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DSR Houston Pre-Race Report

Mopar Express Lane NHRA Spring Nationals Presented by Pennzoil
Event No. 10
Houston Raceway Park
Baytown, Texas 
October 24-25, 2020

Highlights:

  • The DSR Funny Car championship battle continues to intensify heading into the Mopar Express Lane NHRA Spring Nationals Presented by Pennzoil, the penultimate event of the 2020 season, after No. 2 ranked Jack Beckman defeated point leader Matt Hagan in the Dallas final round at the previous event
    • A scant four points separate Hagan and Dallas 
  • DSR carries a streak of 12 consecutive national event Funny Car wins into Houston
  • While they jostle for position atop the leaderboard, No. 1 ranked Hagan, No. 4 ranked Ron Capps, No. 2 ranked Beckman and No. 3 ranked Tommy Johnson Jr. will also be looking to extend DSR’s current undefeated Funny Car streak to a record 13 victories
    • Each driver has contributed at least two Wally trophies to the string of 12 wins that dates back to October 2019. DSR previously set the consecutive win record in a single class at 10 races during the 2017 season with the same driver lineup
  • Johnson is looking to deliver a ‘hometown victory’ for MD Anderson, headquartered in Houston
  • In Top Fuel, Leah Pruett occupies the No. 3 spot in the point standings. Sitting 148 points out of first, Houston is a ‘must-do-well’ for Pruett to remain solidly in championship contention.
  • Mark Pawuk leads the DSR Drag Pak Factory Stock Showdown duo in the championship rankings, sitting in the No. 2 spot. Pawuk’s No. 1 qualifier from the unfinished St. Louis race will carry over into Houston to start the weekend
  • Antron Brown won his first Top Fuel race at the 2008 Houston event  
  • Hagan won his first Funny Car Wally trophy at the 2010 event 


Note:
On Saturday, just prior to the first nitro qualifying session, Beckman will join Infinite Hero Foundation representatives on the starting line to present an iBot, a personal mobility device, to Richard Carson, Army Combat Medic (retired). The iBOT donation is made possible thanks to the incredible generosity of DSR sponsor Doug Chandler and the TLC Foundation, the Parasol Foundation, and the incredible fans who give so generously to support the Infinite Hero Foundation.



DSR Driver Information:
 
Top Fuel:

ANTRON BROWN
Driver of the Matco Tools 'Tools for the Cause'/Global Electronic Technology/Toyota Top Fuel Dragster


 

Houston Event Highlights: 
  • Two-time event champion (2008, 2014)
    • Raced to his career-first Top Fuel victory in 2008  
  • Four-time runner-up
    • Top Fuel (2010, 2012, 2019) 
    • Pro Stock Motorcycle (2004)  
  • Two-time No. 1 qualifier 
    • Top Fuel (2009)  
    • Pro Stock Motorcycle (2001) 
2019 Houston Recap:
Qualified 11th; Runner-up finish (defeated Mike Salinas in E1, Leah Pruett in E2, Steve Torrence in E3; defeated by Brittany Force in E4)

Last Event (Dallas):
Qualified eighth; First round exit (defeated by Doug Kalitta in E1)

2020 Statistics:
Eight round wins; ranked seventh in points

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

Noteworthy:
  • Won his first Top Fuel trophy at the 2008 Houston event  
Quotable:
“Looking forward to getting back to Houston and into Pennzoil country. We got beat up a little bit these past couple of races and we just want to go to work and show what we’re made of. We’re hoping Houston can be our breakout race. Our goal is to qualify well and we’ll take it from there. I’ve got full faith, full belief in my team. The only way you can beat resistance is with persistence and we’re just steady at work with it and ready to go out there and show out for all of our Matco distributors and our supporters at Global Electronic Technology. We’re ready to go.” 


LEAH PRUETT
Driver of the Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster

 

Houston Event Highlights:
  • 2017 event champion  
  • 2018 No. 1 qualifier 
2019 Houston Recap:
Qualified third; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Shawn Reed in E1; defeated by Antron Brown in E2)

Last Event (Dallas):
Qualified fifth; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Scott Palmer in E1; defeated by Shawn Langdon in E2)

2020 Season Statistics:
15 round wins; ranked third in points

Career Statistics:
150 races; eight wins; 12 No. 1 qualifiers 

Noteworthy:
  • Occupies the No. 3 spot in the point standings. Sitting 148 points out of first, Houston is a ‘must-do-well’ for Pruett to remain solidly in championship contention.
Quotable:
“Houston! Home of our Pennzoil proving grounds. Very much looking forward to proving our way up into the points. Incredible to think the season is ending as we are getting back in the travel and racing groove. Looking forward to our Baytown Pennzoil hometown crowd. We have had a good amount of success here, and the fans remember that, and we will undoubtedly be feeling that vibe. Our championship pursuit is hotter than ever, with lessons learned in Dallas that will only make us stronger for this event.”


