DSR Blog

Keeping Up With Don Schumacher Racing

Pomona and Phoenix in the books

Hello DSR blog readers!

This week’s installment will be looking back at the highlights of the first two races of the NHRA Mello Yello Series season.

It was a good feeling getting to Pomona for the Winternationals. Nothing is more exciting than the first qualifying session of the season. We came out and ran well with a 4.07, which was 3rd quick for the round. After qualifying was said and done we ended up 10th.

As race day rolled around our crew chief Dickie Venables and assistant “Stretch” Mike Knudsen had come up with a game plan. If you haven’t seen Mike he’s the tall, skinny guy that towers over everyone on our team and everyone at the shop too. Be sure to look for him assisting Dickie on ESPN2 at our next race.

We ran Courtney Force in the first round at Pomona. After winning first round, one of the parachutes failed to blossom and Matt and the Mopar Express Lane Funny Car took a trip to the beach, also known as the sand trap.

With a little extra work involved we had to thrash in between rounds to get the car cleaned off and ready to go. It was a comfortable feeling though as the car returned to the pits and we saw a few crew members from both the U.S. Army team and the Valvoline team were there ready and waiting to help. It truly is a total team effort at DSR.

We made it to the final round and raced John Force. We struck the tires around 60 feet into the run. The results weren't a win but we were happy going rounds and getting back into the grove of things.

We then went on to Phoenix after a day of servicing all the parts and components it takes to race while still in Pomona. After a week off we were back and ready to go again. Phoenix started well as we ran low ET of the first session of qualifying, then a little bit of struggle set in for the next three runs as we were trying to push the envelope and run harder.

We qualified 11th and had to face our teammate Jack Beckman in the first round. With one of the best side by side races of the first round, we came up just a little bit short. Jack’s car had damaged a rear end during the run and even though the Valvoline team defeated us, the Mopar team went over and helped change out the rear end making sure everything was ready for the 2nd round.

We stayed and tested on Monday after Phoenix and made five runs. We were pleased with the results we packed up and headed home. After the drive back home we had a little time off and we are back to the grind now preparing everything for the Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla., next week.

The team is all on the same page and we are excited and ready to roll. Hopefully we will have some exciting news to report after Gainesville. Spirits are high and the fun meter is pegged.

Thanks again for reading!

Alex

Posted In: Team DSR

From wrenching to writing

Hello blog readers!

I'm Alex Conaway and I will be blogging this seasons ups, downs, ins and outs for the DSR Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots Funny Car driven by Matt Hagan.

It will be an insider’s look at things as a crew member on a nitro car. First and foremost I want to thank you for taking the time to read this and please bear with me as I'm new to the blogging world.

Let’s take a step back real quick and look at 2013. After the 2013 season came to an end in a positive note winning the NHRA Finals at Pomona, our team regrouped after a much needed vacation and got back to work. We were all very happy to see our leader and crew chief Dickie Venables back in good spirits and in good health! We really missed him in Pomona and it felt great to bring that Wally back to Brownsburg and share it with him.

This off season was pretty standard. We spent it building new cars, developing parts and pieces to make these cars quicker, faster and safer. The off season is always a chance to get caught up and try to get ahead with parts inventory and new projects. As usual it comes down to the wire getting everything prepared. We were able to accomplish our goals of being ready to go testing at the Pro Winter Warm-up near West Palm Beach, Fla., in January.

We were all glad to get out of the artic that has been Brownsburg this offseason. As many of you have read online or maybe even saw on Bangshift.com, we had a decent test session as track conditions were tricky the first few days. It took many different ideas and approaches to navigate the track.

By the time Friday had rolled around we were ready to put on a show for all the fans that came out in Florida. The car ran well and responded to changes we made. As a crew guy it's always a relief when the car runs well. It's nerve-racking for everyone when performance isn't there. We made a total of 18 runs while we were there with our best being a 4.04 at 321 mph. The smiles were back on all of our faces after that.

The mindset has now switched to Pomona!  We left the shop in Brownsburg just in time to get ahead of the winter weather that is headed that way. Keep us all on your mind as we head to Pomona. The team has prepared everything to the best of our abilities. Fortunately our team has seasoned veterans in every position and we can handle almost any obstacle thrown our way and generally do it with a smile or cracking a joke.

We tend to try and keep the mood light and have fun. When it's time to race this team is all business. We have a few goals going into this season first and we want to improve from last season. It was a very good year, winning five races and finishing 2nd in the points but we want to move up to that number one spot at the end of the season.

Hopefully with a lot of hard work, smart decisions, and a little bit of Lady Luck we can achieve that. Stay tuned as the wheel turns and the nitro burns. It will be my pleasure giving the insiders scoop on our year!

Alex

The end of the 2013 season

We just wrapped up the 2013 NHRA Mello Yellow season and what a crazy year it has been. It has been a very exciting year of NHRA racing, but not the finish to the season we had hoped for in the DSR camp.

