DSR Indy 3 Post-Race Recap
Dodge NHRA Indy Nationals presented by Pennzoil
Event No. 5
Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis
August 8-9, 2020
DSR Elimination Highlights:
- After 26 years, Ron Capps finally captured his elusive first Indy victory on Sunday during the Dodge NHRA Indy Nationals presented by Pennzoil. The accomplishment enabled him to reach a personal milestone of having claimed a win at every venue on the current NHRA tour.
- Capps’ victory was the 65th of his career (64 Funny Car/1 Top Fuel), first in 2020, and marked the seventh consecutive Funny Car triumph for DSR and 349th national event title for drag racing’s winningest organization
- Sunday also marked the ninth consecutive event where DSR campaigned a Funny Car in the final round
- By racing to the winner’s circle, Capps advanced to fourth in the Funny Car point rankings
- DSR maintained its sweep of the 1-2-3 spots in the Funny Car standings for the third event in a row, with Doug Chandler’s ‘giving cars’ holding strong in No. 1 (Tommy Johnson Jr.) and No. 2 (Jack Beckman); Matt Hagan rounds out the ‘top three,’ and with
- Capps moving into fourth, DSR’s quartet of Dodge Charger SRT Hellcats now occupy the first four spots on the leaderboard
- Leah Pruett advanced to her third semifinal appearance in 2020 and sits third in the Top Fuel point standings
Ron Capps Finally Captures Elusive First Indy Triumph;
Reaches Personal Milestone of Winning at Every Track on NHRA Tour
BROWNSBURG, Ind. (August 9, 2020) – After 26 years behind the wheel of a nitro-burning machine, NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Funny Car driver Ron Capps finally gets to check ‘a win at Indy’ off of his bucket list.
It may be hard to believe, but Capps, the second-winningest Funny Car driver of all time with 64 national event victories (65 overall, including one in Top Fuel), had never managed to conquer the famed Indianapolis dragstrip prior to Sunday’s triumph at the Dodge NHRA Indy Nationals presented by Pennzoil. In fact, Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis was the only venue on the current NHRA tour where Capps had not visited the winner’s circle at least once over the span of his impressive career. He came close, racing to a runner-up finish versus J.R. Todd in 2017, but was unable to seal the deal until Sunday afternoon when he defeated Todd in a rematch of the 2017 final round in front of a live FOX TV audience.
“This trophy is going to my wife, Shelley, who has been coming to this racetrack with me for 26 years and has ridden that emotional roller coaster with me, getting close and not winning,” said Capps of his long and hard-fought journey to finally win an Indy Wally trophy after more than two decades of trying. “On top of it, her birthday is always at the Indy (U.S. Nationals) race and all those years she’s rode along with me and seen the emotional wreck I’ve been not winning and knowing how much it means to me. I just called home and she was crying. It just means so much to us.”
Capps’ milestone win marked the seventh consecutive Funny Car trophy for Don Schumacher Racing, and victory No. 349 for drag racing’s winningest organization. It also advanced Capps into the No. 4 spot in the Funny Car rankings, with DSR’s fleet of four Dodge Charger SRT Hellcats now occupying the first four spots on the championship leaderboard.
“Leave it to 2020 to get my first win at Indianapolis,” said Capps, of his win at the fifth event of the 2020 season. “For a driver to be able to say that he’s won at every track on the (NHRA) circuit is pretty incredible and it shows you the talent that I’ve had around me since I started my career.”
The 2016 Funny Car world champion began his campaign for the Dodge NHRA Indy Nationals presented by Pennzoil trophy by qualifying his NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat third, his best starting position to-date in 2020. He started his race day by defeating fellow Funny Car veteran Tim Wilkerson in round one to set up a quarterfinal match-up with Blake Alexander. Capps’ quick reflexes earned him the holeshot advantage over Alexander and his stout 3.990-second pass ensured he led from start-to-finish over Alexander’s 4.036-second effort. In the semifinals, Capps once again used his quick reaction time coupled with a solid E.T. of 4.065 to set off the win light and earn him a bid to the final round, his first of the season and first since racing to victory in Brainerd, Minn. in 2019.
In the final round, Capps’ opponent, J.R. Todd, drove into immediate tire smoke in the opposite lane while Capps clocked a winning 4.110 E.T. to earn his 65th overall victory, and first of the season.
