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DSR Charlotte 2 Pre-Race Report

NHRA Carolina Nationals
Event 15 of 20
Countdown Event 2 of 7
zMAX Dragway
Concord, N.C. 
Sept. 17 - 19, 2021

Noteworthy:

  • No. 2 ranked Funny Car pilot and defending series champion Matt Hagan returns to competition at zMAX Dragway following a two-race absence due to COVID-19. Hagan begins the race weekend a mere five points behind the current Funny Car point leader
  • Ron Capps occupies the No. 3 spot in the Funny Car rankings and is less than one round out of first place
  • Antron Brown will be looking for a record-tying sixth Top Fuel win at zMAX Dragway this weekend as he pursues a fourth world championship
  • Making her fifth Countdown to the Championship appearance, Leah Pruett is seeking her first zMAX Dragway victory at the Carolina Nationals

DSR Driver Information:

Top Fuel:

 
ANTRON BROWN
Driver of the Matco Tools Toyota Top Fuel Dragster

Countdown to the Championship standing: 6th

Charlotte II Event Highlights: 
  • Three-time event champion (2011, 2015-2016)  
  • 2008 runner-up  
2020 Charlotte II Recap:
N/A (canceled due to COVID-19)

2019 Charlotte II Recap:
Qualified seventh; First round exit (defeated by Doug Kalitta in E1)

Last Event (Reading):
Qualified seventh; First round exit (defeated by Leah Pruett in E1)

Career Statistics:
455 races; 68 wins (16 Pro Stock Motorcycle); 49 No. 1 Qualifiers (11 PSM)

Noteworthy:
  • Seeking a record-tying sixth Top Fuel win at zMAX Dragway this weekend as he pursues a fourth world championship
    • In addition to Brown’s three Carolina Nationals triumphs, he also won the Four-Wide event at zMAX Dragway in 2014 and 2015.
Quotable:
“We’re glad we got to go straight from Reading to Charlotte for the second race of the Countdown. We know we have to go out and compete, and we’re looking forward to the challenge. We feel like we’re in a really good spot with our Matco team. Our goal is to go out and throw down. We want to qualify well and give it all we've got on race day.”


LEAH PRUETT
Driver of the Okuma Top Fuel Dragster

Countdown to the Championship standing: 5th

2020 Charlotte II Recap:
N/A (canceled due to COVID-19)

2019 Charlotte II Recap:
Qualified second; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Chris Karamesines in E1; defeated by Doug Kalitta in E2)

Last Event (Reading):
Qualified eighth; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Antron Brown in E1; defeated by Brittany Force in E2)

Career Statistics:
166 races; nine wins; 12 No. 1 Qualifiers 

Quotable:
“The Okuma car has some unfinished business, as it last saw the track in the final round of Sonoma. As much as we focus on ourselves and our own program, this is the time of the season where you find yourself checking the pulse of the class in ways you weren’t necessarily before. Internally rooting for or against someone based on what is best for your team’s situation. I truly believe qualifying points will play an even larger part of the Countdown, with us having an extra race this year. We’re feeling good about heading into Charlotte in fifth, but know there is no room for error. We are focusing on keeping it simple - getting down the track every single time, and I have to leave first. If we can do that on a clean eight (cylinders) with traction, it’ll be a fast pass. Those two simple things equate to success on Sunday.” 


Funny Car:

RON CAPPS
Driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat


Countdown to the Championship standing: 3rd

Charlotte II Event Highlights: 
  • Two-time event champion (2012, 2018) 
2020 Charlotte II Recap:
N/A (canceled due to COVID-19)

2019 Charlotte II Recap:
Qualified fourth; Semifinal finish (defeated Jim Campbell in E1, John Force in E2; defeated by Jack Beckman in E3)

Last Event (Reading):
Qualified fifth; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Blake Alexander in E1; defeated by Tommy Johnson Jr. in E2)

Career Statistics:
580 races; 67 wins (one Top Fuel); 29 No. 1 qualifiers 

Noteworthy:
  • Occupies the No. 3 spot in the Funny Car rankings, and is less than one round behind the current point leader
Quotable:
“Part of achieving that goal of having the No. 1 spot going into the Countdown is so you have that cushion of extra points. For weekends like we had at Maple Grove, we didn’t win but we still had a great weekend.
 
“We race at zMAX Dragway twice a year, and Bruton and Marcus Smith do such a great job; there’s no excuse when you go there. It’s a fantastic facility. We have all of the NASCAR fans who come out and a lot of NHRA newbies, which is always fun. For us, a lot of our partners are based out of there, too, and it’s great to have them join us. The NAPA team is hitting on all cylinders right now. (Crew chiefs) Guido (Dean Antonelli) and (John) Medlen said we’ll make a small change in the clutch this weekend and for me, that gets me very pumped up because we had quite a few pole positions and round wins. We’re looking forward to race No. 2 of the Countdown.”


MATT HAGAN
Driver of the Shelor Motor Mile Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye

Countdown to the Championship standing: 2nd

Charlotte II Event Highlights:
  • Two-time event champion (2011, 2014)  
  • Two-time runner-up (2009, 2013)  
  • 2011 No. 1 qualifier  
2020 Charlotte II Recap:
N/A (canceled due to COVID-19)

2019 Charlotte II Recap:
Qualified third; Semifinal finish (defeated Dave Richards in E1, Bob Tasca in E2; defeated by Robert Hight in E3)

The Shelor Motor Mile Dodge Funny Car's Last Event (Reading):
Qualified fourth; Event champion (defeated Jim Campbell in E1, Ron Capps in E2, J.R. Todd in E3, John Force in E4)
*Note: Tommy Johnson Jr. campaigned Hagan's machine in Reading, Penn. while Hagan was sidelined due to COVID-19. While the points Johnson earned were awarded to Hagan, the victory is recorded as Johnson's

Matt Hagan's Last Event (Brainerd):
Qualified fourth; Event champion (defeated Dale Creasy Jr. in E1, Paul Lee in E2, Bob Tasca in E3, Cruz Pedregon in E4)

Career Statistics:
287 races; 38 wins; 42 No. 1 qualifiers 

Noteworthy:
  • Returns to NHRA competition following a two-week absence due to COVID-19 
  • Begins the race weekend a mere five points behind the current Funny Car point leader
Quotable:
“As big of a setback as (COVID-19) was for me, I feel 100% confident and I’m 100% ready to go racing this weekend in Charlotte. I’ve been doing cardio, lifting weights. I’m a little weaker on the weights than I’m used to, but my lung capacity has bounced right back. That was the biggest concern for me – putting on 30 pounds worth of gear, and the nitro, and the g-forces, and strapping in and not being able to breathe, and thankfully, that’s not even a concern of mine anymore. I truly feel like I’m ready to go. I’m excited because I know I get to crawl back into a great race car. I know what I’ve got to do. My guys will put a great race car underneath me and I’m confident I can get back in there and not miss a beat.”

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