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DSR Pre-Race Report: Pomona NHRA Winternationals

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DSR 18Pomona I Pre-Race Report

NHRA Winternationals
Event 1 of 24 (Pomona I)
Auto Club Raceway at Pomona – Pomona, Calif.
February 7-9, 2020

Highlights:

  • 2019 Mello Yello Series Funny Car runner-up Jack Beckman, and third-place finisher Matt Hagan look to pick-up where they left off by building upon their late-season momentum at the 2020 season-opener
  • Beckman returns to Auto Club Raceway at Pomona as the most recent Funny Car winner after having won the 2019 season-closer. He also posted a runner-up finish at the 2019 NHRA Winternationals
  • Antron Brown earned his first No. 1 qualifier in the Top Fuel category at the 2008 Pomona I event
  • Beckman, Ron Capps, and Leah Pruett consider Pomona to be a hometown track. Beckman resides in Norco; Capps resides in Carlsbad; Pruett grew up in nearby Redlands
  • Team patriarch Don Schumacher won the 1973 event in the Funny Car category
  • All current DSR drivers have been victorious at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona at least once
  • DSR-Owned Track Records:
    -Funny Car, E.T.: 3.822 seconds, Matt Hagan (Pomona I 2017)

DSR Driver Information:

Top Fuel:
ANTRON BROWNANTRON BROWN
Driver of the Matco Tools/Global Electronic Technology
Toyota Top Fuel Dragster

Pomona I Event Highlights:

  • Two-time No. 1 qualifier (2008, 2009)
  • Earned his career-first No. 1 qualifier in the Top Fuel category at the 2008 event
  • Three-time runner-up (2009, 2012, 2015)

2019 Pomona I Recap:
Qualified third; First round exit (defeated by Leah Pruett in E1)

Last Event (Pomona II 2019):
Qualified ninth; First round exit (defeated by Brittany Force in E1)

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

Quotable:
“Ready to get the 2020 season started with our Matco Tools/Global Electronic Technology/Toyota Top Fuel team. This past off-season was a long one, but man, we got a lot of work done, and it just feels good to have (crew chief) Brian Corradi back with our whole group. We’re ready to go into this first race with our heads down. There’s a lot of excitement. Now it’s time to see all of our hard work from the off-season pay off and see what we can go out and accomplish. I feel really confident, and I’m ready to go back to work.”

LEAH PRUETTLEAH PRUETT
Driver of the Mopar Dodge Top Fuel Dragster

Pomona I Event Highlights:

  • 2017 event champion
  • 2017 No. 1 qualifier

2019 Pomona I Recap:
Qualified 12th; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Antron Brown in E1; defeated by Terry McMillen in E2)

Last Event (Pomona II 2019):
Qualified second; Semifinal finish (defeated Scott Palmer in E1, Jordan Vandergriff in E2; defeated by Doug Kalitta in E3)

Career Statistics:
141 races; eight wins; 12 No. 1 qualifiers

Noteworthy:

  • As a native of nearby Redlands, Calif., Pruett considers Auto Club Raceway at Pomona to be a hometown track

Quotable:
“The first race of the season always carries great excitement, but I believe we have an extra level of confidence going into this hometown race. This Mopar team, led by (crew chiefs) Todd Okuhara and Neil (Strausbaugh), had what we consider a successful test session in Vegas prior to this weekend’s race. Strategically testing new parts for performance and durability presented the results we were looking for with a race car and team that is undoubtedly capable of winning from the immediate start. I cannot wait to get this season underway, and get back into competition with my team.”

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

Pomona I Event Highlights:

  • 2019 runner-up
  • 2016 No. 1 qualifier

2019 Pomona I Recap:
Qualified second; Event runner-up (defeated Phil Burkhart in E1, Cruz Pedregon in E2, Tommy Johnson Jr. in E3; defeated by Robert Hight in E4)

Last Event (Pomona II 2019):
Qualified second; Event champion (defeated John Hale in E1, J.R. Todd in E2, Blake Alexander in E3, Robert Hight in E4)

Career Statistics:
324 races; 30 wins; 27 No. 1 qualifiers

Noteworthy:

  • The 2020 NHRA Winternationals marks Beckman’s 325th professional event
  • Returns to Auto Club Raceway at Pomona as the facility’s most recent Funny Car winner after having won the 2019 season-closer
  • Raced to the finals during both 2019 Pomona events; posted a runner-up finish at the 2019 Winternationals
  • As a resident of Norco, Calif., Beckman considers Pomona a hometown track

Quotable:
“I’m sure every driver looks forward to the Winternationals, but for me, it holds a special place in my heart. I grew up in the area. When I was a 10-year-old, I had a paper route, and on Sunday mornings, my brother and I would wake up early, fold our newspapers, deliver our route, and then pack up and head out to the Winternationals to watch eliminations. When I was in the Air Force, I was stationed 1,500 miles away, but I couldn’t wait to get my copy of National Dragster and get the report of the season-opener. The day I got back from the Air Force, I unloaded all of my stuff at my mom’s house, and my buddies and I went right to Pomona to watch qualifying. That was in 1988. I just have so many great memories from there, including my first national event win in Super Comp in 1998. I have yet to win the Winternationals in nitro, but coming off the NHRA Finals win, I feel we have as good a shot as anyone in Funny Car, so I can’t wait.”

