DSR Indy 1 Qualifying Report
E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals
Event 3 of 24 (Indy 1)
Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis
July 11-12, 2020
DSR Qualifying Highlights:
- Tommy Johnson Jr. rocketed to the top spot during Q1 and captured his 19th No. 1 qualifier
- Johnson, the most recent Funny Car winner on tour, will square off against teammate Ron Capps in round one of eliminations
- Jack Beckman and Matt Hagan join Johnson in the top half of the Funny Car field
- After being sidelined for more than a year-and-a-half, Top Fuel veteran Tony Schumacher came out swinging. He laid down the second-quickest pass of Q2 and ultimately earned a spot in the top half of the field
Tommy Johnson Jr. Captures Funny Car Pole at NHRA 2020 Restart
BROWNSBURG, Ind. (July 11, 2020) – A four-month hiatus couldn’t slow down the momentum Tommy Johnson Jr. and the MD Anderson Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car team built during the first part of the 2020 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season before it was suspended due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Johnson, who entered race weekend as the most recent Funny Car winner on tour, put down an impressive Q1 blast of 3.983 seconds at 317.72-mph to earn the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals No. 1 qualifying position right out of the gate.
“It’s just a great start after such a long layoff and all the uncertainty,” said Johnson, who claimed the NHRA Arizona Nationals victory in February. “It’s great to be able to carry the momentum from Phoenix right into this race and not miss a beat. The guys worked hard those four months so to be able to give them a No.1 qualifier right out of the box and just carry that momentum is really good. I have a really good race car and it shows that Phoenix wasn’t a fluke. It was a good race car and is continuing to be.”
While Johnson’s stout Q1 pass allowed him to bank three bonus points, and pick up his 19th No. 1 qualifier award, it set him up for a less-than-favorable first-round matchup versus his Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat teammate, Ron Capps. Both Capps and Johnson are focused on securing their first Lucas Oil Raceway victories, and Johnson knows that an Indy win could boost him from second in the Funny Car point standings up to the top of the leaderboard.
“It’s going to be a tough day tomorrow because the conditions are going to be so different,” said Johnson, a resident of nearby Avon, Ind. “Today was really irrelevant for tomorrow, but it’s good to know that we have a good baseline and can go from there.
“Testing on Friday before the event was so valuable. You can’t put a price on that because we probably wouldn’t have qualified if we hadn’t tested with the issues we had with the new body and being able to work through some things. We also found a problem with one of our controllers for the clutch and the fuel system. To find those issues on Friday and be able to run so well on Saturday, it just shows you that we needed a couple of runs to work everything out after being off for four months.”
Qualified: No. 1 (lane choice)
The Competition: No. 16 Ron Capps
Q1: 3.983 E.T. at 317.72 MPH (Three bonus points for quickest run of the session)
Q2: 4.128 E.T. at 238.43 MPH
Bonus Points: Three
Driver of the Matco Tools/Global Electronic Technology/Toyota Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 14
The Competition: No. 3 Terry McMillen
Q1: 4.397 E.T. at 185.82 MPH
Q2: 5.173 E.T. at 139.46 MPH
“We’re observing everything. The first run out today, our car was on a great lap just like Tony’s (Schumacher) car was and we were both the two quickest to the 330-foot mark, so that gives us a lot of hope going into tomorrow. It will be different conditions in the morning and the racing is looking like it’s going to be really, really good. It looks like we’ll be able to put our cars back to normal like how we ran them in the first two races, and we’re going to get after it. We’re going to go out there, put our best foot forward and give it all we’ve got. Tomorrow is a brand-new day and that’s the way we’re going to take it. The game plan is to keep it on all eight and turn on some win lights.”
Driver of the Nordic Boats/Revchem Composities Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 12
The Competition: No. 5 TJ Zizzo
Q1: 4.120 E.T. at 228.58 MPH
Q2: 4.403 E.T. at 183.34 MPH
“Testing was good yesterday, getting used to the canopy. It didn’t take much getting used to it, it’s such an awesome thing DSR developed. I’m really comfortable in the car. We’re trying to put down a lot of power and the track is not having it right now, so we’re going to make some adjustments. I have nothing but confidence in my crew chief Todd Okuhara, and this whole team, and we’ll stand up when it’s time to stand up, and we’ll make a point tomorrow.”
Driver of the Mopar Dodge Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 10
The Competition: No. 7 Tony Schumacher
Q1: 4.363 E.T. at 188.46 MPH
Q2: 3.934 E.T. at 306.33 MPH
“We have Tony Schumacher first round. He has a long list of success here at Indy but this is not the U.S. Nationals. This is the Indy Nationals and this Mopar team is definitely ready to fight this fight, and we’re looking forward to the competition tomorrow. We have a long night ahead of us as we triple-check everything. I’m going be on my practice game tonight, and I’ll have my race face on tomorrow, even under the mask.”
