DSR Gainesville Post-Race Report

50th annual NHRA Gatornationals
Event 3 of 24 (Gainesville)
Gainesville Raceway
Gainesville, Fla. 
March 15-17, 2019

DSR Gainesville Elimination Highlights:

  • Leah Pritchett departs Gainesville sitting second in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship Top Fuel rankings
  • DSR Dodge Hellcats occupy three of the top five spots in the Funny Car point standings with Jack Beckman leading the way in second
  • Beckman powered to a semifinal finish 

Driver Information:

Top Fuel:
Driver of the Matco Tools Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 5 (3.726 E.T. at 330.23 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 4.376 E.T. at 220.40 MPH defeated by Richie Crampton 3.783 E.T. at 318.77 MPH

Race Recap:
The 2013 Gatornationals champion who made his NHRA debut at Gainesville Raceway atop a Pro Stock Motorcycle in 1998 qualified fifth for the 50th running of the prestigious event. Against his first-round opponent Richie Crampton, Antron Brown was quick on the throttle, earning a significant starting line advantage over his competitor. Crampton was able to take over the lead almost immediately when Brown’s machine rattled the tires and lost traction. Brown pedaled but was unable to chase down Crampton’s 3.783 second pass.

“We made some great strides here, especially in our clutch department. That first-round run, we just had a malfunction with our management system where it actually sent the clutch early and when it did, it just got a lot of clutch for no reason. We made two clean runs on Saturday, I was really pumped up for today, but we’ll lick our wounds, move on to Vegas and come out swinging there.”

Driver of the MOPAR Dodge Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 4 (3.724 E.T. at 325.22 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.724 E.T. at 327.59 MPH defeated Pat Dakin 7.999 E.T. at 80.28 MPH
E2: 3.739 E.T. at 328.78 MPH defeated by Richie Crampton 3.785 E.T. at 319.37 MPH

Race Recap:
Leah Pritchett came into Gainesville looking to become only the third female driver to hoist a Gatornationals Top Fuel Wally and positioned herself well by qualifying the MOPAR Dodge Top Fuel Dragster No. 4 in the field. In her opening round matchup with Pat Dakin, Pritchett posted a lap of 3.724 seconds at 327.59 mph to score the victory over Dakin’s 7.999 E.T.

In the second round, Pritchett took on defending Gatornationals champion and eventual race winner Richie Crampton. The difference turned out to be the advantage Crampton got at the start with his 0.022-reaction time followed by his run of 3.785 seconds to defeat Pritchett by 0.0126 seconds following her 3.739 second pass.

“The worst part is you hear the car next to you and you know that you got beat on a holeshot and you don’t need anyone telling you that. I don’t feel like I was super late. It was more of a case of him swinging super hard and I got hit with the punch. That’s the way it is. You take the highs super high and the lows you just deal with for a quick moment and then try and rebound. If I let that get me down that will just hinder our progression moving forward at the next race.”

“This MOPAR Dodge dragster is really good. We brought in a new crew member this weekend and he gelled with our team and they are doing a great job. The parts we’re using are doing great. The time slips are looking fantastic. It’s all there. We definitely felt like we should have won that round, but that’s drag racing.”

Funny Car:
Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 6 (3.900 E.T. at 323.74 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.905 E.T. at 326.79 MPH defeated J.R. Todd 4.353 E.T. at 255.53 MPH
E2: 3.898 E.T. at 329.67 MPH defeated Tommy Johnson Jr. 3.892 E.T. at 327.03 MPH
E3: 4.211 E.T. at 267.27 MPH defeated by Tim Wilkerson 3.896 E.T. 329.02 MPH

Race Recap:
Defending Gatornationals Funny Car champion Jack Beckman was looking to become the seventh driver to win back-to-back at Gainesville Raceway, but he was knocked out in the semifinals by Tim Wilkerson. 

Behind the wheel of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, Beckman earned the No. 6 position on the elimination ladder with his qualifying run in Saturday’s final session. He continued his quest for history at the 50th annual Gatornationals by defeating reigning Funny Car world champion J.R. Todd with a pass of 3.905 seconds. In round two, it was a duel of Hellcat Funny Cars with Beckman scoring a narrow win with his pass of 3.898 seconds at 329.67 to defeat his teammate Tommy Johnson Jr., who posted a run of 3.892 seconds at 327.03-mph. Beckman’s six-round win streak at the Gators came to a halt in the semifinals when Tim Wilkerson raced away with his pass of 3.896 to best Beckman’s run of 4.211.

“There is no Don Schumacher Racing driver that says we had a great weekend if you are not holding the trophy. We had a good weekend. It didn’t start off that way. We struggled the first three qualifying runs and finally got to the finish line on the last qualifying run. I think that’s all the guys needed. For (co-crew chiefs Dean) Guido (Antonelli) and John (Medlen), now they had data. We stepped on it. We had a great running car. I don’t know if we stepped on it too far in the semifinals. We’ll have to look at the data. Tim Wilkerson was running phenomenal. We had to go up there and turn all the screws up. The upside is that we leave here in a good position with points, but the downside is you want every single trophy you can get your hands on. We’ll see if we can get that trophy in Las Vegas.”

Driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 8 (3.933 E.T. at 318.77 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.910 E.T. at 324.59 MPH defeated Bob Tasca III 3.969 E.T. at 316.90 MPH
E2: 10.137 E.T. at 77.38 MPH defeated by Robert Hight 3.870 E.T. at 330.88 MPH

Race Recap:
As the second-winningest Funny Car driver of all time, Ron Capps has amassed 60 Funny Car victories and was hoping to add the golden 50th annual NHRA Gatornationals Wally trophy to his growing collection.
Armed with a brand-new chassis, Capps and the Rahn Tobler-led NAPA AUTO PARTS team qualified in the top half of the field to earn lane choice over first-round opponent Bob Tasca III. Capps powered the NAPA Dodge Hellcat to a 3.910-second pass to take the win over Tasca’s 3.969 E.T. and set up a quarterfinal meeting with Robert Hight.
Capps and Hight had nearly identical reaction times, but the race was over as soon as Capps stood on the gas. His 11,000-horsepower machine immediately went up in smoke and he watched as Hight drove away with the round win.

“We were trying to find ourselves this weekend. We came here after a great test session in Phoenix with our brand-new DSR chassis. It’s not like we were that far off this weekend, it’s just Tobler’s been fighting some new car blues. This is just something you go through when you bring out a new car. Sometimes everything comes out perfect and sometimes you’ve just got to chase adjustments here and there.
“Tobler did a great job to bounce us back in qualifying and then to go up there against a very tough team with Tasca’s car and go 91 in the first round was good, but he still wasn’t comfortable with the car and was still making adjustments.
“We ran into (crew chief) Jimmy Prock and Robert Hight in round two and they’ve got a great running car, and we knew we’d have to go up there and run an 86 or 87. Smoking the tires at the hit is not something Rahn Tobler is known to do and as soon as I got back to the pit from that run, he felt like he already knew why it did that. That’s what I love about racing with Tobler; he’s constantly thinking. Win or lose, he’s already thinking of how to get better. He catches things that will make us better in the future. Unfortunately, this 50th anniversary would’ve been a nice race to win but it’s a long season and I can’t get wait to get back out west and race at the Vegas Four-Wide.”

Driver of the MOPAR Express Lane Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 5 (3.900 E.T. at 325.85 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.941 E.T. at 322.58 MPH defeated Jonnie Lindberg 3.950 E.T. at 324.44 MPH
E2: 9.028 E.T. at 77.04 MPH defeated by John Force 4.471 E.T. at 185.95 MPH

Race Recap:
As the most recent Funny Car winner on tour and 2018 Gatornationals runner-up, Matt Hagan looked prime to capture his first Gainesville Raceway Wally trophy on Sunday at the 50th running of the event.
Against his first-round opponent Jonnie Lindberg, Hagan wheeled his MOPAR Express Lane Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat to a 3.941 second run to claim the round win and setup a quarterfinal matchup with John Force. In round two, Hagan was first on the throttle but went up in smoke early into the run and was forced to watch his competitor drive away with the round win, dashing the Virginia native’s chances at his first Gainesville winner’s circle celebration.

“We had to have a blower swap right there (ahead of round two) and it had way too much power, knocked it off at the starting line, but now at least we know we’ve got a really good blower. At the end of the day, I really wanted to win this race. It’s the 50th anniversary, it’s the GatorNats. We didn’t win the 50th but we’d like to try and come back and win the 51st. But all in all, we’ve got a good car. I feel good rolling into Vegas. (Crew chief) Dickie Venables has a good handle on this combo that we’re running.”

Driver of the Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 3 (3.896 E.T. at 324.75 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.933 E.T. at 326.56 MPH defeated John Smith 5.306 E.T. at 150.05 MPH
E2: 3.892 E.T. at 327.03 MPH defeated by Jack Beckman 3.898 E.T. at 329.67 MPH

Race Recap:
Tommy Johnson Jr. qualified third to start race day at the NHRA Gatornationals with a round-one matchup against part-time racer John Smith. Johnson navigated his Make-A-Wish Dodge Hellcat cleanly down the track in 3.905 seconds to take the win over Smith’s 4.353 second pass.
Round two featured an intramural battle between the Chandler family’s ‘giving cars’ with Johnson lining up opposite teammate Jack Beckman behind the wheel of the Infinite Hero Hellcat. Johnson and Beckman clocked nearly identical reaction times (0.069 versus Beckman’s 0.063) and maintained pace until just before the finish line when the Infinite Hero Dodge pulled ahead to claim the holeshot victory.  

“Wrong side of the closest race of the weekend. I’m happy the car is running so well. It’s frustrating that we keep having gremlins jump up and bite us but I’m proud of the team for how hard they’ve worked. They keep pushing and the car keeps on performing. It’s just a matter of time. You continue to run that good, things will eventually go your way instead of going against you. I’m ready for Vegas. It’s one of my favorite tracks. Everything comes in threes, we’ve gone through our three and we’re moving on.”

NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship Standings:

Top Fuel
1. Doug Kalitta - 246
2. Leah Pritchett - 204
3. Steve Torrence - 197
4. Richie Crampton - 178
4. Billy Torrence - 178
6. Terry McMillen - 166
7. Mike Salinas - 161
8. Clay Millican - 157
9. Antron Brown - 150
10. Austin Prock - 138

Funny Car
1. Robert Hight - 330
2. Jack Beckman - 225
3. Matt Hagan - 215

4. John Force - 200
5. Tommy Johnson Jr. - 191
6. Tim Wilkerson - 165
7. Bob Tasca III - 163
8. J.R. Todd - 159
9. Ron Capps - 146
10. Shawn Langdon - 143

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