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DSR Pre-Race Report: Bristol NHRA ThunderNationals


DSR 18Bristol Pre-Race Report

NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals
Event 18 of 20
Countdown Event 5 of 7
Bristol Dragway
Bristol, Tenn.
Oct. 15 – 17, 2021


  • Don Schumacher Racing’s Funny Car tandem enters the weekend ranked No. 1 and 2 in the standings. Three-time and defending world champion Matt Hagan occupies first and carries a 33-point lead on No. 2 ranked Ron Capps
  • Capps raced to victory at the most recent event on the NHRA tour (Dallas) and returns to Bristol as the winningest Funny Car driver in Thunder Valley history with five Bristol Dragway triumphs
  • DSR’s two Funny Car teams have won three of the first four NHRA Countdown to the Championship events:
    – Event No. 1 Reading – Hagan (Tommy Johnson Jr. competed on Hagan’s behalf while he was sidelined due to COVID-19)
    – Event No. 3 St. Louis – Hagan
    – Event No. 4 Dallas – Capps
  • Antron Brown has won at every track on the current NHRA tour with the exception of Bristol, and he hopes to capture that elusive first Thunder Valley victory this weekend while he works toward reclaiming a ‘top five’ ranking in the Top Fuel Countdown to the Championship standings
  • As a resident of Christiansburg, Va., Hagan considers Bristol Dragway to be a hometown track

DSR Driver Appearances:

  • Antron Brown and Ron Capps will be signing autographs on Thursday, October 14 at Michael Waltrip Brewing Co. in Bristol, Va. from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. Tickets are required for entry. To purchase:
  • Leah Pruett fans are invited to meet the Sparkling Ice Spiked driver at two events on Thursday. Pruett will be at Food City in Johnson City from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m., and the Thunder Valley Club at Bristol Dragway from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m.

DSR Driver Information:

Top Fuel:

Driver of the Matco Tools ‘Tools for a Cause’ Toyota Top Fuel Dragster

Countdown to the Championship standing: 7th

Bristol Event Highlights:
2011 event runner-up
2010 No. 1 qualifier

2020 Bristol Recap:
N/A, canceled due to COVID-19

2019 Bristol Recap:
Qualified fourth; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Audrey Worm in E1; defeated by Mike Salinas in E2)

Last Event (Dallas):
Qualified seventh; First round exit (defeated by Doug Kalitta in E1)

Career Statistics:
458 races; 68 wins (16 Pro Stock Motorcycle); 49 No. 1 Qualifiers (11 PSM)


  • Brown has won at every track on the current NHRA tour with the exception of Bristol, and he hopes to capture that elusive first Thunder Valley victory this weekend while he works toward reclaiming a ‘top five’ ranking in the Countdown to the Championship standings
  • Campaigning the ‘Tools for the Cause’ livery during the month of October to benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF)
  • Throughout October, 15% of the purchase price of ‘Tools for the Cause’ merchandise will be donated directly to BCRF
  • Since ‘Tools for the Cause’ began in 2012, Matco has donated over one million dollars to breast cancer research
  • The Breast Cancer Research Foundation is a nonprofit organization committed to achieving prevention and a cure for breast cancer. They provide critical funding for cancer research worldwide to fuel advances in tumor biology, genetics, prevention, treatment, metastasis, and survivorship.
    NHRA fans can visit their Matco Tools distributor to purchase Tools for the Cause merchandise or visit
Antron Brown nhra

Antron Brown

“Bristol has long been one of our favorite race tracks. We love going to Thunder Valley, and we want to do well there. We’ve won everywhere except Bristol, so we want to notch that win there badly. It’s the last piece that we need to complete the puzzle of winning at every event on our current schedule. It’s always been a special place for us and we’ve been close numerous times. It will be huge to be able to bring that win home and put that whole picture together for all the years I’ve been at Don Schumacher Racing. We can’t wait to get out there. We’ll go in with our heads down and we’re hungry and ready to do battle.”

Driver of the Sparkling Ice Spiked Top Fuel Dragster

Countdown to the Championship standing: 6th

Bristol Event Highlights:
2017 event runner-up

2020 Bristol Recap:
N/A, canceled due to COVID-19

2019 Bristol Recap:
Qualified No. 2; First round exit (defeated by Lex Joon in E1)

Last Event (Dallas):
Qualified 11th; First round exit (defeated by Josh Hart in E1)

Career Statistics:
169 races; nine wins; 12 No. 1 Qualifiers

Leah Pruett nhra

Leah Pruett

“Just the thought of running the Sparkling Ice Spiked car this weekend in Bristol brings a euphoric feeling of happiness, just like their drinks do. Bristol is definitely our opportunity to get back on top of our game. We’ve had a strong car there before, we’ve made it to the final round. Having the backing of Sparkling Ice and their large support system, and the energy they bring will be great. We have every intention of spiking our competition every single round, beginning with qualifying. I’m looking forward to the cool, crisp October weather that awaits us in Bristol for that power that’s been eluding us. We’ll be coming to bring our clip back empty.”

