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DSR Houston Pre-Race Report

Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals
Presented by Pennzoil

Event No. 5 of 21
Houston Raceway Park
Baytown, Texas
May 21-23, 2021

Noteworthy:

  • Recent Atlanta winner Antron Brown enters the event ranked second, and has finished in the semifinals or better at the last six events
  • Reigning Funny Car world champ Matt Hagan comes to Houston fourth in points, one spot ahead of teammate Ron Capps in fifth as both drivers chase their first wins of the year
  • For the second time this season, Leah Pruett is back to pulling double-duty as she battles for wins at Houston aboard her Top Fuel dragster and behind the wheel of her new 2021 Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak
  • 2021 marks the first time the Factory Stock Showdown Series will run a full event at Houston. Last year’s FSS Houston race was a carryover from the rained-out St. Louis event
  • All five Don Schumacher Racing drivers have been victorious at Houston Raceway Park at least once in their careers, including three who achieved ‘firsts’ in Baytown:
    • Brown won his first Top Fuel race at the 2008 Houston event   
    • Hagan won his first Funny Car Wally trophy at the 2010 event 
    • Factory Stock Showdown Series competitor Mark Pawuk won his first NHRA Pro Stock national event at the 1992 Houston race

DSR Driver Information:

Top Fuel:

 
ANTRON BROWN
Driver of Matco's 'Tools for the Cause' Toyota Top Fuel Dragster
Matco's Tools for the Cause to benefit the Fisher House Foundation


 

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) 
2020 Houston Recap:
Qualified fourth; Semifinal finish (defeated Scott Palmer in E1, Doug Kalitta in E2; defeated by Steve Torrence in E3)

Last Event (Charlotte 1):
Qualified sixth; Semifinal finish (defeated Shawn Langdon, Leah Pruett in E1, Doug Foley, Krista Baldwin in E2; defeated by Steve Torrence, Brittany Force in E3)

Career Statistics:
445 races; 68 wins (16 Pro Stock Motorcycle); 49 No. 1 Qualifiers (11 PSM)

Noteworthy:
  • Enters the event ranked second, and has finished in the semifinals or better at the last six events, including a win in Atlanta earlier this month
  • Brown won his first Top Fuel race at the 2008 Houston event during his rookie season
  • Driving a special Matco's ‘Tools for the Cause’ livery to benefit the Fisher House Foundation:
    • During the month of May, Matco will donate 15% of net sales of Tools for the Cause items to the Fisher House Foundation through the end of 2021 
    • For nearly 30 years, the Fisher House program has provided “a home away from home” for families of patients receiving medical care at major military and VA medical centers. These homes offer free, temporary lodging to military and veterans’ families, allowing them to be close to their loved ones during a medical crisis and focus on what’s important—the healing process 
    • Families served by Fisher House Foundation: More than 413,000 families since inception in 1990
    • There are 91 Fisher House facilities in operation  
    • Fisher House Foundation has provided over 10 million days of lodging, representing over $525 million in savings
Quotable:
“I always look forward to going to Houston Raceway Park. I remember when Matco had their first race there, the Matco Tools Supernationals, my crew chief Brian Corradi won that first race with Dean Skuza. That track has a really good, old-school NHRA drag racing feel. We love seeing all of the people from Houston and Louisiana that come out and show us all of the support. Houston is also Matco Tools-deep country right there, so I look forward to carrying on and keeping our good momentum going this weekend.”
 
LEAH PRUETT
Driver of the Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster

 

Houston Event Highlights:
  • 2017 event champion   
  • 2018 No. 1 qualifier 

2020 Houston Recap:
Qualified sixth; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Lee Calloway in E1; defeated by Billy Torrence in E2)

Last Event (Charlotte 1):
Qualified third; First round exit (defeated by Antron Brown, Krista Baldwin in E1)

Career Statistics:
156 races; eight wins; 12 No. 1 Qualifiers 

Noteworthy:
  • For the second time this season, Pruett is back to pulling double-duty as she battles for wins at Houston aboard her Top Fuel dragster and behind the wheel of her new 2021 Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak
Quotable:
“I’m very excited to get to Baytown. We get to kick off the week with Ride & Drive events with Dodge. The track conditions are usually really good at Houston. It’s supposed to be cool and we’ll be at sea level, and I have no doubt we’ll be making those fast runs that get all of us hyped up. 
 
“I’ll be back to pulling double-duty, running both my Top Fuel dragster and Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak. I truly feel like, when we get to Houston, it’ll be our ‘get healthy’ race and it’ll be a new beginning for us. We’re looking forward to laying down maximum horsepower on the Pennzoil proving grounds.”
 
