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DSR Gainesville Pre-Race Report


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

Noteworthy:

  • Jack Beckman returns to Gainesville as the defending Funny Car event champion after racing to victory from the No. 1 spot in 2018
  • Matt Hagan enters the race weekend as the most recent Funny Car victor on tour with his recent Phoenix win
  • The DSR Dodge Challenger Drag Pak duo piloted by Mark Pawuk and Leah Pritchett return for the season-opening SAM Tech Factory Stock Showdown Series event
  • Pritchett, who will pull double-duty by also competing in the Top Fuel category, kicks off her Factory Stock Showdown Series title defense campaign
  • Antron Brown made his NHRA debut at the 1998 event, competing in Pro Stock Motorcycle
  • At age 15, Tommy Johnson Jr. became the youngest driver to enter a national event when he competed in the 1984 Gatornationals in the Super Gas category
 

DSR-Owned Track Records:
Top Fuel, E.T.: 3.682 seconds, Tony Schumacher (2017)

DSR Driver Information:
 
Top Fuel:

ANTRON BROWN
Driver of the Matco Tools Top Fuel Dragster

Gainesville Event Highlights: 
  • 2013 event champion 
  • Four-time runner-up:
    • Top Fuel: 2010, 2014, 2017 
    • Pro Stock Motorcycle: 2006 
  • Two-time No. 1 qualifier:
    • Top Fuel: 2010 
    • Pro Stock Motorcycle: 2001 
2018 Gainesville Recap:
Qualified third; Semifinal finish (defeated Audrey Worm in E1, Leah Pritchett in E2; defeated by Richie Crampton in E3)

Last Event (Phoenix):
Qualified third; Semifinal finish (defeated Steve Torrence in E1, Austin Prock in E2; defeated by Leah Pritchett in E3)

2019 Season Statistics:
Two round wins; Ranked seventh in points

Career Statistics:
408 races; 66 wins (16 Pro Stock Motorcycle); 49 No. 1 qualifiers (11 PSM)

Noteworthy:
  • NHRA legend and 'Unfinished Business' participant Don Garlits is scheduled to warm-up Brown's Matco Tools/Toyota Top Fuel dragster at 11:05 a.m. on Saturday
  • Made his NHRA debut at the 1998 event, competing in Pro Stock Motorcycle 

Quotable:
“It would be huge to win another Gatornationals, especially on the 50th anniversary. Big things can happen in Gainesville. For me, it was my Pro Stock Motorcycle race in 1998, so that track and I go way back. This will be my 21stseason going there. We won there once in Top Fuel and it would be great to win it in our Matco Tools/Toyota in the 50th anniversary and be in the record books for winning something so historic; that would be really special to me. 
 
“The fans in Gainesville are phenomenal. It seems like every year we go there it's sold out. There's going to be a huge crowd this year. The Gatornationals just has an aura of drag racing.” 


 
LEAH PRITCHETT
Driver of the MOPAR Dodge Top Fuel Dragster 
2018 Gainesville Recap:
Qualified sixth; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Terry Haddock in E1; defeated by Antron Brown in E2)
 
Last Event (Phoenix):
Qualified seventh; Event runner-up (defeated Cameron Ferre in E1, Terry McMillen in E2, Antron Brown in E3; defeated by Billy Torrence in E4)

2019 Season Statistics:
Four round wins; Ranked third in points 

Career Statistics:
120 races; seven wins; 11 No. 1 qualifiers

Noteworthy:
  • Will pull double-duty, competing in both Top Fuel and Factory Stock as she begins her Factory Stock Showdown Series title defense

Quotable: 
“Competing at the Gatornationals alone is always prestigious, no less gunning for two Wallys at the 50th anniversary. I remember attending the 50thanniversary of the Pomona Finals and Winternationals as a fan, and to now be a strong contender at the Gators in its golden hour is something that excites my soul. We have a great race car and team that I know is excited about putting on an incredible show for a sell-out crowd, as well as bringing home two truly golden wins to DSR. History will be made there, and we intend on giving it everything we’ve got to be the fastest part of it.”



Funny Car:

JACK BECKMAN
Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

Gainesville Event Highlights: 
  • 2018 event champion 
  • Two-time No. 1 qualifier (2016, 2018) 
2018 Gainesville Recap:
Qualified No. 1; Event champion (defeated Jim Campbell in E1, Del Worsham in E2, Shawn Langdon in E3, Matt Hagan in E4)

Last Event (Phoenix):
Qualified fourteenth; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Tim Wilkerson in E1; defeated by Bob Tasca III in E2)

2019 Season Statistics:
Four round wins; Ranked third in points 
 
Career Statistics:
302 races; 28 wins; 24 No. 1 qualifiers

Noteworthy:
  • Returns to Gainesville as the defending Funny Car event champion 

Quotable:
“The last time I sat in our car was on a Monday when we stayed to test after the Phoenix race. On the third run we launched the body off the race car and blew it into about 50 pieces so I can’t wait to get back in the car and knock the rust off. I also can’t wait to get back to Gainesville for several reasons. We’re the defending event champions and as a 50th anniversary race, it’s going to have a whole lot of extra things going on around it. There’s no trophy that isn’t special, but the 50th anniversary ones come around once in a lifetime and I’d love to bag this one.”


