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Beckman Earns Houston Pole; Funny Car Championship Battle Continues to Heat Up

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DSR 18DSR NHRA Houston Qualifying Report

Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals Presented by Pennzoil
Event No. 10
Houston Raceway Park – Baytown, Texas
October 24-25, 2020

DSR Qualifying Highlights:

  • Last week’s winner, No. 2 ranked Funny Car driver Jack Beckman, earns the Houston pole
  • Beckman will face tough competition in his round-one match-up with DSR Dodge teammate Ron Capps
  • Matt Hagan qualified the Pennzoil Dodge second, and will be looking to maintain the Funny Car point lead on Sunday
  • Tommy Johnson Jr., also a top Funny Car championship contender, powered the MD Anderson Dodge to the third-quickest pass of
  • Q2 to earn a qualifying position in the top-half of the field
  • DSR will be looking to extend its undefeated Funny Car streak to 13 consecutive events with a win at the Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals Presented by Pennzoil
  • Tony Schumacher continued to be dominant in qualifying. His Okuma/Sandvik Coromant Toyota Top Fuel dragster was second-quickest in both qualifying sessions to earn Schumacher a ‘top three’ starting position for the third consecutive event
  • Antron Brown and Leah Pruett joined Schumacher in the ‘quick half’ of the field, earning the No. 4 and 6 qualifying positions, respectively
  • No. 2 ranked Factory Stock Showdown competitor Mark Pawuk will start race day from the second-seeded position
    Note:
  • On Saturday, just prior to nitro Q1, Richard Carson, Army Combat Medic (retired), was presented with an iBOT personal mobility device. The iBOT donation was made possible thanks to Doug Chandler and the TLC Foundation, the Parasol Foundation, and the incredible fans who generously support the Infinite Hero Foundation. An image of the presentation is included below, immediately following the qualifying results.

Beckman Earns Houston Pole; Funny Car Championship
Battle Continues to Heat Up

jack beckman

Jack Beckman

Jack Beckman

BAYTOWN, Texas (October 25, 2020) – 2020 NHRA Funny Car championship front-runner Jack Beckman carried the momentum from last week’s NHRA FallNationals victory into the Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals Presented by Pennzoil, earning the pole position on Saturday evening for the 28th time in his career.

Beckman clinched the No. 1 spot when he drove the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat to a blistering 3.884 at 328.14-mph pass during Saturday’s second and final qualifying session at Houston Raceway Park. The 2012 Funny Car world champ and his Dean Antonelli/John Medlen-led team were the only ones to dip into the ‘sub-3.9-second’ range throughout Funny Car qualifying.

Beckman, who is currently locked-into a fierce four-way intramural battle for the 2020 Funny Car title, entered the weekend with only a four-point deficit separating him from his No. 1 ranked teammate, Matt Hagan. Hagan extended his lead by three points when he powered his Pennzoil Dodge to the provisional No. 1 spot in Q1, but Beckman was able to tighten the margin back up when he rocketed to the top of the Funny Car field during Q2. In addition to jockeying for the No. 1 and 2 qualifying positions, Beckman and Hagan have also been swapping the No. 1 and 2 spots in the point standings for the past five events, and by earning the Baytown pole, Beckman ensured the drama will continue to heat-up heading into race day. For his strong qualifying efforts, Beckman has been “rewarded” with a challenging match-up with DSR Dodge teammate Ron Capps in round one of eliminations. DSR cars are always a tough draw, but add in the fact that every Funny Car victory over the last 12 events has been captured by a DSR Dodge driver, with Capps claiming two so far in 2020, and Beckman knows he and his team will have their work cut out for them as they attempt to pick up their fourth win of the year on Sunday.

“If we beat four people tomorrow, they’ll hand us another trophy. I didn’t ever think, with 17 cars here, that (Ron) Capps would be the No. 16 qualifier but, I’m happy,” explained Beckman, who became DSR’s top trophy-earner of the season when he ousted Hagan in the final round last week. “We know we are going to have to earn this championship. I’d rather take it from the No. 1 spot because Matt (Hagan) had a four-point lead coming in. He stretched that out Q1 and now we tightened that back up a little bit.”

With his sights set on picking up his first Houston triumph on Sunday, Beckman knows that not only will a win put him one step closer of achieving his ultimate goal of delivering the 2020 Funny Car championship trophy to team sponsor Doug Chandler, but it will also extend DSR’s undefeated Funny Car streak to 13 consecutive events, an accomplishment that dates back to October 2019 when Hagan kicked it off in Dallas.