I arrived to So Cal early Thursday morning with plenty of time to make our one and only qualifying pass around 2:30 p.m. This is the last time we’ll have the unique Pomona qualifying format with one lap each on Thursday and Friday. Beginning at the 2014 Winternationals we will have a normal three-day race weekend in Pomona. 

We saw warmer then normal temperatures at Pomona on Thursday and Friday, but teams were still able to make some great runs. The Pomona track was in great shape. After Thursday, Jack and the MTS team held the provisional pole heading into Friday. The team ran a 4.077-second pass. Antron, who still had a chance at the championship, ended up second to Shawn Langdon.

On Friday, we saw a shift in the qualifying order, with Matt Hagan and the Mopar/Rocky team, led by assistant crew chief Michael Knudsen, in the fourth spot. The team’s crew chief, Dickie Venables, was back in Indy recovering from a medical procedure that kept Dickie sidelined for the final race of the season. Matt’s team was extra motivated to do well for Dickie. 

We saw cooler temps and more great racing on Saturday. There was a little drama in the final qualifying session, Matt moved to No. 2 at 4.01 and Antron went into Q4 101 points behind Shawn. He had to be 99 heading into race day to have a mathematical chance. On the final lap, both Shawn and the Matco team were going after it and smoked the tires giving the ’13 Mello Yello title to the Al-Anabi team. 

On race day, it was a tough day for our dragsters. Antron made it to round two, but a dropped cylinder ended their day. The Matco car was on an awesome lap until the No. 6 cylinder let go. In Funny Cars, Matt and the Magneti Marelli team carried the torch for team DSR. Matt knocked off Alexis DeJoria and beat DSR teammate Johnny Gray in a close. 

It was sad to see Johnny’s season and DSR driving career come to an end. The Pitch Energy team had a great year with four wins and a terrific season. From all of us at DSR, we hope Johnny enjoys retirement and family time. We know we’ll see Johnny and Terry Gray plenty in 2014.

Matt and the Mopar team then knocked off Cruz Pedregon in the semis setting up the Nos. 1 and 2 drivers in the standings, Matt and John Force in a marquee final round match-up. Both drivers used great .047 of-a-second reaction times and Matt used a solid Mike Knudsen tune-up to go 4.01 to score the win over John’s 4.04. It’s such a great feeling to see the Mopar team get its Funny Car-best fifth win of 2013. They’ll have a lot of momentum heading into next season.

After racing was complete, we had our annual end of the year team dinner in the pits. Overall, we had a great time with our teams and friends and family and, as always, it was a fun way to send off the 2013 NHRA season. 

Today, we are all in Los Angeles or Century City, getting ready for the NHRA Award’s Banquet. It should be a fun night spending time with our team and our competitors before our off-season really begins. Congrats to both the JFR and Al-Anabi teams and we know all the DSR teams will be motivated to come back stronger in ’14.   

I want to say a big thank you to all of you who have followed along with my blog throughout the past two NHRA seasons. I love sharing my experiences with you. I am passing the blogging torch to one of our DSR crew members. They’ll blog about our off-season starting in the next few weeks. They will be providing you a behind the scenes look at what they go through working on these hot rods and our busy off-season that some joke is the on-season during the winter. I will be turning my focus to my NHRA.com blog. So be sure to head over to http://nhra.com/blog/don-schumacher-racing/. You can also keep up with me on social media. 

Thanks for reading,

Megan

 

Keep up with me on social media:

Facebook: www.Facebook.com/MeganFesselSchumacherFanPage

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Posted In: Team DSR

A Pink Winner's Circle

Hello again. I’m back in Florida gearing up for another week of school in Boca.

We just wrapped up our penultimate – or next to last - race of the season in Las Vegas. It’s been a rough countdown for Team DSR, but it’s crazy to believe that 10 days from now we will be back in Pomona, Calif. to end the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello season.

girlsnightVegas is always busy, but fun. I flew into Las Vegas on Wednesday and was able to have girl’s night out or #GNO with my friends Sarah, Courtney and Brittany from JFR. Rivals on the track, but friends off it. It was fun to enjoy a night off with some of my best friends before the race weekend began. We had dinner at Lavo and a fun night in Las Vegas. 

On Thursday morning, Matt and John Force did a press tour with radio and TV stations to promote the race and the point’s battle. That afternoon, Spencer joined them and a few other drivers at the NHRA presser at the top of the Stratosphere. I went to lunch and walked around the Las Vegas strip with my Mom and Don before we met up with all of our drivers at the New York-New York Hotel & Casino – the long home of DSR in Las Vegas – for the pre-race DSR autograph session. The New York New York always takes such good care of us and offers some great amenities for our crews. There are plenty of dining and entertainment options. We had a great turnout at the autograph signing, so thank you to everyone who came out to visit. Las Vegas does an amazing job of supporting the Fan Fests. It’s so impressive to see so many NHRA supporters come out to these events.

