DSR Dallas Post-Race Recap
AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals
Event No. 9
Texas Motorplex – Ennis, Texas
October 16-18, 2020
DSR Elimination Highlights:
- The DSR Funny Car championship battle continues to intensify heading into the final two events of the 2020 season after Jack Beckman raced to victory at the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals on Sunday evening
- The triumph was Beckman’s first at Texas Motorplex, third of the season and 33rd overall
- The final round featured DSR Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Cars (Beckman vs. Matt Hagan) going head-to-head for the fifth time in the first nine races in 2020, and ensured DSR kept its undefeated streak of 12 Funny Car victories alive
- Hagan maintained his point lead in the championship standings but Beckman is hot on his heels, sitting a mere four points out of first
- Funny Car quarterfinalist Tommy Johnson Jr. occupies the No. 3 spot in the rankings, and semifinalist Ron Capps sits fourth
- In Top Fuel, both Leah Pruett and Tony Schumacher advanced to the quarterfinals and Pruett remains in championship contention sitting in third
- Mark Pawuk led the DSR Drag Pak Factory Stock Showdown duo by recording a semifinal finish; Pawuk sits second in the FSS point standings
Beckman Captures Elusive First Dallas Victory;
DSR Funny Car Championship Battle Intensifies
ENNIS, Texas (October 19, 2020) – The Don Schumacher Racing Funny Car championship battle continues to intensify heading into the final two events of the 2020 season after Jack Beckman raced to victory at the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals on Sunday evening.
Driving Doug Chandler’s Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, Beckman defeated teammate and current point leader Matt Hagan in the final round of eliminations to capture DSR’s 12th consecutive Funny Car trophy and deny Hagan the opportunity to extend his point lead. Starting from the No. 6 spot, Beckman battled through a stacked field to keep DSR’s undefeated Funny Car streak alive and claim his third trophy in 2020, and 33rd overall. After besting Cruz Pedregon in round one of eliminations, Beckman posted the second-quickest pass of E2 to defeat Tim Wilkerson before clocking the quickest E.T. in the semifinals to outrun Bob Tasca III and set up an all-DSR Funny Car final round showdown for the fifth time this season. Versus Hagan, the Infinite Hero crew chief tandem of Dean Antonelli and John Medlen tuned Beckman’s machine to its third consecutive 3.90-second pass to activate the win lights. Beckman’s FallNationals triumph was his first at Texas Motorplex, and held special meaning for the SoCal native who has been making the trek to Ennis, Texas for 35 years.
“I got to stomp on the pedal, but this is truly a group effort,” said Beckman of his Sunday victory. “I have wanted to win Dallas since I first came here in 1985 and drove 500 miles with my buddy to come to Billy Meyer’s ‘super track.’
“I had a really good feeling most of the day. I felt like if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen today. Coming up against Hagan and his guys in the final is a big deal. They’ve been dominant lately and to stop them in their tracks today and tighten the points chase was fantastic. This was maybe the best weekend ever. I mean doubling up at Indy in 2015 is going to be awfully hard to exceed, but I so wanted to win at Dallas. My dad (Bob Beckman) lives close to here and he’s been supporting me my whole career and he’s 83-years-old. It’s going to be extra special to give him that cowboy hat from the (Texas) Motorplex. It’s perfect. I don’t know that I’ve ever had a better weekend at a drag strip than this. The Infinite Hero team got the trophy and my dad gets the cowboy hat. Doug Chandler, thanks for making all this possible.”