“The streak of the Don Schumacher Racing cars is awesome, but it’s also ulcer-inducing because it’s always one of our cars next to us when we go to the late rounds, or in tomorrow’s case, round one,” added Beckman. “Four win lights tomorrow is what we need.”

Qualified: No. 1 (lane choice)

The Competition: No. 16 Ron Capps

The Results:
Q1: 4.093 E.T. at 242.58 MPH
Q2: 3.884 E.T. at 328.14 MPH (Three bonus points for quickest run of the session)

Bonus Points: Three

Driver Information:

Top Fuel:

ANTRON BROWNANTRON BROWN
Driver of the Matco Tools ‘Tools for the Cause’/Global Electronic
Technology/Toyota Top Fuel Dragster

Qualified: No. 4 (lane choice)

The Competition: No. 13 Scott Palmer

The Results:
Q1: 3.773 E.T. at 303.64 MPH
Q2: 3.741 E.T. at 326.87 MPH (One bonus point for third-quickest run of the session)

Bonus Points: One

Quotable:
“We’re ready for race day, and we’re getting ready for battle. The track here in Houston is still going to be really good, especially at 10 a.m. in the morning even though it’s going to be warmer tomorrow on race day. We have to come out and run what we know how to. We’re getting better and better on every lap. Are we where we want to be? Absolutely not. We’re working on getting the car better early in the run and I know (co-crew chiefs) Brian (Corradi) and Mark (Oswald) and these Matco boys are gonna keep working. We’re right there. We have to get over that stubborn hump and hopefully tomorrow we can do that. We’re gonna keep pressing. The track will get warmer and we have to be smart about it.”

LEAH PRUETTLEAH PRUETT
Driver of the Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster

Qualified: No. 6 (lane choice)

The Competition: No. 11 Lee Callaway

The Results:
Q1: 5.136 E.T. at 132.78 MPH
Q2: 3.767 E.T. at 324.20 MPH

Quotable:
“I love living the truth and showing that the ‘Proof is in the Pennzoil,’ and coming to the Pennzoil proving grounds and displaying the most intense, fastest-accelerating vehicles in the world. We finished qualifying strong with a good Q2 lap. We had some software issues and driver issues on Q1. It’s always good when the car and team are ‘on’ together, and if they’re ever going to be off, it helps when they’re off together. We moved on and were first out in Q2 and laid down a very solid number at 3.76 to put us solidly in the field. We like what the outlook looks like for Sunday. But, it is one run at a time and it’s so cool to see all the Shell employees that are here and it’s great for us to get to show off a great product. We feel good about eliminations. We felt like our momentum in Dallas got halted a little, but we were able to find and resolve the issue and that’s the key for this weekend and we’re very excited for our potential success.”

TONY SCHUMACHERTONY SCHUMACHER
Driver of the Okuma/Sandvik Coromant Toyota Top Fuel Dragster

Qualified: No. 2 (lane choice)

The Competition: No. 15 Cameron Ferre

The Results:
Q1: 3.685 E.T. at 330.07 MPH (Two bonus points for second-quickest run of the session)
Q2: 3.724 E.T. at 319.22 MPH (Two bonus points for second-quickest run of the session)

Bonus Points: Four

Quotable:
“It was a great day of qualifying with two good laps. The season is winding down, we only have tomorrow and one more race next weekend. I want to drive my best, I want the team to perform at its best, and we want to show everyone what we’re good at and capable of, and that’s winning drag races. We’re in Texas and our friends and family are here. The crowd is outstanding and they gave us a great race track and we’re looking forward to Sunday.”

Funny Car:

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

Qualified: No. 16

The Competition: No. 1 Jack Beckman

The Results:
Q1: 5.295 E.T. at 136.44 MPH
Q2: 8.463 E.T. at 79.20 MPH

Quotable:
“I wasn’t aware that we were 16th until (NHRA on FOX reporter) Amanda Busick told me at the end of the track. You know, it’s so difficult with just two qualifying runs. We need to try some things with some new parts we had built at our DSR shop and there’s really no time to do that on Sunday, so we have to try to implement those when we can during qualifying. I’m always confident we can win from any position. Unfortunately, we have to race a teammate first round in Jack Beckman. At this point, teammates don’t matter on Sunday morning as everybody is still fighting for a championship. I never would want to run our Pennzoil/NAPA car in the first place. Tonight, (crew chief) Rahn Tobler is going to work on getting the car back to what he’s comfortable with, and we’ll go up there and run the best E.T. we think we can run down that lane and if they beat us, they beat us. Hopefully we’ll turn the win light on and try to do that a few more times on Sunday and try to get a win.”

