DSR Las Vegas Post-Race Recap
Dodge NHRA Finals Presented by Pennzoil
Event No. 11 of 11
The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway – Las Vegas, Nev.
October 31 – November 1, 2020
- Don Schumacher Racing capped off the 2020 NHRA season by adding three new pieces of hardware to its collection of 358 national event trophies and 18 world championships.
- Newly-crowned 2020 Funny Car champion Matt Hagan and Top Fuel racer Antron Brown won in their respective categories, earning the 67th nitro double-up for DSR
- DSR Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car drivers ‘swept the season’ by going undefeated in 2020 and extending DSR’s Funny Car win streak to a record 14 consecutive victories
- Each of DSR’s four Funny Car pilots contributed to the win streak, allowing DSR to finish the year occupying the 1-2-3-4 positions in the championship standings
- Brown and Leah Pruett earned ‘top five’ rankings in the Top Fuel category
- Mark Pawuk closed out his 2020 Factory Stock Showdown campaign with a third-place finish
- DSR Sweeps NHRA Finals, Doubling-Up with Top Fuel and Funny Car Trophies, and the 2020 Funny Car World Championship
Antron Brown and Matt Hagan Win Dodge NHRA Finals
Presented by Pennzoil in Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS (November 2, 2020) – It was a banner weekend for drag racing’s winningest organization. Don Schumacher Racing capped off the 2020 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season by adding three new pieces of hardware to its collection of 358 national event trophies and 18 world championships, and ‘sweeping the season’ by going undefeated in the Funny Car category.
Newly-crowned 2020 Funny Car world champion Matt Hagan went wire-to-wire on Sunday, first clinching the championship in the semifinals and then claiming the event victory by winning the Dodge NHRA Finals presented by Pennzoil when he defeated Ron Capps in a final round that featured DSR Dodge Charger Hellcat pilots going head-to-head for the seventh time this season.
Antron Brown snapped a 42-race winless drought when he defeated Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence in a final round showdown, preventing his pal from going two-for-two with trophies on Sunday.
Hagan and Brown’s triumphs marked the 67th time DSR has doubled-up, winning in both nitro categories during the same event, and the second consecutive weekend that the Brownsburg, Ind.-based team ended race day with victories in both Top Fuel and Funny Car.
Brown began his march to the Las Vegas winner’s circle by qualifying his Matco Tools/Global Electronic Technology/Toyota Top Fuel dragster fourth. He defeated teammate Tony Schumacher in round one, Clay Millican in round two, and Billy Torrence in the semifinals to set up a final round match-up with the younger Torrence in the finals. It was Brown’s right foot that earned him the victory against Torrence, when he ripped off a machine-like .042-second reaction time to carry him to a holeshot win over his opponent. The victory marked the 67th time in Brown’s professional career that he ended his day with a Wally trophy.
“This feels so good. The last race of the year to go out with a win, Lord knows, all the glory goes to him, and at the end of the day we had so many people that stuck with us this season,” said Brown who closed out the year ranked fifth in the Top Fuel standings.
“Getting (crew chief) Brian Corradi back in our stable and teaming up again with Mark Oswald and Brad Mason and the rest of this Matco team has been incredible. There are so many people who have stuck by us. The TRD support is amazing and Global Electronic Technology coming aboard this year, and Hangsterfer’s has been so loyal to us. Our supporters give us the motivation, and we beat the resistance with persistence. We have a great staff at DSR. We never gave up or quit. We put our heads down and Brian and Mark and the guys just kept marching forward. It feels so good to end the season with a win. We know we have our work cut out for us in ’21. We’re going to keep improving and working hard. We’ve got a great place to start next season. We can run with anybody out there. We just have to get better, be more consistent and do what we do and that’s win rounds. When you win rounds, you win races and when you win races you win championships.”
