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DSR Phoenix Post Race Recap

NHRA Arizona Nationals

Event 2 of 24 (Phoenix)
Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park
Phoenix, Ariz.
Feb. 23-25, 2018

DSR Phoenix Race Day Highlights:

  • Tony Schumacher ran his 1200th round of NHRA competition during E1 
  • Tommy Johnson Jr. races to a runner-up finish in Funny Car 
  • Matt Hagan leaves Phoenix as the Funny Car points leader 
  • Johnson propels from tenth to fifth in points 

 
DSR Driver Information:

Top Fuel:

ANTRON BROWN
Driver of the Matco Tools/U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster

Qualified: No. 8 (3.712 E.T. at 328.70 MPH)
 
The Results:
E1: 8.756 E.T. at 79.76 MPH defeated Mike Salinas 3.752 E.T. at 327.35 MPH (Red Light)
E2: 6.793 E.T. at 120.75 MPH defeated by Greg Carrillo 4.054 E.T. at 284.21 MPH
 
Race Recap: 
In round one, Antron Brown was quick off of the starting line, but immediately encountered tire smoke. Lucky for Brown and the Matco Tools/U.S. Army Top Fuel team, opponent Mike Salinas hit the gas early, activating the red light and fouling out.
 
The quarterfinals found Brown lining up next to rookie racer Greg Carrillo. Brown watched Carrillo take out teammate Tony Schumacher earlier in the day, and unfortunately for the three-time Phoenix champion, Brown would suffer the same fate. Brown hit the throttle and once again, was up in smoke before the Matco Tools dragster crossed the tree. Carrillo drove to the round win and into the semifinals.
 
Quotable: 
“We got away with one there in the first round, and then we backed it off a little in the second round. We just can’t get on the right side of it right now. This Matco Tools/U.S. Army car has just been mean lately. We’re going to get it. It’s just going to take some time and putting laps down. We’re making good power; we just have to tame that beast down. Our main focus is to come back here tomorrow and test. Take it one step at a time and get back to our realm. Today should have been one of those days where we make a run to the final, put some pressure on it and move up in the points, but we let it slip away. We’ll go back and just keep working hard and try to get to where we need to be at.”
 
NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Points Standing:
133 points, ranked No. 5
Leads sixth ranked Clay Millican by 11 points
Trails fourth ranked Scott Palmer by six points
 
 
LEAH PRITCHETT
Driver of the Mopar Dodge Top Fuel Dragster 
Qualified: No. 4 (3.679 E.T. at 334.15 MPH)
 
The Results: 
E1: 3.679 E.T. at 333.08 MPH defeated Troy Buff 3.823 E.T. at 314.75 MPH
E2: 7.962 E.T. at 86.85 MPH defeated by Scott Palmer 3.844 E.T. at 325.85 MPH
 
Race Recap:
The last time Leah Pritchett had lost a round in competition at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park was 2015. The 2016 and 2017 NHRA Arizona Nationals Top Fuel champion was hoping to become the first Top Fuel driver in the 33-year history of the event to make it a three-in-a-row. 
 
During qualifying, Pritchett ran a career-best speed of 334.15-mph during her 3.679-second Q3 pass, which was good for the No. 4 spot and lane choice versus Troy Buff on race day.  
 
In round one, Pritchett was quick off of the line. She drove the Mopar Dodge Top Fuel dragster down the track in 3.679-secs, leading Buff the entire stretch of the track and earning a spot into round two.   
 
Pritchett’s Phoenix win streak ended in the quarterfinals when she hit the throttle and experienced immediate tire smoke. Palmer made a relatively clean pass and was able to take the win.
 
Quotable: 
“It wasn’t the weekend we were looking for, but there were some positives. The feeling of a round win was much needed. It’s been a while and that’s what all the work is for. Those small moments that we get to enjoy going rounds. The roller coaster saga continues. When we were in the lanes for E2 for quite some time, the conditions changed more than what we were expecting and we adjusted for it trying to be as versatile as possible, but we were a little too much out of our spectrum.
 
“Coming out of Phoenix, having the know-how that we still do know how to get down the racetrack on race days, and be the quickest and the fastest is what’s going to propel us to Gainesville.”
 
NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Points Standing:
90 points, ranked No. 7
Leads eighth ranked Brittany Force by four points
Trails sixth ranked Clay Millican by 32 points

 
TONY SCHUMACHER
Driver of the U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 1 (3.649 E.T. at 336.57 MPH)
 
The Results: 
E1: 4.858 E.T. at 189.66 MPH defeated by Greg Carrillo 4.223 E.T. at 221.27 MPH
 
Race Recap:
After making three solid passes during qualifying, two of them session-best, Schumacher and the U.S. Army team were poised for a long day of racing.
 