MATT HAGANMATT HAGAN
Driver of the Pennzoil Synthetics Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

Qualified: No. 2 (lane choice)

The Competition: No. 15 Dave Richards

The Results:
Q1: 3.907 E.T. at 327.74 MPH (Three bonus points for quickest run of the session)
Q2: 7.053 E.T. at 92.91 MPH

Bonus Points: Three

Quotable:
“We’re going to race our race tomorrow. It will be what it will be, and the cards will fall the way they fall. We were still pressing to go out and run good in Q2. I think the left lane is a little worse than the right (lane), and you want to have lane choice tomorrow. I’ll try to be shallow and it seems like a lot of reaction times are off during qualifying and mine seem okay, so I’ll try to continue that tomorrow and keep lane choice and try to have a long day. We’re here in Pennzoil country, and we want to sell Pennzoil oil and Shell gas and do well for those who support us.”

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

Qualified: No. 6 (lane choice)

The Competition: No. 11 Jim Campbell

The Results:
Q1: 3.973 E.T. at 317.94 MPH
Q2: 3.986 E.T. at 320.13 MPH (One bonus point for third-quickest run of the session)

Bonus Points: One

Quotable:
“We’d like a bit more out of these qualifying runs, especially that second lap, but at the same time, we have a good, solid, consistent car. It’s been very consistent making full runs in both lanes. Rarely do we see a track where lane choice may be critical, but I think tomorrow, when it’s going to be warmer, it might be critical. There’s definitely a favorite lane here. We have to keep the performance up, keep lane choice, put up four consistent runs and go to the winner’s circle to stay in this championship hunt.”

Factory Stock Showdown Series:

MARK PAWUKMARK PAWUK
Driver of the Empaco Equipment Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak

Qualified: No. 2 (lane choice)

The Competition: No. 13 Lindsey Wheelock

The Results:
Q1: 7.814 E.T. at 175.48 MPH (carried over from St. Louis)
Q2: 7.840 E.T. at 174.41 MPH
Q3: 7.865 E.T. at 173.03 MPH

Quotable:
“There’s been a bunch of cars running in the low to mid (7.)80s this weekend. We lost the No. 1 spot from St. Louis by three thou(sandth of-a-second), but we ended up No. 2. Not too bad going into tomorrow. We need to keep going rounds and stay No. 2 in the points. If the driver does his job and the car stays consistent, anything can happen. I set the Pro Stock record here in 1990 and won my first NHRA Pro Stock Wally here at Baytown in ’92. Let’s hope some of that good luck carries over to tomorrow.”

LEAH PRUETT 2LEAH PRUETT
Driver of the Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak

Qualified: No. 11

The Competition: No. 4 John Cerbone

The Results:
Q1: 7.955 E.T. at 172.32 MPH (carried over from St. Louis)
Q2: 7.960 E.T. at 167.61 MPH
Q3: 7.978 E.T. at 170.19 MPH

Quotable:
“There was a little bit of strategy going into this very eclectic race. Having a quick time of 7.95 that carried over from St. Louis and put us into the field and knowing the car count, it allowed us to try some things today. Sometimes you find some beneficial things and other times you realize that wasn’t the right move. It’s very rare that you have the availability to do that during qualifying and we were able to take advantage of that. We got a good solid second lap and that sets us up for some hard eliminations tomorrow. We’re counting down the days of ‘El Bandito’ in the Factory Stock (Showdown) competition and I can’t wait to give it everything we’ve got as we prepare for the next chapter of the Drag Pak in 2021.”

Infinite Hero Foundation iBOT presentation:

jack beckman

L-R: John Winsauer, CEO of Ant Lifts & President of Freedom Mobility Foundation, Courtney Janes, Executive Director at Infinite Hero Foundation, Jack Beckman, driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car, Richard Carson, iBOT recipient, and Judy Pittman, Chandler family representative

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.

Follow Don Schumacher Don Schumacher Racing at ShoeRacing.com, on Twitter and Instagram at@shoeracing and Facebook.com/shoeracing.

Photo Credit: Auto Imagery via Don Schumacher Racing, Driver photos: NHRA

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