Tony and Jack led qualifying efforts for DSR after Friday. The U.S. Army showed they were ARMY Strong by running a 3.78 to earn the number two spot after day one. The Valvoline Max Life team also captured the number two spot after day one by running a 4.052. Shawn Langdon and Courtney Force led the fields after day one at The Strip at LVMS. 

My Saturday began early in the morning, an early wake-up call and early trip with Don to the track. I was at the track working on homework at 8 a.m. The early trip to the track allows me to catch up on homework in a quiet environment before the 10,000 hp engines roared to life. I did homework while Don attended a PRO board meeting. On the track, we saw some adjusting in the fields, which was a little surprising given the 80-degree temps and sun on the track. I’d say John Force’s 4.01-second pass in Q4 was pretty impressive. We were happy to see all seven DSR teams qualified without any DSR vs. DSR match-ups in the first round on Sunday.

tjWe had an exciting start to our Sunday morning in the DSR pits. We announced that Tommy Johnson, Jr. will be taking the seat being vacated by Johnny Gray in the Pitch Energy car at the end of the season. TJ will be driving a charity-sponsored car for DSR and Johnny’s sister, Terry Chandler. The charity will be named in the future. All of us are so excited for TJ to be driving that car. TJ has always been a close member of our DSR family and it is exciting to see him get the opportunity to race under our umbrella. There were a lot of viable candidates and we thank everyone for showing interest in DSR. If you don’t follow TJ on Twitter, be sure to do so at @TJJR33.

Race day conditions on Sunday set up much like the conditions we had on Friday and Saturday. Antron, Tony, Jack, and Ron were able to advance without a problem. Unfortunately, the same did not go for title contenders Spencer and Matt. It was tough to see both Matt and Spencer’s teams smoke the tires, which pretty-much ended their title hopes. Johnny also lost traction in the Pitch Energy car.

abwinFollowing the second round, we only had Jack and Antron remaining in competition and Antron led us straight to the winner’s circle for the fourth time this season. It was great to see the pink Matco Tools “Tools for the Cause” dragster turn on the win light four times on Sunday. Breast cancer awareness is a cause close to our hearts so it was great to see their win bring even more exposure to the cause and Susan G. Komen. It was win No. 218 for DSR and Antron moved into second place in the standings and still remains alive with slim hopes for another Top Fuel title.

Joining Antron in the winner’s circle was our former Pro Stock Bike rider Matt Smith, who along with John Force clinched 2013 NHRA Mello Yello championships. Both Matt and John are great guys, congrats to both of them and their teams on their well-deserved championships. Also in the winner circle was another part of our DSR family, Shane Gray. After a long winless drought it was great to see Shane back in the winner’s circle. Shane has been running really well this year and it was a well-deserved win for the Gray Motorsports Pro Stock team. 

Today, some of our teams are back at the Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway testing and gearing up for 2014. Following testing, our guys will fly back to Indy before coming back to Vegas and driving to Pomona next Wednesday on Nov. 6. It is crazy how fast this season went and we’ll be testing in Jan. 2014 just two months after the completion of the Finals in a few weeks. It’s like NHRA Groundhog Day.

Have a great week everyone.

Thanks,

Megan

Keep up with me on social media:

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Posted In: Team DSR

Chasing championships, 2014 & a fun weekend in Madison

Hello again. I hope all is well and you all had a good weekend. Given that we have two off weekends before the Las Vegas race, I wanted to check-in with a quick blog update.

I took full advantage of the off weekend by spending it in Madison, Wisconsin with a group of friends including one of my best friends Taylor. It was homecoming weekend for the University of Wisconsin and I got to attend the Northwestern/Wisconsin football game on Saturday. It’s so fun to experience a school with a large enrollment that encompasses an entire town. My school, Lynn University, is a very small school in Florida. Homecoming is such a fun time and add in a rivalry Big 10 game against a ranked team like Northwestern and the whole town was buzzing all weekend long.

madisonThere’s nothing like college football in the autumn with the changing of the leaves and cooler fall temperatures. And there’s nothing like a big victory in front of the home crowd on homecoming weekend. The Badgers won big, 35-6, over the No. 19 ranked team. That’s two straight losses for NW and a big conference win for the Badgers. I have a lot of friends that attend UW, so it’s like my adopted school.

After the game, we spent the evening on State Street and hung out at a really cool bar called Wando’s. They serve drinks in fishbowls, but I just had Coca-Cola. LOL We have to support our series sponsor. I try to make it to the Wisconsin homecoming game each year and just love the entire experience. I had such a great time and can’t wait to return to Madison.

Last week was a fairly slow week at the DSR shop in Brownsburg. The seven DSR teams played catch up given they have two off weekends. Our teams are gearing up for Las Vegas and Pomona and the conclusion of the 2013 NHRA season. I can’t believe the season will be over in less than a month. It just goes so fast.

We need to have a strong two races if we want to bring another championship or two home to the DSR stable. Matt is about three rounds out in Funny Car and Spencer is four rounds out in Top Fuel. I know the teams are focused on two strong races and we have good track records at both Las Vegas and Pomona. I’m confident we’re going to make a run at this thing.