Funny Car:

Driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

Countdown to the Championship standing: 2nd

Bristol Event Highlights:
Five-time event champion (2001, 2006, 2012, 2017, 2018)
2015 event runner-up
2016 No. 1 qualifier

2020 Bristol Recap:
N/A, canceled due to COVID-19

2019 Bristol Recap:
Qualified seventh; Semifinish finish (defeated Blake Alexander in E1, Shawn Langdon in E2; defeated by Bob Tasca in E3)

Last Event (Dallas):
Qualified second; Event champion (defeated Jack Wyatt in E1, Paul Lee in E2, Cruz Pedregon in E3, Matt Hagan in E4)

Career Statistics:
583 races; 68 wins (one Top Fuel); 29 No. 1 qualifiers


  • Ron Capps enters the race weekend ranked No. 2 in the standings
  • After defeating teammate Matt Hagan in the finals at the most recent event (Dallas) Capps narrowed the gap to 33 points, or less than two rounds
  • With five Bristol Dragway triumphs, Capps returns to Thunder Valley as the winningest Funny Car driver in Bristol history
Ron Capps nhra

Ron Capps

“There have been a lot of changes to the NHRA schedule over the last year-and-a-half, and the really nice thing about getting back to somewhat of a normal schedule this year was having certain races fall in different times of the year than we’re used to. We had the Winternationals in July, and we won it with friends and family there which was unbelievable, so having Bristol in October and during the Countdown, is a very welcome sight. I’ve been very lucky to win there several times in the past and have had great success there, and now for it to be a Countdown event in a time when I really feel like our NAPA team has hit its stride is great.

“Obviously, we’re on a very good high coming off that win from the FallNationals. Looking at weather conditions, we’re going to see a Bristol Dragway track that’s probably going to have track records fall that have been there for years. We haven’t seen conditions like what we expect to see this weekend, and when you get those cooler temperatures in Thunder Valley, you better hang on tight because it’s going to be a lot of fun. That’s why I love racing with ‘Guido’ (Dean Antonelli) and John Medlen and our NAPA AutoCare team. They excel in all conditions and that gives me great confidence as a driver. I can’t wait to see our Bristol fans this weekend. We missed them last year and I know they’re ready for us to be back in town.”

matt hagan jhgMATT HAGAN
Driver of the Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye

Countdown to the Championship standing: 1st

Bristol Event Highlights:
2015 event champion
2016 event runner-up

2020 Bristol Recap:
N/A, canceled due to COVID-19

2019 Bristol Recap:
Qualified ninth; First round exit (defeated by Tommy Johnson Jr. in E1)

Last Event (Dallas):
Qualified fourth; Event runner-up (defeated Dale Creasy Jr. in E1, Bob Tasca in E2, J.R. Todd in E3; defeated by Ron Capps in E4)

Career Statistics:
290 races; 39 wins; 43 No. 1 qualifiers


  • Three-time and defending Funny Car world champion Matt Hagan enters the race weekend ranked No. 1 in the standings and carries a 33-point lead on Capps
  • The Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage Dodge Funny Car team has won two of the first four Countdown events and raced to a runner-up finish last weekend in Dallas
  • Hagan has reunited with Jason Johnson, longtime supporter and friend of DSR, who funded Hagan’s Southwind Builders Funny Car in Sonoma, Calif. in 2018, and has since relocated to Columbia, Tenn.
  • Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage is a collector’s garage featuring over 100 cars. The Johnson family has a long history with cars deriving from clunkers and emerging into the collection of extraordinary classic timepieces
  • For more information, visit:
  • As a resident of Christiansburg, Va., Hagan considers Bristol Dragway to be a hometown track
Matt Hagan nhra

Matt Hagan

“Bristol is always a big weekend because it’s a home track for me, and we plan to put on a good show for all of our supporters and hometown fans. We have a great running race car and we’re still leading in the points after a runner-up finish last weekend in Dallas. (Ron) Capps is nipping at our heels, and we need to put some distance between him and everyone else. With three races to go, anything can happen and we’re hoping to widen that gap this weekend. No better place to do that than at my home track and hopefully we will finish the weekend in the winner’s circle. I’m glad that our car has been on such a tear at the right time – winning in Reading and St. Louis, and a runner-up last weekend in Dallas, and I expect that momentum to carry into Bristol. My focus right now is winning this championship for Don Schumacher Racing and hopefully holding up our fourth series championship trophy at the end of the season. Would be great to go back-to-back, but we’ve got to take it one race at a time and focus on the task at hand and that’s turning every win light on every round.”

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 366 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.

Follow Don Schumacher Don Schumacher Racing at, on Twitter and Instagram at@shoeracing and

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