NHRA Dallas Post-Race Recap
Texas NHRA FallNationals
Event 17 of 20
Countdown Event 4 of 7
Oct. 7 – 10, 2021
DSR Elimination Highlights:
- Ron Capps wins Dallas in an all-DSR Funny Car final round and strengthened his chances for a second world championship
- Capps’ victory marked his second of the season, 68th overall, and No. 366 for Don Schumacher Racing, drag racing’s winningest organization
- Capps occupies the No. 2 spot in the Countdown to the Championship standings and narrowed the deficit between him and teammate Matt Hagan to 33 points
- Hagan maintained his No. 1 ranking by advancing to the final round. It was Hagan’s sixth final round appearance of the season, and his team’s seventh (Tommy Johnson Jr. substituted for Hagan in Reading, Penn.)
Ron Capps Wins Dallas in All-DSR Final; Funny Car Hunt
Intensifies with Capps, Hagan Continuing to Dominate
ENNIS, Texas (October 11, 2021) – Ron Capps has been vying for a Texas NHRA FallNationals trophy for more than 20 years, and on Sunday afternoon, the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Funny Car driver finally realized his goal of winning the event’s signature black champions’ cowboy hat when he raced to victory at the 36th running of the Ennis race. Capps’ win at the Texas Motorplex, which marked the halfway point of the seven-event Countdown to the Championship playoffs, was his second triumph of the season, and 68th overall.
Led by co-crew chiefs Dean ‘Guido’ Antonelli and John Medlen, the 2016 Funny Car world champion entered the race weekend ranked second in the Countdown standings and 59 points behind his No. 1 ranked teammate and defending series champ Matt Hagan, who he went on to defeat in the final round. Capps’ Texas triumph ensured the DSR dogfight will continue to intensify heading into the final stretch of the season as he and Hagan battle a deep Funny Car field to try and score DSR’s 19th world championship. A mere 33 points, or less than two rounds, separate Hagan and Capps with three races remaining before a champion is crowned. Although the cushion between Capps and the No. 3 ranked driver, Cruz Pedregon, is larger at 80 points, Capps isn’t taking anybody lightly.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made the mistake over the years of counting out, first of all, John Force, at anything,” said Capps, a 27-year nitro veteran who finished as the ‘bridesmaid’ four times before finally capturing the 2016 series title. “Everyone’s been bit by that. He always seems to find a way to climb his way back in. We have Force, and J.R. (Todd) and Cruz breathing down our necks. Tim Wilkerson, Robert Hight and I were talking, and we’ve been through this championship fight many times, but it’s never been this tight top-to-bottom. Anybody can win on any given Sunday, so it was good to gain a little bit on Hagan this weekend.“Hagan, and (crew chief) Dickie (Venables), those are my teammates and you don’t wish ill on anyone out here but I’m certain when I was leading the points a few times this year, they were hoping I would smoke the tires or we would lose early because you want to gain ground. So, I was hoping (Bob) Tasca would do the dirty work second round when they had Hagan, and then I thought J.R. had a good chance because they had a good running car, but Hagan and Dickie, they just kept surviving.”
Capps’ road to the FallNationals winner’s circle started with a solid qualifying performance which allowed him to collect four bonus points and secure the No. 2 qualifying position to start race day. He then went on to clock three consecutive sub-four second passes during eliminations, defeating Jack Wyatt, Paul Lee, and Cruz Pedregon to earn a bid to the finals for the fourth time in 2021. Against Hagan, who entered the race weekend fresh off a win from St. Louis, the most recent race on tour, Capps used a stout .046-second reaction time coupled with a solid 3.930-second E.T. at 326.87-mph to propel him to the holeshot win over his stablemate who posted a 3.919 E.T. in the losing effort.
“I’m very fortunate to now be able to work with Guido and Medlen. I’ve known them for many, many years, and it’s been really fun,” said Capps of his team’s stellar 2021 performance which has seen them advance to the semifinals or beyond nine times. “We have a really great race car, so I’m just trying not to be the weak link. It raises my intensity every time to not be second leaving the starting line, and to not do anything wrong, and just make sure that I do the best I can every time.”
Sunday’s victory was Capps’ first FallNationals triumph, and first Texas Motorplex victory since winning the now discontinued Spring race in 1998. It also marked national event win No. 366 for Don Schumacher Racing, drag racing’s winningest team. The NAPA AUTO PARTS team will continue their quest for the 2021 series title when the NHRA heads to Bristol, Tenn. next weekend where Capps returns as the most-decorated Funny Car racer in the track’s history with five Bristol Dragway triumphs.
Qualified: No. 2 (3.882 E.T. at 329.34 MPH)
E1: 3.898 E.T. at 324.75 MPH defeated Jack Wyatt 4.795 E.T. at 168.72 MPH
E2: 3.928 E.T. at 323.58 MPH defeated Paul Lee 3.943 E.T. at 326.95 MPH
E3: 3.924 E.T. at 326.56 MPH defeated Cruz Pedregon 3.906 E.T. at 327.59 MPH
E4: 3.930 E.T. at 326.87 MPH defeated Matt Hagan 3.919 E.T. at 328.78 MPH
Driver of the Matco Tools ‘Tools for the Cause’ Toyota Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 7 (3.743 E.T. at 326.79 MPH)
E1: 4.556 E.T. at 210.44 MPH defeated by Doug Kalitta 4.504 E.T. at 187.83 MPH
Debuting the Matco Tools ‘Tools for the Cause’ livery benefitting the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Antron Brown started race day at the Texas NHRA FallNationals from the top half of the field and facing Doug Kalitta in round one. Both Brown and Kalitta lost traction early into their race, and the veteran drivers were on and off the throttle, trying to get their machines to recover. Neither driver was able to get their 11,000-horsepower beast to hook back up, resulting in a classic nail-biter pedalfest with Kalitta coming out on top as he coasted across the finish line stripe first.