2014While the teams are challenged with trying to win championships, our front office has been focused on 2014. We did a photo shoot with Tony and the 2014 Army dragster last Thursday and we just got our first painted Matco Tools dragster back from SD Enterprises in Michigan yesterday. When you have seven teams, it’s never too early to get started on the next season. We’ll get a ’14 NAPA Funny Car body back next weekend and the first Valvoline body will go to paint then.

It’s so fun to see the new paint schemes and colors. The Army and Matco dragsters have new schemes and the Matco dragster is very different from what we’ve seen the last few years. The NAPA car will be nearly the same while the Valvoline Funny Car will be different also. The off season is a lot of work, but fun too.

It’s midterm week for me at grad school at Lynn, so I need to get back to studying. I hope you all have a great week and we’ll check in after Las Vegas. All the best.

Thanks for reading,

Megan 

 

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Posted In: Team DSR

Finishing Four-in-a-row in Reading

We just wrapped up a grueling four-race swing to begin the 2013 NHRA Countdown to the Championship. It was our second four-in-a-row this season. Having four weeks in a row is great for us nitro addicts, but also exhausting for all of our hardworking crews, both on the race and hospitality side. 

Leading up to the start of the race weekend our drivers kept busy as usual. Johnny was running the Alex’s Lemonade Stand body again. They ran it at Denver and this is the third straight season that the team has run it at Reading. The relationship with Alex’s developed through our partnership with Service Central.

Johnny flew in early to attend the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for a visit with the patients. It’s very similar to our team visit to Riley Hospital in Indy during the U.S. Nationals. Following the visit in Philly, Johnny joined Tony and Matt at Classic Harley-Davidson in Reading for an autograph signing benefiting Alex’s Lemonade Stand. We had three of our drivers there, along with Johnny’s Alex’s Funny Car. They were raffling off a yellow Harley with all proceeds going to Alex’s. Jack and the Odyssey Battery Funny Car made an appearance at the Odyssey Battery headquarters and Antron had a Matco customer dinner at the track. So, it was a busy Thursday for the DSR drivers.

pinkmatcojackWe had two other new paint schemes this weekend for DSR. Jack ran a new black and red body supporting Odyssey Battery, the official battery of DSR. The Odyssey batteries are made close to the track at Reading at Enersys. For the second year in a row, we had a pink Matco Tools dragster supporting Matco’s “Tools for the Cause” campaign, which benefits the Susan G. Komen foundation. It was great to see Matco Tools and many of our competitors running pink cars to bring attention to Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.

We saw blue skies and warm temperatures in the 80s all three days in Reading. Usually when we come here its chilly, cloudy and wet, so it was quite a difference for everyone. After two qualifying sessions on Friday, Tony and Jack led the way for our teams. Jack and the Odyssey Battery team ran a 4.03-second pass. Tony ran a 3.778 second run. Both Jack and Tony left the track Friday night as number three qualifiers.

Until Friday, Matt and his Mopar/Rocky Boots team held the sole possession of the top spot in Funny Car for the last 13 events. John Force joined the three-second club on Friday with the first three-second pass for JFR taking the number one spot away from Matt and the Mopar team. The good thing is that Matt now got to play the role of the hunter and not the hunted.

On Saturday, we saw some consistent passes by our DSR teams. It was a very hit or miss day on the track. Teams would either run well or go up in tire smoke. Our teams focused on finding their race day tune-up since we knew conditions would be similar to race day conditions.  Antron ran 3.79 in the first session and Spencer 3.81 in the final session and our floppers made some solid laps as all seven DSR cars made the quick fields at Reading.

We awoke to cloudy skies and fog in Reading, PA., on Sunday which excited the crews that were hopeful to run low numbers during first round. Plans changed for the teams during driver introductions when we saw the clouds break up and the sun start peaking up, warming up the race track.

It was a relatively successful first round for DSR. Both Antron and Spencer won their races with hole shots, Tony and the U.S. Army team advanced as well. Also noteworthy, was the match-up between the DSR teammates, Johnny and Ron with Ron and the NAPA team turning on the win light.

For the third race in a row, Jack met up with Alexis DeJoria in the first round, unfortunately for our team, third time was Alexis’ charm and she got the win light. Matt and his MOPAR/ Rocky Boots team also advanced.

We saw it really heat up during the second round at Maple Grove, which lead to lots of tire smoking, which is what ended the U.S. Army teams race day. Spencer and Antron were able to advance which led to a race between the two teams in the semis.

In Funny Car, it was another DSR team match-up with Ron and the NAPA team keeping their countdown hopes alive by taking out Matt. In the semis, the NAPA team had John Force and his Castrol GTX team, it was a close race until about half track when the NAPA car smoked the tires. The Funny Car final round was between rookie Chad Head and Force.

