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DSR Pre-Race Report: Atlanta NHRA Southern Nationals

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DSR 18Atlanta Pre-Race Report

NHRA Southern Nationals
Event No. 3 of 22
Atlanta Dragway – Commerce, Ga.
May 1-2, 2021

Noteworthy:

  • Ron Capps returns as the defending NHRA Southern Nationals Funny Car champion (2019)
  • Capps is coming off of a final elimination quad appearance at the previous event (Las Vegas 1), and a No. 1 qualifier at the season-opener in Gainesville
  • Reigning Funny Car world champ Matt Hagan raced to a runner-up finish at the previous event
  • Leah Pruett recorded her first professional final round appearance at the 2015 Commerce, Ga. event
  • Antron Brown has raced to victory in both Top Fuel and Pro Stock Motorcycle at Atlanta Dragway
  • 2021 marks the 40th and final year of the NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway

DSR Driver Information:

Top Fuel:

ANTRON BROWNANTRON BROWN
Driver of Matco’s ‘Tools for the Cause’ Toyota Top Fuel Dragster
Matco’s Tools for the Cause to benefit the Fisher House Foundation

Antron Brown nhra

Antron Brown

Atlanta Event Highlights:

  • Six-time event champion
    – Top Fuel (2008, 2011, 2013, 2015)
    – Pro Stock Motorcycle (2001, 2006)
  • 2003 Pro Stock Motorcycle runner-up
  • Two-time No. 1 qualifier
    – Top Fuel (2015)
    – Pro Stock Motorcycle (2006)

2020 Atlanta Recap:
N/A (canceled due to COVID-19)

2019 Atlanta Recap:
Qualified ninth; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Clay Millican in E1; defeated by Brittany Force in E2)

Last Event (Las Vegas 1):
Qualified eighth; Semifinal finish (defeated Justin Ashley, Bye in E1, Brittany Force, Billy Torrence in E2; defeated by Steve Torrence, Doug Kalitta in E3)

Career Statistics:
443 races; 67 wins (16 Pro Stock Motorcycle); 49 No. 1 Qualifiers (11 PSM)

Noteworthy:

  • Raced to the final quad at the previous event (NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Las Vegas)
  • In a two-way tie for winningest Top Fuel driver at Atlanta Dragway with four Southern Nationals event wins:
    – 2008, 2011, 2013, 2015 (tied with Larry Dixon)
  • Has wins and No. 1 qualifier awards in both Top Fuel and Pro Stock Motorcycle at Atlanta Dragway
  • Driving a special Matco’s Tools for the Cause livery to benefit the Fisher House Foundation:
    – Starting May 1, Matco will donate 15% of net sales of Tools for the Cause items to the Fisher House Foundation through the end of 2021
    – For nearly 30 years, the Fisher House program has provided “a home away from home” for families of patients receiving medical care at major military and VA medical centers. These homes offer free, temporary lodging to military and veterans’ families, allowing them to be close to their loved ones during a medical crisis and focus on what’s important—the healing process
    – Families served by Fisher House Foundation: More than 413,000 families since inception in 1990
    – There are 91 Fisher House facilities in operation
    – Fisher House Foundation has provided over 10 million days of lodging, representing over $525 million in savings

Quotable:
“Looking forward to getting back to Atlanta. ATL always has some special moments for our Matco Tools/Toyota/SiriusXM race team and we’re looking to go there and do well. I won my first Pro Stock Motorcycle race there in Prostar, another in NHRA, and I’ve won several Top Fuel races there as well so that track is really special to me. I’m looking to get out there and do what we do. The weather is looking good, and I’m excited to kick off the third NHRA Camping World Series event of the season.”

leah pruettLEAH PRUETT
Driver of the Whisps Cheese Crisps Top Fuel Dragster

Leah Pruett nhra

Leah Pruett

Atlanta Event Highlights:

  • 2018 event champion
  • 2015 runner-up

2020 Atlanta Recap:
N/A (canceled due to COVID-19)

2019 Atlanta Recap:
Qualified fourth; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Audrey Worm in E1; defeated by Jordan Vandergriff in E2)

Last Event (Las Vegas 1):
Qualified seventh; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Greg Carrillo, Cameron Ferre in E1; defeated by Steve Torrence, Doug Kalitta in E2)

Career Statistics:
154 races; eight wins; 12 No. 1 Qualifiers

Noteworthy:

  • Made her first professional final round appearance at the 2015 event
  • Reset the Atlanta Dragway E.T. record in 2017: 3.699 seconds

Quotable:
“So much to look forward to with the Atlanta race. Being able to represent one of my favorite snacks on the track is awesome. The light, crunchy Whisps Cheese Crisps were already a part of my go-to snack selection since they’re deliciously low carb, high protein, and gluten-free. They always beat even my cheesiest cravings, which brings me to the on-track competition. The focus here is not the competition, but merely getting back into the two-wide zone, and with only two rounds of qualifying, getting our Whisps machine dialed in immediately. I’m a numbers-associated person, and believe that back to two-wide, with two qualifiers, at a two-day event, will hopefully result in our second Atlanta Wally on Sunday.

