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Chicago Pre-Race Report

Route 66 NHRA Nationals
Event 9 of 24 (Chicago)
Route 66 Raceway
Joliet, Illinois
June 1-3, 2018

Noteworthy:

  • Ron Capps returns as the defending Funny Car event champion 
    • Capps has raced for the Chicago FC Wally the past two years in a row, finishing as the runner-up in 2016
  • All DSR Funny Car final in 2017 (Capps vs. Tommy Johnson Jr.) 
  • Both Antron Brown and Johnson have advanced to the final round at Route 66 Raceway in three of the past four years
  • Chicago 2017 was the start of five consecutive final round appearances for Brown 
  • Tony Schumacher is the winningest (five) Top Fuel driver in Chicago history: 2003, 2005, 2008, 2013, 2015
    • Note: 2005 victory was at the discontinued Fall event 
  • Schumacher leads the TF class in number of No. 1 qualifiers (seven) at Chicago: 2003, 2005 (Spring and Fall), 2006, 2007, 2008, 2012 
    • Note: 2005 No. 1 qualifier was at the discontinued Fall event 
  • Brown has both TF and Pro Stock Motorcycle Wallys from Chicago 
  • Brown and Leah Pritchett will compete against 'Papa' John Schnatter in the Papa John's Charity Challenge to benefit the Infinite Hero Foundation on Saturday 
  • Hometown track for the Schumacher family 

 
DSR Driver Information: 
 
Top Fuel:

ANTRON BROWN
Driver of the Matco Tools Top Fuel Dragster

NHRA Chicago Highlights: 
  • Five-time event champion
    • Top Fuel (2012, 2014, 2016) 
    • Pro Stock Motorcycle (2000, 2001) 
  • Three-time runner-up
    • TF (2009, 2017) 
    • PSM (2002) 
  • Two-time No. 1 qualifier (2009, 2015) 
2017 Chicago Recap:
Qualified seventh; Event runner-up (defeated Doug Kalitta in E1, Leah Pritchett in E2, Clay Millican in E3; defeated by Steve Torrence in E4)
 
Last event (Topeka):
Qualified 12th; First round exit (defeated by Leah Pritchett in E1)

2018 Season Statistics:
Seven round wins; ranked eighth in points
 
Career Statistics:
390 races; 65 wins (16 Pro Stock Motorcycle); 49 No. 1 qualifiers (11 PSM)
 
Notable:
  • Has raced for the Chicago Top Fuel Wally three out of the past four years, winning in 2014 and 2016, and finishing as the runner-up in 2017  
  • Chicago 2017 was the start of five consecutive final round appearances for Brown 
  • Will face off against 'Papa' John Schnatter in the Papa John's Charity Challenge race on Saturday
    • Benefits the Infinite Hero Foundation  
Quotable:
"When we go out to Joliet, it’s always a special race because it’s the hometown race for Don Schumacher, who’s from Mount Prospect. Everybody at DSR really gets up to win at Route 66 – and that’s what I intend to do. We’ll also have a lot of Matco distributors, Toyota guests and a lot of Army soldiers that come out and we want to give back and put them into the winner’s circle.

"It’s going to be crazy fast running at the beginning of June compared to mid-July. Track conditions should be in the 60s when we’re running at night and you can go out there and run hard. It’s another really good track and it’s going to be a lot of fun for the fans.”


 
LEAH PRITCHETT
Driver of the Papa John's Pizza Top Fuel Dragster 
2017 Chicago Recap:
Qualified second; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Troy Coughlin Jr. in E1; defeated by Antron Brown in E2)
 
Last event (Topeka):
Qualified fifth; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Antron Brown in E1; defeated by Tony Schumacher in E2)

2018 Season Statistics:
Ten round wins; ranked fifth in points
 
Career Statistics:
102 races; six wins; eight No. 1 qualifiers

Notable:
  • Will face off against 'Papa' John Schnatter in the Papa John's Charity Challenge race on Saturday
    • Benefits the Infinite Hero Foundation  

Quotable:
"So many aspects about this race to love that I'm looking forward to. From nitro pipes under the lights, to not only one, but two Charity Challenge races. I'm feeling good to be back in a Mopar against 'Papa' John, in a familiar car.