Spencer and Antron met up in the semifinals, it was a close race between the teammates with Antron and the Matco Tools team turning on the win light heading to the final round for the second week in a row. We knew we had a tough match-up with Shawn Langdon, and unfortunately we lost in a close race.

Today, our teams are heading back to Indy. It has been a busy and exhausting few weeks for us all, the next two weekends will be a nice chance for everyone to get some time at home and regroup before our final two races of the season.

I hope you all have a great week.

Thanks for reading, 

Megan

 

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Posted In: Team DSR

Rebounding in St. Louis

Hello all. We just completed the third race of our Countdown to the Championship playoff and boy are things tightening up in the point’s race. The Countdown is doing what NHRA wants and that is taking the points chase down to the final race of the season at Pomona in November.

We raced near St. Louis yesterday at Gateway Motorsports Park and we finally broke our winless streak and almost pulled another DSR double-up. Antron and the Matco/Toyota team got off the schneid and scored their third victory of the season and Jack Beckman and the Valvoline Dodge got back to another final round as they got closer to defending their championship.

The St. Louis race started early Thursday morning when our teams left the shop between 5-6 a.m. to drive to Madison, Ill. It’s about a four hour trip. After setting up at the track, many of our crew members took in the 49ers/Rams game at the Edwards Jones Dome on Thursday Night Football. It was neat for the guys to get away from racing and see the NFL game and relax away from the track.

It was a beautiful day for qualifying on Friday and we saw some great qualifying runs. We ran at 3 p.m. and our second session was delayed until 7:30pm so we got to race under the lights at Gateway Motorsports Park. There was a scary Pro Mod crash, but thankfully the driver suffered only a broken arm after a violent crash and many barrel rolls.

fridayLeading qualifying for DSR on Friday was Matt Hagan and our Mopar/Rocky Boots team. Matt ran a 4.001 second pass at 320 mph under the lights to reset the Gateway track record. It was an awesome run and I would expect that we’ll see the Funny Car national record, which is 3.986-seconds, reset this year. Maybe at Reading this weekend.

Tony and the U.S. Army team led qualifying for the DSR dragsters by running 3.782 elapsed time, they had the number one spot until Shawn Langdon took it when they closed out Top Fuel qualifying Friday. 

The first session on Saturday was fairly ugly with lots of tire smoke. The second session saw more full pulls. Matt was able to hold on the pole position for the fifth time this season. All of our other DSR teams qualified well and thankfully we had in-house matches in the opening round. 

Following qualifying on Saturday, I joined my Mom, Don, friends and family at dinner to celebrate the birthday of NAPA crew chief Rahn Tobler and assistant crew chief John Collins. It was nice to get quality time together away from the race track.

We went into Sunday excited and hoping for a successful race day. Following the first round we had five DSR teams advancing to round two. Unfortunately Spencer and Johnny suffered early losses. The Battery Extender team struggled in St. Louis but will get regrouped for Reading.

In the second round, we saw Jack and Matt race each other for the second week in a row and for the second week in a row the Valvoline Max Life team earned the win. Ron and the NAPA team lost in a very close second round race with eventual race winner John Force. It’s tough to see all these close losses. 

Tony and Antron had a big semifinal match-up with Antron and the Matco Tools/Toyota team turning on the win light against the U.S. Army team for the first time this season. It was the first time since Sonoma that Antron had advanced to the semifinals and his first final round since winning at Atlanta in May. Jack also got the win in a pedal fest over Del Worsham.

It was a bummer to see the Valvoline Max Life team lose in the finals, they have been winless so far this year but close many times. I have a feeling we will see them in a winners circle soon. They are peaking at the right time of year. 

antronAntron had a tough race with Khalid alBalooshi, but thankfully, the Matco Tools/ Toyota team was able to turn on the win light and get their third win of the season. They won our 200th win in Gainesville and the rain -delayed race in Commerce, Ga. Yesterday’s win was DSR’s 217th and the 21st of the season and the 40th of Antron’s career.

Overall, we had a great time in St. Louis, I had many fans come up to me and talk to me about all things racing. It is always great to meet the faces I interact with on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. If you ever see me at the track, please feel free to say hi.

Today, our teams are back in Indy servicing for a few days before heading to Reading on Wednesday. Reading is known for its cool temperatures and low elapsed times and I can’t wait. For me, I am spending the week in classes for grad school before heading up to Reading on Friday for qualifying.

I hope you all have a great week.

Thanks for reading,

Megan

 

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Posted In: Team DSR

Working hard, staying humble

Hello again everyone. I hope all is well in your world. We’re doing well also. If the worst thing in life is that you don’t win an NHRA race, then life is pretty good, right? That’s the great thing about NHRA racing. It keeps you humble and honest in a matter of hours and from one week to the next. There are no mulligans or pit stops and you need to be on top of your game all the time.

momWe just returned home from our last visit to the Lone star State this year with the AAA Nationals at Texas Motorplex in Ennis, just south of Dallas. We got into town on Thursday and I spent the afternoon with my mom exploring downtown Dallas while Don had to work. Don joined up with Matt Hagan, Jack Beckman and Erica Enders and flew to Houston for a city council hearing to help Seth Angel and Royal Purple Raceway.