Brown departs Texas ranked seventh in the Top Fuel standings and will look to crack back into the ‘top five’ when his pinked-out machine takes to the track next weekend in Bristol, Tenn.
“It was a tough first round with Doug Kalitta, and we hate that. We had great support from all of our Matco Tools distributors and customers in Texas, and Western Tech from El Paso, and Toyota right here in the Dallas/Plano area, and we wanted to do well for them. We have to lick our wounds and get ready for Bristol next weekend. The game plan is to get back on the horse soon and get back in the thick of things in these Top Fuel wars.”
Driver of the DSR Performance Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No.11 (3.773 E.T. at 323.12 MPH)
E1: 4.230 E.T. at 192.63 MPH defeated by Josh Hart 3.755 E.T. at 305.56 MPH
Leah Pruett and Josh Hart were the first two competitors to take to the Texas Motorplex track on Sunday morning at the fourth of seven Countdown to the Championship events. Pruett was looking to overcome her eleventh-seeded qualifying position and used a quick .048-second reaction time to give herself the starting line advantage over Hart. The DSR Performance dragster held the early lead but by the time she reached halftrack, Pruett’s machine went silent and Hart was able to drive past for the win.
Sitting in sixth, Pruett remains focused on improving upon her Top Fuel ranking when she returns to Bristol Dragway where she visited in the final round in 2017.
“We definitely had some big expectations for the Stampede of Speed. Everything is bigger in Texas, but the one thing that wasn’t bigger here was our boost. Five pounds down at the step turned into a hole out and pitching the belt on a round that we were winning from the get-go. One thing I can say about this DSR Performance team, is that we will be fighting until the bitter end. We may be out of reach of the actual championship, but what we can do is continue to be the giant killer, and give it absolutely everything we’ve got for the last three races. We’re working together and keeping our heads up because that’s the only way that we’ll continue to be able to get the success we’re after for the rest of the season.”
Driver of the Western Technical College Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye
Qualified: No. 4 (3.897 E.T. at 332.34 MPH)
E1: 3.910 E.T. at 330.15 MPH defeated Dale Creasy Jr. 4.032 E.T. at 297.29 MPH
E2: 3.918 E.T. at 325.53 MPH defeated Bob Tasca 3.955 E.T. at 331.61 MPH
E3: 3.904 E.T. at 331.04 MPH defeated J.R. Todd 7.983 E.T. at 71.40 MPH
E4: 3.919 E.T. at 328.78 MPH defeated by Ron Capps 3.930 E.T. at 326.87 MPH
Three-time and defending NHRA Funny Car world champion and points leader heading into the weekend, Matt Hagan powered the Western Technical College Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat from the No. 4 qualifier position at Texas Motorplex to his second consecutive final round showdown of the Countdown to the Championship playoffs series on Sunday afternoon.
Coming off his win at the previous event in St. Louis, Hagan recorded a 3.897-second run during Q2 on Friday evening to secure the fourth place spot on the eliminations ladder for the Texas FallNationals. He began his Sunday drive with a starting line advantage and a first-round win against No. 13 seed Dale Creasy Jr. to advance to a quarterfinal match against No. 5 seed and fellow championship-contender Bob Tasca III. While his opponent was slightly quicker on the draw, the Hagan’s HEMI-powered machine overtook him in the first few feet and posted a 3.918-second run to turn the win light on against Tasca’s 3.955 sec. pass. The semifinal pairing brought No. 8 seed J.R Todd to the line against Hagan who claimed the round win after his opponent lost traction at the hit of the throttle, and his parachute deployed shortly after. That set up a final-round showdown against Hagan’s DSR teammate and No. 2 championship contender, Ron Capps, who used a holeshot to gain the starting line advantage. The stablemates kept it close right to the stripe, but Hagan saw his competitor edge him with a 0.0121-second margin of victory. The runner-up finish keeps Hagan in the category lead by 33 markers with three events left in the playoff series.
“There’s a backside of a good drag race, and obviously it fell on my shoulders. Capps won on two holeshots today and obviously he was on it. We’ve got a great team and that would have been a big swing in the points direction for us (with a win) but it’s always coming down to the last deal. We’ve just got to keep digging and working hard. We’ve got a great Western Tech Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat; it’s responding well and it’s going to be a dog fight. It always is.”NHRA Camping World Countdown to the Championship Standings (unofficial):
1 Steve Torrence 2473
2 Brittany Force 2421
3 Justin Ashley 2352
4 Mike Salinas 2305
5 Billy Torrence 2301
6 Leah Pruett 2255
7 Antron Brown 2221
8 Clay Millican 2212
9 Shawn Langdon 2196
10 Doug Kalitta 2148
1 Matt Hagan 2449
2 Ron Capps 2416
3 Cruz Pedregon 2336
4 John Force 2334
5 J.R. Todd 2315
6 Bob Tasca III 2291
7 Robert Hight 2261
8 Tim Wilkerson 2211
9 Alexis DeJoria 2197
10 Blake Alexander 2153
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, 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 365 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 three entries in the NHRA Constant Aviation Factory Stock Showdown Series. The trio of DSR Dodge Drag Paks is piloted by Pruett, the 2018 series champion, former Pro Stock racer Mark Pawuk, and David Davies who made his FSS debut in 2021.
Photo Credit: Auto Imagery via Don Schumacher Racing, Driver photos: NHRA