DSR Epping Qualifying Report

NHRA New England Nationals
Event 13 of 24 (Epping)
New England Dragway
Epping, N.H.
July 6-8, 2018

DSR Epping Qualifying Highlights:
  • Leah Pritchett and Matt Hagan clinch the No. 1 Top Fuel and Funny Car qualifying spots
  • Antron Brown and Pritchett ran the quickest and second quickest of Top Fuel Q3
  • Pritchett made a ‘top three’ run in three out of four qualifying sessions
  • Pritchett earned her second consecutive New England Dragway No. 1 qualifier
  • Hagan, the most recent Funny Car winner on tour, looks to defend his 2017 New England Dragway Funny Car title
  • All four DSR Funny Cars secure starting positions in the ‘quick half’ of the field
  • The DSR Dodges charged to the four best runs of the final Funny Car qualifying session (in order: Hagan, Tommy Johnson Jr., Ron Capps, Jack Beckman)
  • Every DSR driver earned bonus points during Epping qualifying  
DSR Continues Dominance on Saturday at NHRA New England Nationals
Leah Pritchett (Top Fuel) and Matt Hagan (Funny Car) will start Sunday from the No. 1 spot

Epping, N.H. (July 7, 2018) – Top Fuel driver Leah Pritchett and Funny Car racer Matt Hagan finished off an impressive two days of qualifying at the NHRA New England Nationals by maintaining their hold on the top starting spots heading into elimination rounds on Sunday.
Pritchett zoomed to her second pole of the season in her Mopar Dodge Top Fuel machine before a sellout crowd, earning her second consecutive No. 1 qualifier at New England Dragway and ninth overall of her career. The No. 1 qualifier spot in Funny Car was the third of the season for Sandvik Coromant Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car driver Hagan, his first at New England Dragway and the 33rd of his career.
Pritchett carried her Top Fuel dragster to the No. 1 position in the second qualifying session on Friday night, using Mopar-power to uncork a 3.742-second at 324.51-mph pass that jumped her from sixth up to the top spot. 
“We found (and fixed) some problems leading up to this race that let us get a solid run down on Q1 so we could throw everything at it, all the Mopar-power, on Q2,” said Pritchett. “(That run) was exactly what we wanted and then we used Saturday as practice for race day.”
The Friday evening run also earned the six-time Top Fuel event winner three bonus points, and Pritchett added a total of three more on Saturday when she was second quickest in her third qualifying attempt and third quickest in Q4. Gunning for her second win of the season, Pritchett will open eliminations on Sunday against Audrey Worm. 
“I think the key to the momentum for anybody that’s playing for Sunday is to diversify their portfolio,” said Pritchett when asked how she was going to convert her qualifying success into a long race day. “The last time we were successful at that was in Atlanta when we won. We tested on Q3 and then we practiced during Q4, and we got the results we wanted for tomorrow. The momentum is there, and I have all the faith and confidence in this team. They never give up, they’re always persevering and our hard work is paying off. I’m really proud.
“Finally, our race car is doing what we tell it to do, and I know that’s been disheartening for (crew chief) Todd (Okuhara) who’s been frustrated by that. It’s been like a case of Unsolved Mysteries, and to solve a lot of that this weekend feels really good. The last time we qualified No. 1 was Houston and that’s when we were the Mopar car so it feels good for both Top Fuel and Funny Car to be on top for Mopar because they definitely put all of the power behind us.”
Carrying momentum from his victory at the most recent NHRA event in Ohio two weeks ago, Hagan earned two bonus points and was No. 2 after his first qualifying attempt. The defending Epping event winner added three more points and moved his Sandvik Coromant Dodge Funny car up to No. 1 with a 3.932-second at 320.20-mph pass that held up through Saturday’s two final qualifying rounds. Hagan was once again quickest on the charts in Q4, upping his qualifying bonus point total to eight. 
“We’ve got a great race car right now,” said the two-time Funny Car world champion. “It’s going down the race track every lap, it’s running on eight cylinders. (Crew chief) Dickie (Venables) has a really good handle on the tune-up right now and that builds confidence. That confidence carries over to me as a driver, just being able to focus on the lights up there and not thinking about whether the car is going to go down the track or not, or whether I’m going to have to pedal or do whatever I have to do.

"Everything kind of sets itself up off of Q1. That’s what we’ve been saying all year long, if we go down Q1 you set yourselves up for Q2. Then, once you’re there you get something to work off of and you can see Dickie be kind of like ‘okay we’re here, this is what we gotta do’ and it just goes from there. Being able to come out here and lay down a good number and be No. 2 out of the box, just having that to work off of was good.”
Hagan sits second in the Funny Car standings and will match up first with Terry Haddock as he seeks his second consecutive win of 2018 and his second straight at Epping. 
Driver of the Mopar Dodge Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 1 (lane choice)

The Competition: No. 16 Audrey Worm

The Results:
Q1: 4.194 E.T. at 203.52 MPH
Q2: 3.742 E.T. at 324.51 MPH (Three bonus points for quickest run of the session)
Q3: 4.044 E.T. at 245.23 MPH (Two bonus points for second quickest run of the session)
Q4: 3.858 E.T. at 319.75 MPH (One bonus point for third quickest run of the round)

