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DSR Charlotte 1 Pre-Race Report

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

Noteworthy:

  • Antron Brown (Top Fuel) and Matt Hagan (Funny Car) enter the race weekend fresh off of final round appearances at the previous event (Houston)
  • Brown leads the Top Fuel class in most zMAX Dragway victories (five):
    • Spring: 2014, 2015 
    • Fall: 2011, 2015, 2016 
  • Leah Pritchett will pull double-duty for the second time in 2018 as she continues to defend her Factory Stock Showdown Series title while chasing her first Top Fuel championship
  • Pritchett secured her career-first Factory Stock Showdown pole at the 2018 event 


DSR Driver Information:
 
Top Fuel:

ANTRON BROWN
Driver of the Matco Tools Top Fuel Dragster

Charlotte I Event Highlights: 
  • Two-time event champion (2014, 2015) 
  • 2016 runner-up 
2018 Charlotte I Recap:
Qualified third; First round exit (defeated by Doug Kalitta, Mike Salinas in E1)

Last Event (Houston):
Qualified 11th; Event runner-up (defeated Mike Salinas in E1, Leah Pritchett in E2, Steve Torrence in E3; defeated by Brittany Force in E4)

2019 Season Statistics:
Five round wins; Ranked seventh in points

Career Statistics:
411 races; 66 wins (16 Pro Stock Motorcycle); 49 No. 1 qualifiers (11 PSM)

Noteworthy:
  • Raced to a runner-up finish at the most recent event on the NHRA tour (Houston) 
  • Leads the Top Fuel class in most zMAX Dragway victories (five):
    • Spring: 2014, 2015 
    • Fall: 2011, 2015, 2016 

Quotable:
“Charlotte has always been a really special place for our Matco Tools Toyota team. The city has such a rich race history, from NASCAR to bringing NHRA there for the Four-Wide Nationals, one of our biggest races of the year. Every time you go to Charlotte, you always want to show out and stake your claim to a little bit of history in one of the meccas of racing. There’s no secret that you want to bring your ‘A game.’ 
  
“We’ve won there five times, but you don’t really think about that – the focus is on winning the next Charlotte event. Going into this year’s Charlotte Four-Wide Nationals, our mindset is to go there with our heads down and pedal down, and hopefully at the end of the day, we’re sitting on the top of the mountain. We’ve had a lot of success there because we’ve had a mindset of one team, one mind, and one focus to go there and compete at a high level.” 


 
LEAH PRITCHETT
Driver of the Pennzoil MOPAR Top Fuel Dragster 
2018 Charlotte I Recap:
Qualified 15th; First round exit (defeated by Dom Lagana, Clay Millican in E1)
 
Last Event (Houston):
Qualified third; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Shawn Reed in E1; defeated by Antron Brown in E2)

2019 Season Statistics:
Six round wins; Ranked fifth in points 

Career Statistics:
123 races; seven wins; 11 No. 1 qualifiers

Noteworthy:
  • Will pull double-duty for the second time in 2018 as she continues to defend her Factory Stock Showdown Series title while chasing her first Top Fuel championship
  • 2012 Pro Mod event champion 

Quotable: 
“Charlotte is the most unique race of the year for me personally, and I am excited for it. There is not another event where I compete four-wide and two-wide in the same weekend. Performance wise, the Pennzoil team led by Todd Okuhara and Neal Strausbaugh have a very good handle on the Top Fuel car, and I am working on what it takes to have a consistent mindset in an ever-fluctuating pressure-filled environment to give them the same consistent wining results. On the Factory Stock side, this is a huge race with the new updates to our competition rules in order to maintain parody in the class. I know we have a competitive MOPAR Drag Pak that I love driving and working with so this will be one heck of a battle. This weekend for me is truly about being the driver I know I am and turning on win lights for our dedicated fans who have shown support for our teams, no matter what colors we adorn. Running the chrome Pennzoil car again feels good and I can’t wait to get some redemption for the Pennzoil nation."



Funny Car:

JACK BECKMAN
Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

Charlotte I Event Highlights: 
  • Two-time event champion (2011, 2015) 
  • 2017 runner-up 
2018 Charlotte I Recap:
Qualified 13th; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Bob Tasca III, Shawn Langdon in E1; defeated by John Force, Courtney Force in E2)

Last Event (Houston):
Qualified eighth; First round exit (defeated by Bob Tasca III in E1)

2019 Season Statistics:
Eight round wins; ranked fifth in points 
 
Career Statistics:
305 races; 28 wins; 24 No. 1 qualifiers

Noteworthy:
  • Three-time zMAX Dragway event champion:
    • Spring (2011, 2015)  
    • Fall (2008) 

Quotable:
“We made the final quad at the Vegas Four-Wide earlier this year even though we struggled during qualifying. From there, we went to Houston where we went back to our normal two-wide format, and now we’re going into our next and final Four-Wide of the year, and I like it. I like the format. I find it challenging and I’ve had good success with it. You want to get a win out of the way early in the season to set the tone for the rest of the year. We’ve got a good car, we took a beating with a parts failure in Houston and I think it’s time to get back on the horse. I know we have a car that’s capable of winning the race, and Charlotte has been so great to me. I won the inaugural two-wide there, I’ve won their Four-Wide twice and I’d love to leave with another trophy.
 