Capps will be the first to admit, his 2020 campaign got off to a rocky start. After a string of recent missteps including a pair of first-round losses, and a bottom-seeded qualifying effort at the first race back after a four-month break, Sunday’s win was just the shot in the arm Capps, a Top 10 points finisher for the past 15 years, needed.
“The last two weeks were hard with these two races here,” explained the Carlsbad, Calif. resident. “After the (four-month) break, we came back and knew that we were on limited time to make a run in the points. We came back from the hiatus, and I didn’t get a whole lot of laps in the car. We didn’t get to do a whole lot of testing like some other teams did. The one saving grace is that I’ve got a great team and (crew chief Rahn) Tobler gives me a great car so that helped. I just haven’t had a whole lot of confidence mainly because we haven’t had a whole lot of runs. We’ve been knocked out first round so this helped me a bunch. This was a feel-good weekend on many different fronts; my confidence is back and Tobler found his racecar.”Qualified: No. 3 (3.987 E.T. at 317.05 MPH)
E1: 4.056 E.T. at 274.61 MPH defeated Tim Wilkerson 4.413 E.T. at 203.25 MPH
E2: 3.990 E.T. at 320.51 MPH defeated Blake Alexander 4.036 E.T. at 318.99 MPH
E3: 4.065 E.T. at 316.30 MPH defeated Bob Tasca III 9.713 E.T. at 77.18 MPH
E4: 4.110 E.T. at 294.63 MPH defeated J.R. Todd 10.318 E.T. at 80.06 MPH
Driver of the Matco Tools/Global Electronic Technology/Toyota Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 7 (3.868 E.T. at 311.41 MPH)
E1: 3.800 E.T. at 324.59 MPH defeated by Justin Ashley 3.799 E.T. at 318.24 MPH
Antron Brown and the Matco Tools/Global Electronic Technology/Toyota/Hangsterfers team kicked off the third consecutive Indy event with a solid qualifying performance that placed them in the top half of the field for the second race day in a row. Starting from seventh, Brown drew Justin Ashley as his first-round challenger. He piloted his 11,000-horsepower machine down the track in a quick, clean pass of 3.800-seconds but his opponent got the holeshot advantage off the tree and maintained his narrow lead through the finish line for the win.
“It’s definitely not the race day we were looking for, but at the end of the day, we made some great strides this weekend. We’re going in the right direction. The more laps we get, the better we get. We just raced the wrong opponent that first round. Credit to them. That’s a good, young team with Justin (Ashley) and (his crew chief) Aaron Brooks. They got us off the line and ran a thou (of-a-second) quicker and popped the win light off on us. That being said, as a team we’re going to work harder and get better. The better we get, the more confidence we gain, the stronger we become. We’re focused on the U.S. Nationals here in three weeks and I believe our race win is right around the corner and I’m really ready to get after it.”
Driver of the Nordic Boats/Revchem Composites Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 5 (3.864 E.T. at 317.49 MPH)
E1: 5.473 E.T. at 108.18 MPH defeated by Doug Kalitta 3.767 E.T. at 325.85 MPH
Cory McClenathan’s Nordic Boats/Revchem Composites Top Fuel dragster was impressive during qualifying, clocking a 3.864 E.T. in Q1, which held up to be the third-quickest pass of the session and earned McClenathan a spot in the top-half of the field to start race day. Despite his top-seeded position, McClenathan found himself with a tough draw in round one, facing point leader Doug Kalitta. The veteran drivers lined up early on race day but McClenathan’s hopes of a third Indy trophy went up in smoke when his machine lost traction ahead of the 330-foot cone, and his opponent drove away with the round win.
“We felt we had a good car going into race day and when you have to race Doug Kalitta you need to step up your program a little bit. We knew they would. The weather was better. The track temps were cooler. We set it on kill and for some reason it went out there and ripped the tires loose and I couldn’t catch it. They ran a (3).76 and we would have had to run .73 or .74 to beat them and that’s what we were shooting for. It’s tough out here. We really appreciate everyone who has supported our program, I just really want to thank everyone like Nordic and Revchem for sticking by us. We’re going to come back again for the U.S. Nationals, and I’m excited. We have a good car now and it’s time to start putting those round wins together.”
