DSR Chicago Qualifying Report

JEGS Route 66 NHRA Nationals

Event 9 of 24 (Chicago)
Route 66 Raceway
Joliet, Illinois
June 1-3, 2018

DSR Chicago Qualifying Highlights:

  • DSR sweeps Funny Car qualifying, occupying the No. 1, 2, and 3 starting positions
  • Matt Hagan earns the Funny Car pole for the 32nd time in his career and second time in 2018
  • Tony Schumacher ran second-best of the round in Q4, adding more bonus points to his bank

DSR Dominates Funny Car Field at JEGS Route 66 NHRA Nationals
JOLIET, Illinois (June 2, 2018)  Don Schumacher Racing dominated the Funny Car field during qualifying at the JEGS Route 66 NHRA Nationals, clinching the top three spots. Matt Hagan leads the class, with Ron Capps and Jack Beckman holding court in the second and third qualifying positions. The top three seeded drivers blasted to the front of the pack in their Mopar-powered Dodge machines during Friday’s second qualifying session.
Hagan, a three-time Route 66 Nationals Funny Car champion, raced his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T to a pass of 3.917-seconds at 326.79 mph to qualify for the preliminary pole and bank three bonus points, after opening qualifying with a 4.027 mark that ranked him fifth. He held the top spot through the final two qualifying sessions on Saturday, ending with a solid 3.991 run.
This is the two-time Funny Car world champion’s second No. 1 qualifier of the 2018 season, second at Route 66 Raceway, and 32nd of his career.
Hagan, who claimed the No. 1 spot at the 2018 season-opener before going on to race to victory, feels confident in his team’s ability to trade in their green No. 1 qualifier hats for yellow winner’s circle hats on Sunday.
“Our Mopar Express Lane Dodge is running strong,” he said. “We can go down there and throw down a good number. The confidence has definitely grown. We have all of the power that we need.
“We’ve changed everything. To start the year off we had a whole different track prep than we do now, so we had to regroup and make big changes to this Mopar Funny Car. Obviously, it’s taken a few runs, and taken a few races to get there, but I feel like we’ve closed the gap on (points leader) Courtney (Force) now.
“Blessed to have that No. 1 spot right now. Everyone thinks these Chevys are running up front, but we’ve got these Mopars going again. Just give (crew chief) Dickie (Venables) enough time and he’ll figure it out. I like him being in our corner and knowing that we’re going to get there, it’s just a matter of runs.”
Hagan begins his campaign for his 28th career victory with a round one matchup against No. 16 qualifier Jonnie Lindberg. Hagan and the Mopar team will have the advantage of lane choice to start the day.

Qualified: No. 1 (lane choice)

The Competition: No. 16 Jonnie Lindberg

The Results:
Q1:4.027 E.T. at 317.49 MPH
Q2: 3.917 E.T. at 326.79 MPH (Three bonus points for quickest run of the session)
Q3: 4.861 E.T. at 161.59 MPH
Q4: 3.991 E.T. at 317.12 MPH

Bonus Points: Three 

Driver Information:

Top Fuel:

Driver of the Matco Tools/U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 7 (lane choice)

The Competition: No. 10 Leah Pritchett

The Results: 
Q1: 3.801 E.T. at 325.14 MPH (One bonus point for third quickest run of the session)
Q2: 7.267 E.T. at 91.68 MPH
Q3: 3.813 E.T. at 325.53 MPH
Q4: 3.781 E.T. at 327.19 MPH

Bonus Points: One

“I couldn’t be happier with the way today went. We made two really strong runs and any time you close qualifying with your best run of the weekend its a good feeling. The last two races, we have definitely been going in the direction where we need to be at. We’re making a move. Right now, our Matco Tools/U.S. Army car and Tony’s U.S. Army car are very similar and you saw that in Q4. It’s like they are identical now, so we are just going to lean on each other. The teams have been bouncing ideas around and it's making both of our cars make great steps forward. That’s just going to continue to get in the realm where we need to be at. We’ve been really good here in even years - winning 2012, 2014, 2016 - so we’re just going to take it one round at a time tomorrow and see if can transition that previous successful into tomorrow." 

Driver of the Papa John's Pizza Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 10

The Competition: No. 7 Antron Brown (lane choice)

The Results:
Q1: 3.797 E.T. at 328.30 MPH
Q2: 12.084 E.T. at 76.43 MPH
Q3: 3.970 E.T. at 307.93 MPH
Q4: 3.832 E.T. at 324.51 MPH

“Lane choice is key here, but we have been back and forth between clutch changes and engine changes and ultimately we didn’t have the quick runs in qualifying that we desired.

