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DSR Charlotte II Post-Race Recap

DSR Charlotte II Elimination Highlights:

  • Ron Capps raced to a milestone 60th Funny Car victory, his third of the season
  • Capps advanced three spots to third in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoff standings
  • Tony Schumacher reached the Top Fuel semifinals for the third time in the first four Countdown events
  • Capps’ victory marked 333 event wins for Don Schumacher Racing 
Ron Capps Races to 60th Funny Car Win; Advances to Third in NHRA Countdown Standings
NAPA NIGHTVISION Lamps Light the Way to Capps 60th Funny Car Victory
 
CONCORD, North Carolina (October 14, 2018) – Ron Capps piloted the NAPA NIGHTVISION Lamps Dodge Charger R/T to his 60th Funny Car victory with his win Sunday at the NHRA Carolina Nationals. By claiming 121 points over the course of the weekend, Capps moved up three spots to third in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoff standings, injecting new life into his bid for a second career Funny Car world championship. 
 
Along his way to the zMAX Dragway winner’s circle, Capps defeated Dale Creasy Jr. and three of the top-ranked 2018 Funny Car championship contenders – Robert Hight, Tim Wilkerson and J.R. Todd – in crucial matchups with major Countdown implications.
 
The milestone victory and 61st overall triumph which includes one Top Fuel win, came after two disappointing consecutive first-round losses, but Capps and his Rahn Tobler-led team were determined to not let their early Countdown stumbles deter their hopes for the 2018 title.
 
“In St. Louis we lost on a holeshot first round and I’m sick to my stomach when that happens,” said Capps. “I go home, I don’t sleep, I’m up in the middle of the night, watching frame-by-frame of when my blades open compared to the person I lost to on a holeshot and it’s not fun. I live it, I breathe it. I just could not wait to get to the next race after St. Louis. We really had a great car there and we really had the opportunity to make a lot of points up and we didn’t, and I wore that. I probably aged a year in that week. Then we got to Dallas, had a great car, and just got outran by John Force first round.
 
“Tobler and I left Dallas, shook hands, gave each other a little hug like we always do when we leave the track and he said ‘let’s just go win the last three. If we win, they can’t,’ and I’m just so glad we came here and did what we talked about doing.”
 
With 321 points up for grabs in the final two events, Capps enters the next stop on the NHRA tour sitting 109 points out of first. The remaining events on the NHRA schedule are contested in Las Vegas and Pomona, California, two historically cooler-weather events, and Capps has more confidence than ever in Tobler’s cool weather tuning capabilities.
 
“To make over 330-mph runs two times in the middle of the day today is big for Rahn Tobler. We always talk about race day and hot, adverse conditions, and that’s where he shines, but to throw down those speeds and E.T.s in the cooler weather today when we needed it was huge.”
 
Capps’ Carolina Nationals victory, his third of the season, was won in a one-off NAPA NIGHTVISION Lamps livery, and his previous event win in Seattle was also won in a special look – the Pennzoil Synthetics/NAPA AUTO PARTS paint scheme. At the upcoming Las Vegas event, Capps will be back behind the wheel of the Pennzoil/NAPA Dodge, and he feels the special livery will provide his team with a little extra luck going into the race weekend.
 
“We always do well when we bring these special paint schemes out. In Seattle we had the Pennzoil car and we won it, and we’ll have that again at the next race in Vegas.
 
“We have a lot of business left to do. It’s not over. Points-and-a-half in Pomona. Anything can happen and we’re going to go down fighting. I can’t wait to celebrate with my race team, get to the next race and finish the year strong.”

Qualified: No. 2 (3.875 E.T. at 329.42 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.926 E.T. at 328.86 MPH defeated Dale Creasy Jr. 4.041 E.T. at 316.67 MPH
E2: 3.889 E.T. at 332.43 MPH defeated Robert Hight 3.953 E.T. at 285.23 MPH
E3: 3.903 E.T. at 320.97 MPH defeated Tim Wilkerson 3.978 E.T. at 323.97 MPH
E4: 3.890 E.T. at 331.20 MPH defeated J.R. Todd 4.311 E.T. at 214.96 MPH


Driver Information:

Top Fuel:
ANTRON BROWN
Driver of the Matco Tools 'Tools for the Cause'/U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
 
Qualified: No. 11 (3.785 E.T. at 326.40 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.736 E.T. at 328.14 MPH defeated by Tony Schumacher 3.699 E.T. at 329.91 MPH

Race Recap:
An uncharacteristically low qualifying position in the bottom half of the field pitted Antron Brown against teammate Tony Schumacher in the first round of eliminations. Against his DSR stablemate, Brown had the reaction time advantage and raced his Matco Tools ‘Tools for the Cause’/U.S. Army machine to its best pass of the weekend (3.736-seconds), but it wasn’t enough to edge past Schumacher’s 3.699 E.T., which held up to be low E.T. of the event.