Driver of the Mopar Dodge SRT Hellcat Redeye Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 3 (3.840 E.T. at 318.02 MPH)
E1: 3.749 E.T. at 325.53 MPH defeated Shawn Langdon 3.839 E.T. at 304.19 MPH
E2: 3.829 E.T. at 313.07 MPH defeated Pat Dakin 3.905 E.T. at 312.71 MPH
E3: 3.861 E.T. at 316.60 MPH defeated by Steve Torrence 3.819 E.T. at 320.51 MPH
Leah Pruett was eager to park her fierce-looking Dodge Redeye Top Fuel dragster in the winner’s circle for the first time in 2020 at her sponsor’s title event. She qualified third and a showdown with fellow former Jr. Dragster racer Shawn Langdon awaited her in the first round. Pruett demonstrated she was prepared to charge hard through the Top Fuel field when she unleashed a 3.749 E.T. versus Langdon which not only earned her the round win but held up to be low E.T. of the weekend. In round two, she faced Pat Dakin, and it was clear her opponent knew it would take a big number to defeat Pruett. He ran his best pass of the weekend – a 3.905 E.T. – but it wasn’t enough to outrun Pruett’s 3.829. In the semifinals, her third in the first five events, Pruett battled it out with reigning Top Fuel world champion Steve Torrence. She made another good pass in her Mopar-powered machine, but her 3.861 E.T. wasn’t enough to halt Torrence, who clocked a 3.819.
“Another semifinal finish here in Indy for this Dodge Redeye team. We grabbed some points during qualifying and we keep advancing along with the top cars. Unfortunately, we brought a knife to a gunfight in the semis. There was more out there on the track than we anticipated. We’ll regroup and we have a ton of momentum with this team. We got Cory’s (McClenathan) car on track this weekend. Wherever our next race is, I feel like we’ve got a very good race car. The car is doing what we ask it to. Our DSM parts and pieces are performing well. We need to make the right steps and keep charging hard.”
Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 15 (4.621 E.T. at 179.90 MPH)
E1: 4.293 E.T. at 219.01 MPH defeated by Matt Hagan 3.993 E.T. at 296.50 MPH
Jack Beckman found himself in an unfamiliar position on Sunday morning, starting from the bottom half of the field for the first time in 2020. A three-time finalist in the first four events, Beckman has been dominant all season long but struggled to get his footing during Saturday’s two qualifying sessions at the Dodge NHRA Indy Nationals presented by Pennzoil. Beckman qualified 15th and drew No. 2 qualifier Matt Hagan, setting the stage for a matchup between two of the heaviest hitters in the Funny Car category. The world champion drivers were set to square off for the Indy 2 trophy at the previous event before it was rescheduled for the U.S. Nationals due to rain, making Sunday’s round one showdown all the more dramatic.
Against his teammate, Beckman was first on the gas, but his machine started to drift out of the groove and toward the wall, and he was forced to click it off while Hagan drove away with the win. The first-round loss caused Beckman to drop from atop of the point standings, a position he had enjoyed since the start of the season, to second.
“I’ve never been done on Sunday at 10:40 in the morning. It’s a surreal feeling with an early start to get beat first round. We’re not gonna ‘woulda, coulda, shoulda’ this. We pushed hard both qualifying runs and it was just a little too aggressive. It put us in the unenviable position of running a teammate who had qualified good and had better data than us. That’s drag racing. On a perfect day, you beat four people and they hand you a trophy and it’s damn near impossible. We will pick up the pieces for our next race. I’m not sure when and where that is. These are unprecedented times. We will be back to the form we were in late last year and early this year and we will make an absolute run at that championship.”
Driver of the Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye
Qualified: No. 2 (3.982 E.T. at 320.81 MPH)
E1: 3.993 E.T. at 296.50 MPH defeated Jack Beckman 4.293 E.T. at 219.01 MPH
E2: 4.881 E.T. at 195.17 MPH defeated by Bob Tasca III 4.034 E.T. at 311.70 MPH
Matt Hagan maintained his red-hot streak aboard the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye by rocketing to the second-quickest pass of the opening qualifying session to secure the No. 2 starting position on race day. His impressive performance pitted him opposite teammate Jack Beckman in the opening round of eliminations. The two were supposed to have raced for the trophy at the previous event (Indy 2) but persistent rain forced the NHRA to reschedule the round for the upcoming U.S. Nationals. While Sunday’s round-one match-up wasn’t for a trophy, Hagan hopes the outcome is a preview for what’s to come. He launched his machine to a stout 3.993-second pass, easily outrunning Beckman’s tire-smoking effort.
