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DSR Denver Post-Race Recap

Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals
Event 14 of 24 (Denver)
Bandimere Speedway
Morrison, Colorado
July 20-22, 2018
 
DSR Denver Elimination Highlights:

  • Leah Pritchett picks up second win of 2018; seventh of her career 
  • Pritchett advances from fourth to third in the Top Fuel point standings 
  • Ron Capps raced to a runner-up finish in his 115th career final round 
  • Capps advanced from fourth to third in the Funny Car rankings 
Pritchett Raced to Victory at Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals in Denver

MORRISON, Colorado (July 22, 2018) - Leah Pritchett put the cherry on top of a dream weekend at the Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals, flying her Mopar Dodge 1320 “Angry Bee” Top Fuel dragster from the No. 1 spot to her first professional win at Bandimere Speedway.
 
The victory was Pritchett’s second of the year in three final rounds this season, the seventh overall of her career, and moved her to third in the point standings. The Wally trophy was also the eighth of the season for a DSR driver. 
 
Pritchett’s Denver domination began in qualifying, where she knocked out a 3.799-second at 327.19 mph pass, the fastest ever at Bandimere Speedway, to lock down the pole, her second straight of the season and second consecutive at Bandimere. Pritchett also collected 11 out of 12 possible qualifying points.

The Mopar Dodge 1320 driver opened eliminations with a steady 3.857-second at 322.81-mph lap to outrun Terry Totten, and then unleashed the “Angry Bee” to the tune of 3.806, the quickest of the round, to send home Scott Palmer. Pritchett ran a 3.826 in the semifinals, matched by her opponent Clay Millican’s identical 3.826 E.T., but Pritchett’s sharper 0.043-second reaction time earned her the starting line advantage and the round win.

In her second consecutive final-round appearance at Denver and 11th overall of her career, Pritchett trailed briefly against Doug Kalitta but quickly put her Mopar Dodge 1320 in the lead and never looked back, laying down a HEMI-powered 3.831-second at 316.45-mph pass to Kalitta’s losing 3.852-second effort.

“This is all because I have a phenomenal team and an incredible racecar,” said Pritchett, who jumped to third in the Top Fuel standings with her performance today, 183 points behind leader Steve Torrence and just 10 points behind second-place Millican.

“We have some incredible, stiff competition but, from Friday to Saturday to today, nobody had a better racecar because, in my opinion, nobody has a better team. To do it in this fashion, it’s a couple of ways – this is the Dodge Mile-High Nationals powered by Mopar and Pennzoil, and we’re the 1320 Scat Pak R/T car and, on top of that, I was here in 1997 and got my very first Wally. I didn’t win the national championship in a Junior Dragster but my team did. And it is no different today – this team got me my first Wally here on the mountain. To me, this win is bigger than winning the U.S. Nationals. Winning on the mountain is doing something. The glory goes to God, it goes to Don Schumacher for giving me an incredible team, and everybody at Don Schumacher Racing who builds these racecars for giving me something so safe, so solid. There’s a reason I always dreamed of driving for Don Schumacher Racing and this is it.”

Qualified: No. 1 (3.799 E.T. at 327.19 MPH

The Results:

E1: 3.857 E.T. at 322.81 MPH defeated Terry Totten 4.156 E.T. at 276.18 MPH
E2: 3.806 E.T. at 321.96 MPH defeated Scott Palmer 3.890 E.T. at 317.34 MPH
E3: 3.826 E.T. at 312.93 MPH defeated Clay Millican 3.826 E.T. at 320.36 MPH
E4: 3.831 E.T. at 316.45 MPH defeated Doug Kalitta 3.852 E.T. at 319.82 MPH



Driver Information:

Top Fuel:
 

ANTRON BROWN
Driver of the Matco Tools/U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
 
Qualified: No. 8 (3.856 E.T. at 318.47 MPH)

The Results: 
E1: 4.047 E.T. at 300.13 MPH defeated by Scott Palmer 3.894 E.T. at 317.34 MPH

Race Recap:
Antron Brown was 10-0 against his first-round opponent Scott Palmer as they kicked off the elimination rounds on Sunday at Bandimere Speedway. The reigning Denver Top Fuel champion was quick on the throttle with a 0.044-second reaction time versus Palmer’s 0.079, but the Matco Tools machine dropped a cylinder early into the run and the upset-minded Palmer was able to drive away with the round win.

