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DSR Charlotte 2 Pre-Race Report

NTK NHRA Carolina Nationals
Event 21 of 24 (Charlotte II)
Countdown Event 3 of 6
zMAX Dragway
Concord, N.C. 
Oct. 11-13, 2019

Highlights:

  • Ron Capps returns as the defending event champion after powering to his 60th NHRA Funny Car victory during the 2018 race
  • All DSR drivers remain in championship contention heading to zMAX Dragway 
  • Tommy Johnson Jr. rocketed to the Funny Car qualifying lead during the 2018 Charlotte II event
  • Antron Brown leads the class in most victories (five) at zMAX Dragway:
    • Fall: 2011, 2015 – 2016 
    • Spring: 2014 – 2015 
DSR Driver Information:
 
Top Fuel:

ANTRON BROWN
Driver of the Matco Tools Top Distributor Top Fuel Dragster

Countdown to the Championship standing: 6th (tied)

Charlotte II Event Highlights: 
  • Three-time event champion (2011, 2015-2016) 
  • 2008 runner-up  
2018 Charlotte II Recap:
Qualified 11th; First round exit (defeated by Tony Schumacher in E1)

Last Event (St. Louis):
Qualified 11th; First round exit (defeated by Leah Pritchett in E1)

2019 Season Statistics:
23 round wins; ranked sixth (tied) in points

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

Noteworthy:
  • Leads the class in most victories (five) at zMAX Dragway:
    • Fall: 2011, 2015 – 2016 
    • Spring: 2014 – 2015 
  • Campaigning the Matco Tools Top Distributor Top Fuel Dragster for one event only
    • The Top Distributor scheme celebrates Joe Gaulin, Matco Tools’ No. 1 distributor in 2018. Gaulin is a four-time Matco Tools Top Distributor    
    • The campaign commemorates the Ashville, N.C. resident’s hard work at his ‘home track’ 
    • Mr. Gaulin will be treated to a day at the races where he will bring 150 of his customers to join in on the celebration.
    • At the conclusion of the race weekend, Gaulin will keep Brown’s firesuit and helmet, both of which were designed for the occasion 
Quotable:
“Really excited to go to Charlotte, our third race of the Countdown. St. Louis didn’t go the way we wanted it to, but we learned a lot during that race. Charlotte is definitely going to be our breakout race; I can feel it. I can see the synergy; I can feel the energy within our team and (crew chiefs) Mark (Oswald) and Brad (Mason). They have a great game plan headed into Charlotte, so I’m just excited and ready to go out there and execute and do what we do, which is be a competitive team that’s capable of winning races.” 

  
LEAH PRITCHETT
Driver of the Okuma Top Fuel Dragster
Countdown to the Championship standing: 5th

2018 Charlotte II Recap:
Qualified seventh; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Richie Crampton in E1; defeated by Steve Torrence in E2)

Last Event (St. Louis):
Qualified sixth; Semifinal finish (defeated Antron Brown in E1, Austin Prock in E2; defeated by Billy Torrence in E3)

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

Career Statistics:
137 races; eight wins; 11 No. 1 qualifiers 

Quotable:
“Charlotte will be a very pivotal race for us as we reach the halfway mark of the Countdown from the fifth spot. With horsepower-making weather upon us, we are eager to maintain our strategy of consistent qualifying, but we also know we have a combination that we feel confident can go for low E.T. when it’s out there. (Crew chiefs) Todd (Okuhara) and Neal (Strausbaugh) have made some dramatic setup moves in the Countdown, which have garnered good results, and we look forward to perfecting our program this weekend in order to make deeper progress. The points are so tight right now, every motion of what we do becomes increasingly amplified. I am excited for us to lay everything we’ve got on the line in pursuit of chasing the one thing that matters most – a championship.”

  
Funny Car:

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

Countdown to the Championship standing: 3rd

Charlotte II Event Highlights:
  • 2008 event champion  
  • 2010 runner-up  
2018 Charlotte II Recap:
Qualified 10th; First round exit (defeated by Robert Hight E1)

Last Event (St. Louis):
Qualified ninth; First round exit (defeated by J.R. Todd in E1)

2019 Season Statistics:
32 round wins; ranked third in points 
 
Career Statistics:
320 races; 29 wins; 25 No. 1 qualifiers

Noteworthy:
  • Won the first race of the Countdown, and currently ranks third with only a 24-point margin separating Beckman from the current point leader
Quotable:
“Even though we’re coming off a first-round loss at St. Louis, the win at Maple Grove, our first race of the Countdown, has kept us very much alive in the hunt. In fact, after going out early, things kind of played in our favor in St. Louis, so we’re still within one round and some qualifying bonus points of taking back the lead. I think that the next two races are pivotal for two reasons – by the time we get done with them, we’ll be two-thirds of the way through the Countdown, and they’re the only pair of back-to-back races in the Countdown. Nobody can stumble from here on out if you want the No. 1 sticker on your car next year.”

