DSR Charlotte II Qualifying Report

NHRA Carolina Nationals 

Event 22 of 24 (Charlotte II)
NHRA Countdown, Event 4 of 6
zMAX Dragway
Concord, N.C. 
October 12-14, 2018

DSR Charlotte II Saturday Highlights:

  • Tommy Johnson Jr. qualified No. 1 for the second consecutive weekend 
  • Johnson advanced to third in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship Funny Car standings
  • Leah Pritchett and Tony Schumacher will start Sunday from the top half of the Top Fuel field
  • Ron Capps and Matt Hagan join Johnson in the Funny Car ‘top eight’ 
  • In the third session, Schumacher ran quickest and Johnson ran third quickest of their respective categories
  • Johnson leads the Funny Car category in number of bonus points earned (seven) throughout the weekend
Tommy Johnson Jr. Qualifies No. 1 for Second Consecutive Weekend
CONCORD, North Carolina (October 13, 2018) – Tommy Johnson Jr. locked down the No. 1 Funny Car spot to start race day at the NHRA Carolina Nationals in Concord, N.C. Johnson nabbed the pole for the second consecutive weekend, marking the first time in his career that he has qualified No. 1 at back-to-back events.
Johnson claimed the top spot when he powered the Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger R/T down the zMAX Dragway strip in 3.873-seconds at 329.26-mph during Q4. At the start of the final qualifying session, Johnson was positioned fourth, standing on his Q1 run of 3.901-seconds, which was the quickest time of the opening session.
“We’ve got a really, really good race car,” said Johnson, who has raced to the semifinals or better at six of the last seven events. “The guys are doing such a great job and you can see their confidence. You can just see it in the way they walk and carry themselves.
“It’s kind of ironic. Last weekend we had No. 1, it got taken away from us and then we came back in the last session and took it back. This weekend we had No. 1 for a while, it got taken away from us and we came back last session and took it back.”
Johnson entered the race weekend ranked fourth in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship Funny Car point standings, but his strong qualifying performance moved him up to third to start race day. While his team has enjoyed a steady improvement in performance, including two No. 1 qualifiers in the first four Countdown events, they have yet to reach the winner’s circle in 2018. Johnson knows that turning on four Sunday win lights will be key to keeping their 2018 championship hopes alive.
“I’d say the only thing we have to change is the semifinals. We have to fix that this weekend. We’ve had a really good car the last six or seven races and we just keep building on it. John Collins is a very methodical crew chief that likes to pick at it, and once he’s close, it gets easy because we’ve picked at it for so long, we know right where we’re at. It’s just small changes and it allows us to be able to step it up when you need to.
“I think John was mad after (the semifinals in) Dallas. We were aggressive, but not aggressive enough. We came back this weekend and to run a 91, 90, 92 and an 87, I think it shows he’s got a great handle on it and he knows when he can be aggressive, and how he can be aggressive.
Going back-to-back and running quickest of the session twice during the weekend would’ve been sweet enough for the three-time Carolina Nationals No. 1 qualifier, but the cherry on top was to be able to do it in front of family, including Johnson’s mother who has been sidelined with an illness for the better part of the summer.
“It’s pretty special. My mom has been in the hospital a whole lot this summer. Her goal was to get well enough to come out to the races this weekend, and she’s here, so she’s pretty happy right now. It’s really special to me to have her out here. We grew up racing as a family and so to have my mom, my dad, my nephews out here, it’s special. I’m proud of it, but she’s probably even prouder.”
Tommy Johnson Jr. and the Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car team will begin race day with a first round matchup versus No. 16 qualifier Dave Richards.

Qualified: No. 1 (lane choice)

The Competition: No. 16 Dave Richards

The Results: 
Q1: 3.917 E.T. at 327.98 MPH (Three bonus points for quickest run of the session)
Q2: 3.901 E.T. at 329.26 MPH
Q3: 3.924 E.T. at 327.03 MPH (One bonus point for third quickest run of the session)
Q4: 3.873 E.T. at 329.10 MPH (Three bonus points for quickest run of the session)

Bonus Points: Seven 

Driver Information:

Top Fuel:

Driver of the Matco Tools 'Tools for the Cause'/U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 11

The Competition: No. 6 Tony Schumacher

The Results: 
Q1: 4.022 E.T. at 239.14 MPH
Q2: 4.882 E.T. at 148.46 MPH
Q3: 3.785 E.T. at 326.40 MPH
Q4: 6.314 E.T. at 106.22 MPH

“The good thing is that we started the day with a good run down the track. We had some gremlins in the car in Dallas and they showed up here yesterday, which made for a frustrating qualifying day. Today, the Matco Tools 'Tools for the Cause'/U.S. Army boys went to work. They had that no-quit attitude and stripped the car down last night and replaced everything with new stuff and made a few changes. We were able to make a nice lap down the track and give us something to work with. It moved us up in the field and allowed us to take a shot at the No. 1 spot in Q4. We just got a little bit overly aggressive. The good thing is that everything did exactly what it wanted to. We’ve got a lot of confidence going into tomorrow. To have the confidence that our car is capable of a run in the 3.68 or 3.69 (seconds) area is something we haven’t had for a while. Now we can back it down and try to run somewhere in the low 3.70s and we’re going to need it. We’re facing Tony (Schumacher) and the U.S. Army team and they have been running low 3.70s all weekend every lap, which is phenomenal. I just hate that we have to race first round, but we are going to go out and give it all we got and leave it all out there.”  

