DSR Charlotte II Post-Race Recap
NTK NHRA Carolina Nationals
Event 21 of 24 (Charlotte II)
Countdown Event 3 of 6
zMAX Dragway- Concord, N.C.
Oct. 11-13, 2019
DSR Charlotte II Elimination Highlights:
- Jack Beckman raced to a runner-up finish, marking his second final round appearance in the first three events of the Countdown, and moved into the No. 2 spot in the championship point standings
- Beckman powered his machine to the quickest Funny Car E.T. (3.864 seconds) of the NHRA Carolina Nationals
- Three DSR Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Cars advanced to the semifinals
- Semifinalist Ron Capps maintains his No. 4 ranking in the Countdown to the Championship standings
- Leah Pritchett moved from fifth up to fourth in the Top Fuel standings
Driver of the Matco Tools Top Distributor Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 7 (3.758 E.T. at 328.94 MPH)
E1: 6.032 E.T. at 114.16 MPH defeated by Doug Kalitta 3.905 E.T. at 326.95 MPH
Starting from seventh, Antron Brown and the Matco Tools Top Distributor Top Fuel team faced Doug Kalitta in the opening round of eliminations on Monday morning. Brown used his machine-like reflexes to capture the starting line advantage but quickly powered into tire smoke, and Kalitta was able to drive away with the win.
“We really thought we had a good chance today. Our Matco Tools Toyota was running really strong. We had a great 60-foot time, it was just overly aggressive, and it caused us to lose the round. But, we’re not going to quit, we’re not going to let it get us down, we’re just going to move forward and do what we can and win as many rounds in this Countdown as we can.”
Driver of the Okuma Dodge Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 2 (3.714 E.T. at 331.20 MPH)
E1: 5.466 E.T. at 123.42 MPH defeated Bye
E2: 7.343 E.T. at 87.24 MPH defeated by Doug Kalitta 3.745 E.T. at 329.50 MPH
Leah Pritchett used a strong pass in Saturday’s final qualifying session in her Okuma Top Fuel Dragster to earn the No. 2 position in eliminations for the fifth time in 2019. Pritchett was scheduled to face Chris Karamesines in the opening round, but “The Greek” had a problem following the burnout and backed his machine off the starting line. In her solo run, Pritchett lost traction early and opted to shut her car off.
In round two, Pritchett faced Doug Kalitta and was looking to gain ground in the Countdown standings by knocking out a fellow title contender. Unfortunately, her chances for victory vanished quickly as tire-smoke just past the 60-foot mark led to her demise while Kalitta went right down the groove for the win. Her quarterfinal finish helped Pritchett climbed to fourth in the championship standings halfway through the six-race NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs.
“I think the most frustrating part of the weekend is knowing that we are halfway through the Countdown. What we experienced in E2 is something we have never seen before. Something systematically went wrong in the first 20 feet of the run, and it basically had no chance. It shook, and I pedaled it, trying to catch it. We are dedicated to getting our race car consistent, and we have an issue that we haven’t solved. We have about five days to figure it out, and I know this team will. We’ve done a good job of taking the data we’ve learned in qualifying and applying it to eliminations. We’ll leave here with our heads up, and I guarantee you there is some vengeance to be had in Dallas.”
Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 1 (3.873 E.T. at 334.07 MPH)
E1: 3.864 E.T. at 329.99 MPH defeated Dale Creasy Jr. 4.863 E.T. at 164.03 MPH
E2: 3.932 E.T. at 323.27 MPH defeated Tommy Johnson Jr. 6.911 E.T. at 102.45 MPH
E3: 3.957 E.T. at 324.44 MPH defeated Ron Capps 4.025 E.T. at 293.41 MPH
E4: Foul (red light) defeated by Robert Hight 3.917 E.T. at 329.02 MPH
Jack Beckman was envisioning a second Funny Car triumph Monday afternoon at the NTK NHRA Carolina Nationals, and he was focused on gaining ground in his pursuit of a second Funny Car world championship as NHRA’s six-race Countdown to the Championship playoff reached the halfway point.