Bonus Points: Six

Driver of the Sandvik Coromant Dodge Charger R/T

Qualified: No. 1 (lane choice)

The Competition: No. 16 Terry Haddock

The Results: 
Q1: 4.012 E.T. at 304.67 MPH (Two bonus points for second quickest run of the session)
Q2: 3.932 E.T. at 322.04 MPH (Three bonus points for quickest run of the session)
Q3: 4.112 E.T. at 311.05 MPH
Q4: 4.027 E.T. at 318.47 MPH (Three bonus points for quickest run of the session)

Bonus Points: Eight

Driver Information:

Top Fuel:

Driver of the Matco Tools/U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 12

The Competition: No. 5 Clay Millican 

The Results: 
Q1: 6.500 E.T. at 104.50 MPH
Q2: 6.580 E.T. at 103.35 MPH
Q3: 3.974 E.T. at 276.58 MPH (Three bonus points for quickest run of the session)
Q4: 4.176 E.T. at 221.63 MPH

Bonus Points: Three

“I’m proud of my Matco Tools/U.S. Army boys for their hard work today. We were dealing with a hot, slimy track. We knew we had to make something happen today and coming out in Q3 it was important for us to get down the track cleanly. We lost a cylinder, but still managed to put up the best pass of the session. Not only did we pick up three bonus points, but we also moved up the ladder. That run gave us the opportunity to take a swing at it in the final session, but we dropped a hole again and shut off early. We are getting closer and closer to our race day setups. We’re feeling really comfortable and confident heading into tomorrow because it’s supposed to be even hotter than it was today. I think we are in a good spot. We just have to go A to B and we’ll take it one step at a time tomorrow.”

Driver of the U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 2 (lane choice)

The Competition: No. 15 Jim Maroney 

The Results:
Q1: 5.193 E.T. at 132.71 MPH
Q2: 3.744 E.T. at 330.31 MPH (Two bonus points for second quickest run of the session)
Q3: 4.838 E.T. at 149.96 MPH
Q4: 4.757 E.T. at 154.72 MPH

Bonus Points: Two 

“You have to push the envelope sometimes to get ahead. That’s what this U.S. Army team does. We continue to push ourselves. (Crew chiefs) Mike Neff and Phil Shuler aren’t going to back down and they are driven to make this team consistent winners. We were oh-so-close on that last run to making the exact lap we were trying to make. You have the heat today and everyone is factoring that in. We went back to what we did at Bristol, where we're sliding down the track in hot conditions, and then you see a couple cars put up some mid 3.80s and you adjust to that. We just missed it slightly. I can feel how close the car is. We’re excited for tomorrow. Our goal for the second-half of the season is to be our best on Sundays and we’ve got a great opportunity tomorrow. Over prepare and go with the flow. I’ve said that a lot and that’s just what we are going to do.”

Funny Car:

Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T

Qualified: No. 2 (lane choice)

The Competition: No. 15 Jeff Diehl

The Results:
Q1: 4.066 E.T. at 317.04 MPH
Q2: 3.956 E.T. at 320.20 MPH (Two bonus points for second quickest run of the session)
Q3: 4.542 E.T. at 190.48 MPH
Q4: 4.042 E.T. at 317.87 MPH

Bonus Points: Two

“Finally getting our tune-up back into that window where we have a predictable race car. Once you have a predictable race car, it’s not a big step to make it a quick race car. Right now I think we are making absolute strides. I think that Monday test in Norwalk helped us a bunch. I cannot wait to get into race day.”

Driver of the NAPA Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund Dodge Charger R/T

Qualified: No. 4 (lane choice)

The Competition: No. 13 Courtney Force

The Results: 
Q1: 4.384 E.T. at 209.69 MPH
Q2: 3.978 E.T. at 320.89 MPH
Q3: 4.099 E.T. at 310.41 MPH (Three bonus points for quickest run of the session)
Q4: 4.040 E.T. at 319.67 MPH (One bonus point for third quickest of the session)

Bonus Points: Four

“That’s the way it goes sometimes. The way I see it is we’ve been trying, we have six races to make up ground, and we want to be No. 1 going into the Countdown. It’s a long shot with her way out in front of us, but there’s only one way to do it and that’s take care of business ourselves and try to get that team out early. We don’t ask to race them, they’re a great team but there’s our chance now to make some ground up. The sooner she can go out on race day, the more Mello Yello points we can make up. It’s not a team you want to see early in the day. People are saying ‘oh you have to race Courtney’ but I’m certainly thinking they’re probably a little more nervous having to race the NAPA car than we are them.”

Driver of the Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger R/T 
Qualified: No. 8 (lane choice)

The Competition: No. 9 Cruz Pedregon

The Results:
Q1: 4.026 E.T. at 316.82 MPH
Q2: 4.023 E.T. at 322.58 MPH
Q3: 4.222 E.T. at 238.68 MPH
Q4: 4.036 E.T. at 317.49 MPH (Two bonus points for second best of the session)

Bonus Points: Two

“I think with race day conditions predicted to be similar to what we had here in the last session, (Q4 was) a good run. We were second-best of the session to end qualifying, that should be pretty good. If we can continue our consistency on race day, two 4.02s and a 4.03, that should win some rounds.”

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