In Funny Car, Hagan outran Cruz Pedregon, Paul Lee and Alexis DeJoria to meet Capps in the finals. The three-time world champ’s picture-perfect day came to a close in the Vegas winner’s circle when No. 2-qualified Hagan defeated No. 1-qualified Capps by clocking his fifth 3.9-second pass of the weekend to capture his 36th event win. Hagan also earned DSR’s 14th consecutive Funny Car triumph, a streak that he started in October of 2019 when he won the Dallas event.
“It’s been just an unbelievable season,” remarked Hagan who claimed three event wins over the course of the year, including DSR’s milestone 350th victory. “My guys have put an unbelievable car behind me with Pennzoil, Dodge SRT and Mopar. Everybody who supports us. It’s great to win for Camping World and their first championship. My guys have worked so hard all season long. I can’t say enough about them and thank them. Three wins, a championship, it’s just special. I can’t wait for next season.”
Driver of the Matco Tools ‘Tools for the Cause’/Global
Electronic Technology/Toyota Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 4 (3.762 E.T. at 322.81 MPH)
E1: 3.720 E.T. at 326.87 MPH defeated Tony Schumacher 9.131 E.T. at 81.00 MPH
E2: 3.761 E.T. at 325.61 MPH defeated Clay Millican 3.881 E.T. at 268.65 MPH
E3: 4.041 E.T. at 232.37 MPH defeated Billy Torrence 6.742 E.T. at 87.52 MPH
E4: 3.759 E.T. at 315.34 MPH defeated Steve Torrence 3.740 E.T. at 322.19 MPH
Driver of the Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye
Qualified: No. 2 (3.911 E.T. at 327.82 MPH)
E1: 3.901 E.T. at 328.38 MPH defeated Cruz Pedregon 4.034 E.T. at 312.35 MPH
E2: 3.934 E.T. at 321.81 MPH defeated Paul Lee 4.181 E.T. at 258.57 MPH
E3: 3.915 E.T. at 326.48 MPH defeated Alexis DeJoria 4.053 E.T. at 261.02 MPH
E4: 3.914 E.T. at 326.40 MPH defeated Ron Capps 4.463 E.T. at 173.70 MPH
Driver of the Mopar Dodge SRT Hellcat Redeye Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 6 (3.791 E.T. at 322.04 MPH)
E1: 3.753 E.T. at 317.64 MPH defeated Chris Karamesines 4.260 E.T. at 203.00 MPH
E2: 3.810 E.T. at 321.65 MPH defeated by Justin Ashley 3.777 E.T. at 320.36 MPH
Tenacious Leah Pruett had her sights set on clinching a first Top Fuel world championship in 2020, and by racing to the semifinals at three of the first five events, a runner-up finish at the U.S. Nationals, and another semifinal finish in Gainesville, she appeared to be on-track to have a viable shot at clinching the crown. The Southern California native maintained a ‘top three’ ranking throughout seven events, and was within striking distance of the No. 1 spot until the second-to-last race of the year when rival Steve Torrence extended his point lead to a margin where Pruett was unable to catch-up. Despite learning that she was no longer in championship contention, Pruett fought hard to finish high on the leaderboard. Pruett, who joined DSR in 2016, finished in the No. 4 spot in 2018 and 2019, and by racing to the quarterfinals at the Dodge NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil, Pruett locked-in a fourth-place finish for the third consecutive year.
“Our fourth-place finish on the season is a direct reflection of our overall performance. It’s very respectable, of course, but it’s not the best on the track. We truly feel like we were completely in-stride and making progress as a championship contender, and once our St. Louis incident happened, we lost our consistency. It’s like we had a broken link in our system that we’re working to get back. A scuffed piston on our round-two lap put us behind and we’re trying to find the confidence we once had to get back our complete performance package and we know that’s possible. I think overall the beauty of the 2020 season for us is that we had shown glimpses of a championship-caliber performance, and we’ll be working to get it back. We made it the entire season and didn’t lose first round and next year we have to make it to at least the semis at every race.”
