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DSR Charlotte I Post Race Recap

NHRA Four-Wide Nationals

Event 6 of 24 (Charlotte I)
zMAX Dragway
Concord, N.C.
April 27-29, 2018

DSR Charlotte I Race Day Highlights:
  • Jack Beckman retains the Funny Car points lead 
  • Tommy Johnson Jr. advanced to the final quad 

Four-Wide Nationals note: Bolded driver/time advanced to the next round.

Driver Information:

Top Fuel:

ANTRON BROWN
Driver of the Matco Tools/U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
 
Qualified: No. 3 (3.719 E.T. at 331.77 MPH)

The Results: 
E1:
Antron Brown 4.872 E.T. at 130.04 MPH
Doug Kalitta 3.762 E.T. at 328.70 MPH
Mike Salinas 4.087 E.T. at 222.84 MPH
Richie Crampton 10.437 E.T. at 38.24 MPH

Race Recap:
The two-time NHRA Four-Wide Nationals Top Fuel winner started race day from the No. 3 seed.

With identical reaction times, Antron Brown and Doug Kalitta led their quad off of the starting line, but Brown’s Matco Tools machine, which ran top speed of the weekend during qualifying, began to haze the tires before halftrack. The engine let go with a quick fireball before going silent. Kalitta and Mike Salinas crossed the stripe first and advanced to round two.

Quotable:
“We were out there pushing. We expected the track conditions to be good since the track was cooler. We were going for it – a .72 or .73 and figured that would be good enough to get the job done. To our surpise we didn’t even make it to the 330 (foot mark) and we started to smoke the tires. I did a quick pedal and the track didn’t have the traction we expected. I immediately let off and the tires kept spinning and it backfired and blew up. It was just one of those deals that you have to get used to the way the track is prepped now. We know the track prep is less and now we have to treat it knowing the track is not as good as it used to be. Everybody knows it, now everybody has to get prepared for it. You could see all these other teams having the same problems. The number one, two and three qualifiers are gone (after round one). The hardest part is we’re pushing hard and wanting to run well. We’ll just suck it up and try to get better with it. This racing is a challenge and if it was easy, then everybody would be doing it. A lot of the big hitters went out early today, but a lot of the mid-level teams had some good runs. They hit it right and we just hit it wrong. We all have to adapt to it. We just need to keep pushing forward.”

NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Points Standing:
362 points, ranked fifth
Leads sixth ranked Leah Pritchett (315 points)
Trails fourth ranked Clay Millican (384 points) 


LEAH PRITCHETT
Driver of the Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster 
 
Qualified: No. 15 (4.004 E.T. at 294.31 MPH)

The Results: 
E1:
Tony Schumacher 4.726 E.T. at 219.72 MPH
Clay Millican 4.376 E.T. at 194.18 MPH
Dom Lagana 3.834 E.T. at 324.05 MPH

Leah Pritchett 4.999 E.T. at 174.44 MPH

Race Recap:
This weekend’s race marked Leah Pritchett’s 100th professional event. The driver of the Pennzoil Top Fuel dragster was hoping to celebrate the milestone with her first event win of 2018.
 
Pritchett’s Pennzoil machine lost traction early into the run, hazing the Goodyear slicks at the same spot where the car in the quad ahead of hers suffered a large explosion. Pritchett pedaled it, but the car was not able to regain traction, and two of her opponents were able to set off the win light first, ending her day.

Quotable:
“It’s definitely been one of those frustrating weekends for us. We so badly wanted to put a win light up there for Pennzoil, Mopar and U.S. Army. We went out there with a conservative setup to get us down the track. The car in our lane before us had a large explosion and NHRA did a good job preparing the starting line and the part of the track where they saw it the most necessary. We are 98 percent confident that as soon as our car reached the part of the track where the preparation stopped, we ran on oil. We lost traction and I pedaled the car. You drive this event different. When you are racing four-wide, you are going to pedal it no matter what because you just don’t know. I’m in lane one and I have no idea what’s going on in lane four. You are just cringing inside that car trying to get it to hook up knowing that I’m doing a lot of damage here and the only consolation is if we're able to put on a win light. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to do that. Everything up to that point we felt completely confident in. So we take that, we learn, and we go on to Atlanta.”

NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Points Standing:
315 points, ranked sixth
Leads seventh ranked Brittany Force (311 points)
Trails fifth ranked Antron Brown (362 points)


TONY SCHUMACHER
Driver of the U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 2 (3.692 E.T. at 331.61 MPH)

The Results: 
E1:
Tony Schumacher 4.726 E.T. at 219.72 MPH
Clay Millican 4.376 E.T. at 194.18 MPH
Dom Lagana 3.834 E.T. at 324.05 MPH

Leah Pritchett 4.999 E.T. at 174.44 MPH

Race Recap:
The 2017 NHRA Four-Wide Nationals Top Fuel runner-up was the first out of the gate in his quad of stout leavers. Schumacher’s No. 2 qualified 11,000-horsepower machine quickly lost traction and was up in smoke early. He skillfully pedaled it, but the U.S. Army dragster wouldn’t hook up and his opponents Dom Lagana and Clay Millican were able to drive away with the round win.