Quotable:
“We wanted the upset on that first round today. Our team has hit a good stride. We struggled this whole weekend and to finally get it back together and then get eliminated in round one today, it’s just disappointing. We really needed that run in Q3 or Q4 to set us up good for race day, but we’ll go to Vegas and keep working hard. Our main focus is to get a good qualifying run in on that first day and get ourselves qualified high in the field. If we can do that, I know we can contend to win the race, so that’s the focus now. We’ve been on the wrong side of everything this year and hopefully Vegas will be our turning point and we can get on the right side.”


LEAH PRITCHETT
Driver of the Papa John's Pizza/FireAde Top Fuel Dragster
 
Qualified: No. 7 (3.755 E.T. at 322.04 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.707 E.T. at 324.67 MPH defeated Richie Crampton 3.750 E.T. at 317.79 MPH
E2: 4.222 E.T. at 219.76 MPH defeated by Steve Torrence 3.716 E.T. at 330.96 MPH

Race Recap:
Leah Pritchett raced her Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak to the 2018 NHRA Factory Stock Showdown championship in dramatic fashion last week at the NHRA’s Dallas stop and was looking to keep her chances alive to become the first woman in NHRA history to claim crowns in two different categories in the same season with a strong Charlotte performance.
 
Pritchett qualified in the top half of the field, claiming the No. 7 starting position in her Mopar Dodge Top Fuel dragster. She trailed early in her first-round match against Richie Crampton but staged a comeback and was able to run him down with her quickest pass of the weekend, a winning 3.707 at 324.67-mph. Next up was a critical quarterfinals battle against points leader Steve Torrence. Unfortunately, Pritchett encountered all kinds of trouble, hazing the tires early and dropping cylinders, as Torrence drove away for the round win and Pritchett watched a golden opportunity to improve her Top Fuel title hopes slip away. 

Quotable:
“Unfortunately, we couldn’t slow down Steve today. We feel like that was the result of some self-inflicted issues. We found the power, but what it really probably came down to was that we should have picked the left lane (in the second round). We were going in the right lane. We had done well in it, but by the time Tony (Schumacher) got done in front of us the lane didn’t have the rubber down that we thought it would. So we had to back it down a little bit at the starting line. Once we did that we were behind. When we did put the power to it, we smoked the tires and it was all over from there. The bright side is that we always learn from these experiences. We learned a lot about being in-tune with our car and the conditions. We’re a bit down about the championship situation, but we are making progress and we’ll come out in Las Vegas even stronger than we did coming in here.”


TONY SCHUMACHER
Driver of the U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
 
Qualified: No. 6 (3.732 E.T. at 329.42 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.699 E.T. at 329.91 MPH defeated Antron Brown 3.736 E.T. at 328.14 MPH
E2: 3.712 E.T. at 330.55 MPH defeated Clay Millican 3.729 E.T. at 328.86 MPH
E3: 3.718 E.T. at 329.42 MPH defeated by Steve Torrence 3.728 E.T. at 328.38 MPH

Race Recap:
Two-time NHRA Carolina Nationals Top Fuel champion (2014, 2008) Tony Schumacher, driver of the U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster, qualified No. 6 and faced teammate Antron Brown for the 70th time in the first round. “The Sarge” recorded the low E.T. of the event with a hot 3.699-second at 329.91-mph pass to take out Brown. In the second round, Schumacher knocked out Clay Millican with a solid 3.712-second at 330.55-mph effort.
 
That victory set up a run against current Top Fuel points leader and No. 2 qualifier Steve Torrence in the semifinals. Schumacher’s 3.718 at 329.42-mph pass was quicker and faster than Torrence’s 3.728 at 328.38-mph run, but Torrence left the starting line first and was able to ride that advantage to a close holeshot win by approximately four feet.

Quotable:
“That was a rough one man. We had a better package than Steve (Torrence) did, but 0.049-second lights are hard to come by. I don’t know. Ouch. The worst run we made all weekend was a 3.74. I can tell you this is a great team. It was really impressive what these U.S. Army Racing guys did here in Charlotte. I give a lot of credit to (crew chief) Mike Neff and (assistant crew chief) Phil (Shuler). They came in here with a package and just made it better all weekend. We talked about it being a bracket car in qualifying and then we came out in first round and put up the fastest pass of the weekend. They were on their game and I know I was too. I’m just still wondering how those 0.040-lights keep happening against me. We need to beat Steve to have a legitimate chance in the championship, but that didn’t happen today. We’ve got two great tracks for us left and all we can do is go out with a bang carrying the U.S. Army colors.”