Driver of the Okuma/Sandvik Coromant Toyota Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 11 (5.249 E.T. at 112.46 MPH)
E1: 9.131 E.T. at 81.00 MPH defeated by Antron Brown 3.720 E.T. at 326.87 MPH
The winningest Top Fuel driver in NHRA history elated race fans when he announced his temporary return to the driver’s seat ahead of the 2020 season restart in July. It took Schumacher’s team a couple of races to find their footing, but once they got into the groove, there was no slowing down. Schumacher reunited with former crew chief Mike Green at the U.S. Nationals, and the championship-winning duo quickly reminded everyone why they shouldn’t be taken lightly when Schumacher raced to a semifinal finish in St. Louis after earning his 88th No. 1 qualifier the night before. Schumacher then went on to secure the No. 3 qualifying position at the next event (Dallas), and starting from the No. 2 spot the following week, Schumacher drove the Okuma/Sandvik Coromant Toyota dragster to the Houston winner’s circle, defeating 2020 Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence in the final round to earn a record 85th Top Fuel triumph.
Despite missing three of the 11 contested events in 2020, Schumacher was able to crack into the ‘top 10,’ and closed out the year occupying the No. 9 spot.
“The last race of the year, you hate to end it smoking the tires, but in reality, I’m just glad I had eight races to get back in a fuel car and have a chance to race next season. We won Houston and had a great car. We really were looking forward to coming here because we’ve been so successful here at Vegas, but it didn’t quite work out.”
Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 10 (3.996 E.T. at 309.70 MPH)
E1: 3.975 E.T. at 317.05 MPH defeated by Paul Lee 3.933 E.T. at 327.82 MPH
Runner-up in the 2019 Funny Car championship standings last year, Jack Beckman and the Infinite Hero Foundation Funny Car team picked up right where they left off at the start of the 2020 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season. Beckman and the Dean Antonelli/John Medlen-guided team started the year with a win at the season-opener in Pomona, Calif., kicking off DSR’s undefeated season. The win propelled Beckman to the top of the Funny Car leaderboard, a ranking he maintained throughout six of the first seven events, positioning himself as a solid contender for the 2020 world title. Beckman visited the final round a total of five times during the year, and picked up his second triumph at the prestigious NHRA U.S. Nationals, before racing to victory at Dallas, earning his first Texas Motorplex trophy.
The 2012 Funny Car world champion, who had the honor of driving one of the Chandler families’ two ‘giving cars’ since 2014, entered the Dodge NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil in the No. 3 spot and within striking distance of the lead, but a disappointing first-round loss put an end to Beckman’s 2020 title hopes. Beckman closes out the season with 33 career Funny Car wins, and 28 No. 1 qualifiers.
“We lost the war, but I’m going to have to be comforted by the fact that we won a lot of battles this year. We won the Winternationals, we won the U.S. Nationals, we won at Dallas, those are all huge races. We had a fantastic year. We had a car that contended up to the last day. I can’t put a positive spin on losing the championship. I truly thought we were going to do this. I thought it would be the most fitting way as a tribute to the Chandler family going out, and perhaps the end of my career. I’m just going to have to step back and get my perspective and remain an adult about this. As disappointing as it is, it’s been a fantastic year. It’s been a fantastic ride with the Infinite Hero Foundation and the Chandlers and if it’s ended, it’s been a fantastic career.”