Quotable:
“The U.S. Army car has been running good, but maybe down on horsepower just a little bit this weekend. We made some changes for that first round and the power picked right back up. I wish we had one more qualifying run, but that’s not the way it goes. You have to make changes as you see them. My U.S. Army crew is as good as anyone and we’ll get it figured out. We are all adjusting to the traction NHRA is providing. I’m not surprised with how unpredictable things went today in the first round. We knew it going in that there were going to be changes. It’s not like 20 crew chiefs became idiots last night. We just have to get used to it and bring the cars to it. When the track warms up, it becomes a little more predictable. The first quad there was an oildown. The second quad there was an oildown. When there is that much span in between runs, the track is just not good. You want to go one pair after the other, but we didn’t get that opportunity because of the oildowns and the blow ups. That didn’t help us today. Hats to off to Torrence, they went out and won the race. We make no excuses. I am a firm believer there is a reason. We had too much power. We missed it. That’s the reason. I wouldn’t want to race our car right now. We are bad to the bone and looking forward to showing that in Atlanta.”

NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Points Standing:
426 points, ranked second
Leads third ranked Doug Kalitta (401 points)
Trails No. 1 ranked Steve Torrence (503 points) 


Funny Car:
JACK BECKMAN
Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T
 
Qualified: No. 13 (3.983 E.T. at 316.08 MPH

The Results: 
E1:
J.R. Todd 4.031 E.T. at 305.42 MPH
Bob Tasca III 4.667 E.T. at 167.63 MPH
Shawn Langdon 14.795 E.T. at 79.49 MPH
Jack Beckman 4.427 E.T. at 237.71 MPH

E2:
Courtney Force 4.115 E.T. at 255.68 MPH
John Force 4.108 E.T. at 299.66 MPH

J.R. Todd 4.435 E.T. at 245.94 MPH
Jack Beckman 4.717 E.T. at 204.79 MPH

Race Recap:
After coming oh-so-close to winning the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals for the third time in 2017, the event runner-up returned to zMAX Dragway this weekend hoping to seal the deal and collect another Four-Wide trophy.
 
Qualifying was a struggle for Beckman and Terry and Doug Chandler’s Infinite Hero Foundation Funny Car team. They started race day from the No. 13 spot and without the option of choosing a lane.
 
In round one, Beckman defeated Bob Tasca III and Shawn Langdon with his 4.427-second pass. In the second round, all four drivers encountered issues, but John Force and Courtney Force were able to outrun Beckman’s 4.717-second effort and advance to the final elimination quad.
 
Beckman and the Infinite Hero team remain in the points lead heading into next weekend’s NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway.

Quotable:
“I don’t think I’ve seen this much carnage in one round of nitro racing in my entire career, and even as a fan. It was just kind of a freak deal. I think it was a combination of good air, spraying a little bit less percentage of the traction compound, and the fact that it’s four-wide. We have to race for second place which we never do, and you’ll get back in it more often than you normally would and that’s the nature of the beast.
 
“We never really got a handle on the car this weekend, but we still managed to salvage a round out of it. We got 20 points that maybe somebody else qualifying 13th wouldn’t have expected to get and we still leave here in the points lead, so it’s hard to hang our heads too low. We’re confident we’re going to get our tune-up back underneath us. The last couple of races have thrown us a curveball here, but Guido (Dean Antonelli), John (Medlen) and Neal (Strausbaugh) live for this stuff. They’ll take the data home, they’ll look at it and have three days to figure it out. Then, we’ll unload at Atlanta with a fresh perspective."

NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Points Standing:
466 points, ranked No. 1
Leads second ranked Courtney Force (425 points)


RON CAPPS
Driver of the NAPA Brakes Dodge Charger R/T
 
Qualified: No. 2 (3.886 E.T. at 329.83 MPH)

The Results: 
E1:
Ron Capps 4.585 E.T. at 218.16 MPH
Robert Hight 4.566 E.T. at 273.27 MPH

Jonnie Lindberg 9.074 E.T. at 77.52 MPH
Dale Creasy 4.703 E.T. at 174.91 MPH

E2: 
Ron Capps 5.233 E.T. at 140.44 MPH
Robert Hight 4.610 E.T. at 192.49 MPH
Tommy Johnson Jr. 4.007 E.T. at 314.02 MPH
Cruz Pedregon 4.055 E.T. at 309.20 MPH


Race Recap:
After making the best qualifying run of the round during the second and third sessions, No. 2 seed Ron Capps entered race day armed with lane choice and six bonus points.
 
The defending NHRA Four-Wide Nationals champion faced Robert Hight, Jonnie Lindberg and Dale Creasy in the first quad. Capps was out in front early, leading the quad before succumbing to tire smoke at 700-feet. Capps wasn’t the only driver to encounter issues. All four cars lost traction on the undeniably tricky race track which had crew chiefs scratching their heads all day. Capps pedaled the NAPA Brakes Dodge Charger down the track and across the stripe in 4.585-seconds, earning the round win.
 