Funny Car:
 
JACK BECKMAN
Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
 
Qualified: No. 10 (3.929 E.T. at 325.45 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.906 E.T. at 329.26 MPH defeated by Robert Hight 3.877 E.T. at 330.96 MPH

Race Recap:
Faced with a ‘Countdown critical’ round one matchup against points leader Robert Hight, Jack Beckman and the Infinite Hero team found themselves in a ‘must win’ situation in order to be able to keep their 2018 championship hopes alive and strong. ‘Fast’ Jack and his Dean Antonelli/John Medlen/Neal Strausbaugh-led team mustered up a solid 3.906-second pass, but it wasn’t enough to take down Hight’s 3.877 E.T.
 
Beckman leaves zMAX Dragway ranked ninth in the Countdown to the Championship standings and with a new 2018 goal of a top five finish.

Quotable:
“We were on the wrong end of a phenomenal drag race, and that’s frustrating because our E.T. would have won most of the matchups first round. That’s the problem with drag racing. You could have the second-quickest run and be a loser. You could have the second-worst run and be a winner. You have to be consistently quick. We had a decent car this weekend. We pulled up next to the points leader who also had a decent car this weekend.

"We are out of the running for the championship. We are down to two races. We desperately want to salvage a top five finish and maybe the only way for us to do that is to get both (Las Vegas II and Pomona II) trophies. I know we’re going to test after Vegas, and I know between here and Vegas the crew chiefs are going to spend a ton of time looking through data. We had to make some tune-up changes to our fuel system. We were burning the spark plugs out of the car and not making it to the finish line on eight cylinders. Once we did that, it slowed the car down and we’ve had to creep back up on it. I think we did a pretty darn good job on that as witnessed by our first-round time. We just came up against a car that’s gotten more runs than anybody in the last three weekends. So, Vegas here we come.”

 
MATT HAGAN
Driver of the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
 
Qualified: No. 6 (3.903 E.T. at 325.14 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.891 E.T. at 328.62 MPH defeated Shawn Langdon 9.638 E.T. at 78.22 MPH
E2: 3.903 E.T. at 323.58 MPH defeated by Tim Wilkerson 3.910 E.T. at 328.46 MPH

Race Recap:
After qualifying sixth for the NHRA Carolina Nationals, two-time event champion Matt Hagan drew No. 11 qualifier Shawn Langdon in round one. Hagan flexed his Mopar muscle by powering his Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat straight down the groove in 3.891-seconds to take the win over Langdon’s immediate tire smoker.
 
In the quarterfinals, the Mopar machine ran another solid pass, but Hagan gave up the win when he suffered an uncharacteristic holeshot loss, allowing his opponent Tim Wilkerson to set off the win light with his 3.910 E.T. versus Hagan’s quicker 3.903.

Quotable:
“We definitely got a car that’s going down the race track now. We found a king pin that was seized up in the front A arm, fixed that and the thing is driving like a dream now so that’s a huge thing as far as confidence and everything else goes.
 
“(Tim) Wilky handed me my ass up there. He had a 0.052 light to my 0.072 light. At the end of the day, it falls on me. We outran him but I didn’t do my job on the starting line. It’s hard to be upset with a 70-something light but it’s one of those things where you’ve got to step it up. It’s just the way it is nowadays. Every round counts, every round matters. At the end of the day, I’m just glad we’ve got our race car back, our tune-up is working out, it’s going down the track again. We’re getting more laps and feeling more confident in what we’re doing. We’re turning a corner, it’s just at the end of the season.”

 
TOMMY JOHNSON JR.
Driver of the Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger R/T
 
Qualified: No. 1 (3.873 E.T. at 329.10 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 7.265 E.T. at 112.70 MPH defeated by Dave Richards 4.283 E.T. at 279.27 MPH

Race Recap:
After securing his second consecutive No. 1 qualifier, Tommy Johnson Jr. and the Make-A-Wish team drew part-time racer Dave Richards in the opening round. Johnson was first to hit the throttle but was up in smoke right at the step and Richards was able to claim the upset win.

Quotable:
“It’s certainly disappointing and frustrating. You’re right in the middle of a championship chase, and to have a first round loss like that puts a huge dent in that chance. We’ll just keep swinging. Our Make-A-Wish Dodge is running so well. Didn’t expect that by any means. It’s frustrating but we’ll keep coming at them.”

NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship Points Standings:

Top Fuel
1. Steve Torrence - 2592
2. Clay Millican - 2423
3. Tony Schumacher - 2382
4. Leah Pritchett - 2297
5. Antron Brown - 2253
6. Brittany Force - 2243
7. Mike Salinas - 2228
8. Doug Kalitta - 2225
9. Terry McMillen - 2221
10. Scott Palmer - 2149


Funny Car
1. Robert Hight - 2445
2. J.R. Todd - 2434
3. Ron Capps - 2336
4. Tim Wilkerson - 2334
5. Tommy Johnson Jr. - 2296
6. Courtney Force - 2264
7. John Force - 2241
8. Matt Hagan - 2229
9. Jack Beckman - 2204
10. Shawn Langdon - 2152

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