 
RON CAPPS
Driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Gainesville Event Highlights: 
  • Three-time event winner (2006, 2007, 2015) 
  • Two-time runner-up (2000, 2016) 
2018 Gainesville Recap:
Qualified seventh; Semifinal finish (defeated Bob Tasca III in E1, Courtney Force in E2; defeated by Matt Hagan in E3)

Last Event (Phoenix):
Qualified ninth; First round exit (defeated by John Force in E1)

2019 Season Statistics:
One round win; Ranked ninth in points 

Career Statistics:
533 races; 61 wins (one Top Fuel); 22 No. 1 qualifiers

Quotable:
“This time of the season is always exciting for several reasons but they all kind of revolve around the Gatornationals. It’s a very historic race in our sport and being lucky enough to win it a couple of times, I can tell you it’s an indescribable feeling. There always seems to be a little more excitement when you show up that first day at the track and realize how big the Gatornationals is, and how many people show up there.
 
“The Gatornationals also follows a break that we have every year. After the first two races of the season, there’s always a few weeks off and it gives the teams a chance to gear up and look at what they did at the first two events. For us, we didn’t have a pre-season test session, and we ran alright in Pomona and Phoenix, but we stayed over in Phoenix and tested our new chassis and had great results. I know our NAPA team is really pumped about going to Gainesville and starting to look at moving ourselves back up in the NHRA Mello Yello points from here on out.
 
“This year we have a brand-new race track surface at Gainesville and that hasn’t been done in a very long time. With the weather conditions showing mild temperatures and not too bad of humidity, those factors along with a brand-new race track surface is going to provide some of the best racing the Gatornationals fans have seen in a long time and I think it’s going to come at a great time for us. I know (crew chief Rahn) Tobler is excited about getting our new car back on the track after our test and I’m very excited to roll that new 2019 Hellcat into Gainesville and see if we can’t leave here with the Wally.”


 
MATT HAGAN
Driver of the MOPAR Express Lane Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Gainesville Event Highlights: 
  • 2018 runner-up 
  • Two-time No. 1 qualifier (2010, 2011) 
2018 Gainesville Recap:
Qualified sixth; Event runner-up (defeated Tim Wilkerson in E1, Robert Hight in E2, Ron Capps in E3; defeated by Jack Beckman in E4)

Last Event (Phoenix):
Qualified second; Event champion (defeated Phil Burkhart Jr. in E1, Shawn Langdon in E2, Bob Tasca III in E3, J.R. Todd in E4)

2019 Season Statistics:
Four round wins; ranked second in points 

Career Statistics:
242 races; 30 wins; 34 No. 1 qualifiers

Noteworthy:
  • Enters the race weekend as the most recent Funny Car event champion, having raced to victory at the previous event in Phoenix

Quotable:
“Looking forward to Gainesville after coming off of that win in Phoenix. We’ve got a lot of momentum and had a great test session in Phoenix on that Monday following the race. It’ll be interesting to see what the crew chiefs will have in the race car, whether we’ll run some different clutch combos or not, but hopefully we can push this momentum into Gainesville. I’ve never won there; I was runner-up there last year but got beat on a holeshot so definitely not going to let that happen this year. We’re going to get after it, we’ve got a great race car. The Gators are always awesome; the fans are great, everyone always comes out to the first East Coast race of the year and I look forward to seeing everyone this weekend.”


 
TOMMY JOHNSON JR.
Driver of the Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat 
2018 Gainesville Recap:
Qualified fifth; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Cruz Pedregon in E1; defeated by Shawn Langdon in E2)

Last Event (Phoenix):
Qualified fourth; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Jim Campbell in E1; defeated by J.R. Todd in E2)

2019 Season Statistics:
Three round wins; ranked fourth in points 
 
Career Statistics:
448 races; 17 wins (two Top Fuel); 18 No. 1 qualifiers (one Top Fuel)

Noteworthy:
  • At age 15, became the youngest driver to enter a national event when he competed in the 1984 Gatornationals in the Super Gas category
Quotable:
“Gainesville is always a special race for me because my first ever national event was at Gainesville in 1984 (competing in Super Gas). It’s just a race we look forward to every year because it’s the unofficial ‘East Coast kickoff.’ The Gatornationals is such a great event and this year is the 50th anniversary. I’d love to win it; it’s one of my favorite races on the tour but I’ve never won it and I can’t think of a better time to do it than during the 50th anniversary. Our Make-A-Wish Hellcat has been performing so well lately. We had a couple of issues in Phoenix but we’re going to rebound and come out swinging this weekend. With the way our car has been running, I think this is the best chance we’ve ever had to win it. “


Factory Stock:

MARK PAWUK
Driver of the Empaco Equipment MOPAR Dodge Challenger Drag Pak
 

2018 Gainesville Recap:
Did Not Compete


LEAH PRITCHETT
Driver of the MOPAR Dodge Challenger Drag Pak
 

2018 Gainesville Recap:
Qualified seventh; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Daniel Condon in E1; defeated by Randy Taylor in E2)

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