“I’ve made a lot of great memories at Atlanta Dragway. From working as a crew person to relentlessly racing Pro Mods there during the week to debuting as a Don Schumacher Racing driver in 2016, and then, of course, my first Atlanta win in 2018. I expect to keep that track in my favorable thoughts. I can’t wait to get our Whisps machine on the track, and hopefully make another great Commerce memory with one of my favorite snacks on-board this weekend.”

Funny Car:

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

Ron Capps nhra

Ron Capps

Atlanta Event Highlights:

  • Three-time event champion (2011, 2017, 2019)
  • Four-time runner-up (1995, 2000, 2001, 2015)

2020 Atlanta Recap:
N/A (canceled due to COVID-19)

2019 Atlanta Recap:
Qualified 11th; Event champion (defeated Shawn Langdon in E1, John Force in E2, Tommy Johnson Jr. in E3, Tim Wilkerson in E4)

Last Event (Las Vegas 1):
Qualified fourth; Semifinal finish (defeated Bobby Bode, Jim Campbell in E1, Robert Hight, J.R. Todd in E2; defeated by Bob Tasca III, Matt Hagan in E3)

Career Statistics:
568 races; 66 wins (one Top Fuel); 26 No. 1 qualifiers

Noteworthy:

  • Returns as the defending NHRA Southern Nationals Funny Car champion (2019)
  • Capps is coming off of a final elimination quad appearance at the previous event (Las Vegas 1), and a No. 1 qualifier at the season-opener in Gainesville

Quotable:
“To say it’s the last Southern Nationals is hard to fathom. Being able to win that last time there (in 2019) and take the Wally to NAPA’s headquarters was pretty special. To be able to personally deliver your trophy to the sponsor, you just can’t ask for something cooler as a driver.

“Our team is off to a really great start for the season. (Crew chiefs) John Medlen and Guido (Dean Antonelli) have been making great calls, and we’re right in the thick of it. We had a great test session on Monday morning after the Vegas race and accomplished quite a bit. I’m pumped about these races coming up. We’re going to start getting into some warmer weather and start getting on a roll where we start racing on a consistent basis and they’re one after another. These bunched-up events can either be really good or really bad, and I think with this team, it’ll be a great thing, so I’m excited.”

MATT HAGANMATT HAGAN
Driver of the Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye

Matt Hagan nhra

Matt Hagan

Atlanta Event Highlights:

  • 2016 event champion
  • Two-time event runner-up (2013, 2018)
  • 2013 No. 1 qualifier

2020 Atlanta Recap:
N/A (canceled due to COVID-19)

2019 Atlanta Recap:
Qualified 10th; First round exit (defeated by Tommy Johnson Jr. in E1)

Last Event (Las Vegas 1):
Qualified seventh; Event runner-up (defeated Blake Alexander, Chris Morel in E1, John Force, Alexis DeJoria in E2; defeated by Bob Tasca III in E3)

Career Statistics:
277 races; 36 wins; 40 No. 1 qualifiers

Noteworthy:

  • Raced to a runner-up finish at the previous event (NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Las Vegas)
  • Holds the Atlanta Dragway Funny Car speed record (329.02-mph), set during the 2016 event

Quotable:
“We’ve got two qualifying runs on Saturday, and race on Sunday. These kind of race weekends are pretty crazy because if you miss it on the first run, you’re in the back of the pack trying to get back in and you end up making a soft run just to make sure you’re in the field. It gets kind of hairy, so you want to make sure you get it down there with that first run out and make it count.

“Our Dodge Hellcat Redeye has been running well. We runnered-up in Vegas, we’ve just got to push it a little harder. (Crew chief) Dickie Venables does a great job, he puts a great race car underneath me. My lights have been really good lately, I’ve been leaving on everyone by a couple hundredths, and we’ve just got to keep it going. This will be our last time racing at Atlanta Dragway, and I’m ready to turn on four win lights. It’ll be a quick turn-and-burn this weekend with this two-day event. This is HEMI week (HEMI day was Monday, 4/26) so hopefully, we can put our HEMI-powered car in the Atlanta winner’s circle one last time, and have some fun doing it.”

DSR 18ABOUT 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, and further cemented its position as one of motorsports’ elite teams when it surpassed the ‘350 wins’ milestone during the 2020 season. DSR owns 18 world championships in three different NHRA categories, and including hall-of-fame team owner Don Schumacher’s five NHRA Funny Car triumphs from the 1970s, DSR has been successful in capturing 358 national event victories overall.

Headquartered in Brownsburg, Indiana, DSR fields four professional teams competing in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series. Three-time world champion Antron Brown, and double-duty driver Leah Pruett headline DSR’s Top Fuel dragster team. DSR’s two Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Cars are driven by 2016 Funny Car world champion Ron Capps, and Matt Hagan, who earned his third NHRA series title in 2020.

DSR also campaigns two entries in the Factory Stock Showdown Series. The duo of DSR Dodge Drag Paks is piloted by Pruett, the 2018 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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