TONY SCHUMACHER
Driver of the Okuma/Sandvik Coromant
Toyota Top Fuel Dragster

 

Houston Event Highlights: 
  • Two-time event winner (2005, 2009)  
  • Five-time runner-up (1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2015)  
  • Two-time No. 1 qualifier (2005, 2011) 
2019 Houston Recap:
DNS

Last Event (Dallas):
Qualified third; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Joey Haas in E1; defeated by Billy Torrence in E2)

Career Statistics:
510 races; 84 wins; 88 No. 1 qualifiers

Noteworthy:
  • A native of Chicago, Schumacher now resides in Austin, Texas  
Quotable:
“It was so exciting to race in Texas last week when we were in Dallas, and I’m grateful that we get to go to Houston this year as well. Two back-to-back races in my home state definitely gets me pumped up. I’m on my third car in five races, and it performed very well in Dallas, so I look forward to continuing with that same car this weekend. The group of guys we have are really coming together and working as a team, and there’s no reason why our Okuma/Sandvik Coromant team shouldn’t be successful these last two races. This championship chase is coming down to the wire, and even though I can’t win a championship this year, it’s a lot of fun as a driver to be able to participate and play a role in the outcome.”


Funny Car:

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


 

Houston Event Highlights: 
  • Three-time runner-up (2009, 2014, 2015)  
  • 2015 No. 1 Qualifier 
2019 Houston Recap:
Qualified eighth; First round exit (defeated by Bob Tasca III in E1)

Last Event (Dallas):
Qualified sixth; Event champion (defeated Cruz Pedregon in E1, Tim Wilkerson in E2, Bob Tasca III in E3, Matt Hagan in E4)
 
2020 Season Statistics:
Three event wins; 22 round wins; ranked second in points

Career Statistics:
333 races; 33 wins; 27 No. 1 qualifiers

Noteworthy:
  • On Saturday, just prior to the first nitro qualifying session, Beckman will join Infinite Hero Foundation representatives on the starting line to present an iBot, a personal mobility device, to Richard Carson, Army Combat Medic (retired).
  • Beckman enters the Mopar Express Lane NHRA Spring Nationals Presented by Pennzoil as the most recent Funny Car winner on tour after defeating teammate Matt Hagan in the Dallas final
  • Beckman is DSR’s top trophy earner in 2020 with three victories in the first nine races
Quotable:
“How could any driver not want to hop right back into the car I got out of after winning Dallas? Our crew is just absolutely beyond-words-fantastic, and our race day wasn’t without its challenges. We had an issue with the clutch pressure and we hadn’t completely tracked it down, and we just tuned around it. We had a hiccup warming-up for the final round and we thought we may have backfired or hurt the engine, and then the car goes up there and runs exactly what it’s supposed to, and as a driver, that gives you so much confidence. I had been to Dallas 16 times to get one nitro win, and that track was one that I considered to be a ‘must win.’ I’ve just crossed that one off the list, and I haven’t won Houston yet so I’ve got my Sharpie ready to cross that one off the bucket list too.”
 
 
RON CAPPS
Driver of the Pennzoil/NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

 

Houston Event Highlights: 
  • Four-time event winner (2006, 2007, 2015, 2017)  
  • 2012 runner-up 
2019 Houston Recap:
Qualified second; Semifinal finish (defeated Jeff Diehl in E1, Shawn Langdon in E2; defeated by Matt Hagan in E3)

Last Event (Dallas):
Qualified fourth; Semifinal finish (defeated Terry Haddock in E1, Alexis DeJoria in E2; defeated by Matt Hagan in E3)

2020 Season Statistics:
Two event wins; 15 round wins; ranked fourth in points

Career Statistics:
564 races; 66 wins (one Top Fuel); 24 No. 1 qualifiers

Quotable:
“Here we are heading to the Spring Nationals. Who would’ve thought it would’ve been in the month of October, but we’re so grateful we get to go race this event in south Texas. The fan base in that part of the country is so strong, and we’re happy we get to put on a show for them. Unfortunately, we thought we had a race-winning car last weekend in Dallas, but we lost in the semis to one of our teammates. The car fell off-pace a little bit from how we ran earlier that day, but the great thing is, (crew chief) Rahn Tobler and the NAPA guys can pinpoint exactly why it fell off. It wasn’t much, but it was enough that we didn’t get the win which would’ve put us in the final round. We’ve got two races left, and we’ll try and go win both of them and see where the points lay but looking forward to getting back down to Houston.”
  