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

Pomona I Event Highlights:

  • Three-time event winner (1998, 2009, 2016)
  • Four-time runner-up (2006, 2010, 2013, 2015)

2019 Pomona I Recap:
Qualified fifth; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Gary Densham in E1; defeated by John Force in E2)

Last Event (Pomona II 2019):
Qualified eighth; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Cruz Pedregon in E1; defeated by Matt Hagan in E2)

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

Noteworthy:

  • As a resident of Carslbad, Capps considers Pomona to be a hometown track

Quotable:
“Here we are heading into the 2020 season, and it’s not gone as planned so far. We had a trailer fire on the way to pre-season testing. It ruined one of our Dodge Charger SRT bodies. It did some damage to the primary car and a lot of smoke damage throughout the trailer and our back-up car. But, this is the kind of thing that really makes me smile when I see how good our NAPA AutoCare team is, and how well they work under pressure. (Crew chief) Rahn Tobler, (assistant crew chief) Dustin Heim, and the team and I are going to rely on our experience, we’re going to rely on our good parts, and we’re going to rely on our dedication to what we do. We’re going to go to Pomona, make four good qualifying runs, and make our very first run of the year during Q1 on Friday when a lot of other teams have had a chance to make several runs last week at pre-season testing. But again, this is why I brag about my team. Hopefully, we can end this weekend with a Cinderella story, and that is with us holding the Wally trophy at the end of the weekend and talking about all that we went through and still managing to get a win.”

MATT HAGANMATT HAGAN
Driver of the Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

Pomona I Event Highlights:

  • Three-time event champion (2005, 2017, 2018)
  • Two-time No. 1 qualifier (2017, 2018)
  • Two-time runner-up (2011, 2014)

2019 Pomona I Recap:
Qualified fourth; First round exit (defeated by John Force in E1)

Last Event (Pomona II 2019):
Qualified No. 1; Semifinal finish (defeated Jonnie Lindberg in E1, Ron Capps in E2; defeated by Robert Hight in E3)

Career Statistics:
264 races; 33 wins; 36 No. 1 qualifiers

Noteworthy:

  • The 2020 NHRA Winternationals marks Matt Hagan’s 265th professional event

Quotable:
“We have a lot of momentum coming off of the Las Vegas test session. We ran a 3.88, 87, 86, and an 83 on the final day. I’m just excited to get the season started. Pomona is always a magical place. We have an opportunity to do big things, and we always seem to do well there.

“We’ve got our great sponsors back this year. We have our great team back with us; only one crew guy changed. Everything seems to be going off without a hitch so far, so I’m really, really excited about getting this year started. Great car, great new season, and we hope to start strong.”

TOMMY JOHNSON JR.TOMMY JOHNSON JR.
Driver of the MD Anderson Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

Pomona I Event Highlights:

  • 2005 event champion
  • 2001 No. 1 qualifier

2019 Pomona I Recap:
Qualified third; Semifinal finish (defeated Tim Wilkerson in E1, Shawn Langdon in E2; defeated by Jack Beckman in E3)

Last Event (Pomona II 2019):
Qualified seventh; First round exit (defeated by J.R. Todd in E1)

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

Quotable:
“I’m super excited to kick off the 2020 season. We had a great test session in Las Vegas. The car performed really well, and that always gets the whole team excited heading into the year.

“There’s always something special about the season-opener in Pomona. We’ll get to ‘officially’ debut our new look with the MD Anderson Cancer Center livery. We’re proud to be able to represent (team sponsor) Doug Chandler and the new, well-deserving charity that he chose. We’d love nothing more than to start the season off with a win for Doug and the MD Anderson Cancer Center, and get things rolling on the right foot right out of the box.”

ABOUT DON SCHUMACHER RACING
Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) is the winningest team in NHRA Drag Racing history, having claimed more than 340 NHRA national event titles and 17 world Established in 1998 as a single-car Top Fuel team, Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) has grown to become the winningest organization in NHRA Drag Racing history. Including team owner Don Schumacher’s five NHRA Funny Car titles from the 1970s, DSR’s current win count stands at 345 entering the 2020 season, and DSR is looking forward to reaching the ‘350 milestone’ early in the year. DSR owns 17 world championships in three different NHRA categories.

Headquartered in Brownsburg, Indiana, DSR currently fields six professional teams competing in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. In Top Fuel, the Matco Tools/Global Electronic Technology/Toyota dragster driven by three-time world champion Antron Brown, and the Mopar/Pennzoil/Okuma dragster driven by Leah Pruett. 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 two-time series title-holder Matt Hagan, and in 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 MD Anderson Dodge.

DSR also campaigns two Factory Stock Showdown entries. The duo is piloted by Pruett, 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@shoeracingandFacebook.com/shoeracing.

Photo Credit: Auto Imagery via Don Schumacher Racing

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