In round two, Hagan drew another tough competitor in Bob Tasca III. Unfortunately for Hagan, his hopes of making a run to a third consecutive final ended when his car went up in smoke early and Tasca clocked the win.
“We still had a really good race weekend. We qualified No. 2 and went some rounds and took out (Jack) Beckman, the points leader. We definitely closed the gap to the top and the DSR Funny Cars are still 1-2-3 and (Ron) Capps had a good day. The points are tight. We have a strong car and sometimes it gets hot and greasy and we make a lot of power and it can be more challenging to reel that in. The crew did a great job, again. (Crew chief) Dickie (Venables) continues to do a great job running this car and we put on a great show for our partners at Dodge and Mopar and Pennzoil this weekend at the Dodge Nationals presented by Pennzoil, and we’ve had a hell of a streak dating back to last season. We have a consistent and fast race car and I’m ready to go whenever they tell us to come back.”
TOMMY JOHNSON JR.
Driver of the MD Anderson Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 1 (3.976 E.T. at 318.54 MPH)
E1: 3.955 E.T. at 322.81 MPH defeated Alexis DeJoria 4.363 E.T. at 209.92 MPH
E2: 4.689 E.T. at 178.50 MPH defeated by Paul Lee 4.140 E.T. at 270.70 MPH
Tommy Johnson Jr. and the John Collins/Rip Reynolds-led MD Anderson Dodge Funny Car team have been on a tear all year. They were victorious at the NHRA Arizona Nationals before the season was suspended for four months due to COVID-19, and picked up right where they left off when the season resumed in Indy last month. Since the NHRA restart, Johnson raced to a runner-up finish from the pole at Indy 1, a semifinal appearance from the No. 2 qualifying position at Indy 2, and on Saturday at the Dodge NHRA Indy Nationals presented by Pennzoil, Johnson earned the 20th No. 1 qualifier of his career to start from the pole yet again.
Since Phoenix, Doug Chandler’s ‘giving car’ tandem of Jack Beckman and Johnson have occupied the No. 1 and No. 2 spots on the Funny Car championship leaderboard. Johnson has steadily crept up on Beckman’s No. 1 standing, and on Sunday, he surpassed his teammate to take over the point lead. He moved into the lead when he powered his Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat to low E.T. and top speed of the weekend in round one to defeat Alexis DeJoria. After a dominant round one showing, Johnson looked prime for a long day of going rounds but suffered the upset loss when his machine lost traction in round two, and his opponent, Paul Lee, was able to record the win.
“That was very surprising. I wasn’t expecting that second round. We’ve had such a flawless race car going down the track each lap and it caught me off guard when it pulled ‘em loose out there. It seemed like it was on a good run and just drove into smoke. It’s both surprising and frustrating, but you can‘t get too disappointed. You lick your wounds and move on, learn from this, and be better. We’ll figure out why and address that. To qualify No. 1 again and come out of here with the points lead is a positive.”
NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship Standings:
1. Doug Kalitta – 436
2. Steve Torrence – 353
3. Leah Pruett – 347
4. Billy Torrence – 290
5. Justin Ashley – 283
6. Terry McMillen – 273
7. Antron Brown – 263
8. Clay Millican – 240
9. Shawn Langdon – 214
10. Brittany Force – 153
1. Tommy Johnson Jr. – 416
2. Jack Beckman – 403
3. Matt Hagan – 388
4. Ron Capps – 314
5. Bob Tasca III – 303
6. J.R. Todd – 292
7. Tim Wilkerson – 270
8. Alexis DeJoria – 217
9. Cruz Pedregon – 202
10. Paul Lee – 193
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 349, and DSR is looking forward to reaching the ‘350 milestone’ early in the season. 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.
Photo Credit: Auto Imagery via Don Schumacher Racing, Driver photos: NHRA