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DSR Brainerd Post-Race Recap

NHRA Nationals at Brainerd

Event 17 of 24 
Brainerd International Raceway 
Brainerd, Minnesota
August 17-19, 2018
 
DSR Brainerd Elimination Highlights:

  • Jack Beckman picks up his 28th Funny Car win, second of 2018 and 329th for DSR
  • All DSR Funny Car final between the two Terry Chandler ‘giving cars’ (Beckman vs. Tommy Johnson Jr.)
  • Antron Brown raced to his second consecutive final round of 2018, finishing as the runner-up
  • Johnson advanced to his second final of the season 
  • Beckman and Johnson both gained one spot in the Countdown to the Championship standings
  • With Johnson officially securing his Countdown to the Championship playoff berth on Sunday, all seven DSR entries are now clinched and will contend for a championship
Beckman Races to First Brainerd Victory
 
BRAINERD, Minnesota (August 19, 2018) – Jack Beckman raced to victory on Sunday at Brainerd International Raceway (BIR) during an all-DSR ‘giving car’ matchup featuring both of Doug and the late Terry Chandler’s entries. Behind the wheel of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T, Beckman defeated Make-A-Wish Foundation driver Tommy Johnson Jr., claiming his second win of the season and 329th for DSR.
 
Beckman’s triumph is the 28th of his career in 56 final rounds, and his first at BIR. Both Beckman and Johnson clinched spots in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs during the weekend, as did Antron Brown, meaning all seven DSR drivers in Funny Car and Top Fuel have earned berths with one race to spare before the start of the six-race playoffs in mid-September. 
 
The Infinite Hero Dodge driver’s road to the final was anything but easy after starting in the bottom-half of the field at No. 14. First up was Mopar DSR teammate Matt Hagan, who Beckman was able to defeat with a 4.044-second at 312.64-mph pass despite dealing with a dropped cylinder. In the 650th round of his career, Beckman’s 3.980-second run knocked out Shawn Langdon in the quarterfinals. It wasn’t enough to earn the 2012 Funny Car champion lane choice in the semifinals against points leader Courtney Force, but Beckman used a slight starling line advantage and a 3.968-second at 325.14-mph pass to take down Force and advance to the all-Mopar Dodge ‘giving car’ final against Johnson. 
 
Beckman’s third career final round appearance at Brainerd was a charm, as a sharp 0.027-second reaction time off the starting line paired with his quickest run of race day, a 3.961-second E.T., propelled “Fast” Jack to his first winner’s circle celebration at Brainerd. Beckman’s other win of 2018 came back in March at the NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida. The final-round appearance was Beckman’s third of the 2018 season.
 
“Everyone was saying ‘we can’t lose, because a Doug Chandler/Terry Chandler car is in the final round,’ but we can lose, because we’re the Infinite Hero car, and we want to win!,” said Beckman of the Infinite Hero Foundation/Make-A-Wish final round dual. “Nobody goes into a final round thinking, ‘If we don’t win, we don’t win.’ It’s a big deal. You don’t know if your last win is your last win. We have struggled, it’s no secret. We haven’t had the car we had early in the season. We changed the chassis, clutches, we faced the track prep reduction and we had a tough time. I feel a heck of a lot better today than I felt yesterday.
 
“I don’t think one race can make or break you. I feel like if nothing else were to change this weekend but leaving with the trophy, it changes the psychology of everyone on the team. Yeah, you know you’re capable of winning, but the last time was at Gainesville. To put it back in the winner’s circle again just reaffirms that we are coming up on the Countdown and we have a contending car. I like the way that we didn’t start (this weekend) phenomenally, but we picked away at it and got better, and got significantly better each time down the track today.”