 
RON CAPPS
Driver of the NAPA NIGHTVISION LED Lamps Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Countdown to the Championship standing: 4th

Charlotte II Event Highlights: 
  • Two-time event champion (2012, 2018) 
2018 Charlotte II Recap:
Qualified second; Event champion (defeated Dale Creasy Jr. in E1, Robert Hight in E2, Tim Wilkerson in E3, J.R. Todd in E4)

Last Event (St. Louis):
Qualified fifth; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Blake Alexander in E1; defeated by Robert Hight in E2)

2019 Season Statistics:
30 round wins; ranked fourth in points 

Career Statistics:
551 races; 64 wins (one Top Fuel); 24 No. 1 qualifiers

Noteworthy:
  • Returns as the defending event champion after racing the NAPA NIGHTVISION Dodge to his 60th NHRA Funny Car victory during the 2018 event
  • About NAPA NIGHTVISION LED Lamps monthlong promotion:
    • During the month of October, customers will save $10 on the purchase of a two-pack of NAPA NIGHTVISION Premium Headlamps
Quotable:
“This is such a fun part of the season, especially when you’ve got a great race car like we have in our NAPA AUTO PARTS hot rod. Last year, we got to run a special NAPA NIGHTVISION paint scheme at this event, and we ended up winning the race, which put ourselves in position to battle for the championship. So, it's really cool that at this year's Carolina Nationals, we’ll once again represent NAPA NIGHTVISION Lamps, although the livery will be a little different. Like I’ve said before, it's always fun when NAPA uses our team to promote something that's going to help people be safer on the roads like the NIGHTVISION LED Lamps will, and it doesn't hurt when you park the car in the winner’s circle like we did last year.”
  

MATT HAGAN
Driver of the MOPAR Express Lane Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody
Countdown to the Championship standing: 9th

Charlotte II Event Highlights:
  • Two-time event champion (2011, 2014) 
  • Two-time runner-up (2009, 2013) 
  • 2011 No. 1 qualifier  
2018 Charlotte II Recap:
Qualified sixth; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Shawn Langdon in E1; defeated by Tim Wilkerson in E2)

Last Event (St. Louis):
Qualified second; First round exit (defeated by Jim Campbell in E1)

2019 Season Statistics:
26 round wins; ranked ninth in points 

Career Statistics:
260 races; 31 wins; 35 No. 1 qualifiers

Quotable:
“We have to be extremely strong the last four races of the Countdown. We kind of struggled the first two, so we really need to go out and win the Charlotte race in order to have a chance to keep ourselves in the hunt. We’re more than capable; we just need to execute our plan. We’ve been working all year on having this car run strong, and we need to get started off on the right foot. Friday qualifying sets the tone for the whole weekend. It seems like every time we have a good Friday showing, the rest of the weekend falls into place.

"I’m excited about the fact that we're already at race No. 3 in the Countdown, but hate that the year has blown by so fast. Sometimes you have to stop and take a step back and enjoy the ride. These next few races, I’m focused on taking it all in and enjoying it. Can’t wait to crawl back into that race car and drive my ass off and do the best job I can for my team.”

 
TOMMY JOHNSON JR.
Driver of the Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat 
Countdown to the Championship standing: 8th

Charlotte II Event Highlights:
  • Two-time runner-up (2015-2016) 
  • Three-time No. 1 qualifier (2015-2016, 2018) 
2018 Charlotte II Recap:
Qualified No. 1; First round exit (defeated by Dave Richards in E1)

Last Event (St. Louis):
Qualified seventh; First round exit (defeated by Shawn Langdon in E1)

2019 Season Statistics:
29 round wins; ranked eighth in points 
 
Career Statistics:
466 races; 19 wins (two Top Fuel); 18 No. 1 qualifiers (one Top Fuel)

Noteworthy:
  • Powered to the Funny Car qualifying lead during the 2018 Fall Charlotte event
    • One of three consecutive poles for Johnson during the 2018 Countdown 
Quotable:
“I’m looking forward to Charlotte. We didn’t get the results we wanted at the last two races, and we’re a little bit behind in the Countdown. It’s time to make a move, and Charlotte has been good to me over the years. I’ve been No. 1 qualifier there, been runner-up during the Countdown, and have done well at the Four-Wide there as well. If we’re going to turn things around and put our team back in the hunt, I think Charlotte is a good place to do it.”

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