"As a previously non-scheduled race for Papa John's Pizza, a major thank you of appreciation goes out to not just getting the gold car back on track, but fully embracing the race with the Charity Challenges, doubling the amount of money raised for the Infinite Hero Foundation.

"As the only DSR driver to not have a victory claimed at Route 66, it would be an honor to join my teammates with that accolade. First, we need have our strategy on-point for qualifying well in conditions different than race day, although all seem to be cool and call for incredible numbers that can be posted, making incredible times for the fans.

"Joliet brings back a sense of gladiators. You're stepping into an arena. It's your time to shine. I love seeing how happy their fans are."


 
TONY SCHUMACHER
Driver of the U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
NHRA Chicago Event Highlights: 
  • Five-time event winner (2003, 2005, 2008, 2013, 2015)
    • Note 2005 victory was from the discontinued Fall event 
  • Two-time runner-up (2004, 2010)
    • Note 2004 victory was from the discontinued Fall event 
  • Seven-time No. 1 qualifier (2003, 2005 Spring and Fall, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2012) 
 
2017 Chicago Recap:
Qualified fifth; First round exit (defeated by Blake Alexander in E1)
 
Last event (Topeka):
Qualified fourth; Semifinal finish (defeated Bill Litton in E1, Leah Pritchett in E2; defeated by Clay Millican in E3)

2018 Season Statistics:
Ten round wins; ranked third in points
 
Career Statistics:
488 races; 83 wins; 86 No. 1 qualifiers
 
Notable:
  • Winningest (five) Top Fuel driver in Chicago history: 2003, 2005, 2008, 2013, 2015
    • Note: 2005 victory was at the discontinued fall event 
  • Leads the TF class in number of No. 1 qualifiers (seven) at Chicago: 2003, 2005 (Spring and Fall), 2006, 2007, 2008, 2012 
  • A Chicago native turned Austin transplant, Schumacher considers Route 66 Raceway a home track
Quotable:
“I was there when they built (Route 66 Raceway), and at the time for me to have a big track like that being built, and watching it going up was awesome. Chicago is filled with iconic sports facilities and figures. The list is long and distinguished and you just have so much pride trying to live up to what those legendary athletes have done. 

“We’ve won that race five times and had some great runs there. When you have a track that you’re successful at, you like going back there. And not to mention, for so many years it was my home, and my friends were there. It was always a pressure cooker, because you’re racing in front of your buddies. So I’m looking forward to getting back there.”



Funny Car:
 
JACK BECKMAN
Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T
NHRA Chicago Event Highlights: 
  • 2016 event winner 
 
2017 Chicago Recap:
Qualified second; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Bob Bode in E1; defeated by Tim Wilkerson in E2)
 
Last event (Topeka):
Qualified 12th; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Bob Tasca III in E1; defeated by J.R. Todd in E2)

2018 Season Statistics:
14 round wins; ranked second in points
 
Career Statistics:
284 races; 27 wins; 24 No. 1 qualifiers
 
Quotable:
"We just passed the one-third point of the season, we're heading into four races in four weekends, and we have elected to unload a brand new race car on Friday in Chicago. We don't have much data on it. We made two runs in pre-season testing on Superbowl Sunday, and this is where that extra work and sacrifice by the Infinite Hero team is going to make a big difference in our year. Even though we don't have much data or runs on that car, I have a ton of confidence that we're going to unload with a fast hot rod right off of the trailer. We feel like we've had some clutch issues recently, we've put a lot of runs on our older car, and it is time for us to get back in contention. We're sitting in second place and our immediate goal right now is to get right back to the top, and that will hopefully include a few race wins over the next month." 