 
Funny Car:

RON CAPPS
Driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat


 

Houston Event Highlights: 
  • Four-time event winner (2006, 2007, 2015, 2017)   
  • Two-time runner-up (2012, 2020) 
2020 Houston Recap:
Qualified 16th; Event runner-up (defeated Jack Beckman in E1, Cruz Pedregon in E2, Alexis DeJoria in E3; defeated by Tommy Johnson Jr. in E4)

Last Event (Charlotte 1):
Qualified third; First round exit (defeated by Matt Hagan, Cruz Pedregon in E1)

Career Statistics:
570 races; 66 wins (one Top Fuel); 26 No. 1 qualifiers 

Quotable:
“This week is starting to feel like we’re back to a ‘normal’ NHRA season with back-to-back races, especially heading to Houston, the home of Pennzoil. Houston Raceway Park has always been one of those tracks where you pull your belt a little tighter on Friday nights. Great track surface, great fans that come from all over, and right now, we’re looking to gain some momentum. We have a great race car with Guido (Dean Antonelli) and John Medlen and our entire NAPA AutoCare team. We’re just going up there and getting down the track run after run. Not only is our first Wally trophy right around the corner, but I feel like there’s going to be quite a few wins this year and I can’t wait to get on a roll.”


MATT HAGAN
Driver of the Pennzoil Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye

 

Houston Event Highlights: 
  • 2010 event champion
    • Career-first Funny Car win  
  • 2019 runner-up 
2020 Houston Recap:
Qualified second; Semifinal finish (defeated Dave Richards in E1, Blake Alexander in E2; defeated by Tommy Johnson Jr. in E3)

Last Event (Charlotte 1):
Qualified No. 11; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Ron Capps, Cory Lee in E1; defeated by Alexis DeJoria, Cruz Pedregon in E2)

Career Statistics:
279 races; 36 wins; 40 No. 1 qualifiers 

Noteworthy:
  • Hagan won his first Funny Car Wally trophy at the 2010 event 
Quotable:
“I’m pumped up to get to Houston. That’s where I got my first NHRA Funny Car win, so it will always have a special place in my heart. Houston always brings a great crowd, it’s a great facility, and it’s a Pennzoil race track. There’s nothing better than going to your partner’s event at a partner’s track, and we really want to put on a great show. I have a great race car underneath me and it’s handling well, and responding to the changes we’re making to it. We’re coming off of a hard knock in Charlotte and just focused on redeeming ourselves in Houston. We’re excited to see all of the folks down there in Baytown, and it should be a fun weekend.”

Factory Stock Showdown Series:

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


 

2020 Houston Recap:
Qualified second; Semifinal finish (defeated Lindsey Wheelock in E1, Stephen Bell in E2; defeated by Aaron Stanfield in E3)

Last Event (Gainesville):
Qualified 11th; Semifinal finish (defeated Jim Betzin E1, Gardner Stone in E2; defeated by Aaron Stanfield in E3)

FSS Career Statistics:
20 races; three runner-ups; two No. 1 qualifiers

Quotable:
“After over a two-month break, I’m looking forward to racing at the Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals Presented by Pennzoil at Houston Raceway Park this weekend. I’ve had a lot of success in Houston over the years. I set the record there when I ran in NHRA Pro Stock in 1990, and won my first professional NHRA national event Wally trophy in Pro Stock at Houston in 1992. I’d love nothing more than to carry that tradition on and have a great outing this weekend with our Empaco Equipment/Ohio CAT/Mr. Heater Dodge Challenger Drag Pak. We were planning on debuting our new Drag Pak this weekend, but our Mopar fans are going to have to wait just a little bit longer as now the plan is to debut it next month at Norwalk, my home track. 
 
“Since our first outing in Gainesville earlier this season, we’ve made some setup changes that should allow us to make some more horsepower, and I think both Leah (Pruett) and my Drag Paks will be even more competitive this weekend. Looking forward to seeing the fans there, and hoping for great results all weekend.” 

LEAH PRUETT
Driver of the Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak

 

2020 Houston Recap:
Qualified 11th; First round exit (defeated by John Cerbone in E1)

Last Event (Gainesville):
Qualified 13th; First round exit (defeated by John Cerbone in E1)

FSS Career Statistics:
24 races; three wins; one runner-up; two No. 1 qualifiers

Noteworthy:
  • For the second time this season, Pruett is back to pulling double-duty as she battles for wins at Houston aboard her Top Fuel dragster and behind the wheel of her new 2021 Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak
Quotable:
“Continuing to carry the Mopar banner across multiple categories is what I love. Our Drag Pak’s performance in Gainesville showed that we were making fast gains, and we expect to build on that in Houston. We are still relatively new with the car, and creating a more solid baseline with it, but believe the capabilities of it are in line for the conditions we should see this weekend. It’s also been awesome to see other new Drag Paks getting delivered and hitting the strip across the country recently. I’m feeling very connected to the Mopar community, and eager to put on win lights at the big show for them this weekend.”
 

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