In the second elimination round, Capps was first off of the starting line, but again, there were traction problems, and Capps let off of the throttle early. He crossed the finish line in 5.233-secs, falling to his DSR teammate, Tommy Johnson Jr., and the eventual Four-Wide winner, Cruz Pedregon.

Quotable:
“The car was running great the second round. Obviously, the first round was a battle of attrition, having to pedal it and keep it off the centerline and wall. Our NAPA Brakes team advanced to the second round. It was running right down through there and for some reason the oil sending unit shut off the ignition. We’re going to have to figure out why it did that, but it’s a little heartbreaking to have something just shut the ignition off. It’s there for a reason, because in years past some drivers didn’t know when to shut them off when something was going wrong, and it’s helped that. We have less oildowns now, but it can also cause the same thing we saw today where it just shut (the ignition) off halfway down the run, so we’ll figure it out.
 
“We had a great car all weekend. It was so much fun to make that Q3 ‘middle of the heat’ run of 3.96 when nobody else was going down the track. I can feel (Rahn) Tobler’s got his mojo back. It’s a great thing going back into Atlanta, obviously. Atlanta is headquarters for NAPA, Coca-Cola and Mello Yello. If we have to get a win for the first time this year, that’s the best place to do it.”

NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Points Standing:
352 points, ranked seventh
Leads eighth ranked Cruz Pedregon (274 points)
Trails sixth ranked Tommy Johnson Jr. (376 points)


MATT HAGAN
Driver of the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T
 
Qualified: No. 11 (3.966 E.T. at 320.89 MPH)

The Results: 
E1:
Tommy Johnson Jr. 4.374 E.T. at 215.00 MPH
Cruz Pedregon 4.156 E.T. at 243.55 MPH

Matt Hagan 5.145 E.T. at 127.07 MPH
John Smith 4.315 E.T. at 256.84 MPH

Race Recap:
Matt Hagan started Sunday hoping to add another Charlotte Wally to his collection. Unfortunately for the three-time zMAX Dragway winner, Hagan’s chances at racing for the trophy were dashed early. In the first round of eliminations, Hagan’s Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger got to about 600-feet before smoking the tires. He pedaled it but the engine exploded, launching the body into the air. His DSR teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. and Cruz Pedregon advanced to the second round.

Quotable:
“A little tough, not the Sunday first round we wanted. Obviously, NHRA needs to address the track prep situation. There’s a lot less grip out there and that’s why everyone’s smoking the tires and blowing up. Hopefully, they can get this situation figured out.”

NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Points Standing:
395 points, ranked fourth
Leads fifth ranked Robert Hight (381 points)
Trails third ranked J.R. Todd (403 points)

 
TOMMY JOHNSON JR.
Driver of the Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger R/T 
Qualified: No. 3 (3.887 E.T. at 328.70 MPH)

The Results: 
E1:
Tommy Johnson Jr. 4.374 E.T. at 215.00 MPH
Cruz Pedregon 4.156 E.T. at 243.55 MPH

Matt Hagan 5.145 E.T. at 127.07 MPH
John Smith 4.315 E.T. at 256.84 MPH

E2:
Ron Capps 5.233 E.T. at 140.44 MPH
Robert Hight 4.610 E.T. at 192.49 MPH
Tommy Johnson Jr. 4.007 E.T. at 314.02 MPH
Cruz Pedregon 4.055 E.T. at 309.20 MPH


E3: 
Courtney Force 6.215 E.T. at 114.46 MPH
John Force 4.098 E.T. at 307.93 MPH
Tommy Johnson Jr. 4.143 E.T. at 275.39 MPH
Cruz Pedregon 4.059 E.T. at 310.84 MPH

Race Recap:
Tommy Johnson Jr. raced to a semifinal finish on Sunday at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals.
 
Terry and Doug Chandler’s Make-A-Wish Dodge Funny Car team started race day from third after making the second-best run of Q2.
 
After defeating John Smith and teammate Matt Hagan in the first round of eliminations, Johnson faced tough competition in his DSR teammate Ron Capps, reigning world champion Robert Hight, and eventual race winner Cruz Pedregon in round two. Johnson navigated the Make-A-Wish machine down the track in 4.007-seconds, defeating Hight and Capps, and earning a spot in the final elimination quad.
 
In the finals, Johnson kept pace until just before the finish line when the tires broke loose and Pedregon was able to drive away with the race win.

Quotable:
“It's just a challenge for everybody out here today. The change of the track prep has really thrown the crew chiefs for a curve. We saw a lot of carnage and a lot of teams struggling to get a hold of the track. We made a nice run in round two and had low E.T., and we kind of thought we had a handle on it. Then, once we got out there for the final, it was really running well but broke the tires loose. We'll have to figure it out. We'll see if we can't keep chipping away.” 

NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Points Standing:
376 points, ranked sixth
Leads seventh ranked Ron Capps (352 points)
Trails fifth ranked Robert Hight (381 points) 

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