 
RON CAPPS
Driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T
NHRA Chicago Event Highlights: 
  • Two-time event winner (2005, 2017)
    • Note: 2005 victory was at the discontinued Fall event 
  • Three-time runner-up (2002, 2007, 2016)
    • Note: 2002 runner-up finish was at the Fall event 
  • 2013 No. 1 Qualifier 
 
2017 Chicago Recap:
Qualified ninth; Event champion (defeated Jonnie Lindberg in E1, Jim Campbell in E2, Matt Hagan in E3, Tommy Johnson Jr. in E4)
 
Last event (Topeka):
Qualified seventh; First round exit (defeated by Shawn Langdon in E1)

2018 Season Statistics:
Seven round wins; ranked seventh in points
 
Career Statistics:
515 races; 58 wins (one Top Fuel); 21 No. 1 qualifiers
 
Notable:
  • Returns as the defending event champion
    • Has raced for the Chicago Wally the past two years in a row, finishing as the runner-up in 2016
 
Quotable:
"Heading into our race at Route 66 in the Chicago area is something I always look forward to, and I know that the crew chiefs know that the race track surface there is something you can sort of take out of the equation. That means great side-by-side racing for the fans.

"We have sort of been in experimentation mode the first third of the season with our NAPA race car. My crew chief, Rahn Tobler, and our NAPA AutoCare team decided to go back to what we ended the 2017 season with and instantly it showed us that it was a great move. I'm really pumped about these races coming up, starting with the Route 66 NHRA Nationals and throughout the summer."

 
 
MATT HAGAN
Driver of the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T 
NHRA Chicago Event Highlights: 
  • Three-time event champion (2010, 2013, 2014) 
  • 2015 runner-up 
  • 2016 No. 1 qualifier 
 
2017 Chicago Recap:
Qualified fourth; Semifinal finish (defeated Del Worsham in E1, Alexis DeJoria in E2; defeated by Ron Capps in E3)
 
Last event (Topeka):
Qualified eighth; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Tim Wilkerson in E1; defeated by Courtney Force in E2)

2018 Season Statistics:
13 round wins; ranked third in points
 
Career Statistics:
224 races; 27 wins; 31 No. 1 qualifiers
  
Quotable:
"I think we're closing the gap on Courtney Force. They've had quite a bit on everyone. We went to Topeka, and even though we went out second round, we're running right there with her now. With (crew chief Dickie Venables) knowledge, and the way our car runs, we ought to be very, very competitive now. 

"Chicago has been kind to me. Set some world records there, and won that race a couple of times. Hopefully one of these races will pay off. Eventually the win lights will come on, but I think our crew is headed in the right direction with their tuning thought process. Our setup is moving in the right direction, just still trying to find more traction and downforce for this new track prep. I feel good about rolling into Chicago with the gains we made in Topeka. We're running right there with the best of them."


 
TOMMY JOHNSON JR.
Driver of the Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger R/T 
NHRA Chicago Event Highlights: 
  • 2015 event champion 
  • Three-time runner-up (2003, 2014, 2017) 
  • Two-time No. 1 qualifier (2006, 2014) 

2017 Chicago Recap:
Qualified sixth; Event runner-up (defeated John Force in E1, J.R. Todd in E2, Tim Wilkerson in E3; defeated by Ron Capps in E4)
 
Last event (Topeka):
Qualified sixth; Quarterfinal finish (defeated John Force in E1; defeated by Robert Hight in E2)

2018 Season Statistics:
Ten round wins; Ranked sixth in points
 
Career Statistics:
430 races; 17 wins (two Top Fuel); 15 No. 1 qualifiers (one Top Fuel)

Notable: 
  • Has advanced to the final round at Route 66 Raceway in three of the past four years, winning in 2015, and finishing as the runner-up in 2014 and 2017

Quotable:
"Chicago is a race I always look forward to. We always seem to do well there, and run really well. We've been to the Chicago final round the last several years, so I think (this weekend) would be a great opportunity to get our season kicked off with a win. It's always a special place to me, since it's close to (my home state of) Iowa, and it would be nice to win with everyone there."
 

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