The No. 1 qualifier faced newbie Greg Carrillo in round one. Schumacher has a history of coming up short against Top Fuel rookies seeking their first round win, and the ‘rookie curse’ continued in Phoenix. Schumacher had the starting line advantage but started rattling the tires early into the run. The five-time Phoenix champion pedaled it, but the U.S. Army dragster immediately went back up into smoke, and Carrillo goes on to take the round win.
 
Quotable: 
“We’ve got a great team and went fast. We got a great race car, great team, we’re getting along excellent. It’s just one of those things that’s going to happen randomly throughout the season. You’ve got to look at the luck that goes on. Antron goes out, smokes the tires and gets a red light. We go out, pedal the car and would have beat most cars out there, and get beat by a car that just goes down the track. It is what it is. You can’t be angry; this is about my 500th race. And we’ve won 83 of them. We’ve won more than anyone in the history. But we’ve lost 400 plus. At the end of the day, this is not an easy thing to go out and do. We’ve got a great team. We keep our chins up. We’re happy with all the guys; they’re doing a great job. The car is performing as well as anything we’ve seen in a long time. It’s good to be here.”
 
NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Points Standing:
140 points, ranked No. 3
Leads fourth ranked Scott Palmer by one point
Trails second ranked Doug Kalitta by four points


Funny Car:

JACK BECKMAN
Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 3 (3.845 E.T. at 332.43 MPH)
 
The Results: 
E1:  Broke- No Time defeated by Richard Townsend 5.503 E.T. at 179.90 MPH
 
Race Recap: 
The three-time Phoenix winner had a strong showing throughout qualifying at the NHRA Arizona Nationals. He made ‘top three’ session-best runs during three out of four qualifying sessions, and earned lane choice over Richard Townsend, who was making his Funny Car race day debut in round one.
 
Beckman was first to stand on the gas, but suffered an explosion early into the run. The parachutes deployed and the Dodge Charger came to a stop on the track. Townsend drove to the finish line and claimed the round win.
 
Quotable:
“The Infinite Hero team was going to stay and test tomorrow. The reason we’re testing is not due to our first round explosion. We’re tracing the root cause of that and we will eliminate that. We’re testing because, even though I think we have a phenomenal and versatile car good in all conditions right now, we’ve still got some different parts and pieces, and some of our spare parts that we need to cycle through to make sure that we’re good to go for the hard push in the summer months. So, we will cross two more things off of our list before we leave here tomorrow afternoon. We will eliminate the cause of our first-round explosion and we will test enough things that we’ll roll into Gainesville with even more confidence.”
 
NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Points Standing:
122 points, ranked No. 6
Leads seventh ranked Jonnie Lindberg by 15 points
Trails fifth ranked Tommy Johnson Jr. by six points
 
 
RON CAPPS
Driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 2 (3.844 E.T. at 330.80 MPH)
 
The Results: 
E1: 3.908 E.T. at 325.30 MPH defeated Tim Wilkerson 4.091 E.T. at 256.89 MPH
E2: 4.651 E.T. at 182.30 MPH defeated by Shawn Langdon 3.927 E.T. at 328.14 MPH
 
Race Recap:
After qualifying second and making two bonus point-worthy runs on Saturday, Ron Capps and the Rahn Tobler-led NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car team were poised for a long day of going rounds on Sunday.
 
Capps, a three-time Phoenix Funny Car champion, started race day with 680 round wins, ranking him sixth on the all-time list among professional NHRA drivers. He was hoping to collect four more rounds to add to his impressive total on Sunday, but first he’d have to get through Tim Wilkerson, his round one opponent.
 
Wilkerson dropped a cylinder early into the run. Meanwhile, Capps drove the NAPA Dodge Charger to a straight and clean 3.908-second at 325.30-mph pass for the win. The run was the best of the round, and held up to be second best of race day.
 
In the quarterfinals, Capps faced Funny Car newcomer Shawn Langdon. Unfortunately for the NAPA team, Langdon took the lead almost immediately, and while Capps charged hard in an attempt to chase him down, he smoked the tires near halftrack and Langdon was able to take the win, ending Capps’ day early.
 
Quotable:
“It takes a little while for it to sink in because we really felt like we had a car that was capable of taking the win today. We’re disappointed.
 