Quotable:
“We made some good runs yesterday in qualifying, but it was just disappointing in the first round today. I stepped on the gas and dropped a hole and it was game over. The mountain has been really good to us in the past, but sometimes it can eat your lunch like it did to us today. It just caught us off-guard and we dropped a hole. Now we need to go back and work on getting our car changed back over and get ready for the Toyota Nats in Sonoma."


TONY SCHUMACHER
Driver of the U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
 
Qualified: No. 7 (3.834 E.T. at 325.37 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.852 E.T. at 321.12 MPH defeated by Doug Kalitta 3.849 E.T. at 320.43 MPH

Race Recap:
The Tony Schumacher/Doug Kalitta monster matchup was an exciting spectacle for the packed Bandimere Speedway grandstands. The veteran drivers were nearly identical leaving the starting line and were neck-and-neck down the 1,000-foot stretch, but Kalitta surged ahead and took the win ending the U.S. Army team’s day.

Quotable:
“It was a phenomenal race – there’s no other way to look at it. You could be upset that the race is over, but you can’t be upset with what we did. It would’ve beat every other car but one with the reaction time and the E.T. and we lost by one 10,000th of a second. We could say it put a hole out or some other excuse but it doesn’t matter because it was a great race. The car ran what we wanted it to run, I left like I wanted to leave, it was a phenomenal race. That’s just two drivers cowboying up and the fans got the win there. They paid money to watch that particular run. I said it was going to be a great race and it was.”


Funny Car:

JACK BECKMAN
Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T

Qualified: No. 2 (3.973 E.T. at 303.09 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 4.689 E.T. at 182.21 MPH defeated Bye
E2: 4.528 E.T. at 214.25 MPH defeated by Ron Capps 4.082 E.T. at 309.70 MPH

Race Recap:
Three-time event winner and Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T driver Jack Beckman opened eliminations with a solo run after Todd Simpson was unable to make the call due to body damage. In the second round against DSR stablemate Capps, a dropped cylinder dashed “Fast” Jack’s hopes for a fourth Denver triumph.

Quotable:
"Coming into Denver is always an anomaly. The tune-up is just so, so different here. We go up against our teammate (Ron Capps) second round, do our burnout and I’m starting to backup and I see a rain drop on the windshield. Not long after that, the starter gave us the signal to kill the car and that’s always a crap shoot. Whenever you have to shut the car off on the starting line and restart it, you just don’t know how much heat is in the clutch. Now both of us had to do it, but obviously our clutch just didn’t like it. The car went out there and dropped a cylinder and we lost. Qualifying second, we should be doing better than this on race day. We’ll come off the mountain, we’ll go back to our standard tune-up in Sonoma. We’re starting to wind up for Indy and the Countdown and I think we’re going to be peaking at the right time."

 
RON CAPPS
Driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T 
 
Qualified: No. 7 (4.007 E.T. at 320.81 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 4.101 E.T. at 312.93 MPH defeated J.R. Todd 4.133 E.T. at 311.27 MPH
E2: 4.082 E.T. at 309.70 MPH defeated Jack Beckman 4.528 E.T. at 214.25 MPH
E3: 4.052 E.T. at 313.88 MPH defeated Robert Hight 4.035 E.T. at 314.31 MPH
E4: 4.067 E.T. at 308.71 MPH defeated by John Force 4.075 E.T. at 315.42 MPH

Race Recap:
Ron Capps raced his NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T to a runner-up finish on Sunday at the Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals.
 
Capps, winner in 2009 on “Thunder Mountain,” started race day in the seventh position. The 2016 world champion took his Mopar-powered NAPA Dodge to a round-one win over J.R. Todd, leading off the starting line and carrying it to the finish. An all-Mopar Dodge matchup against teammate Jack Beckman awaited Capps in the quarterfinals. Capps had the advantage off the starting tree with a 0.072-second reaction, and his 4.082-second at 309.70-mph pass was more than plenty to beat Beckman, who lost a cylinder early.
 
In the semis, Capps’ ultra-quick reflexes (0.036 reaction time) earned the holeshot win with his 4.052-second pass versus reigning world champion Robert Hight’s 4.035 E.T., sending Capps to his 115th career final round and third of the season.

The final round found Capps and John Force, the two winningest Funny Car drivers in NHRA history, battling it out for the Bandimere Speedway Wally. Capps had met-up with Force 94 times prior, with Capps emerging victorious 38 times, including all three of their previous 2018 race day matchups. In their 95thmeeting, Capps powered to a solid pass of 4.067-seconds, but Force was able to snag the holeshot win with his 4.075 E.T.  

Capps’ long day of going rounds on the mountain enabled him to collect 96 points and move up from fourth to third in the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship point standings.

