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DSR Pre-Race Report: St. Louis NHRA Midwest Nationals

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DSR 18St. Louis Pre-Race Report

AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals
Event 20 of 24 (St. Louis)
Countdown Event 2 of 6
World Wide Technology Raceway – Madison, Ill.
Sept. 27-29, 2019

Highlights:

  • Jack Beckman enters the weekend as the Funny Car points leader after racing to victory at the previous event (Reading)
  • Antron Brown leads the pro classes as the winningest driver in St. Louis history having captured the crown five times: 2009, 2012 – 2015
  • Ron Capps leads the Funny Car class in most wins (four) at World Wide Technology Raceway: 1997, 2005, 2007, 2017
  • Capps’ first Funny Car event win occurred at the 1997 race
  • Tommy Johnson Jr. secured his first Funny Car No. 1 qualifier at St. Louis in 1999
  • Leah Pritchett and Mark Pawuk return to Factory Stock Showdown Series competition
  • Pritchett returns as the defending FS/XX event champion; Pawuk was the 2018 FS/XX No. 1 qualifier

DSR-Owned Track Records:

  • Top Fuel, speed: 332.75 mph, Leah Pritchett (2017)

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: 4th

St. Louis Event Highlights:

  • Five-time event champion (2009, 2012-2015)
  • 2005 runner-up (Pro Stock Motorcycle)
  • Two-time No. 1 qualifier
  • Pro Stock Motorcycle (2001, 2004)

2018 St. Louis Recap:
Qualified seventh; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Doug Kalitta in E1; defeated by Clay Millican in E2)

Last Event (Reading):
Qualified fifth; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Terry McMillen in E1; defeated by Richie Crampton in E2)

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

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

Noteworthy:

  • Leads the pro classes as most victorious driver in St. Louis history having won five events: 2009, 2012 – 2015

Quotable:
“Looking forward to racing at World Wide Technology Raceway. St. Louis has always been a great place for us. We won there four years in a row, and we want to get back on that trend. We fell short last year, and this year we want to rebound. We feel really confident in our Matco Tools Toyota dragster. We’re looking for great things to happen. This is ‘go time.’ St. Louis is a crucial, pivotal race for us. It can make or break our championship hopes this season. The pressure is on; the intensity is there, and I know we’re fully committed and ready to go.”

LEAH PRITCHETTLEAH PRITCHETT
Driver of the Okuma Top Fuel Dragster

Leah Pritchett

Leah Pritchett

Countdown to the Championship standing: 8th

2018 St. Louis Recap:
Qualified fifth; Semifinal finish (defeated Scott Palmer in E1, Blake Alexander in E2; defeated by Steve Torrence in E3)

Last Event (Reading):
Qualified second; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Lex Joon in E1; defeated by Austin Prock in E2)

2019 Season Statistics:
17 round wins; Ranked eighth in points

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

Notable:

  • Owns the St. Louis track speed record (332.75 mph) achieved during the 2017 event
  • Pulling double-duty, competing in both Top Fuel and the Factory Stock Showdown Series

Quotable:
“An object in motion stays in motion, and that is exactly what our Okuma Top Fuel team is doing. We are looking forward to using our strong, forward, fast, and consistent progress on the track this weekend. The St. Louis race is one that we have proven well at going rounds, and we have nothing else in our scope but our strategy of picking at qualifying points, winning, and climbing within the ever-so-close standings.

“We knew races ago that defending a championship title in Factory Stock given the rule changes was near impossible, yet we continued to chase wins. Going into St. Louis, we have made some in-house updates, and feel we will have the most competitive car we’ve had all year. We have a car capable of winning this race, and although not a championship contender, one that could really spoil some championship chasers’ hopes and dreams. Just because we couldn’t dominate the season, doesn’t mean our development, hustle, and heart has fallen off. We expect a turnaround of results and win lights starting this weekend for el Bandito, and there’s nothing better than knowing we’ve got a shot to take down the heavy hitters.”

Funny Car:

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

Jack Beckman

Jack Beckman

Countdown to the Championship standing: No. 1

St. Louis Event Highlights:

  • Two-time event champion (2012, 2016)
  • Two-time runner-up (2010, 2013)
  • 2012 No. 1 qualifier

2018 St. Louis Recap:
Qualified eighth; First round exit (defeated by John Force in E1)

Last Event (Reading):
Qualified third; Event champion (defeated Jim Campbell in E1, Robert Hight in E2, J.R. Todd in E3, John Force in E4)

2019 Season Statistics:
32 round wins; ranked No. 1 in points

Career Statistics:
319 races; 29 wins; 25 No. 1 qualifiers

Noteworthy:

  • Beckman enters the second race of the Countdown as the points leader after winning the previous event
  • Seeking his third consecutive final round of 2019

Quotable:
“After our Infinite Hero team finally got our first win of the season at Maple Grove, I almost didn’t want the week off, but the schedule is what it is. I was glad to get home, spend time with my family, and celebrate the win with many of our friends. I think we made an absolute statement at Maple Grove – we are a championship-contending team. I’ve said that all year; it’s one thing to believe you have a shot at the championship, but it’s an entirely different thing to stand there with your team holding the trophy at the end of the day. Doing that at the first race of the Countdown was exactly the shot in the arm our Infinite Hero team needed, and getting vaulted into first place in points was the icing on the cake. Now our job is to stay there for the rest of the year.”

