SONOMA, Calif. (July 31, 2015) – Jack Beckman was a little lightheaded when he got out of Don Schumacher Racing’s Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car on Friday night at Sonoma Raceway on the opening night of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event.
And it wasn’t because Beckman spent the day on a wine tour of the Napa Valley at numerous nearby wineries.
Beckman, the 2012 NHRA Funny Car world champion, rode a tune-up by crew chief Jimmy Prock with assistants Chris Cunningham and John Medlen to the quickest ever run in an NHRA Funny Car when he closed the second of four qualifying sessions with a miraculous 3.921-second run that was history-making by 0.038 of a second. The previous best was 3.959 by Cruz Pedregon at Englishtown in 2014.
“Nobody can be expecting that,” said Beckman, who has won four event titles this season. “On the first run, I went by the scoreboards and saw the 3.98 and I went ‘wow.’ I look up at the scoreboard (after the second run) and I thought I didn’t read it right. Nobody is going to run a 3.92 in a Funny Car. Then John Medlen came on the radio with a 3.92. I couldn’t believe it.
“Matt Hagan ran what would’ve been one of the all-time quickest runs in Funny Car and the fastest speed all time and he told me we weren’t even in the same ballpark. It’s just humbling out there.
“I guess I’m just going to dumb myself down and tell you I’m just the luckiest guy in a fuel coupe right now. It’s hard to put my mind on this.”
And in the other lane on that run, DSR teammate and reigning world champion Matt Hagan earned the No. 2 provisional qualifying spot with a time of 3.967 – his quickest ever – at a speed of 325.77 mph, which is fastest ever in a Funny Car over a 1,000-foot course. The previous best was a 325.37 by Courtney Force at Las Vegas in the spring of 2014.
“We’ve got a bad hot rod, man,” said Hagan, whose team led by Dickie Venables started the Sonoma Nationals with a 145-point lead over a surging Beckman.
“We’re off the mountain (at Denver where we raced last week) and our Mopar/Rocky Dodge is running really good and Dickie has a great tune-up. We’re sitting No. 2 which I feel will hold unless we just have a pile of oil downs tomorrow and delays make us run late. I think we’re right where need to be and I’m excited. The car is running great.”
If those stellar runs by DSR Dodge Charger R/Ts weren’t enough to make a big night for DSR, Antron Brown and the Matco Tools team with crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald set a track record with and tied for the fourth quickest run in Top Fuel history with a 3.707-second run at 326.95 mph that approached his three-year national record of 3.701.
“We were definitely pushing,” said Brown who ranks second in points to teammate and reigning world champion Tony Schumacher. “Brian and Mark went back to their notes and that run right there is really satisfying when the car does what you want it to do. The even shied back a little bit because it was getting cooler and a lot of cars weren’t making it down. If you don’t make it down that puts you back in the field, so they backed it down a little bit. It feels good to put that number on the board and be No. 1 here at Sonoma.
“Lord knows we’re just truly blessed to have the type of team that we have here for Matco Tools, the U.S. Army and Toyota. You work hard and the results will show.
“To run a (3.70), you’re gettin’ it. To run a .69 or better, you have to have everything go perfect. It’s definitely out there. The cool thing is that that’s the quickest run ever made with our DSR enclosed canopy car.”
DSR driver Ron Capps in the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge was crossing the finish line on his second qualifying attempt that produced a time of 3.970 (322.10) to earn the No. 4 position when an engine malfunction led to an explosion and interior fire that damaged his Charger body but he was uninjured in the spectacular fireball.
Qualifying continues Saturday with sessions scheduled for 1:45 and 5 p.m. (PT) leading to Sunday’s championship eliminations scheduled to start at 11 a.m. (PT).
The Sonoma Nationals is the second of three races in three weeks that comprise the Western Swing that will include a Mello Yello race next weekend at Seattle.
Provisional No. 1 qualifier: Antron Brown (Don Schumacher Racing) 3.707 sec., 326.95 mph
ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools/U.S. Army
Provisional qualifying position: No. 1
FRIDAY: 3.753 sec., 324.28 mph, (Session 1); 3.707, 326.95, (Session 2)
TONY SCHUMACHER, U.S. Army
Provisional qualifying position: No. 5
FRIDAY: 3.738 sec.-track record, 325.69 mph, (Session 1); 5.695, 114.95, (Session 2)
SPENCER MASSEY, Red Fuel Powered by Schumacher/Sandvik Coromant
Provisional qualifying position: No. 9
FRIDAY: 3.780 sec., 324.67 mph, (Session 1); 13.870, 66.31, (Session 2)
Provisional No. 1 qualifier: Jack Beckman (Don Schumacher Racing), 3.921 sec.-track record, 323.43 mph
JACK BECKMAN, Infinite Hero 2015 Dodge Charger R/T
Provisional qualifying position: No. 1
FRIDAY: 3.982 sec.-track record, 320.05 mph, (Session 1); 3.921-track record, 323.43, (Session 2)
MATT HAGAN, Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots 2015 Dodge Charger R/T
Provisional qualifying position: No. 2
FRIDAY: 4.035 sec., 317.34 mph, (Session 1); 3.967, 325.77-track record, (Session 2)
RON CAPPS, NAPA AUTO PARTS 2015 Dodge Charger R/T
Provisional qualifying position: No. 4
FRIDAY: 4.025 sec., 316.82 mph, (Session 1); 3.970, 322.19, (Session 2)
TOMMY JOHNSON JR., Make-A-Wish 2015 Dodge Charger R/T
Provisional qualifying position: No. 10
FRIDAY: 4.087 sec., 310.20 mph, (Session 1); 4.031, 317.05, (Session 2)
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 2012 NHRA Top Fuel world champion Matco Tools dragster driven by Antron Brown and the Red Fuel Powered by Schumacher dragster driven by Spencer Massey; and in Funny Car, 2011 and 2014 world champion Matt Hagan in the Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots 2015 Dodge Charger R/T, 2012 NHRA world champion Jack Beckman in the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge, the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge of Ron Capps and the Make-A-Wish Dodge driven by Tommy Johnson Jr.
DSR has won 258 NHRA national event titles and 13 world championships.