit (defeated by Jack Beckman in E1)

Last Event (Seattle):
Qualified third; Semifinal finish (defeated Gary Densham in E1, Shawn Langdon in E2; defeated by Ron Capps in E3)

2019 Season Statistics:
21 round wins; ranked seventh in points

Career Statistics:
256 races; 31 wins; 34 No. 1 qualifiers

Noteworthy;

  • Recorded the first 3.8 second Funny Car pass during the 2015 Brainerd event (3.879 seconds)

Quotable:
“Brainerd is always a great race track. When the weather gets cool, you can set world records there. And then of course, ‘the Zoo’ is crazy, and attracts all sorts of great fans. It’s just an awesome event.

“Our car is consistent and has been so strong and I think we have a real opportunity this weekend to gain some points and build momentum heading into the Indy race and the Countdown. Our car has been more consistent these past few races than anyone else’s. I think we have a great race car that can run for the championship, but it starts here in Brainerd and Indy to put us in the best position we can be in heading into the Countdown.”

TOMMY JOHNSON JR.TOMMY JOHNSON JR.
Driver of the Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

Brainerd Event Highlights:

  • 2006 event champion
  • Five-time runner up
    – Funny Car (2015, 2017, 2018)
    – Top Fuel (1993, 2995)

2018 Brainerd Recap:
Qualified fifth; Event runner-up (defeated Del Worsham in E1, Tim Wilkerson in E2, J.R. Todd in E3; defeated by Jack Beckman in E4)

Last Event (Seattle):
Qualified ninth; First round exit (defeated by Jack Beckman in E1)

2019 Season Statistics:
26 round wins; ranked third in points

Career Statistics:
462 races; 19 wins (two Top Fuel); 18 No. 1 qualifiers (one Top Fuel)

Noteworthy:

  • The 2018 Funny Car final marked the first time the Chandler family’s ‘giving cars,’ piloted by Beckman and Johnson, went head-to-head in the finals
  • Has competed in the final round three out of the last four years, finishing as the runner-up in 2015, 2017, 2018

Quotable:
“Brainerd is always a fun race. It’s right before Indy, and everyone’s in the mode where they’re gearing up for Indy so you may try some things at Brainerd to see if you can better your team, and the past few years we’ve had some success doing that. I’ve won a divisional, a Sportsman and a Funny Car trophy there, and I’m hoping to go one step further than last year and leave with my second Brainerd Wally this weekend.”

ABOUT DON SCHUMACHER RACING
Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) is the winningest team in NHRA Drag Racing history, having claimed more than 330 NHRA national event titles and 17 world championships since opening its doors in 1998.

Headquartered in Brownsburg, Indiana, DSR fields seven professional teams competing in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing series. In Top Fuel, the Matco Tools dragster driven by three-time world champion Antron Brown, the MOPAR/Pennzoil/Sparkling Ice dragster driven by Leah Pritchett and eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher’s machine. In Funny Car, the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat driven by 2016 world champion Ron Capps, the Mopar Express Lane/Pennzoil/Sandvik Coromant Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat piloted by Matt Hagan, and in Terry and Doug Chandler’s ‘giving cars,’ 2012 NHRA world champion Jack Beckman in the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge, and Tommy Johnson Jr. behind the wheel of the Make-A-Wish Dodge.

DSR also campaigns two Factory Stock Showdown entries. The duo is piloted by Pritchett, the 2018 Factory Stock Showdown Series champion, and former Pro Stock racer Mark Pawuk.

Follow Don Schumacher Don Schumacher Racing at ShoeRacing.com, on Twitter and Instagram at @shoeracing and Facebook.com/shoeracing.

Photo Credit: Auto Imagery via Don Schumacher Racing

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