A scant four points stand between Beckman and Hagan, ensuring the championship chase will come down to the wire as DSR’s four Dodge Funny Car pilots continue to jockey for position heading into Houston next weekend and the season-finale in Las Vegas which features a points-and-a-half format. Beckman, the 2019 Funny Car runner-up, will be vying to reclaim his No. 1 ranking in Houston, a position he enjoyed throughout six of the first nine races, as he seeks to deliver the 2020 championship trophy to the Chandler family in the final year of DSR’s ‘giving car’ program.Qualified: No. 6 (3.917 E.T. at 328.70 MPH)
E1: 3.933 E.T. at 326.16 MPH defeated Cruz Pedregon 3.981 E.T. at 324.98 MPH
E2: 3.908 E.T. at 327.35 MPH defeated Tim Wilkerson 4.796 E.T. at 164.43 MPH
E3: 3.903 E.T. at 329.34 MPH defeated Bob Tasca III 3.934 E.T. at 328.22 MPH
E4: 3.908 E.T. at 328.46 MPH defeated Matt Hagan 3.943 E.T. at 324.20 MPH
Driver of the Matco Tools ‘Tools for the Cause’/Global Electronic Technology/Toyota Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 8 (3.765 E.T. at 323.50 MPH)
E1: 3.762 E.T. at 324.51 MPH defeated by Doug Kalitta 3.713 E.T. at 328.38 MPH
The opening round of race day at the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals featured a monster matchup between two Top Fuel titans, Antron Brown and Doug Kalitta. Behind the wheel of the pinked-out Matco Tools/Global Electronic Technology/Toyota Top Fuel dragster, Brown was first to stand on the throttle but Kalitta quickly nabbed the lead. Brown, a three-time Texas Motorplex champion, made a clean 3.762-second pass but it wasn’t enough to outrun his opponent, ending Brown’s day early.
“We made two consistent runs, but certainly not the runs we were looking to make. We had a gremlin pop up and bite us. We have to keep our heads down and get ready for Houston. It was a clean weekend. We didn’t hurt even one part on the car. We just have to keep digging and keep building. We’re very close. I’m very proud of the boys. I know it’s been frustrating for all of us. We have to keep putting that work in. We’re looking forward to it. Houston was the scene of our first win in Top Fuel way back in ’08 with David Powers and we’re eager to get back on the track for Matco (Tools) and Global (Electronic Technology) and Toyota and Hangsterfer’s and all of the people who have been loyal and supportive of us.”
Driver of the Mopar Dodge SRT Hellcat Redeye Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 5 (3.732 E.T. at 318.77 MPH)
E1: 3.780 E.T. at 317.27 MPH defeated Scott Palmer 3.778 E.T. at 317.57 MPH
E2: 3.863 E.T. at 293.86 MPH defeated by Shawn Langdon 3.825 E.T. at 311.77 MPH
Starting from a fifth-seeded position, Leah Pruett was prepared to battle through the FallNationals Top Fuel field as she fights to keep her championship hopes alive. She kicked off her Sunday morning by using a starting line advantage to power the Dodge Hellcat Redeye dragster to a holeshot victory over Scott Palmer and secure a spot in the quarterfinals where she faced rival Shawn Langdon. Against Langdon, Pruett’s machine started dropping cylinders early into the run, and her opponent was able to take the round win. Pruett departs Texas Motorplex sitting third in the championship standings, and with two race weekends remaining in 2020, including the points-and-a-half format at the season finale in Las Vegas, Pruett is still very much in championship contention.
“The resurrection of the Dodge SRT Hellcat Redeye wasn’t quite as fierce as we hoped it would be on this Sunday. We had a very competitive, stout first round against an always tough competitor in Scott Palmer. In the second round we had some fuel mixture mix-ups with the cylinders. That should have been an attainable round win and those win lights are just so important right now. We’re not out of this fight by any means and we’re thankful that Dodge is able put on the race at Las Vegas in two weeks. We know exactly where we’re at in the points going into Houston and we hope it’s our time to shine in the big Lone Star State and getting that Wally at Houston.”