MATT HAGAN
Driver of the Pennzoil Synthetics Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

 

Houston Event Highlights: 
  • 2010 event champion
    • Career-first Funny Car win 
  • 2019 runner-up 
2019 Houston Recap:
Qualified sixth; Event runner-up (defeated Tommy Johnson Jr. in E1, Blake Alexander in E2, Ron Capps in E3; defeated by Robert Hight in E4)

Last Event (Dallas):
Qualified No. 1; Event runner-up (defeated Todd Simpson in E1, J.R. Todd in E2, Ron Capps in E3; defeated by Jack Beckman in E4)

2020 Season Statistics:
Two event wins; 21 round wins; ranked No. 1 in points

Career Statistics:
273 races; 35 wins; 40 No. 1 qualifiers

Noteworthy:
  • Current point leader. Holds a four-point lead over No. 2 ranked Jack Beckman 
  • Hagan has raced to the final round at the past two events 
  • Won his first Funny Car Wally at the 2010 Houston event 
Quotable:
“The excitement when you’re racing at your sponsor’s event is huge. There’s always pressure at any race, but when it’s your sponsor’s race you have extra motivation to win it. The conditions at Houston will likely be similar to what we had in Gainesville, and we ran really well there, so we feel confident that we have a great opportunity to win at our sponsor’s event.
 
“Being able to battle it out for a championship is something I’m very prepared to do. I think there’s only been one time in my entire career that I wasn’t in the hunt. It always comes down to the wire and you never know what’s going to happen, but that’s what makes it so exciting. Every race is very important, and every run counts. We’re going to go out there, do what we do, and that’s turn on win lights for Mopar and Pennzoil.”
 
TOMMY JOHNSON JR.
Driver of the MD Anderson Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat 

 

Houston Event Highlights:
  • 2002 runner-up 
2019 Houston Recap:
Qualified 11th; First round exit (defeated by Matt Hagan in E1)

Last Event (Dallas):
Qualified second; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Jim Campbell in E1; defeated by Bob Tasca III in E2)

2020 Season Statistics:
Two event wins; 17 round wins; ranked third in points

Career Statistics:
478 races; 20 wins (two Top Fuel); 21 No. 1 qualifiers (one Top Fuel)

Noteworthy:
  • Currently ranked third, sitting 77 points out of first 
  • Johnson is looking to deliver a ‘hometown victory’ for MD Anderson, headquartered in Houston
Quotable:
“If we have any shot at being in championship contention heading into the last race of the season in Vegas, then Houston is a must-win for our team. We didn’t have the weekend we were looking for in Dallas, so come Houston we will be pulling out all of the stops trying to put together a great weekend and a win to keep ourselves in it. It’s also going to be such a special weekend for us because it’s the hometown of MD Anderson and we would love nothing more than to win in their backyard. It’s a big weekend for us and we’re looking forward to it. We’ve got a great car, we’ve been running really well, we just need to put together four good runs on Sunday and I think we have a car that can win the race.”


Factory Stock Showdown Series:


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


 

2019 Houston Recap:
N/A

Last Event (Dallas):
Qualified sixth; Semifinal finish (defeated John Cerbone in E1, Jesse Alexandra in E2; defeated by Aaron Stanfield in E3)

FSS Career Statistics:
18 races; three runner-ups; three No. 1 qualifiers
*includes St. Louis

Noteworthy:
  • Leads the DSR Drag Pak Factory Stock Showdown duo in the championship rankings, sitting solidly in the No. 2 spot.
  • Pawuk’s No. 1 qualifier from the unfinished St. Louis race will carry over into Houston to start the weekend

Quotable:
“We’re going to our second of this string of back-to-back-to-back races coming off of a decent outing in Dallas. Our Empaco Equipment/Ohio CAT/Mr. Heater Dodge Drag Pak went to the semifinals. If the driver was a little sharper on race day, it would’ve given us a chance to get to a final, but it wasn’t meant to be. I’m looking forward to getting to Houston. Right now, we’re qualified No. 1. They’re carrying the qualifying over from St. Louis, and I’ve had some pretty good success over the years at Houston. In 1990, I set the national record in Pro Stock with a 7.220 E.T. and in 1992, I won my first national event in NHRA Pro Stock competition beating Rickie Smith in the final, so hopefully some of that good mojo will return with the team this coming weekend. I’ve been very pleased with the performance of our Dodge Drag Pak, and hopefully it’ll carry over into these last two races and we will finish strong. Can’t wait to see everyone in Houston. Come on by the Dodge Drag Pak pits and say ‘hi’ to the Cowboy.”

 

LEAH PRUETT
Driver of the Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak


 

2019 Houston Recap:
N/A

Last Event (Dallas):
Qualified 12th; First round exit (defeated by Arthur Kohn in E1)

FSS Career Statistics:
22 races; three wins; one runner-up; two No. 1 qualifiers
*includes St. Louis

Noteworthy:
Carries her No. 7 qualifying position (from St. Louis) into the Houston event

Quotable:
“Unique to this race is that we will be continuing the unfinished St. Louis Factory Stock Showdown business, where our one qualifying round holds. That is important because the conditions look to be vastly different than when we ran. So, taking that run as our qualifier while negotiating these warmer conditions for our final session before eliminations definitely sets a different tone on the race, and one that we are looking forward to.”

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