"Facing Antron is definitely not the matchup we wanted. Racing our teammate and one of the fiercest competitors in the class is going to be tough, but we feel like the gold car will shine through tomorrow like it knows how to do. Like this team knows how to do here in Chicago. Conditions are going to be different than anything we’ve had in qualifying. I know we have a solid setup for racing in the conditions we’ll have tomorrow morning. There’s no question in my mind that we’ll have a successful day tomorrow."

Driver of the U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 3 (lane choice)

The Competition: No. 14 Billy Torrence

The Results:
Q1: 4.532 E.T. at 166.23 MPH
Q2: 3.749 E.T. at 329.99 MPH (One bonus point for third quickest run of the session)
Q3: 3.820 E.T. at 326.00 MPH
Q4: 3.771 E.T. at 325.61 MPH (Two bonus points for second quickest run of the session)

Bonus Points: Three

“We made two good runs here today and we know we have to step it up tomorrow. We are a championship caliber team and we are ready for this moment. I’m really proud of the U.S. Army team. Led by Mike (Neff) and Phil (Shuler) we’ve made three consistent runs and now it’s time to be at our best on Sunday. We really need a win. This is my home town track. I’ve won here a lot and I want to win tomorrow with this U.S. Army team. I know Billy (Torrence) is going to be a good test and I like racing cars that go down the track really good. I can’t wait to get back out here tomorrow.”

Funny Car:

Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T

Qualified: No. 3 (lane choice)

The Competition: No. 14 Dale Creasy

The Results:
Q1: 8.023 E.T. at 85.98 MPH
Q2: 3.944 E.T. at 322.81 MPH (One bonus point for third quickest run of the session)
Q3: 5.711 E.T. at 128.53 MPH
Q4: 7.019 E.T. at 96.51 MPH

Bonus Points: One

"I know if you look at the sheets, we missed it three times and we smoked the tires. It looks like we have an inconsistent car. We made two runs Super Bowl Sunday on this chassis and stuck it in the trailer as a backup. We figured now is the time to bring it out and put some runs on it. We made the first two runs and for whatever reason, the car wasn’t 60-footing like it could have been. We found an issue with the clutch. The last two runs it was a banshee to 60-ft. Now we have to figure out how to tame that down but I think we found something that’s going to win races for us."

Driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T

Qualified: No. 2 (lane choice)

The Competition: No. 15 Justin Schriefer

The Results: 
Q1: 4.229 E.T. at 225.00 MPH
Q2: 3.921 E.T. at 325.92 MPH (Two bonus points for second quickest run of the session)
Q3: 4.656 E.T. at 177.51 MPH
Q4: 3.989 E.T. at 315.78 MPH (One bonus point for third quickest run of the session)

Bonus Points: Three

"I talked about big changes that we made going into Topeka, but we didn’t get a lot of runs there because of the conditions changing and the rain coming in. Tobler decided to go back to the five-disc (clutch), which is what we won the championship with two years ago, and almost won it again last year, and more than anything (the five-disc) provides the consistency he knows how to get out of these nitro Funny Cars. I already feel like we have our old NAPA car back. We dropped to 7th in points and it’s always fun to have a goal and our goal is to get through the summer swing and get to the points lead like we have the last two years. We have an uphill battle but I feel like it’s going to be fun. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do in the heat and in the cool conditions. To go down both times in the heat and also during the cool Friday night session, put a big smile on Tobler’s face and when he gets that confidence it just spreads. It’s going to be fun tomorrow."

Driver of the Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger R/T 
Qualified: No. 10 

The Competition: No. 7 Shawn Langdon

The Results:
Q1: 4.409 E.T. at 201.73 MPH
Q2: 7.114 E.T. at 88.60 MPH
Q3: 4.111 E.T. at 308.78 MPH
Q4: 4.011 E.T. at 323.35 MPH 

"Shawn (Langdon) is running good. He’s made some good runs this weekend. We struggled at the start of qualifying and finally got things figured out in the last session. We finally found what was wrong with our car and what was plaguing us. Going into tomorrow I’m a little more confident than I was after Friday. It’ll be a great race. It just shows how tough Funny Car is right now. There’s no easy round, there’s no gimmes. Going into first round against Langdon could very easily be a final round so we’ll have to be on our game." 

Papa John's Charity Challenge Highlights:
  • Antron Brown and Leah Pritchett competed against 'Papa' John Schnatter in the Papa John's Charity Challenge on Saturday afternoon to benefit the Infinite Hero Foundation
  • Schnatter defeated Brown, taking a 2-0 lead over the Top Fuel pilot 
  • Pritchett evened the score versus Schnatter when he stood on the gas early and went red
  • $40,000 was donated to Infinite Hero Foundation on behalf of DSR and Papa John's Pizza

Don Schumacher, Leah Pritchett, Antron Brown and 'Papa' John Schnatter present a check to veteran heroes Mike Dowling and Bryan Anderson on behalf of the Infinite Hero Foundation.

Image courtesy of Rebilas Photo

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