Beckman earned his 26th career No. 1 qualifier Saturday, but Mother Nature forced the 2012 Funny Car champion and his Infinite Hero Foundation crew to wait until Monday after rain washed out Sunday’s action at zMAX Dragway near Charlotte.
The delay didn’t seem to faze Beckman, who opened the day by putting up the best Funny Car run of the weekend (3.864 seconds) to defeat Dale Creasy Jr., and advance to round two. In the second round, he and fellow ‘giving car’ driver Tommy Johnson Jr. squared off. Beckman was smooth again turning on the win light with a pass of 3.932 seconds at 323.27 mph over a tire-smoking Johnson, and again found himself up against another DSR teammate in the semifinals. This time it was Ron Capps, and Beckman was able to use his reaction time coupled with a 3.957 E.T. to reach his sixth final of the season and second in three Countdown races.
Beckman had the opportunity he was hoping for by facing point leader Robert Hight in the final. Unfortunately, his chance at career win No. 30 turned up red when Beckman left the starting line early, giving Hight the win. It was Beckman’s first red light in a final in more than a decade, and he will resume his championship run Friday in Dallas trailing Hight by 44 points.
“That final round loss is bitterly disappointing. As a driver, you have to keep your head in that zone where you perform your best, and I was okay today, and I just lapsed in the final round. I found my focus going away, and my right foot started going down right about then. It’s important, locking your vision on an amber bulb (on the starting line tree) and staying on that, and I just wasn’t where I needed to be. I’m not sure how that race would have unfolded had we both been green, but we can’t afford to give those away. We gained points on every car this weekend except the one we most needed to gain points on, and that was due to a driver error. So, I’m going to shake it off. I’ve got four days to get my head straight. I’m going to come back in Dallas, and there’s going to be a lot of big smiles on this team because we’re going to put this thing in the winner’s circle there.”
Driver of the NAPA NIGHTVISION LED Lamps Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 4 (3.882 E.T. at 330.55 MPH)
E1: 3.962 E.T. at 308.92 MPH defeated Jim Campbell 4.064 E.T. at 311.63 MPH
E2: 3.908 E.T. at 329.58 MPH defeated John Force 3.912 E.T. at 327.43 MPH
E3: 4.025 E.T. at 293.41 MPH defeated by Jack Beckman 3.957 E.T. at 324.44 MPH
Behind the wheel of the NAPA NIGHTVISION LED Lamps Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, defending NHRA Carolina Nationals champion Ron Capps earned a qualifying position inside the ‘quick half’ of the field for the sixth consecutive race weekend. As the No. 4 qualifier, Capps drew Jim Campbell as his round-one competitor. Capps stood on the throttle first and never trailed for the win, extending his round-win streak to 9 – 0 against Campbell.
In the quarterfinals, Capps faced fellow Funny Car heavy-hitter and 2019 championship hopeful, John Force. It was an exciting side-by-side race between the two winningest Funny Car pilots in NHRA history with Capps coming out on top with his 3.908-second E.T. versus Force’s 3.912-second run.
Capps’ semifinal appearance, his second in the first three events of the six-race Countdown to the Championship, featured a matchup between the NAPA team and stablemate Jack Beckman. As the No. 1 qualifier, Beckman had been on a roll all weekend, and his stronghold on the Funny Car category continued when he powered to a 3.957-second pass versus Capps’ 4.025 E.T.
“Obviously, we qualified well, and we kind of checked all of the boxes on all of our goals coming into the race weekend. We had a great car all through qualifying and we were one of the only teams to go down the track on a good pace all four runs, so we felt consistent. Race day started the same way, but in the semifinals the car did something it hadn’t done all season long, which is, it had the No. 1 cylinder out right at the hit of the throttle. Still, even with only running on seven cylinders, we were right there in case our teammates made a mistake. You’ve got to make hay when it’s daylight because the two guys that made it into the final round, are two that are ahead of us in points. We did make a pretty good move on John Force, beating him in the second round; that was big. That was a big round win, especially during this time of the year because that’s a car you’re going to have to battle near the end there.
