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Don Schumacher Racing Pre-Race Report: Reading NHRA Nationals

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DSR 18Reading Pre-Race Report

MOPAR Express Lane NHRA Nationals
Presented by Pennzoil
Event 19 of 24 (Reading)
Countdown Event 1 of 6
Maple Grove Raceway – Mohnton, Pa.
Sept. 13-15, 2019

Highlights:

  • The Reading race marks 550 professional events entered for Funny Car pilot Ron Capps. He celebrates the milestone during his 25th season behind the wheel of a nitro machine
  • All DSR entries are in contention for the 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship chase; Antron Brown (Top Fuel) and Tommy Johnson Jr. (Funny Car) lead DSR, with both drivers ranked third
  • Johnson’s first Funny Car event win occurred at the 1999 Reading race
  • Leah Pritchett secured her first Top Fuel No. 1 qualifier at the 2016 event

Note:
The MOPAR Mega Block Party will rev up the MOPAR Express Lane NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil race weekend for the fourth consecutive year. The free-admission fan event, set to roll into FirstEnergy Stadium in Reading from 4-10 p.m. ET on Thursday, September 12, will offer a jam-packed slate of fun activities, including a home run derby and autograph session, for MOPAR and Dodge//SRT enthusiasts.

DSR-Owned Track Records:
Top Fuel, E.T.: 3.688 seconds, Antron Brown (2016)

DSR Driver Information:

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

Antron Brown

Antron Brown

Countdown to the Championship standing: 3rd

Reading Event Highlights:
Two-time event champion (2015, 2016)
Three-time runner-up
Top Fuel (2012, 2013)
Pro Stock Motorcycle (2004)
Three-time No. 1 qualifier
Top Fuel (2009, 2011)
Pro Stock Motorcycle (2004)

2018 Reading Recap:
Qualified sixth; Semifinal finish (defeated Brittany Force in E1, Leah Pritchett in E2; defeated by Tony Schumacher in E3)

Last Event (Indianapolis):
Qualified sixth; Semifinal finish (defeated Jordan Vandergriff in E1, Steve Torrence in E2; defeated by Billy Torrence in E3)

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

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

Noteworthy:

  • Brown has won at least one round in 11 of the past 12 events. After sitting 10th in points after four races, Brown climbed to third by ‘regular’ season’s end on the strength of two runner-up finishes and five semifinal showings in the final 14 events
  • Brown is looking for his fourth Top Fuel world championship, more than any other active driver

Quotable:
“Reading is a huge race for us. It’s not far from my hometown (Chesterfield, N.J.) and, hopefully, the conditions will be good. It’s starting to cool down and it’s going to be fast. We need to go out there and get after it. Everybody is so tight, so you need to come out strong. You can’t afford to fall back in the standings with just five races left after Reading and if you can win early, you gain confidence and you put more pressure on your rivals going forward, knowing they can’t afford to slip up.”

LEAH PRITCHETTLEAH PRITCHETT
Driver of the MOPAR Dodge Top Fuel Dragster

Leah Pritchett

Leah Pritchett

Countdown to the Championship standing: 7th

Reading Event Highlights:
2016 No. 1 Qualifier
2018 Reading Recap:
Qualified third; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Audrey Worm in E1; defeated by Antron Brown in E2)

Last Event (Indianapolis):
Qualified seventh; First round exit (defeated by Shawn Reed in E1)

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

Career Statistics:
135 races; eight wins; 11 No. 1 qualifiers

Noteworthy:

  • Earned her first Top Fuel No. 1 qualifier at the 2016 event

Quotable:
“Excited for another MOPAR-sponsored race, especially with what looks like great conditions in Reading. We have a great amount of performance momentum behind this team, and there is no better time than now for us to apply power and consistency. We have all worked hard to solidify a spot in the Countdown and there is no room for error in our hunt for the championship.

“I believe that it is no accident that the winners of Reading have been that year’s champion. It shows that coming in hot out of the gate is pivotal for the championship momentum. We intend to execute precision performance strategy every step of the way. Excellence starts at the shop, and this team has worked diligently to dissolve any mishaps that may trip up our performance, from the simplest of procedures to new technology.”

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

Jack Beckman

Jack Beckman

Countdown to the Championship standing: 4th

Reading Event Highlights:
Two-time event champion (2008, 2015)
2012 No. 1 qualifier
2018 Reading Recap:
Qualified fourth; First round exit (defeated by Cruz Pedregon in E1)

Last Event (Indianapolis):
Qualified No. 1; Event runner-up (defeated Justin Schriefer in E1, Bob Tasca III in E2, J.R. Todd in E3; defeated by John Force in E4)

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

Career Statistics:
318 races; 28 wins; 25 No. 1 qualifiers

Noteworthy:

  • Beckman enters the Countdown after a season-best performance in Indianapolis where he claimed his 25th No. 1 qualifier and raced to a runner-up finish

Quotable:
“Maple Grove has bounced around quite a bit on the schedule over the last dozen years but one thing has remained – it’s always ultra-exciting and it tends to be a pivotal race. When I won the championship in 2012, I wouldn’t have won it if we hadn’t set the national record at Maple Grove. In 2015, winning Reading put us right back in the championship hunt, and winning there in 2008 was one of the highlights of my career. I beat Frank Hawley in the final, who was my boss at the drag racing school. They’ve moved the event earlier in the schedule, making it the first race in the Countdown which kind of puts some extra emphasis on it. We haven’t won yet this season, but we’ve come very close multiple times. This Infinite Hero team would like nothing more than to start the Countdown off on the right note and with a win.”