Qualified: No. 14 (4.029 E.T. at 317.05 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 4.044 E.T. at 312.64 MPH defeated Matt Hagan 4.101 E.T. at 268.44 MPH
E2: 3.980 E.T. at 324.83 MPH defeated Shawn Langdon 4.019 E.T. at 321.42 MPH
E3: 3.968 E.T. at 325.14 MPH defeated Courtney Force 4.040 E.T. at 320.51 MPH
E4: 3.961 E.T. at 325.69 MPH defeated Tommy Johnson Jr. 4.031 E.T. at 319.67 MPH


Driver Information:

Top Fuel:
ANTRON BROWN
Driver of the Matco Tools/U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
 
Qualified: No. 3 (3.789 E.T. at 325.45 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.803 E.T. at 326.00 MPH defeated Luigi Novelli 4.460 E.T. at 187.08 MPH
E2: 3.768 E.T. at 329.58 MPH defeated Brittany Force 3.746 E.T. at 326.24 MPH
E3: 3.733 E.T. at 323.97 MPH defeated Steve Torrence 3.753 E.T. at 330.88 MPH
E4: 3.751 E.T. at 329.10 MPH defeated by Billy Torrence 3.756 E.T. at 329.99 MPH

Race Recap:
The most recent Top Fuel winner on tour looked poised to make it two-in-a-row this weekend at Brainerd International Raceway. Brown kicked off a strong points weekend by qualifying third with his session-best Q2 pass.
 
The driver of the Matco Tools/U.S. Army/Toyota Top Fuel machine began his Sunday with a round-one win against Luigi Novelli. In his round-two matchup with reigning champ Brittany Force, Brown was first off of the starting line and held on for the holeshot win.
 
Up next was Steve Torrence, and once again, Brown left first. His 0.043-second reaction time paired with a best-of-event 3.733-second pass earned the round win for the five-time BIR champion and pitted him opposite his semifinal opponent’s father in the final round.
 
In his 121st final round and third of 2018, Brown squared off against Billy Torrence in an exciting side-by-side race. Unfortunately, Torrence’s slight starting line advantage enabled him to trigger the win lights before Brown.

Quotable:
“(In the finals) We just did the same light we had been running and Billy stepped up and turned a good light and ran a great lap and won it by three thousandth of a second. You can’t hold your head down for that. Our main focus right now is that we’ve been to two finals back-to-back. We won a race and we are definitely peaking at the right time. We’re only going to get better from here on out. We ran low E.T. of the whole event in the semis. We’re just going to keep building off that. We have the biggest race of the regular season coming up in Indy, and we’re going to test beforehand. We are really looking forward to the U.S. Nationals. We’re also hoping to pick up some more playoff spots with points-and-a-half being awarded at Indy. Now we just need to keep running strong and when we get to the Countdown, we’re definitely going to be competing at a high level for that championship. I couldn’t be prouder of all my Matco Tools/U.S. Army/Toyota guys for all the hard work they’ve put in. It’s great to see everything coming to fruition for all of us together. I’m stoked.”


LEAH PRITCHETT
Driver of the Mopar Dodge Top Fuel Dragster
 
Qualified: No. 8 (3.818 E.T. at 323.04 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 4.068 E.T. at 276.92 MPH defeated by Scott Palmer 3.837 E.T. at 325.06 MPH

Race Recap:
Mopar Dodge Top Fuel driver Leah Pritchett, who took the top qualifier spot and event win in 2017 at Brainerd, started Sunday from the No. 8 position. Pritchett, runner-up in the most recent NHRA stop at Seattle and a two-time event winner this year, lined up in the first round against No. 9 qualifier Scott Palmer. Pritchett's hopes for a long race day were dashed when her dragster smoked the tires, with Palmer earning the win.