Driver of the Papa John's Pizza/FireAde Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 7 (lane choice)

The Competition: No. 10 Richie Crampton

The Results:
Q1: 3.829 E.T. at 322.96 MPH
Q2: 3.763 E.T. at 320.58 MPH
Q3: 3.755 E.T. at 322.04 MPH
Q4: 4.524 E.T. at 166.05 MPH

“I think the communication between the car and crew after Q4 is going very well. We are trying to operate inside a window that we didn’t know how big it really was. Ultimately, it just wanted a little more power. One thing about this team is that we know how to make power and that’s what has us excited for Sunday. We found the limit in that second run today and sets us up really nicely for tomorrow. It’s exciting for me to see my crew chiefs excited. I get to see all of their emotions, including their frustrations. And when we get to a spot like we are right now, their confidence extends throughout the team. A win tomorrow would do absolutely everything needed to maintain our championship contention. We know it’s really our last shot at making a championship push. We can only control our own destiny and make sure our race car is performing it’s best. I’m doing the best job I can driving. A win tomorrow would certainly reignite all of the championship feelings inside us that are just kind of harnessed away right now.”

Driver of the U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 6 (lane choice)

The Competition: No. 11 Antron Brown

The Results:
Q1:  3.747 E.T. at 330.39 MPH (Two bonus points for second quickest run of the session)
Q2: 3.748 E.T. at 328.54 MPH
Q3: 3.732 E.T. at 329.42 MPH (Three bonus points for quickest run of the session)
Q4: 3.746 E.T. at 328.94 MPH

Bonus Points: Five

“We certainly were consistent through four rounds of qualifying, but we were a little disappointed in that last run. We needed more power, and that’s data we can put to use tomorrow. It puts us in a good spot. We run Antron (Brown) first round and if we can move on, the ladder gives us a shot at the guys we are  chasing in the points. (Clay) Millican in the second round and (Steve) Torrence in the third round. It’s an incredible opportunity. We’ll bring our ‘A’ game tomorrow and let the fans get an A+ race.”

Funny Car:

Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

Qualified: No. 10

The Competition: No. 7 Robert Hight

The Results:
Q1: No Time, Broke
Q2: 3.953 E.T. at 324.98 MPH
Q3: 3.987 E.T. at 314.39 MPH
Q4: 3.929 E.T. at 325.45 MPH

"Well it was a step in the right direction for us. You know Q1 we broke a rod bolt right at the step of the throttle. The problem is we’ve had a tune up that didn’t have enough fuel in it for the last couple of races. Our car is a rocket ship, but it burns spark plugs off. We needed Q1 to zero-in on our tune-up. Losing that meant our hero run last night, we couldn’t stand on it as hard. So, we really got a run and a half behind. I am very pleased with the way the guys have rebounded and got our car in a direction where we can race it tomorrow.”

Driver of the NAPA NIGHTVISION Lamps Dodge Charger R/T

Qualified: No. 2 (lane choice)

The Competition: No. 15 Dave Richards

The Results: 
Q1: 3.925 E.T. at 327.66 MPH (One bonus point for third quickest run of the session)
Q2: 3.875 E.T. at 329.42 MPH (Three bonus points for quickest run of the session)
Q3: 5.394 E.T. at 133.65 MPH
Q4: 3.921 E.T. at 324.44 MPH

Bonus Points: Four

"We knew even though we ended up No. 1 qualifier with the NAPA NIGHTVISION Lamps race car Friday night, we saw the weather and we knew the conditions - especially with this race track at zMAX - were going to be conducive to going quicker Saturday. Sure enough, our teammate (crew chief) John Collins over there with the Make-A-Wish car stepped up. We were in a little different approach on that because we tried to go quicker Q3 to see what the track would take knowing that Q3 conditions were going to be much like tomorrow, and it didn’t quite make it. So, we found the edge of traction/no traction. But the good thing is (crew chief Rahn) Tobler went back up, got it to wear a little more clutch, and it went right down there in Q4. He said it would run about a 92, and it did."

Driver of the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

Qualified: No. 6 (lane choice)

The Competition: No. 11 Shawn Langdon

The Results: 
Q1: 3.970 E.T. at 320.66 MPH
Q2: 3.903 E.T. at 325.14 MPH
Q3: 4.873 E.T. at 158.95 MPH
Q4: 3.924 E.T. at 325.45 MPH

"I feel pretty good about tomorrow. You know we made three good runs in qualifying and we got something to work off of. The conditions will be cool, we can really press hard tomorrow and (our competition) are going to press too, but you know we got to go some rounds and turn on some win lights for this Mopar Funny Car.”

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