RON CAPPSRON CAPPS
Driver of the NAPA Filters Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

Ron Capps

Countdown to the Championship standing: 5th

Reading Event Highlights:
2017 event champion
Three-time runner-up (1999, 2000, 2016)
2018 Reading Recap:
Qualified fifth; Semifinal finish (defeated Jonnie Lindberg in E1, Cruz Pedregon in E2; defeated by J.R. Todd in E3)

Last Event (Indianapolis):
Qualified fourth; First round exit (defeated by Ray Martin in E1)

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

Career Statistics:
549 races; 64 wins (one Top Fuel); 23 No. 1 qualifiers

Noteworthy:

  • The Reading race marks 550 professional events entered. Capps celebrates the milestone during his 25th season behind the wheel of a nitro machine. He is on track to finish in the Top 10 for the 15th consecutive season.

About the NAPA Filters promo (one race only):
Cars have three filters – oil, air, and cabin air. Purchase all three premium NAPA filters between Sept. 1–30, 2019 to claim a $20 Prepaid Visa® Card via Mail-in Rebate.

Quotable:
“This race, this time of the year is something we’ve worked for the whole season. We’re kicking off the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoffs at one of the most amazing race tracks we still go to – Maple Grove Raceway in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania. We’re pretty lucky to travel the country and visit some pretty amazing places, but this track is in one of those areas where you try and come in early and take in the sights and sounds surrounding this race. We’ll go to a Baltimore Orioles game on Wednesday night and then we’re heading to Manhattan on Thursday to visit our friends at the Howard Stern Wrap Up show. From there, we’re headed straight to Reading for the MOPAR Mega Block Party; food, drinks, autographs with all the Dodge drivers, our race cars will be on display. And then Friday officially kicks off our campaign for the 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car world championship, so, I’m excited and I can’t wait to get there and hopefully finish the weekend in the winner’s circle.”

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

Matt Hagan

Matt Hagan

Countdown to the Championship standing: 6th

Reading Event Highlights:
2014 event champion
2010 runner-up
Two-time No. 1 qualifier (2010, 2016)
2018 Reading Recap
Qualified 10th; First round exit (defeated by John Force in E1)

Last Event (Indianapolis):
Qualified second; Semifinal finish (defeated Bob Bode in E1, Shawn Langdon in E2; defeated by John Force in E3)

2019 Season Statistics:
25 round wins; ranked sixth in points

Career Statistics:
258 races; 31 wins; 35 No. 1 qualifiers

Noteworthy;

  • In the last six events, Hagan has raced to a win, a runner-up, and four semifinal finishes

Quotable:
“Every one of these Countdown races is so important. I feel like you have to win two or three of them to really have a shot at winning the championship. It’s just a matter of who’s going to get hot at the right time. In the last six events, we’ve won a race, been runner-up and been to four semifinals, so it’s clear our MOPAR Dodge Charger Hellcat Widebody is running great. The confidence is there, our car is there, and I think we’re peaking at the right time. I can’t wait to turn on some win lights this weekend. I’ve done well at Reading in the past, I’ve even won it on fire which made it onto ESPN’s SportsCenter. I’ll try and stay off of SportsCenter this weekend, but hopefully still get the win for MOPAR.”

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

Tommy Johnson Jr.

Countdown to the Championship standing: 3rd

Reading Event Highlights:
Two-time event champion (1999, 2016)
2014 event runner-up
2006 No. 1 qualifier
2018 Reading Recap:
Qualified third; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Jim Campbell in E1; defeated by Robert Hight in E2)

Last Event (Indianapolis):
Qualified 10th; First round exit (defeated by Shawn Langdon in E1)

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

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

Noteworthy:

  • Johnson is enjoying a career-best season which includes two wins, two runner-up’s and six semifinal finishes as he seeks his first Funny Car series title
  • First Funny Car event win occurred at Reading at the 1999 race

Quotable:
“Reading is one of my favorite races, and it always has been. It’s a neat area and the fanbase is really strong. I won my first Funny Car race there back in 1999 and I was able to do it again a few years ago here at DSR. Reading is the start of the Countdown and it’s super important to get off to a good start. The points are reset and we’re close to the top so it’s a must to come out of there with a good performance. We’ve done pretty well there the past few years, got a runner-up in 2014 and won it in 2016 so it’s just a great event for everyone.

“We’re coming off of a rough Indy; things didn’t go our way, but that doesn’t waiver our confidence any. We have a good team and a good car, and we’re looking forward to starting the Countdown, and would love nothing more than to win it for MOPAR and Pennzoil at their event. Before the racing even gets underway, I’ve got my sights set on winning the home run derby at the MOPAR Mega Block Party, and hopefully make it two wins and sweep the weekend.”DSR topABOUT DON SCHUMACHER RACING
Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) is the winningest team in NHRA Drag Racing history, having claimed more than 335 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, Driver photos: NHRA

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