DSR Dallas Post-Race Report

AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals
Event 22 of 24 (Dallas)
Countdown Event 4 of 6
Texas Motorplex
Ennis, Texas
Oct. 18-20, 2019

DSR Dallas Elimination Highlights:

  • Matt Hagan raced to victory at the fourth event of the NHRA Countdown to the Championship and moved from seventh to fourth in the Funny Car point standings
  • Hagan’s triumph was his third of the season, 32nd of his career, and third at Texas Motorplex
  • Dallas marked the tenth time in 11 consecutive events that DSR has contested a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat in the final round
  • Jack Beckman maintains his No. 2 ranking in the Funny Car Countdown standings
  • Leah Pritchett heads to Countdown race No. 5 of six ranked inside the Top Fuel top five
  • In Factory Stock Showdown competition, Pritchett raced to her first FSXX final of 2019, while Mark Pawuk also enjoyed a long race day of going rounds by advancing to the semifinals


Matt Hagan Wins Dallas; Puts Himself Solidly Back in Funny Car Championship Contention


ENNIS, Texas (October 20, 2019) – Top 10 Funny Car contender Matt Hagan entered the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals ranked seventh in the Countdown to the Championship point standings and well-aware that his performance at the Texas Motorplex could have a make-or-break effect on his 2019 championship hopes. 

Hagan’s plan to put himself solidly back into contention came together perfectly from behind the wheel of the Western Technical College/MOPAR CAP Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody when he knocked out three Countdown competitors to win the 34th running of the Ennis, Texas event. 

Hagan’s triumph was the 32nd of his career, third of the year, and third at the facility located outside of Dallas. 

With his first win in the Countdown, Hagan jumped from seventh to fourth in the championship standings with two races remaining, including the points-and-a-half format at the season-finale in Pomona, Calif.

“We were carrying the Western Tech and MOPAR CAP colors on this Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody Funny Car this weekend,” said Hagan, a two-time Funny Car world champion. “We had a message of life goals for a lot of students Friday morning, and any time we can reach young kids, it is a great thing. I have a few guys on my car that went through Western Tech, so to see the program come full circle is really awesome.”

The route to Hagan’s fifth final of 2019 was loaded with stout competition. He started his day from the sixth position on the ladder and earned an opening-round triumph over Blake Alexander with a pass of 3.903 seconds, and matched that time precisely in the second round when he put reigning world champion J.R. Todd on the trailer. Crew Chief Dickie Venables continued his master plan by tuning Hagan's machine to its best pass of the day, 3.900 seconds at 329.83 mph, to take down current point leader Robert Hight, who went red at the starting line during the semifinals.

In a rematch of the 2012 Texas final, Bob Tasca III proved to be no match for Hagan in their 25th career race and third time in a final. Hagan grabbed the starting line advantage and never trailed, leading from start to finish to secure the victory. 

Hagan was quick to note that it was a group effort to park the Western Technical College/MOPAR CAP Dodge in the winner’s circle on Sunday, saying “Our DSR teammates were coming over and helping us between rounds, and my hat goes off to them because it’s tough when your car goes out early, and you then have to help someone else win. To see those guys work just as hard on our car as they do on their own car shows the teamwork at DSR and all of the love and passion that we all have for each other.

“I did my job today, the guys did their jobs today, and that’s what happens when you put a good group of people together.”

Qualified: No. 6 (3.890 E.T. at 310.77 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.903 E.T. at 329.58 MPH defeated Blake Alexander 4.007 E.T. at 280.19 MPH
E2: 3.903 E.T. at 329.18 MPH defeated J.R. Todd 3.937 E.T. at 325.85 MPH
E3: 3.900 E.T. at 329.83 MPH defeated Robert Hight 9.492 E.T. at 80.86 MPH
E4: 3.909 E.T. at 327.59 MPH defeated Bob Tasca III 3.928 E.T. at 323.12 MPH

Driver Information:

Top Fuel:
Driver of the Matco Tools 'Tools for the Cause' Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 8 (3.717 E.T. at 327.82 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.743 E.T. at 329.58 MPH defeated Richie Crampton 4.330 E.T. at 186.61 MPH
E2: 4.113 E.T. at 230.72 MPH defeated by Brittany Force 3.815 E.T. at 319.60 MPH