Driver of the Pennzoil/NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 1 (3.902 E. T. at 327.98 MPH)
E1: 6.031 E.T. at 109.69 MPH defeated Chris Morel (Broke, No Time)
E2: 3.953 E.T. at 325.45 MPH defeated J.R. Todd 4.075 E.T. at 297.94 MPH
E3: 3.906 E.T. at 329.83 MPH defeated Tommy Johnson Jr. 3.943 E.T. at 324.20 MPH
E4: 4.463 E.T. at 173.70 MPH defeated by Matt Hagan 3.914 E.T. at 326.40 MPH
It’s been a tumultuous year for everyone, but Ron Capps will be the first to admit, his 2020 campaign got off to a rocky start even before the global COVID-19 pandemic halted ‘normal life.’ Capps’ team suffered a trailer fire on the way to pre-season testing and began their year with a string of missteps, including a pair of first-round losses, and a bottom-seeded qualifying effort at the first race back after the four-month season pause. Capps often brags about his team’s ‘NAPA Know How,’ and crew chief Rahn Tobler’s ability to overcome adversity soon became adherently clear. At the Indy 3 event, Capps qualified third and turned on four win lights on race day, earning his first Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis trophy. After that, Capps and the NAPA AUTO PARTS Funny Car team never looked back. They captured the race win in Gainesville, Fla. just two events later, and went on to race to the semifinals in Dallas before recording a runner-up finish in Houston.
At the season finale in Las Vegas, Capps earned his first pole position of the season and 25th of his career to start race day with a round-one match-up versus Chris Morel. Capps’ opponent suffered a fuel leak on the starting line, allowing Capps a bye run to move on to round two. In the quarterfinals, Capps powered the NAPA Dodge to a winning 3.953-second pass to outpace J.R. Todd. He then went on to defeat teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. in the semifinal round to earn a bid to the finals for the fourth time in 2020. Capps lined up opposite newly-crowned Funny Car world champion Matt Hagan in the final round and was hoping to prevent his teammate from doubling-up on hardware on Sunday. Capps was quick on the throttle to take the early lead, but his machine let go with a fireball near half-track, and Hagan was able to drive away with the win.
By picking up two event wins in 2020, Capps helped contribute to the Don Schumacher Racing Funny Car team’s record streak of 14 consecutive race wins. Capps’ fourth-place finish marks his 16th consecutive season of finishing in the Top 10.
“What a weekend. It all came to plan. Especially getting the No. 1 qualifying spot and that Camping World hat. We did get a lucky break first round, but Rahn Tobler and the NAPA/Pennzoil guys did a great job turning it back around. It went almost to plan until the final round. The car was running great and I’m not sure what happened, but another one of those pretty big explosions. Thanks to Impact for great safety gear and everyone at the DSR fab shop for mounting a great Dodge body. Two wins this year, some finals, a pole, not a bad 2020 season for this NAPA team.”
TOMMY JOHNSON JR
Driver of the MD Anderson Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 4 (3.915 E.T. at 319.14 MPH)
E1: 3.942 E.T. at 323.74 MPH defeated Jim Campbell 5.047 E.T. at 154.56 MPH
E2: 3.939 E.T. at 323.81 MPH defeated Bob Tasca III 3.960 E.T. at 324.12 MPH
E3: 3.943 E.T. at 324.20 MPH defeated by Ron Capps 3.906 E.T. at 329.83 MPH
Tommy Johnson Jr. started the year with a new cause adorning the side of his Doug Chandler-sponsored Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat ‘giving car.’ Bannering the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Johnson wasted no time parking the red-white-and-black machine in the winner’s circle when he drove to victory in Phoenix at the second event of the season.
Johnson then went on to claim the No. 1 qualifying position at the first event back after the four-month COVID-19 pause, racing to a runner-up finish at the first of four Indianapolis events and prominently positioning himself as a viable championship contender. By claiming two more victories in St. Louis and Houston, Johnson made sure he was in the title conversation heading into the final race of the year.
As the No. 2-ranked driver, Johnson began race day at the Dodge NHRA Finals presented by Pennzoil with a two-round deficit that would need to be overcome to oust teammate Matt Hagan from the No. 1 spot. Johnson took the No. 4-qualified MD Anderson Dodge to victory over Jim Campbell and Bob Tasca III in the first two elimination rounds, keeping himself solidly in contention until he suffered a semifinal defeat to Ron Capps, which abruptly ended his chase for a first Funny Car world title.