Driver of the Okuma/Sandvik Coromant
Toyota Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 3 (3.700 E.T. at 326.87 MPH)
E1: 3.733 E.T. at 321.73 MPH defeated Joey Haas 3.938 E.T. at 301.87 MPH
E2: 3.789 E.T. at 310.84 MPH defeated by Billy Torrence 3.741 E.T. at 326.00 MPH
Driving the Okuma/Sandvik Coromant machine,Tony Schumacher was second-quickest in both of Saturday’s qualifying sessions to earn the No. 3 starting position and lead the DSR dragster trio heading into race day. Before Sunday’s elimination rounds got underway, Schumacher was recognized with the Texas Motorplex Legends Award for his tremendous accomplishments at the suburban Dallas facility. As the winningest Top Fuel driver in the history of the Motorplex, Schumacher was looking to extend his FallNationals win count to seven on Sunday and appeared to be well on his way to accomplishing that task when he easily defeated his first-round competitor. In the quarterfinals, it was a battle of Texan versus Texan as Schumacher lined up opposite Billy Torrence. Schumacher was ahead early but by the 330-foot mark, Torrence had caught up and was able to pull ahead and post the win.
“That was a disappointing second-round exit, but not disappointed at all in this team. They’re all doing an excellent job. We’re struggling with putting cylinders out and it’s going to cost us some races until we get it figured out. We’re limited on the runs and data we have, but (crew chief) Mike Green and the guys are doing a great job. I’m happy. I’m so happy to be driving again. I love the Texas Motorplex. I thoroughly appreciate the award from the track today. It’s great to be out here doing what we do. The fans were great in Texas and we want to continue to progress in front of a great crowd in Houston next weekend.”
Driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 4 (3.885 E.T. at 326.79 MPH)
E1: 3.907 E.T. at 327.98 MPH defeated Terry Haddock 4.188 E.T. at 293.92 MPH
E2: 3.903 E.T. at 327.35 MPH defeated Alexis DeJoria 11.211 E.T. at 76.74 MPH
E3: 3.958 E.T. at 318.84 MPH defeated by Matt Hagan 3.907 E.T. at 326.08 MPH
Ron Capps clocked a ‘top three’ run during Saturday’s second qualifying round to earn a spot in the competitive quick-half of the FallNationals Funny Car field. Starting from fourth, Capps navigated the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat down the Texas Motorplex track in 3.907 seconds to easily defeat Terry Haddock’s tire-smoker in the opening session on Sunday morning. In the quarterfinals, Capps went toe-to-toe with Alexis DeJoria and once again maneuvered his NAPA Dodge to another smooth sub-four second pass, clocking a 3.903 E.T. over his opponent who lost traction as soon as she stood on the throttle. The round-win positioned Capps into a semifinal face-off against teammate and Funny Car point leader Matt Hagan. Capps was laser-focused on trailering his teammate which would not only guarantee him a berth to the finals but would have prevented Hagan from collecting more points and widening the margin between him and his teammate. After three stout passes in a row, Capps looked to be in a solid position to thwart Hagan’s championship efforts, but a mechanical gremlin caused Capps’ machine to slow to a 3.958 E.T., and his fellow DSR Dodge Funny Car pilot was able to take the semifinal round win.
Capps maintains his fourth-place ranking as he heads into the penultimate event of the 2020 season in Baytown, Texas next weekend.
“It’s tough to gain points when these cars in front of us keep going rounds. We felt so good from qualifying to run that 3.88 and then the first two rounds we posted back-to-back 3.90 runs. We felt like we had typical Rahn Tobler. We were so quick and consistent, it was almost like a bracket racing car and we really only tried to improve a little bit against (crew chief) Dickie Venables and Matt Hagan and if we got beat, we got beat. For some reason, the car slowed down a little bit and ran 3.95. It’s a major bummer. Those guys are running so well that you have to improve a little bit to outrun them. It’s nice to be back racing so soon when we go to Houston next week, but we’re kind of running out of rounds to make a run for the championship. We’ll head to South Texas and try to make some ground up.”