Driver of the Global Electronic Technology/Toyota Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 7 (lane choice)
The Competition: No. 10 Leah Pruett
Q1: 3.877 E.T. at 292.90 MPH
Q2: No Time, session suspended due to rain
“We’ll run against my teammate Leah Pruett in round one, and we’ll get up in the morning and do our jobs. We’ve got a good car. We’ll do it nice and smooth down the race track, and get after it. We’ve got great guys over here. I didn’t get as many laps under my belt as I wanted. Only made two test runs and then got one qualifying run due to weather. We’ve got a great car with Global Electronic Technology, Rydin Decal, Matco Tools, Pennzoil and Toyota. Our partners are tremendous. They gave me a gift; a gift to go out and race a couple more races in Indy. We’ve got great guys in the trailer, outstanding people working on the car. We’re going to go get it done.”
Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 3 (lane choice)
The Competition: No. 14 Mike McIntire
Q1: 4.972 E.T. at 153.49 MPH
Q2: 4.050 E.T. at 298.47 MPH (Two bonus points for second quickest run of the session)
Bonus Points: Two
“I felt like I’ve had the emotions of four races in one day here. Now that we’ve lost the first two qualifying runs, and the fact that 18 cars showed up, we knew qualifying was going to be a nail-biter. We just didn’t think it would be for us. We made two test runs and then when we go out there for the first qualifying run, it just wore a ton of clutch early. Every once in a while, these cars will reach up and bite you. Now, not a big deal if you have three more qualifying runs. Huge deal for us because we weren’t sure if that run was a fluke or if we needed to address something and the guys kind of split the difference. We limped it down there and wound up being second-low E.T. of the second session, and that tells you that you’ve got a good combo because even when you miss it, you still can run quick enough to be second-low. We ‘front halved’ the car during the downtime, so we are listening to what it is telling us. It’s going to be a little bit different until we get more runs on that tubing. If we get four more runs tomorrow, we’ll all be happy. I always think we have a car good enough to win the race. Qualifying third kind of underscores that for me.”
Driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 16
The Competition: No. 1 Tommy Johnson Jr.
Q1: 4.555 E.T. at 184.70 MPH
Q2: Broke, No Time
“I have no idea what happened yet to make the car shut off in Q2. It was something in the ignition apparently, and the crew guys are going through everything right now to try and determine what it was and get it repaired for tomorrow. As far as facing a teammate in the first round, that’s never what any of the DSR cars hope to do. You always want to face your teammate in the final round of eliminations.
“It feels incredible to be back at the track. I was blown away by the politeness of all the fans and everybody adhering to all of the physical distancing requirements and doing everything they’re supposed to do in order to make sure everyone is safe. It was great to see fans in the grandstands. I’ve always said NHRA has the best fans, and this proved it today. Thank you to everyone that came out.”
Driver of the Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 6 (lane choice)
The Competition: No. 11 Dan Wilkerson
Q1: 4.107 E.T. at 276.69 MPH
Q2: 4.090 E.T. at 289.07 MPH
“All in all, it was a great qualifying day. Really glad to be a part of NHRA and I want to thank the sanctioning body for bringing the fans back out. We’re one of the first motorsports series to do that. Our Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat is running well, and we have Daniel Wilkerson in the morning. I love the Wilkerson family. Timmy and his boy, they’re just amazing people that you look to as role models because they’re really good guys. But, it’ll be fun to get back into competition mode tomorrow. Our car is running strong, we had two good laps today. It was hot today which it makes it a little trickier to be able to navigate the track, but the conditions will be different tomorrow. I’m excited. It’s going to be an early morning tomorrow. We warm up at 6:45 a.m., so I’m going to eat a good steak dinner tonight, get some rest, and get ready to do this tomorrow.”
ABOUT DON SCHUMACHER RACING
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 347, and DSR is looking forward to reaching the ‘350 milestone’ early in the 2020 season. DSR owns 17 world championships in three different NHRA categories.
Headquartered in Brownsburg, Indiana, DSR currently fields eight 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, the Nordic Boats/Revchem Composites/Hawkeye Industries dragster driven by Cory McClenathan, the Mopar/Pennzoil/Okuma dragster driven by Leah Pruett, and the Global Electronic Technology machine driven by eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher. 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.
Photo Credit: Auto Imagery via Don Schumacher Racing, Driver photos: NHRA