Race Recap:
Decked out with a ‘Tools for the Cause’ livery to raise awareness for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Antron Brown was looking to pick up his first event win of the season by putting his ‘pinked out’ Matco Tools Toyota in the Texas Motorplex winner’s circle. 
Brown began his campaign by qualifying his machine eighth to draw fellow Countdown contender Richie Crampton in round one of eliminations. The three-time Top Fuel world champion grabbed the immediate lead when he stood on the throttle first and never trailed for the win over a tire-hazing Crampton. In round two, Brown faced another championship hopeful in Brittany Force. Once again, Brown’s ultra-quick reflexes earned him the starting line advantage, and he held the lead until just before the 330-foot mark when he started hazing the tires. Force was able to pull ahead just as Brown suffered an explosion near the eighth-mile, ending his chances at picking up a win at the site of his first NHRA triumph, which occurred in 1999 while Brown was competing in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

“All of our guys have been working so hard, and the plus is that our Matco Tools Toyota is responding to what (crew chiefs) Mark (Oswald) and Brad (Mason) are wanting it to do. When you go in, and you see the confidence on their faces, that’s huge. It’s great to be able to go out there on race day and have the confidence that the car is going to leave the line and do everything it’s supposed to do. They have a new (tuning) combination they’re working with, and we’re just going to keep getting better and stronger, and we’re looking forward to getting to Vegas. We’re going to come out swinging. Our goal is to qualify in the top five and put ourselves in the right position to win the race on Sunday. The points are definitely tight, and we just need to go out there and do what we do and have fun. We have our car back, and we’re confident.”

Driver of the Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 2 (3.681 E.T. at 332.10 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.724 E.T. at 324.12 MPH defeated Kebin Kinsley 3.822 E.T. at 263.51 MPH
E2: 3.964 E.T. at 250.55 MPH defeated by Austin Prock 3.742 E.T. at 330.39 MPH

Race Recap:
Behind the wheel of the Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster, Leah Pritchett earned the No. 2 qualifying position for the third time in the first four Countdown events. Pritchett, who was pulling double-duty, switching back and forth between Top Fuel and Factory Stock, faced No. 15 qualifier Kebin Kinsley in the first round of Top Fuel eliminations. Kinsley held the early advantage, but Pritchett drove around him to score her fourth consecutive first-round victory with a lap of 3.724 seconds. In the quarterfinals, Pritchett grabbed the early lead over Austin Prock, but late in the run, her 11,000-horsepower machine started dropping cylinders, allowing Prock to pull away for the win.

“Having a race car that makes it down the track on race day is very crucial for us, and we did not take Kebin Kinsley lightly. He showed with his early numbers that he wasn’t there for the taking, and it was a great drag race. The feeling of putting on that win light for the Pennzoil team is just as bright as our car. We’ve made progress in the sense of simplifying our issues. This was the best weekend we’ve had in the Countdown in regards to moving our program forward. The issues we’ve had have been in the bellhousing, and we were able to fix that. 
“(Austin) Prock laid down that 3.68 in E1. Us not having lane choice wasn’t our issue in E2. We dropped a hole, and then dropped another two, and then kicked a belt at about half-track. At the top end, (NHRA on FOX reporter) Amanda Busick had asked how paralyzing it was to see your competition reach the finish line before you and I said, in that moment, it might be paralyzing because there’s nothing you can do, but this team is not paralyzed by any means. We know exactly what happened and why we weren’t able to move on beyond round two.
“The way the points are shaping up, it’s still extremely tight. We have a chance at this championship; we have a race car that’s coming around at a fast rate of speed and a team that’s dedicated to finishing strong. We look forward to continuing our Top Fuel championship campaign. We really thought today was our day. It was a good day, but unfortunately, it wasn’t a great day.”