Maybe you’ve seen the recent story on CompetitionPlus.com about the concrete crushing facility that was recently built next to the track in Baytown and the dust and dirt from the crushed concrete is wreaking havoc on the track and making it difficult to keep the track clean and run an event. We hope things work out well and continue to return to Baytown for many years. It’s great to see our drivers rally around one of our tenured tracks on tour and the NHRA Nationals are very important to the economy in Baytown and the surrounding areas.

Mother Nature wreaked havoc on much of the country on Thursday and Friday. There was a long span of green on the weather radar that covered the center of the country and moved east. It went from the Gulf of Mexico all the way North to Canada and it washed out racing action on Friday in Ennis. NHRA officials were forced to call the day fairly early around 2:30 p.m. The highlight of the day was taking a box of Sprinkles cupcakes to each of our seven teams. It was a great way to cheer everyone up during the rain.

That meant the pressure was on for all teams with two sessions to make the cut for the second race of the 2013 Countdown to the Championship. There were more than 16 cars in each of the nitro classes, so the teams had to run well. The rain blew out all the heat and humidity and it was cooler, dry, sunny conditions on Saturday and Sunday in Ennis. It was beautiful weather. 

All of our teams made the cut and we had seven cars playing on race day. That makes us happy after Antron missed the bump last weekend at Charlotte. There was a little pressure again as the Matco team needed to run quicker than the 3.97 bump spot on their final qualifying pass and they did this time. Spencer and the Battery Extender team was our only dragster to start in the top half of the field at No. 6. Ron Capps led our Funny Car qualifying at No. 4 for the NAPA Auto Parts team. Having just two sessions bit another Countdown team as Khalid alBalooshi didn’t make the show for the Al-Anabi gold team. I’d like to see them add a third qualifying lap on Saturday when we lose both passes on Friday.  Just my opinion.

Dallas is a very special race for the NAPA team because Bob Gant and the Dallas NAPA distribution center is where the DSR/NAPA Auto Parts relationship began years ago and it’s grown into one of the best sponsorships in the NHRA. Each Thursday before the Dallas race, Bob and the local Dallas DC hosts a dinner for customers and the race team at III Fork’s steakhouse in Dallas. It’s always a really fun time, so thanks for everything Bob and the entire NAPA DC.

We had another great partner at Dallas with Freightliner on Matt Hagan’s car. This is the third straight year we did a one-off with the stealth-looking black Freightliner Dodge Funny Car. Matt visited ATC Freightliner in Dallas on Wednesday and we had nearly 100 guests from the dealer at the track on Sunday to support Matt and his team. 

racedayOn race day, we went six for seven in round one. All three dragsters won and our lone Funny Car to fall was Ron and the NAPA car. Spencer beat Antron and Tony fell to Morgan Lucas in round two and that left Spencer as our lone Top Fueler in the semis. Dallas is Spencer’s home track as he’s from nearby Ft. Worth. Matt and Johnny both smoked the tires and that left Jack and the MTS car as our lone flopper in the semis.

The racing action on Sunday was a bit subpar as the track turned into a one lane track. The majority of the wins after round one came from the left lane and if you didn’t have lane choice it was tough to maneuver the right lane. Both of our cars smoked the tires in the right lane in the semis and for the third straight race, DSR didn’t have a winner. I believe it’s just the second time this season that we haven’t had at least one car in the final round and both came in Texas.

The Lone star State meant no Wally’s for DSR this year. Maybe next year and maybe next week at St. Louis. Antron and Jack doubled-up at St. Louis last September and hopefully we can bring home a Wally at Gateway Motorsports Park next Sunday. It should be cool, in the 70s, which should mean some really quick times at Gateway. It will be a fun sports weekend with the Cardinals vs. Cubs next weekend and the 49ers at the Rams on Thursday Night Football before the race leading into our third race of the Countdown, so we’re excited to get to St. Louis for a fun weekend of NHRA racing. If you forget your jacket, you can swing by the DSR merch trailer and pick up a sweatshirt from one of our drivers. We’ve got ya covered!

Thanks for reading. I’m off to Florida. This is a big week. I have my first exam of grad school, so I’ve got to study up. This grad school stuff has been keeping me very busy. Long, four hour classes, so I need to keep focused. Getting to the racetrack is a great escape for me.

Have a great week.

Thanks,

Megan

 

Keep up with me on social media:

Facebook: www.Facebook.com/MeganFesselSchumacherFanPage

Twitter (@MeganFessSchu): www.Twitter.com/MeganFessSchu

Instagram (@MeganFessSchu): www.Instagram.com/MeganFessSchu

 

 

Posted In: Team DSR

Kicking off the countdown in Charlotte

We just finished race one of the 2013 Countdown to the Championship to determine the four professional NHRA champions. It was our second visit of the season to the “Bellagio of drag strips” zMax Dragway at Concord near Charlotte.