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

Ron Capps

Countdown to the Championship standing: 4th

St. Louis Event Highlights:

  • Four-time event champion (1997, 2005, 2007, 2017)
  • 2009 runner-up and No. 1 qualifier

2018 St. Louis Recap:
Qualified second; First round exit (defeated by Cruz Pedregon in E1)

Last Event (Reading):
Qualified No. 1; Semifinal finish (defeated Mike McIntire Jr. in E1, Matt Hagan in E2; defeated by John Force in E3)

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

Career Statistics:
550 races; 64 wins (one Top Fuel); 24 No. 1 qualifiers

Noteworthy:

  • Leads the Funny Car class in most wins (four) at World Wide Technology Raceway: 1997, 2005, 2007, 2017
  • Capps’ first Funny Car event win occurred at St Louis at the 1997 race

Quotable:
“We’re heading to the second race of our NHRA Countdown. We love Chris Blair and his whole team at World Wide Technology Raceway. We’re coming off of such a great performance by our NAPA team in Maple Grove. We were able to jump one spot in the Countdown. As I mentioned heading into Maple Grove, the goal is to try and capture as many of those little qualifying points as possible and have a great Sunday. At Maple Grove, we had a good Sunday but didn’t have a great Sunday. But, we did manage to get a lot of qualifying points.

“I’ve been lucky enough to win at St. Louis a few times. Another great thing about the St. Louis race is, it’s not far from Indy, so a lot of our team’s family members come out and we love to have them join us and show their support.”

MATT HAGANMATT HAGAN
Driver of the DSM Precision Machining Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody

Matt Hagan

Matt Hagan

Countdown to the Championship standing: 6th

St. Louis Event Highlights:

  • Three-time runner-up (2012, 2014-2015)
  • Two-time No. 1 qualifier (2013, 2015)

2018 St. Louis Recap:
Qualified 11h; First round exit (defeated by Tim Wilkerson in E1)

Last Event (Reading):
Qualified ninth; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Shawn Langdon in E1; defeated by Ron Capps in E2)

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

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

About Don Schumacher Motorsports Precision Machining:

  • DSM is the manufacturing arm of DSR. DSM makes more than 250 parts for DSR cars, and other NHRA teams
  • DSM is ISO:9001 compliant and does CNC machining work for automotive, racing, and aerospace customers

Quotable:
“I’ve never won St. Louis and I’d like to check it off the list. We blew the tires off second round at our last race in Reading, Pa., and it wasn’t the weekend we were looking for. We’ve got to bounce back. We’ve got five races left, and there are no do-overs. It was great to see our teammate, Jack Beckman, pull down the win, but things change fast in the Countdown. We need to have a good showing in St. Louis so we can put ourselves back in contention. We’ll have the DSM Precision Engineering Dodge Hellcat Widebody this weekend, and it’s cool to be able to represent DSM. Not a lot of people are aware of all that goes on at DSM back at our race headquarters in Brownsburg, Ind. We make more than 250 parts and do CNC machining work for not just race cars but automotive and aerospace customers as well. It’s a huge operation, and whether it be chassis, engine, clutch or supercharger components, (crew chief) Dickie (Venables) and our guys know they can count on DSM to get them what they need.”

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: 5th

St. Louis Event Highlights:

  • Two-time runner-up (2001, 2016)
  • 1999 No. 1 qualifier

2018 St. Louis Recap:
Qualified fourth; Semifinal finish (defeated Del Worsham in E1, Bob Tasca III in E2; defeated by Robert Hight in E3)

Last Event (Reading):
Qualified seventh; First round exit (defeated by J.R. Todd in E1)

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

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

Noteworthy:

  • Secured his first Funny Car No. 1 qualifier at St. Louis in 1999
  • Johnson’s father captured his sole national event win at St. Louis in 1976 while competing in the Modified Eliminator category

Quotable:
“St. Louis is a special race to me because my dad won that race in 1976 and it was his only national event win. I’ve never won it, but have been runner-up a few times. Warmer weather is in the forecast for this weekend, and I think that’ll be an advantage to our team, we seem to run better in the heat.

“We didn’t start the Countdown the way wanted; we’re in a little bit of a hole. You can’t have a bad race in the Countdown, and we’ve had one, so that means we need to have five exceptional races. It’s important that we go to St. Louis and do really well. To have any shot at the championship, I think we need to go to at least to the semis, probably finals, and get some points. We’ve had two bad races in a row, and before that, we hadn’t had two bad races all season, so I expect big things from our Make-A-Wish team this weekend.”

Factory Stock Showdown Series:

MARK PAWUKMARK PAWUK
Driver of the Empaco Equipment MOPAR Dodge Challenger Drag Pak

MARK PAWUK

Mark Pawuk

St. Louis Event Highlights:

  • 2018 No. 1 qualifier

2018 St. Louis Recap:
Qualified No. 1; Quarterfinal finish (Defeated Bye in E1; defeated by Stephen Bell in E2)

Last Event (Indianapolis):
Qualified No. 1; Quarterfinal finish (Defeated Bye in E1, Allen Johnson in E2; defeated by Arthur Kohn in E3)

FSXX Career Statistics:
11 races; two runner-ups; two No. 1 qualifiers

LEAH PRITCHETTLEAH PRITCHETT
Driver of the MOPAR Dodge Challenger Drag Pak

Leah Pritchett

Leah Pritchett

St. Louis Event Highlights:

  • 2018 event champion

2018 St. Louis Recap:
Qualified second; Event champion (Defeated Allen Johnson in E1, Pete Gasko Jr. in E2, Arthur Kohn in E3, Stephen Bell in E4)

Last NHRA Event (Indianapolis):
Qualified 10th; First round exit (Defeated by Bo Butner in E1)

FSXX Career Statistics:
15 races; three wins; two No. 1 qualifiers

Noteworthy:

  • Recorded the first official seven-second FS/XX pass at the 2018 event (7.936)

ABOUT 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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