Funny Car:
Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 12 (3.937 E.T. at 327.11 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.896 E.T. at 328.86 MPH defeated Ron Capps 3.955 E.T. at 326.79 MPH
E2: 3.951 E.T. at 322.42 MPH defeated by Bob Tasca III 3.938 E.T. at 324.20 MPH

Race Recap:
“Fast Jack” Beckman returned to the Texas Motorplex looking to close the gap on Countdown leader Robert Hight. After coming up short last Monday at the NHRA Carolina Nationals final versus Hight, Beckman qualified an uncharacteristic 12th in the field. The result was a first-round battle with fellow Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car pilot and teammate Ron Capps. The tandem entered the weekend both inside the top four in the championship standings and were fully aware of the importance of going rounds Sunday. Beckman grabbed the starting-line advantage in his Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car and pulled away to score the win over Capps with his run of 3.896 seconds, the second-quickest of the round.
Up next, he faced Bob Tasca III, who posted the best run of the first round. In their first four 2019 matchups, Tasca scored the first two while Beckman turned on the win light in the most recent two at Seattle and Indy. Tasca took the early advantage and maintained it throughout to defeat Beckman with a run of 3.742 seconds compared to Beckman’s pass of 3.964.

 “It’s not do or die for us, but it’s getting awful close. You always want to be in control of your own destiny, and you want to win the championship in your car, not in your pits hoping the other cars lose. Robert Hight and John Force went on, and we are done earing points this weekend. We have two races remaining with Pomona being points-and-a-half, so we just have to rely on Robert and John stumbling. All in all, I think we have a great Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat. To have to beat another championship contender and teammate in the first round is tough. We did that and ran into arguably the best car of the event in the second round. Bob Tasca III was strong all weekend long, and we couldn’t overcome that.”

Driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 5 (3.881 E.T. at 332.43 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.955 E.T. at 326.79 MPH defeated by Jack Beckman 3.896 E.T. at 328.86 MPH

Race Recap:
It was a challenging weekend at the Texas Motorplex for Ron Capps and the NAPA AUTO PARTS Funny Car team. The 2016 Funny Car world champion earned his seventh consecutive top-half qualifying position by powering his 11,000-horsepower Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat to a 3.881 E.T. during Friday night’s ‘field setting round,’ but clutch wear issues plagued the team throughout Saturday’s remaining qualifying sessions. The NAPA team was prepared to come back strong on Sunday but faced a tough first-round competitor in teammate Jack Beckman.
As a fellow 2019 Funny Car world championship title contender, it was clear Beckman and his team weren’t taking Capps lightly. Beckman powered to a 3.896, his best run of the weekend, and second-quickest elapsed time of round one, to defeat the NAPA team’s solid 3.955 E.T.

“We had a huge matchup with our teammate Beckman with huge Countdown implications. With just two races left now, you don’t want to have to run the cars sitting ahead of you in points in the first round.
“Unfortunately, we spent much of Saturday’s qualifying rounds trying to figure out why our clutch wasn’t wearing the way it had been. (Crew chief) Rahn Tobler and the NAPA AutoCare team worked really hard, and we actually changed everything in the bellhousing. I’m a little bummed that we couldn’t go up with the car we had on Friday, but we couldn’t continue on with the way the clutch was wearing, and we had to make a change. Hats off to Tobler and the crew for making a great run with that 3.95 in round one. It made it through the shake zone and made a good clean run, but it’s tough to beat a 3.89. We’re not going to give up; we’ll go on to Vegas and try to make up as much ground as we can.”

Driver of the Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 9 (3.920 E.T. at 324.44 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.932 E.T. at 324.05 MPH defeated Paul Lee 3.957 E.T. at 323.97 MPH
E2: 3.919 E.T. at 320.20 MPH defeated by John Force 3.937 E.T. at 327.98 MPH

Race Recap:
Tommy Johnson Jr. entered the second half of the Countdown looking to regain his regular-season form that included two wins, four final-round appearances, and 29 round wins in the first 18 races. With just one round win in the first three Countdown races, Johnson was looking for a breakout performance behind the wheel of the Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat at the Texas Motorplex. He started race day by recording a 3.932-second pass to defeat opponent Paul Lee in the first round.
In the quarterfinals, Johnson faced John Force. Johnson piloted his Dodge Hellcat to his best run of the weekend – 3.919 seconds – but lost in a close race to Force who clocked a 3.932 E.T. In true Force fashion, the veteran driver deep staged to allow for a better-appearing reaction time, and the win was recorded as a holeshot.