Quotable:
“You can say all you want about him deep-staging, but he turned the win light on, and that’s why he’s John Force. We’ll get a crack at him again soon, I’m sure. It was a great weekend to represent Dodge, Pennzoil and everyone on the mountain. My NAPA AutoCare guys were on it. We had some very quick turnarounds today, and they just kept plugging away.
 
“It was one of those days. You live and die by the sword. We won on a holeshot against Robert (Hight), and then we lost in the final. Both close races, but it was fun to watch Rahn Tobler incrementally make these changes to make the car quicker and quicker all day.
 
“This is a one-off race, the way we look at it. I can’t say how fun it was to watch (crew chief) Rahn Tobler and (assistant crew chief) Dustin (Heim) work today. The drivers talk about how difficult it is up on this mountain, but it pales in comparison to our crew members and what they go through to service these cars in the heat and the altitude. They’re the inspiration.

"Can’t wait to get back down to sea level, go to the Eric Medlen dinner on Thursday night and then race on my favorite track, Sonoma Raceway."

 
MATT HAGAN
Driver of the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
 
Qualified: No. 12 (4.093 E.T. at 310.55 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 4.279 E.T. at 265.69 MPH defeated by John Force 4.158 E.T. at 285.77 MPH

Race Recap:
No. 12 qualifier Matt Hagan gave it his best shot at taking the new Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car body to its first round win on Sunday. Coming into Denver off back-to-back wins, Hagan left first against John Force with a quick-trigger 0.033-second reaction time to Force’s slower 0.050. Both drivers dropped cylinders, with Force managing to beat Hagan and the Hellcat to the finish line. 

Quotable:
“It was nice to shake the new Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat body down some more. Obviously, the mountain has been brutal to us. It doesn’t show us much love up here but it’s one race out of the whole series, and it’s totally different from any of the other conditions we see. We come up here and we try some new things every year, some of it works, some of it doesn’t. We still have a phenomenal race car. We’re coming up at a point where things are starting to click at the right time. I don’t think this race is a reflection of what we’re capable of.
 
“We’ll get back down to sea level where we’ve been running good and strong. I’m excited for these next two races on the swing. Should be having a brand-new baby when I get home. We’re going to induce my wife on Monday night if she doesn’t have it before then, so it’s going to be a super exciting week for me. I’m looking forward to holding the baby for a little bit before we head back out. Things are just really good right now.”

 
TOMMY JOHNSON JR.
Driver of the Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger R/T 
Qualified: No. 6 (4.003 E.T. at 312.42 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 4.094 E.T. at 308.28 MPH defeated Bob Tasca III 4.998 E.T. at 167.99 MPH
E2: 4.117 E.T. at 313.58 MPH defeated by Robert Hight 4.052 E.T. at 318.09 MPH

Race Recap:
Tommy Johnson Jr. has been to the final round four times in four different classes at Bandimere Speedway, including last year’s runner-up finish. Starting from the top half of the field, Johnson was hoping to seal the deal with his first event win of 2018.
 
Johnson kicked off his Denver campaign with a first-round matchup versus Bob Tasca III. Johnson was 5-0 against Tasca going into race day and was able to extend his record by one after wheeling the Make-A-Wish Dodge down the track in 4.094-seconds, defeating Tasca’s 4.998-second pass.
 
Johnson drew reigning world champion Robert Hight in round two. Both drivers made clean runs but Johnson’s day ended at the quarterfinals when his 4.117-second run was not enough to take down Hight’s 4.052-second pass.

Quotable:
“I told the guys, even through losing second round, I feel like this was one of our better races that we’ve had in a while. The car was very consistent, ran very well, no parts damage and it kind of gives us some momentum for the rest of the swing. I think we are starting to figure the new track prep out, the car seems to be turning the corner and it gives me a lot of confidence going into the next two.”

NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship Points Standings:

Top Fuel
1. Steve Torrence - 1132
2. Clay Millican - 959
3. Leah Pritchett - 949
4. Tony Schumacher - 930
5. Doug Kalitta - 893
6. Antron Brown - 750
7. Terry McMillen - 696
8. Brittany Force - 658
9. Richie Crampton - 576
10. Scott Palmer - 544


Funny Car
1. Courtney Force - 1156
2. Matt Hagan - 946
3. Ron Capps - 930
4. Robert Hight - 911
5. Jack Beckman - 906
6. J.R. Todd - 832
7. Tommy Johnson Jr. - 746
8. John Force - 735
9. Shawn Langdon - 647
10. Bob Tasca III - 596

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