 

Our weekend in North Carolina began on Wednesday with Tony and five-time NASCAR Champion Jimmie Johnson meeting at the Charlotte Motor Speedway for a dual burnout between the U.S. Army dragster and Jimmy Johnson’s No. 48 Lowe’s NASCAR. It was a great chance for the two drivers to learn about the other’s race car and great cross exposure for NHRA. Jimmie got to start Tony’s Army car and I think he looked a little spooked when they whacked the throttle.

 

Our drivers kept busy on Thursday with sponsor appearances in the Charlotte area. Matt and the Rocky Boots Funny Car visited Morgan’s Shoes and Bootery where he met fans and signed autographs. Johnny, Matt and Ron ended their day with an autograph signing with some other NHRA drivers at Whisky River downtown Charlotte. Earlier that day, Ron and Antron did the pre-event press conference at the track. Our guys are always on the go.

toyotaWe were eager to get back to racing on Friday following our weekend off. Antron debuted a new look Toyota paint scheme for the weekend’s race and the car turned out great. Ron also had a different look for the weekend. He was racing his Carlyle Tools by NAPA Auto Parts car. Carlyle Tools also sponsored the race. It’s great to see that so many tool companies see value in NHRA.napa

It was a long day of qualifying, after a series of delays on Friday. We were supposed to start Q2 at 7:30 p.m. and didn’t begin Funny Car until after 9 p.m. We finished qualifying just before 11pm on Friday night. It was a pretty good day of qualifying for DSR. Both Tony and Matt led the team with number two qualifying spots. Matt and the Rocky Boots Charger ran a great 3.992 second run, it is so exciting to see more and more three second runs showing up on the score boards. Tony and the U.S. Army team led the DSR dragsters by running a 3.769.

After a late night Friday, the alarm came way too quickly Saturday morning. I got to the race track bright and early and spent the morning working on homework for my grad school classes while Don attended the PRO meeting in the tower.

We saw great weather conditions on Saturday with temperatures in the mid-70’s. That led to some exciting racing. Antron went into the last qualifying session not yet qualified and unfortunately for the team they we not able to get into the show and race on Sunday. It was a tough break for our Matco Tools team as their struggles continue after qualifying for 110 consecutive races. The six other DSR teams made the show and it was ready for race one of the Countdown. 

Following qualifying I was able to grab dinner and frozen yogurt with two of my best friends, Courtney and Sarah, and enjoy some time away from the race track before race day. There’s a good Italian place near the track we all like to visit. 

With a noon start time, we began race day a little bit later then normally, which was nice for everyone. Extra sleep! The teams could not fire up the cars until 11am, so at 11 it was a sea of nitro methane as pretty much every team fired up at that time. It was nitro and sensory overload! There are noise curfews at zMax.

Overall, Sunday was a very exciting and crazy race day. Following first round of Top Fuel only five of the teams in the Countdown had advanced. Unfortunately one of the losing teams was Tony and the U.S. Army team, they smoked the tires in their match-up against Leah Pruett. Both Al-Anabi cars lost too. It was a crazy E1.

After a lot of cleanups in the Top Fuel round we saw some pretty close and exciting races in the first round of Funny Car. We went three for four, with all but Johnny advancing. Johnny lost a close race to John Force, ESPN’s Marquee Match-up.

Ron lost a close race in the second round against Courtney Force by two thousandths of-a-second. That led to Jack and Matt racing each other in the semis. We were happy to know we would have at least one team in the final round.

Matt and the Rocky team ran on mean all day long, but lost in the final round to Robert Hight. It was a close race and overall a great weekend for our Rocky team who held on to the Funny Car Points lead and continue to run great.

Spencer and the Battery Extender carried the banner for the DSR dragsters. They made it to the final round and lost to Morgan Lucas in a close race. A bummer to go zero for two in the final round but that’s racing. Thankfully we don’t have long to wait before our next race starting Friday at Texas Motorplex in Ennis, Texas.  

A few of our teams are testing today at zMax Dragway before packing up and starting the trip to Ennis outside of Dallas. So far it looks like we will be having warm conditions in the high 80s, which should make for another exciting weekend of NHRA racing!

Hope you all have a great week.

 

Thanks for reading,

Megan

 

Keep up with me on social media:

Facebook: www.Facebook.com/MeganFesselSchumacherFanPage

Twitter (@MeganFessSchu): www.Twitter.com/MeganFessSchu

Instagram (@MeganFessSchu): www.Instagram.com/MeganFessSchu

Posted In: Team DSR

An eventful weekend at the big go

It was a very busy week for all of us at DSR leading up to the biggest race of our season in Indianapolis, the U.S. Nationals. Last Monday, I started fall classes at Lynn University. I am currently pursuing an MBA in business. While I was in the classroom, everyone at the shop was busy preparing for the U.S. Nationals and our 8th annual DSR Open House on Aug. 30.

