DSR Charlotte 1 Post-Race Report

NHRA Four-Wide Nationals
Event 6 of 24 (Charlotte I)
zMAX Dragway
Concord, N.C. 
April 26-28, 2019

DSR Charlotte I Elimination Highlights:

  • Leah Pritchett (Top Fuel) and Matt Hagan (Funny Car) raced to the final elimination quad in their respective categories on Sunday afternoon at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals
  • Jack Beckman advanced to fourth (tied) in the Countdown to the Championship Funny Car standings
  • Hagan maintained his No. 2 ranking in the point standings 

Driver Information:

Top Fuel:
Driver of the Matco Tools Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 2 (3.725 E.T. at 327.03 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 4.161 E.T. at 276.92 MPH defeated by Scott Palmer 3.782 E.T. at 325.61 MPH, Dom Lagana 3.796 E.T. at 320.51 MPH

Race Recap:
Fresh off a runner-up finish from the previous event on the NHRA tour, Antron Brown looked prime for another long day of racing after qualifying second for the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals. The two-time event winner had first choice of lane in his round-one quad and his quick reflexes launched him off the starting line first, but his machine quickly started to lose traction. He pedaled it, but the winningest Top Fuel driver in zMAX Dragway history was not able to make up the difference and catch up to his opponents.

“This is definitely not what we wanted to happen. One weekend you do good, and the next weekend it knocks you back. We qualified really well and set ourselves up good. This race is over. We have to lick our wounds and move on to the next race in Atlanta next weekend. It’s a race track we’ve had a lot of success at. We’re going to put the work in. We’re going to stay here and test on Monday and get this Matco Tools/Toyota car where we’re comfortable with it. We thought we had it where we wanted it and it bit us this weekend. It just got going slow early and I tried to make it up and it didn’t like that. It did some fast shake and brought the tires up. But that’s what drag racing is all about. It sometimes shakes you down, but what makes a champion is how you bounce back and rebound from it. We’ll stay focused and stay on it.”

Driver of the Pennzoil MOPAR Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 5 (3.750 E.T. at 329.67 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.775 E.T. at 327.03 MPH defeated Richie Crampton 4.851 E.T. at 153.72 MPH, Lex Joon 6.231 E.T. at 111.37 MPH
E2: 3.947 E.T. at 271.30 MPH defeated Doug Kalitta 4.736 E.T. at 163.65 MPH, Mike Salinas 5.423 E.T. at 149.81 MPH
E3: 4.435 E.T. at 246.30 MPH defeated by Steve Torrence 3.778 E.T. at 323.19 MPH, Clay Millican 4.035 E.T. at 310.48 MPH

Race Recap:
The 2012 Pro Mod event champion was hoping to end the day at zMAX Dragway with her first Four-Wide Wally trophy but a loss of traction in the final round dashed her hopes at her first triumph of the year.
Pritchett and her Pennzoil team posted the third-best run of the final qualifying session to secure a spot in the top-half of the field. In round one, Pritchett led her quad with a solid 3.775 E.T. In the second elimination session, a blower belt caused the seven-time Top Fuel winner to slow to a 3.947 but it was enough to earn a spot in the final elimination quad where she eventually fell to reigning Top Fuel world champ Steve Torrence and Clay Millican, recording a semifinal finish.

“The bad news is that we didn’t get a win out of the final. The good news is, we’re done with four-wide racing for the year. I don’t think the four-wide particularly had too much to do with the result of our day. We raced in a lane we only previously had one run in since we had last pick. The highlight is first round we had the race car and driver come together and we were able to sweep past the competition and into the second round. It’s progress. Four-Wide throws a lot of curve balls as you as a driver and a crew chief.
“T-minus five days we’ll be in Atlanta and we’re definitely looking forward to that. It’ll be warm so we’re going to take everything we learned here and apply it there. I can personally say I’m frustrated. I’ve tried a lot of things, physically and mentally, to be where the competition is at with reaction times, and frustrated because it’s not working. I will continue to work towards a solution and I can’t wait to show out in Atlanta.”

Funny Car:
Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 2 (3.891 E.T. at 321.42 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.925 E.T. at 324.83 MPH defeated Dave Richards 5.044 E.T. at 175.32 MPH, Ron Capps 5.172 E.T. at 152.95 MPH
E2: 7.194 E.T. at 99.31 MPH defeated by John Force 4.046 E.T. at 320.81 MPH, Matt Hagan 3.997 E.T. at 316.30 MPH

Race Recap:
“Fast” Jack Beckman looked to be on a bee-line to the winner’s circle in the early going on Sunday at zMAX Dragway in his MOPAR-powered Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car. After banking five total bonus points en route to the No. 2 qualifying spot, Beckman was quickest in his first foursome grouping in eliminations, clocking a 3.925 E.T. at 324.83-mph to advance. Unfortunately, the 2012 Funny Car world champion’s run ended in round two, thanks to a dropped cylinder that forced Beckman to pedal his car to a losing 7.194 E.T. finish. 

“It seems our theme this year has been that we’re not dominant in qualifying, and we find a race day package that works. In Houston, we had some bad luck first round and broke a bolt and lost that race. Then we come here, and now we’re stellar in qualifying, and the second-best car first round on race day. And then as soon as I stepped on the throttle in that second round, it put a hole out. It’s the second honest race track we’ve run all year. That’s going to happen when we get to these tracks. We have to figure out how to tune around it, because once we get into the heat of the summer months, we are going to be faced with it a lot.
“I’ve said all along we’ve got a great race car, but we need to prove that. At some point in the next couple of races, we need to push this thing into the winner’s circle. The good thing about having a race next weekend is that we only have to wait five days to dust ourselves off and do this again.”

Driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 10 (4.025 E.T. at 315.05 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 5.172 E.T. at 152.95 MPH defeated by Jack Beckman 3.925 E.T. at 324.83 MPH, Tim Wilkerson 3.954 E.T. at 317.27 MPH

Race Recap:
Ron Capps and the NAPA AUTO PARTS Funny Car team struggled through their first two qualifying opportunities, attributing their troubles to a chassis issue. Just prior to the final qualifying session, crew chief Rahn Tobler made the bold decision to switch chassis. The move paid off as Capps was able to cleanly navigate the NAPA Dodge Hellcat down the track in 4.025 seconds and earn a spot in the competitive Four-Wide Funny Car field.
As the No. 10 qualifier, Capps faced tough competition in his round-one elimination quad which included teammate Jack Beckman, Tim Wilkerson, and Dave Richards. Capps stood on the gas and his machine lost traction shortly after, slowing to a 5.172-second pass which wasn’t enough to set off the win light.

“The big story for us was dealing with an obstacle that you’re never really ready for during a race, and that is having to change cars during qualifying on Saturday. We’ll figure out what’s wrong with the car we were running and have a front-half done. To be thrown a curve ball like that, and I brag about the NAPA Know How with Tobler, and we had everything ready to go to make the switch and to go up there and make a run like that to qualify is awesome.
“Having made only one good run, we knew we were behind going into race day. We knew for sure Beckman and Wilkerson were going to run in the mid to low 3.90s and we went up there to try and run a 3.93. I look at it like not enough runs on the car and we may have pushed a little too hard. That’s the way it goes sometimes. Nobody can rebound like Tobler and this group.”

Driver of the Pennzoil Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 6 (3.959 E.T. at 325.45 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.953 E.T. at 325.14 MPH defeated Cruz Pedregon 4.671 E.T. at 184.02 MPH, Jonnie Lindberg 4.786 E.T. at 181.25 MPH
E2: 3.997 E.T. at 316.30 MPH defeated Tim Wilkerson 4.062 E.T. at 290.07 MPH, Jack Beckman 7.194 E.T. at 99.31 MPH
E3: 5.252 E.T. at 172.89 MPH defeated by Shawn Langdon 4.125 E.T. at 305.08 MPH, Robert Hight 4.159 E.T. at 242.89 MPH

Race Recap:
Starting from the No. 6 position, Pennzoil Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car driver Matt Hagan finished second out of four drivers in the opening round to advance deeper in eliminations on the strength of a 3.953 second E.T., his quickest pass of the weekend. In the next quad pairing, Hagan posted the quickest pass and continued onto the finals.

Hagan, the 2013 winner at Charlotte, matched up with Force, Robert Hight and Shawn Langdon in the final foursome of the day. Chasing his second win of the season, the two-time Funny Car world champion smoked the tires early and was forced to settle for a semifinals finish, with Langdon taking the event win. Hagan remains second in the Funny Car point standings.

“We were just pushing a little bit too hard up there, really trying to run a number. You can Monday morning quarterback it all day long – it didn’t take that big a number to make it happen, I think a 4.12 won it – but everybody went up there with that same mentality to push hard, and that’s why everybody smoked the tires.

“The thing about it is, we’ve got a great race car. We’re going into Atlanta, we’re coming off of two finals right now, and I just really feel like this team is clicking and working really well. The parts and pieces are working and the guys are putting the car together great. For Sandvik/Mopar/Pennzoil, it’s going to happen soon. Just keep doing what we’re doing. The car is responding to the decisions (crew chief) Dickie Venables is making good or bad. If it’s working, don’t change it.”

Driver of the Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 4 (3.938 E.T. at 320.36 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.978 E.T. at 321.35 MPH defeated Jeff Diehl 4.492 E.T. at 236.09 MPH, Terry Haddock 11.602 E.T. at 69.75 MPH
E2: 4.363 E.T. at 213.60 MPH defeated by Robert Hight 3.977 E.T. at 322.58 MPH, Shawn Langdon 4.311 E.T. at 248.93 MPH

Race Recap:
Tommy Johnson Jr. entered the weekend seeking his first zMAX Dragway win and positioned himself well by qualifying the Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat No. 4 in the field and earning the advantage of first choice of lanes in round one. He posted a 3.978 E.T., the quickest of the round, to score the victory over his competition.
In round two, Johnson found himself in a quad stacked with three former world champions. His machine was on a good pass before hazing the tires just past halftrack, allowing his lane four opponent to pull ahead and nab the win, ending Johnson’s day.

“Losing in the second round is not what we wanted, but we learned some things and it was still a productive day. We had a good race car but the track was really tricky. The quad we were in, only one car made a full run, the rest of us had issues. We’ll learn from this and take it to Atlanta. It’s only going to get hotter and if we can learn from this for the summertime, that’s great.”

NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship Standings:

Top Fuel
1. Steve Torrence - 460
2. Doug Kalitta - 426
3. Clay Millican - 394
4. Mike Salinas - 384
5. Brittany Force - 382
6. Leah Pritchett - 378
7. Antron Brown - 317
8. Terry McMillen - 309
9. Richie Crampton - 296
10. Billy Torrence - 265

Funny Car
1. Robert Hight - 582
2. Matt Hagan - 440
3. John Force - 417
4t. Jack Beckman - 394
4t. J.R. Todd - 394
6. Tommy Johnson Jr. - 371
7. Tim Wilkerson - 339
8. Shawn Langdon - 338
9. Ron Capps - 318
10. Bob Tasca III - 282

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