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.
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