“We smoked the tires. It’s so unlike Rahn Tobler. He’s up there on the computer trying to figure out what happened. It’s part of adapting to our new six-disc clutch. It’s part of the growing pains, but we had such a great race car, and to have a chance of winning like we did, and have lane choice going back into round two, it’s been a very interesting weekend. We didn’t hurt any parts. The car is in one piece and we’re looking forward to Gainesville.”
 
NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Points Standing:
139 points, ranked No. 3
Leads fourth ranked Robert Hight by six points
Trails second ranked Courtney Force by 21 points

 
MATT HAGAN
Driver of the Sandvik Coromant  Dodge Charger R/T 
Qualified: No. 9 (3.926 E.T. at 330.88 MPH)
 
The Results: 
E1: 3.910 E.T. at 331.85 MPH defeated J.R. Todd 4.017 E.T. at 320.66 MPH
E2: 4.480 E.T. at 192.19 MPH defeated by Courtney Force 3.965 E.T. at 319.14 MPH
 
Race Recap:
Hagan entered the NHRA Arizona Nationals as the most recent Funny Car event champion, and 2017 Phoenix winner.
 
The points leader struggled throughout qualifying, making only one full pull, but felt confident in the team’s abilities to turn the car around and have a successful showing on race day.
 
Hagan powered the Dickie Venables-tuned Sandvik Coromant Dodge Charger R/T to a 3.910-second run in the first round of eliminations, easily defeating opponent J.R. Todd. The run, which held up to be second best of the round, earned Hagan the advantage of lane choice in round two.
 
Hagan drew eventual event champion Courtney Force, and he believes delays during the second Funny Car session were a factor in the team’s round two woes.
 
The Sandvik Charger put a hole out early into the pass. Shortly after, Hagan suffered an explosion just past halftrack and Force was able to drive into the semifinals.
 
Despite a round two exit, Hagan remains the Funny Car points leader leaving Phoenix.
 
Quotable: 
“We came in and tested in Phoenix and had a really nice session. We got here and the weather changed and we changed up some blower combos and some things like that, kind of making some more horsepower than we expected. We started trying to pull some of that back and then obviously, when you start doing that, it affects everything. You change one thing and it changes ten.
 
“All-in-all we went through first round and I was really impressed with Dickie Venables. In the first round there were guys smoking the tires and rattling up the tree and just couldn’t get down the track. He made some really big wholesale changes to get us where we went 91 [3.91 seconds] and ended up having lane choice out there for second round, but with the delays we already had our tune-up set up. Conditions changed and there just wasn’t a lot we could do. We’re going to roll to Gainesville next and do our thing.”
 
NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Points Standing:
179 points, ranked No. 1
Leads second ranked Courtney Force by 19 points
 
 
TOMMY JOHNSON JR.
Driver of the Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger R/T 
Qualified: No. 6 (3.879 E.T. at 328.62 MPH)
 
The Results: 
E1: 4.715 E.T. at 225.60 MPH defeated Robert Hight 4.806 E.T. at 273.44 MPH
E2: 4.454 E.T. at 244.74 MPH defeated Richard Townsend 5.174 E.T. at 144.52 MPH
E3: 3.916 E.T. at 328.46 MPH defeated Shawn Langdon 3.958 E.T. at 325.77 MPH
E4: 6.814 E.T. at 101.57 MPH defeated by Courtney Force 3.834 E.T. at 337.16 MPH
 
Race Recap:
Tommy Johnson Jr. entered the Phoenix event without a 2018 round win and sitting in a three-way tie for the No. 10 ranking. Not only did he set off his first win light of the season, but Johnson raced Terry and Doug Chandler’s Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger R/T all the way to the Arizona Nationals final round on Sunday.
 
Along the way to round four, Johnson defeated Robert Hight, Richard Townsend and Shawn Langdon. In the finals, Johnson had the reaction time advantage over opponent Courtney Force, but he hazed the tires early into the run. Despite his best efforts, Force was able to power to the win with her 3.834-sec pass.
 
A runner-up finish propelled Johnson, and Terry and Doug Chandler's Make-A-Wish team from tenth to fifth in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series points standings.
 
Quotable:
“The car out of the box was good. Then, we had the problems on Saturday with blowing it up big, but the guys rebounded and came back strong today. We had maybe a little luck the first two rounds but everyone was smoking the tires. We kept working hard and got those round wins and laid down a nice, solid run in the semis so I was confident going into the finals. I thought we had something for Courtney. But I'm just happy that the performance of the car is kind of coming back to us. We're still new to the six-disc [clutch] and learning it. I think the guys made big strides this weekend.” 
 
NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Points Standing:
128 points, ranked No. 5
Leads sixth ranked Jack Beckman by six points
Trails fourth ranked Robert Hight by five points

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