Quotable:
“This race day, we knew coming in the conditions would be different. Essentially, we had a better track but worse air. We were already struggling with finding actual power and knowing we had worse air today, we made some extra moves to try and make that power. The most frustrating thing about our first-round loss is that, from a numbers standpoint, things didn’t add up. We had a mechanical malfunction somewhere that basically initiated what we call a ‘high-map’ earlier in the run than it should’ve. It wasn’t like we were trying to run a 3.74, there was a miscommunication happening somewhere, mechanically. Basically, it decided to put in some sauce where we didn’t tell it to. We’ll go to Indy for testing this week and there are a couple of different physical parts we will replace inside the electronics and we will get those bugs fixed. It’s nothing to hang our head about, at all. It’s stuff that happens. We were strategizing for the day and wanted to have a solid run in the first round in anticipation of having Billy Torrence, the No. 1 qualifier, in the next round, and all of it just kind of didn’t work out. Scott Palmer – I say it before I race him and after – you misstep ever so slightly, they’re there and they get you. We need to qualify a little better – we seem to have a track record of doing better when we qualify better. Coming away from Brainerd, it’s just a little blip in the momentum, just like it was a little blip on the track today. I caught traction and we were able to hook up, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do in Indy.”


TONY SCHUMACHER
Driver of the U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
 
Qualified: No. 7 (3.818 E.T. at 326.87 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.792 E.T. at 328.70 MPH defeated Terry McMillen 3.803 E.T. at 325.61 MPH
E2: 3.771 E.T. at 328.94 MPH defeated by Steve Torrence 3.792 E.T. at 325.69 MPH

Race Recap:
Tony “The Sarge” Schumacher qualified No. 7 in his U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster and knocked off Terry McMillen in the opening matchup of round one.

The eight-time Top Fuel champion and three-time Brainerd International Raceway victor clocked a quick 3.771-second run in the quarterfinals, but was edged out at the finish stripe on a holeshot loss to Steve Torrence by a margin of about six inches.

Quotable:
“The first round, it was a long tree. The second round, it was a quick tree and it caught me off guard. There’s no excuse, no other reason, the fact is Torrence left before I did on the starting line and it cost us the race with our great U.S. Army race car that we should’ve won the race with. We’ll go to the next one, we’ll forget that happened, and we’ll get it done. In the big picture, Torrence has got a pretty huge lead heading into Indy, but we had a great opportunity to put a little distance between us and the people close behind us. Too many ifs and it’s just the way it goes. Sometimes it’s just fact – the dude beat me.”


Funny Car:
 
RON CAPPS
Driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T
 
Qualified: No. 2 (3.969 E.T. at 319.67 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 4.382 E.T. at 202.91 MPH defeated by Jonnie Lindberg 4.070 E.T. at 316.01 MPH

Race Recap:
Fresh off of his 60th NHRA win and three consecutive final round appearances, Ron Capps entered the NHRA Brainerd event seeking his sixth Brainerd International Raceway Funny Car title. Capps and the NAPA AUTO PARTS team’s dominance continued throughout qualifying for the 37th running of the Minnesota race. Four solid passes, including a session-best Q4 run, earned the NAPA team a starting position from the No. 2 spot on Sunday.
 
In round one of eliminations, Capps faced Countdown hopeful Jonnie Lindberg. Capps had the advantage at the starting line and held the lead until just past halftrack when his NAPA Dodge made a hard move toward the centerline followed by an engine explosion, allowing Lindberg to claim the round win.

Quotable:
“I’ve been driving 22 years and a first-round loss like that hurts just as bad as it did during my rookie year in Funny Car. I let the car get to the inside of the groove and I feel like I was at fault. After you’ve gone through Friday and Saturday and feel how good your car is running underneath you, you really feel like you have a great chance at standing up there in the winner’s circle at the end of the day. And if not that, you plan to at least go rounds. It’s a disappointment, but that’s what these Funny Cars are all about. They’re so unpredictable and you have to be so on top of them. You have to be ready for anything at all times.
 
“I’m lucky I can jump back in the car this Thursday during our Indy test session. After a letdown here in Brainerd, I’m looking forward to getting right back in the car a few days later. It’s extra exciting this year because we’re going to test out some new aerodynamic things with Dodge. Again, we’ve got such a great car and we’re looking so good for the Countdown.”
 