“We will back to the traditional purple and black Infinite Hero scheme this weekend. We ran a one-off MD Anderson livery on the car at our last event in Houston, but we continued to raise funds for injured veterans. In fact, NHRA fans bought 83 more challenge coins at the last race and it’s just another way we get to change lives in a positive way.”


 
RON CAPPS
Driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Charlotte I Event Highlights: 
  • 2017 event champion 
  • 2014 No. 1 qualifier 
2018 Charlotte I Recap:
Qualified second; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Dale Creasy Jr., Jonnie Lindberg in E1; defeated by Cruz Pedregon, Tommy Johnson Jr. in E2)

Last Event (Houston):
Qualified second; Semifinal finish (defeated Jeff Diehl in E1, Shawn Langdon in E2; defeated by Matt Hagan in E3)

2019 Season Statistics:
Five round wins; ranked seventh (tied) in points 

Career Statistics:
536 races; 61 wins (one Top Fuel); 22 No. 1 qualifiers

Noteworthy:
  • Two-time zMAX Dragway event winner:
    • Spring (2017)  
    • Fall (2012) 

Quotable:
“We feel like we have unfinished business after leaving the Vegas Four-Wide Nationals. We only get to run the four-wide format twice a year and for me personally, it’s growing on me more and more every time we do it. It’s something different for us. It’s certainly something different for the fans. After this weekend, it’s back to the normal two-wide racing for the rest of the year. Getting the Four-Wide win at zMAX a few years ago was definitely a notch in the belt for our team. You feel like you really earned something when you go through a weekend of four-wide racing. It brings out a lot of different emotions in drivers. It really heightens everything. I’m pumped up. Plus, we really feel like we’re gaining momentum. I told our NAPA Nation fans that our car is getting better and better and to hang in there because we’re gaining momentum with every run we make. I really felt like we had the car to win the race in Houston. It’s getting there. I can see the confidence growing in (crew chief) Rahn Tobler with every run we make. It’s that time of year, we need to make some strides and get back up in the points and I think we have the team to do it.”


 
MATT HAGAN
Driver of the Pennzoil Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Charlotte I Event Highlights: 
  • 2013 event champion 
2018 Charlotte I Recap:
Qualified 11th; First round exit (defeated by Cruz Pedregon, Tommy Johnson Jr. in E1)

Last Event Houston):
Qualified sixth; Event runner-up (defeated Tommy Johnson Jr. in E1, Blake Alexander in E2, Ron Capps in E3; defeated by Robert Hight in E4)

2019 Season Statistics:
Nine round wins; ranked second in points 

Career Statistics:
245 races; 30 wins; 34 No. 1 qualifiers

Noteworthy:
  • Raced to a runner-up finish at the most recent event on the NHRA tour (Houston) 
  • Posted the first 3-second Funny Car run in NHRA history at Charlotte II in 2011 (3.995)
  • Three-time zMAX Dragway event winner
    • Spring (2013)  
    • Fall (2011, 2014) 

Quotable:
“zMAX Dragway is about three hours from home so I’m looking forward to getting down there and mixing it up with a lot of local folks. We’re coming off of a final round in Houston, and we’ll be running the Pennzoil car again. Our Dodge Hellcat has been performing great. The guys are working hard and putting a solid race car underneath me. My lights have been good; everything is coming around. This will be our second four-wide event of the year. We had a little practice in Vegas earlier this season and we feel pretty good going into this weekend. Hopefully we can turn on three win lights on Sunday.”


 
TOMMY JOHNSON JR.
Driver of the Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat 
2018 Charlotte I Recap:
Qualified third; Semifinal finish (defeated John Smith, Matt Hagan in E1, Robert Hight, Ron Capps in E2; defeated by Cruz Pedregon, John Force in E3)

Last Event (Houston):
Qualified 11th; First round exit (defeated by Matt Hagan in E1)

2019 Season Statistics:
Seven round wins; ranked sixth in points 
 
Career Statistics:
451 races; 17 wins (two Top Fuel); 18 No. 1 qualifiers (one Top Fuel)

Noteworthy:
  • Two-time zMAX Dragway No. 1 qualifier and runner-up:
    • Fall: 2015, 2016 

Quotable:
“I’m looking forward to Charlotte. We were runner-up a few weeks ago at the Vegas Four-Wide Nationals. We came close. I’ve been to a four-wide final a few times now so hopefully we can put a win in the books this weekend. The four-wide format is an interesting challenge, but I enjoy it.
 
“My family lives in the Charlotte area and my mom hasn’t been doing well, so I’d love nothing more than to park our Make-A-Wish Hellcat in the winner’s circle this weekend and cheer her up a little.” 

  
Factory Stock Showdown Series:

MARK PAWUK
Driver of the Empaco Equipment MOPAR Dodge Challenger Drag Pak
 

2018 Charlotte I Recap:
Did Not Compete

Last Event (Gainesville):
DNQ

LEAH PRITCHETT
Driver of the MOPAR Dodge Challenger Drag Pak
 
Charlotte I Event Highlights:
  • 2018 No. 1 qualifier
    • Career-first FS/XX pole 

2018 Charlotte I Recap:
Qualified No. 1; First round exit (defeated by Arthur Kohn in E1)

Last Event (Gainesville):
Qualified sixth; First round exit (defeated by Kevin Skinner in E1)

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