“I should have rolled it in further, that’s what (John) Force does. It makes you look bad on paper, but in actuality, we ran about the same. It makes me happy that our car is coming back around. We struggled for a few races, but the car is back. I’m excited that we can go to Vegas and be very competitive.”

NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship Starting Positions:

Top Fuel
1. Steve Torrence - 2394
2. Doug Kalitta - 2361
3. Brittany Force - 2348
4. Billy Torrence - 2323
5. Leah Pritchett - 2290
6. Austin Prock - 2278
7. Mike Salinas - 2266
8. Antron Brown - 2247
9. Richie Crampton - 2228
10. Clay Millican - 2210

Funny Car
1. Robert Hight - 2437
2. Jack Beckman - 2367
3. John Force - 2363
4. Matt Hagan - 2325
5. Bob Tasca III - 2315
6. Ron Capps - 2302
7. J.R. Todd - 2274
8. Tommy Johnson Jr - 2243
9. Shawn Langdon - 2239
10. Tim Wilkerson - 2188 

Factory Stock Showdown Series:
Driver of the Empaco Equipment MOPAR Dodge Challenger Drag Pak
Qualified: No. 9 (7.947 E.T. at 173.16 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 7.909 E.T. at 173.65 MPH defeated Doug Doll Jr. 8.232 E.T. at 162.86 MPH
E2: 7.941 E.T. at 173.18 MPH defeated Arthur Kohn 10.205 E.T. 94.00 MPH
E3: 7.986 E.T. at 172.52 MPH defeated by Chris Holbrook 7.953 E.T. at 173.92 MPH

“This was a great way to finish the season with our DSR Factory Stock Challenger team. We struggled in qualifying a bit, but the car came around for eliminations, and the driver did a decent job. We thought it was our day and lost by six thousandths (of-a-second) in the semis. The car ran great, and we have all winter to get more competitive. We made some big strides the last three races dating back to Indy, and I commend all the hard work by Kevin (Helms) and Terry Snyder to really bring this program around. We went from not qualifying to qualifying in the top half, and even getting a pole. I’m proud of this group, and I think better things are in store in 2020 with this Dodge team.”

Driver of the MOPAR Dodge Challenger Drag Pak
Qualified: No. 2 (7.889 E.T. at 172.36 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 7.934 E.T. at 172.61 MPH defeated David Barton 7.948 E.T. at 172.74 MPH
E2: 7.978 E.T. at 171.97 MPH defeated David Janac 8.821 E.T. at 119.16 MPH
E3: 8.012 E.T. at 171.36 MPH defeated Randy Taylor 8.012 E.T. at 171.53 MPH
E4: 8.017 E.T. at 171.16 MPH defeated by Chris Holbrook 7.977 E.T. at 172.74 MPH

“If you look back to March and the Gatornationals, the first Factory Stock race of the season, we were two-tenths behind the leaders in the class, and I remember telling Kevin Helms, our crew chief, we’ll be lucky if we even qualify for this race. That’s how far off pace we were, and the lack of parity in the class. It’s a testament to Dodge, MOPAR, DSR and this team. We knew we were challenged and we were still going to maximize all of our available opportunities with the power plant that we had. Hats off to NHRA for making pully adjustments and weight changes throughout the season to really tighten the class up. We weren’t the fastest or the quickest, but we were able to completely turn our season around by never giving up.

"To finish the year with a Wally and a back-to-back win at this race would’ve been amazing, but the first thing I did when I got out of the car is high-five the guys, and thank them for not giving up and working extra hard to squeeze as much as we can out of these cars and this program. We fought hard today, almost had both of our cars in the final, and I’m excited about 2020. There was a moment in all of the chaos, running back and forth between both cars, that I reminded myself that I’m one of the few people in the world that gets to do that, so I make sure I enjoy it and use it to condition myself for other high-pressure situations.”

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