Driver of the Pennzoil Synthetics Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 1 (3.860 E.T. at 328.54 MPH)
E1: 3.885 E.T. at 330.63 MPH defeated Todd Simpson 6.845 E.T. at 100.28 MPH
E2: 3.928 E.T. at 326.63 MPH defeated J.R. Todd 3.987 E.T. at 326.00 MPH
E3: 3.907 E.T. at 326.08 MPH defeated Ron Capps 3.958 E.T. at 318.84 MPH
E4: 3.943 E.T. at 324.20 MPH defeated by Jack Beckman 3.908 E.T. at 328.46 MPH
On race day, the 35-time NHRA Funny Car winner clocked the second-quickest pass of the opening round of eliminations to advance past Todd Simpson, setting up a monster match-up with former champion J.R. Todd. In a battle of the yellow rides, Hagan’s Pennzoil flopper moved along with a 3.928 to Todd’s 3.987 E.T., pitting Hagan against teammate Ron Capps for the third straight event. Hagan got the better of the 2016 NHRA champion as his 3.907 was enough to outdistance Capps’ 3.958 to advance to his 64th career final round. Squaring off against another DSR Dodge teammate in the money round, Hagan faced U.S. Nationals winner and second-place driver Jack Beckman to see who would win a category-best third win of the season as all four DSR flopper pilots had two 2020 wins each. The champion shoes used nearly identical reaction times, but Beckman’s machine was slightly quicker at 3.908 to better Hagan’s 3.943 E.T.
Hagan, who sits six round wins shy of 400, will look to extend his narrow four-point lead over Beckman and his DSR teammates next weekend when qualifying for the 33rd annual Mopar Express Lane Nationals presented by Pennzoil kicks off Saturday afternoon.
“All-and-all another really good day here at Dallas for this Pennzoil/Mopar team. Jack Beckman just had a little better day. They have a great race car, but we have a great race car too. We’ve been keeping pace and we’re going to keep doing our thing for the next two races and see how this thing plays out. I’m super excited we get to do it again in a few days at Houston next weekend. We have a lot of momentum. The team is working great. The guys are doing a great job. We just have a little more work to do.”
TOMMY JOHNSON JR.
Driver of the MD Anderson Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 2 (3.871 E.T. at 315.34 MPH)
E1: 3.948 E.T. at 321.88 MPH defeated Jim Campbell 4.134 E.T. at 312.21 MPH
E2: 4.348 E.T. at 218.09 MPH defeated by Bob Tasca III 3.972 E.T. at 324.83 MPH
Fresh off a win from the previous event, the momentum from Tommy Johnson Jr.’s strong performance in St. Louis carried into qualifying at Ennis, Texas. Johnson entered the race weekend ranked third and with 34 points separating him from his teammate and point leader, Matt Hagan, Johnson knew a solid outing at the FallNationals would be crucial to his championship chase as he continues to work toward capturing that elusive first Funny Car title. By powering the MD Anderson Dodge to the quickest E.T. of the opening qualifying session and earning the No. 2 starting position, Johnson looked prime for a long day of going rounds at Texas Motorplex. He used his reaction time advantage coupled with a solid 3.948 E.T. to easily dispatch Jim Campbell in round one of eliminations and set up a second-round showdown with Bob Tasca III. Once again, Johnson moved first, but traction issues early into the run forced him to shut the car off and his competitor was able to drive away with the win.
Johnson remains in third heading into the final two events of the season, and while he wasn’t able to make up ground in Ennis, a strong showing in Houston will put him right back in the thick of the championship hunt.