Johnson, a 22-time race winner, closes out the year ranked second.
“It was a great season, we came close. Matt Hagan and his team did a great job this season. I’m just so proud of my guys on this MD Anderson team. It was a very difficult 2020 year and to come down to the last few rounds of the year and to have a shot at winning the championship is nothing to hang our heads about. It’s disappointing to get so close and not get it, but at the same time it was a great season and I’m proud of our second-place finish. Hopefully something comes around and we can have a shot again next year. All-and-all a great season. Very happy for the Chandlers and to have their cars finish second and third is pretty outstanding.”NHRA Camping World Countdown to the Championship Final Standings:
1. Steve Torrence – 1015
2. Doug Kalitta – 822
3. Billy Torrence – 793
4. Leah Pruett – 754
5. Antron Brown – 709
6. Shawn Langdon – 595
7. Justin Ashley – 594
8. Clay Millican – 493
9. Tony Schumacher – 464
10. Terry McMillen – 436
1. Matt Hagan – 1020
2. Tommy Johnson Jr. – 915
3. Jack Beckman – 848
4. Ron Capps – 828
5. Bob Tasca III – 679
6. J.R. Todd – 663
7. Tim Wilkerson – 615
8. Alexis DeJoria – 605
9. Paul Lee – 464
10. Cruz Pedregon – 436
Factory Stock Showdown Series:
Driver of the Empaco Equipment Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak
Qualified: No. 15 (9.346 E.T. at 168.22 MPH)
E1: 8.003 E.T. at 170.90 MPH defeated by Aaron Stanfield 7.929 E.T. at 172.50 MPH
Mark Pawuk led the charge for Don Schumacher Racing’s two-car Factory Stock Showdown team in 2020. Pawuk raced to the final round at the prestigious U.S. Nationals, and recorded two consecutive semifinal finishes at the October Texas events. Pawuk’s strong and consistent performance allowed him to finish the year ranked third in a class that boasts 30 competitors.
“It ended up being a great season for this Empaco Equipment Dodge Drag Pak. We struggled in Vegas at this last race, unfortunately, not being able to get down the track in qualifying which had us running the series champ in the first round and going out. We had a shot to finish second in points which would have been my best-ever finish in NHRA competition, but just got bumped down to third today. Still a great season. We were down on power early, but (crew chief) Kevin Helms, Terry Snyder, and Kyle Pawuk did a tremendous job to get us competitive. The driver did okay, and finishing third ain’t bad. We’re really looking forward to bringing out the 2021 Drag Pak next year and hopefully Leah Pruett and I can go out and do some damage.”
Driver of the Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak
Qualified: No. 3 (7.976 E.T. at 170.00 MPH)
E1: 7.940 E.T. at 171.27 MPH defeated Kevin Skinner 8.104 E.T. at 168.03 MPH
E2: 8.056 E.T. at 168.05 MPH defeated by John Cerbone 8.064 E.T. at 169.21 MPH
Admittedly, 2020 was a tough year for Leah Pruett and her Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak team. Pruett, who had clinched the Factory Stock Showdown series title in 2018, battled through a tough Factory Stock class to qualify for all six 2020 FSS events. Pruett recorded two round wins throughout the season, and is ready to come back swinging next year as she and teammate Mark Pawuk prepare to hit the track in their brand-new 2021 Dodge Challenger Drag Paks.
“What a table-turn of events this weekend. We had a very competitive car all weekend at Vegas with very tight racing. Of course, if we would have raced anyone else that second round we probably would have won. When your competitor has a .004 light against you, sometimes it makes it difficult to put on your win light. It was a proper finish for El Bandito. He finished off strong and the new Drag Pak is very exciting and we’re ready to show off some new Mopar-muscle.”
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 358, and DSR is one of a very small handful of teams in the motorsports industry to surpass the 350 milestone. DSR owns 18 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 three-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