“We’ve got such a great race car. (Crew chief Rahn) Tobler is making changes, and the car is reacting to every single thing he does. That shows our consistency, and Tobler had a smile on his face even after we lost the semis. When he’s that happy going into the next race, that surely makes me happy and gives me a lot of confidence. We have a big weekend in Dallas coming up.”
Driver of the MOPAR Express Lane Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody
Qualified: No. 3 (3.880 E.T. at 331.69 MPH)
E1: 3.937 E.T. at 330.55 MPH defeated Dave Richards 7.801 E.T. at 86.00 MPH
E2: 3.922 E.T. at 331.53 MPH defeated Bob Tasca III 3.915 E.T. at 328.86 MPH
E3: 3.947 E.T. at 327.35 MPH defeated by Robert Hight 3.912 E.T. at 328.78 MPH
Matt Hagan and his MOPAR Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody Funny Car continued getting better as the race weekend progressed. Hagan qualified third with his final qualifying run of 3.880 seconds, and was quick and consistent in defeating Dave Richards in Monday’s opening round with his lap of 3.937 seconds. The two-time Funny Car world champion made it three straight wins over Bob Tasca III in the second round with a holeshot victory to reach his seventh semifinal of 2019. Hagan had the opportunity to take out point leader Robert Hight and took the starting line advantage with a .066-second reaction time, but couldn’t hold him off for the win with his 3.947 E.T. versus Hight’s 3.912.
“I know we didn’t win the race today, but getting to the semifinals gives me a lot of confidence. I know our car has gotten a lot more consistent this weekend, and (crew chief) Dickie (Venables) continues to make it more tunable. I think by us making six consecutive full runs this weekend, that showed we have a strong race car. This Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car is driving good. I’ve been good on the (timing) tree. We know we are up against it now as far as the championship goes, but I’m looking forward to getting to Dallas. We’ll just try and make up as much ground as we can in qualifying with those small points and see if we can close the gap.”
TOMMY JOHNSON JR.
Driver of the Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 8 (3.950 E.T. at 321.65 MPH)
E1: 3.916 E.T. at 322.04 MPH defeated Cruz Pedregon 7.183 E.T. at 90.97 MPH
E2: 6.911 E.T. at 102.45 MPH defeated by Jack Beckman 3.932 E.T. at 323.27 MPH
Tommy Johnson Jr. made his best qualifying run during the final opportunity Saturday afternoon, clocking a pass of 3.950 seconds to qualify eighth and earn a top-half starting positing for 17th time in 2019. In round one, Johnson powered the Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat to his quickest pass of the weekend (3.916 seconds) to earn the win against his tire-smoking opponent, Cruz Pedregon.
Johnson’s win set up a seventh 2019 meeting of the DSR ‘giving cars’ with Johnson squaring off against Jack Beckman. Johnson was first on the throttle but started to haze the tires early into the run. He pedaled it and was able to get his machine to recover, but Beckman was already too far ahead and powered to the win.
“After having such a good season and now having a very disappointing Countdown, we thought we were going to right the ship here in Charlotte. We didn’t expect the car to come loose early second round, but we’ll go into Dallas with a car that’s running a bit better than it had been and see if we can’t be a spoiler from here on out and make this Countdown as exciting as we can.”
NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship Points
1. Steve Torrence – 2356
2. Doug Kalitta – 2326
3. Brittany Force – 2264
4. Leah Pritchett – 2231
5. Mike Salinas – 2227
6. Billy Torrence – 2206
7. Austin Prock – 2204
8. Richie Crampton – 2196
9. Antron Brown – 2194
10. Clay Millican – 2178
1. Robert Hight – 2358
2. Jack Beckman – 2314
3. John Force – 2279
4. Ron Capps – 2268
5. Bob Tasca III – 2215
6. J.R. Todd – 2214
7. Matt Hagan – 2211
8. Tommy Johnson Jr – 2191
9. Shawn Langdon – 2187
10. Tim Wilkerson – 2152
ABOUT DON SCHUMACHER RACING
Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) is the winningest team in NHRA Drag Racing history, having claimed more than 325 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.
Photo Credit: Auto Imagery via Don Schumacher Racing, Driver photos: NHRA