 
MATT HAGAN
Driver of the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
 
Qualified: No. 3 (3.990 E.T. at 324.51 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 4.101 E.T. at 268.44 MPH defeated by Jack Beckman 4.044 E.T. at 312.64 MPH

Race Recap:
Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat driver Matt Hagan, a three-time event winner this season, entered eliminations on Sunday searching for his first career win at Brainerd International Raceway. Hagan, starting solidly in the top-half of the field from the No. 3 spot, drew teammate Jack Beckman in a matchup of Mopar HEMI machines. Both drivers dropped a cylinder, but Hagan’s Dodge was unable to match Beckman’s quicker and faster pass, keeping a Brainerd win as one of the few “to-do” items on the two-time Funny Car champion’s bucket list.

Quotable:
“Right now, we are working to get this new body dialed in. It’s changed the whole dynamic of our race car; the weight transfer is different, and this thing is making a lot more downforce on the nose. The car is going to be better, the numbers show it. We just have to figure out what this thing is asking for, and what adjustments we need to make. If anybody can figure it out, (crew chief) Dickie (Venables) can. It’s going to be really, really important for us to test at Indy and make those two or three days there really count.”

 
TOMMY JOHNSON JR.
Driver of the Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger R/T
 
Qualified: No. 5 (4.003 E.T. at 315.64 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.988 E.T. at 320.66 MPH defeated Del Worsham 4.691 E.T. at 204.42 MPH
E2: 3.937 E.T. at 319.60 MPH defeated Tim Wilkerson 4.038 E.T. at 314.97 MPH
E3: 3.950 E.T. at 323.97 MPH defeated J.R. Todd 3.973 E.T. at 324.05 MPH
E4: 4.031 E.T. at 319.67 MPH defeated by Jack Beckman 3.961 E.T. at 325.69 MPH

Race Recap:
Last year’s Brainerd Funny Car runner-up was looking to take it one step further and finish Sunday in the BIR winner’s circle for the second time in his career. Behind the wheel of his Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T, Tommy Johnson Jr. started race day from the fifth spot, squaring off against Del Worsham in round one. Johnson, a 15-time Funny Car winner, drove away with the round win posting a 3.988 versus Worsham’s 4.691 attempt.
 
The first-round victory set the tone for a long race day and led to a matchup against Tim Wilkerson in E2. Against Wilkerson, Johnson and the John Collins-led team threw down a monster 3.937-second pass which held up to be low Funny Car E.T. of the event and earned the team a spot in the semifinals for the third time in three races.
 
Versus semifinal opponent J.R. Todd, Johnson was out of the gate first and never trailed for the win, setting up an all-DSR matchup in the finals against teammate Jack Beckman. The two drivers lined up in their Doug and Terry Chandler-funded ‘giving cars,’ and Johnson gave it a solid effort, navigating down the strip in 4.031-seconds, but it wasn’t enough to outrun Beckman’s 3.961 E.T.
 
Although he may not have ended the day with the Wally trophy, Johnson was successful in officially clinching a Countdown to the Championship playoff berth on Sunday.

Quotable:
“It was a great weekend for our team, we made huge progress. You could see it coming the last few races, so super excited with how we’re running going into Indy and the Countdown.
 
“It broke a throttle air switch in the final round. After such a great day, to have something small like that break in the final is disappointing, but still all in all, a great day. The car is running really well. I look forward to testing this week and let’s see if we can get that Wally in Indy.”

NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship Points Standings:

Top Fuel
1. Steve Torrence - 1332*
2. Tony Schumacher - 1145*
3. Clay Millican - 1144*
4. Leah Pritchett - 1118*
5. Doug Kalitta - 1027*
6. Antron Brown - 1026*
7. Terry McMillen - 791
8. Brittany Force - 787
9. Scott Palmer - 701
10. Mike Salinas - 694


Funny Car
1. Courtney Force - 1372*
2. Ron Capps - 1177*
3. Robert Hight - 1154*
4. Jack Beckman - 1110*
5. Matt Hagan - 1102*

6. Tommy Johnson Jr. - 987*
6. J.R. Todd - 987*
8. John Force - 855
9. Shawn Langdon - 791
10. Tim Wilkerson - 747

*Clinched berth in NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship 
 

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