We opened our doors on Friday morning for the DSR Open House to benefit Riley Hospital for Children. The Open House is such a neat event. There’s a lot going on at all times from our drivers mingling in the crowd to a blower dyno demo to food trucks with great munchies to the silent auction with all proceeds going to Riley. The Open House runs from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. and we see more than 3,000 guests visit the shop. It was another fantastic event and we raised nearly $26,000 for Riley. 

Following a great open house, we all headed to Lucas Oil Raceway to kick off day one of qualifying for the 59th annual U.S. Nationals. Our Funny Cars ran decent and Spencer was the best of our bunch in Top Fuel in a session that saw many of the top cars smoke the tires.

Saturday was another hot day in the Midwest. In a week of 90-degree temperatures, that continued most of the weekend. After the first round of the Traxxas Shootout, Mother Nature paid her regular visit to an NHRA race and it rained and poured and even hailed. After a lengthy delay that forced NHRA officials to move the remainder of the Top Fuel Traxxas Nitro Shootout to Sunday. We finally had a window to complete Q2 of Funny Car and it was a fantastic show for the fans that stuck around. Matt Hagan raced to the pole at 4.00 and Johnny Gray wasn’t far behind for DSR at 4.01.

As a result of the weather, Sunday turned into a busier day than planned. We raced the last two runs of the Traxxas Top Fuel Shootout, along with the Funny Car Traxxas Shootout and two runs of qualifying for the cars not in the Shootout. It turned out to be a drama-filled day. 

traxxasBoth Spencer and Antron lost in the semis of the Shootout, but thankfully Jack and the Valvoline Max Life team did DSR proud. Facing off against veteran Cruz Pedregon for the $100,000 pay day, Jack used a hole shot at the starting line to score the narrow win over Cruz in spectacular fashion as the red and white Max Life Dodge exploded in the lights. Jack walked away after the boomer to hoist the beautiful Traxxas Shootout trophy. After Ron’s grenade at Brainerd, our fab shop boys will be busy mounting Funny Car bodies. 

After the Traxxas Shootout victory, it was nervous time for our dragsters. Tony and the U.S. Army team entered their last run in the No. 17 spot. Only 16 cars make race day. Like a machine, the Sarge went to the top of the order at 3.81. That moved Antron to the No. 16 spot and a potential round one match-up with Tony. The Matco team also stepped up at 3.811 to take the top spot at Indy. We breathed a sigh of relief as all seven DSR cars would be racing on Monday for the Indy Wally trophy. 

bdaydinnerAfter a long day at the track, my Mom, Don and I headed to downtown Indy to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse to celebrate my Mom’s 50th birthday with close friends and family. It was a great dinner and a fun way for my mom to celebrate her birthday, which is actually today, Sept. 3. Happy birthday Mom!

We are always excited for race day, but it was an oddly, interesting day for DSR. All three dragsters lost in the first round, which has never happened. The last time DSR dragsters all exited in round one was in 2009 at Joliet when Tony and Cory lost. Antron was with Mike Ashley Racing and Spencer was driving for Don Prudhomme Racing. Spencer actually beat Antron in the final round at that race. How’s that for some history. 

Matt Hagan had to pedal his Magneti Marelli Dodge and also fell in round one from the No. 1 spot. Ron, Johnny and Jack were all able to score win lights for our flopper contingent and advance to E2. Jack was the only DSR Dodge to advance to the semis and then a rough day on the track got worse off of it. Something real life puts racing into perspective.

Before the semifinals one of our crew guys saw that our rental car had a smashed window and had been broken into. We went to check the car to find nearly all of our luggage was stolen. It was heartbreaking, especially so close to my Mom’s birthday. They also took some of her birthday gifts, along with five pieces of luggage. It’s a helpless, violating feeling and still very shocking.

In between dealing with police reports and figure out what was happening, we ran up to watch the Valvoline team make their semifinal run. We were so grateful to see a win light and the chance to double-up at Indy for Jack. Between rounds we had to deal with the police report and fingerprints. 

The FC final didn’t go the way we had hoped, but it does happen. You lose more races than you win, but at the end of the day, being safe and with family is more important. We’re lucky to have a great group of employees and friends who rallied around to support my mom and our family. 

I would like to say thank you to all of our amazing fans for their endless support, you all are also a big part of the DSR family!

After a rough weekend in Indy, we are all excited to regroup and set our focus on our next race in Concord, N.C. at zMax Dragway, September 13-15. We race on Friday the 13th and hope to begin the Countdown just as strong as we did at the spring race at Charlotte with Matt and Spencer doubling up. 

I hope everyone has a good week! 

Thanks for reading, 

Megan

 

Keep up with me on social media:

Facebook: www.Facebook.com/MeganFesselSchumacherFanPage

Twitter (@MeganFessSchu): www.Twitter.com/MeganFessSchu

Instagram (@MeganFessSchu): www.Instagram.com/MeganFessSchu

Posted In: Team DSR

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