“That was surprising and disappointing. We had such a great running car all weekend. I didn’t expect the tires to come loose. We needed to win that round to keep pace, but that didn’t happen. We aren’t out of this thing yet. There’s two races left and points-and-a-half at the last one in Vegas. We need to do our job and go rounds and try to win the next two. Still, very happy with this team and happy to be able to race with such a great group here at DSR.”NHRA Camping World Countdown to the Championship Standings (unofficial):
1. Steve Torrence – 764
2. Doug Kalitta – 713
3. Leah Pruett – 616
4. Billy Torrence – 598
5. Shawn Langdon – 491
6. Antron Brown – 458
7. Justin Ashley – 453
8. Terry McMillen – 436
9. Clay Millican – 381
10. Tony Schumacher – 294
1. Matt Hagan – 762
2. Jack Beckman – 758
3. Tommy Johnson Jr. – 685
4. Ron Capps – 588
5. Tim Wilkerson – 538
5. Bob Tasca III – 538
7. J.R. Todd – 526
8. Alexis DeJoria – 414
9. Paul Lee – 351
10. Cruz Pedregon – 335
Factory Stock Showdown Series:
Driver of the Empaco Equipment Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak
Qualified: No. 6 (7.934 E.T. at 174.21 MPH)
E1: 7.989 E.T. at 171.82 MPH defeated John Cerbone 7.997 E.T. at 175.07 MPH
E2: 7.998 E.T. at 171.97 MPH defeated Jesse Alexandra 7.963 E.T. at 172.28 MPH
E3: 7.992 E.T. at 171.58 MPH defeated by Aaron Stanfield 7.976 E.T. at
Mark Pawuk had another strong showing behind the wheel of the Empaco Equipment Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak during the NHRA FallNationals. Pawuk, who claimed the pole position at the previous event in St. Louis, campaigned his machine to a semifinal finish on Sunday in Ennis. His quick reflexes earned him the starting line advantage in the first two rounds of eliminations, helping him to claim the holeshot win in the quarterfinals, and positioned him to go head-to-head with current point leader and eventual race winner Aaron Stanfield in the semifinals. Pawuk made a good pass against Stanfield, posting a 7.992 E.T. but he couldn’t chase down Stanfield who grabbed the initial lead and never trailed for the win.
Pawuk occupies the No. 2 position in the Factory Stock Showdown Series standings and has two more events to maneuver his way to the top of the leaderboard.
“It was another good weekend for this Empaco Equipment Dodge Drag Park. We had a shot to go to the final round at Dallas, but unfortunately, the driver didn’t do his job in the semis. Overall, it’s a good weekend. We qualified sixth. We’re solid in second in the points and we look forward to doing it again at Houston next weekend.”
Driver of the Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak
Qualified: No. 12 (8.001 E.T. at 170.82 MPH)
E1: 8.047 E.T. at 170.32 MPH defeated by Arthur Kohn 8.015 E.T. at 171.23 MPH
Texas Motorplex has been kind to Leah Pruett and her Factory Stock Showdown entry over the years. In 2018, Pruett’s FallNationals event triumph enabled her to capture the FSS series championship, and in 2019, she raced to her first runner-up finish of the season at the Ennis facility. Pruett was hopeful history would repeat itself on Sunday and she’d breakthrough for her first win of the season behind the wheel of her Dodge Challenger Drag Pak, but her round-one E.T. of 8.047 wasn’t enough to outrun her opponent’s 8.015-second pass, ending Pruett’s day in the first session.
“We raced a tough car in (Arthur) Kohn today and at both ends of the track we didn’t have what it needed. It was a very close race and we’re pushing this Drag Pak to the max, but just getting beat right now. We can be down or know what it takes in the long term and we’re finding little wins that will add up, but Mark (Pawuk) is doing well for Mopar and Dodge and I can’t wait for the new Dodge Drag Pak in 2021 next spring.”
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 354, and DSR is one of a very small handful of teams in the motorsports industry to surpass the 350 milestone. DSR owns 17 world championships in three different NHRA categories.
Headquartered in Brownsburg, Indiana, DSR currently fields seven 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 Mopar/Pennzoil dragster driven by Leah Pruett, and the Okuma/Sandvik Coromant 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 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