DSR Indianapolis Post-Race Recap


NHRA U.S. Nationals

Event 18 of 24 (Indianapolis)
Lucas Oil Raceway
Brownsburg, Indiana
August 31-September 3, 201
DSR Indianapolis Elimination Highlights:

  • Leah Pritchett earned her first Factory Stock Showdown Series victory in an all-DSR FSXX final (vs. Mark Pawuk)
  • Pritchett’s FSXX triumph notched DSR’s win count total to 330 overall, and 16th at the prestigious Indianapolis event
  • Matt Hagan raced to a runner-up finish and moved to second in the Funny Car standings
Leah Pritchett Raced to Factory Stock Showdown Victory at the NHRA U.S. Nationals
BROWNSBURG, Indiana (September 3, 2018) – Leah Pritchett raced to Factory Stock Showdown victory behind the wheel of her Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak at the 64th annual NHRA U.S. Nationals on Monday afternoon.
The win, Don Schumacher Racing's (DSR) 16th at the famed Indianapolis venue, and 330th overall, came as DSR celebrated a milestone 20thanniversary at the team’s hometown event.
Complete domination best describes the performance by Pritchett and her Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak team. Pritchett, once again pulling double duty in Top Fuel and Factory Stock Showdown (FSXX), ran low E.T. of every single qualifying and elimination round during the race weekend, including resetting the FSXX E.T. and speed records with an 8.002 second at 172.56 mph run to claim her second career pole in the class.
Pritchett kept the hammer down, posting an 8.111 second at 170.04 mph pass in the opening round of eliminations to defeat Aaron Stanfield, a run of 8.077 at 170.73 to take out Kevin Skinner and an 8.119 at 169.74 mark in the semifinals to chase down Stephen Bell. In the all-DSR Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak final, Pritchett powered past teammate Mark Pawuk on an 8.108 at 170.26 mph pass to claim her first Factory Stock win in her first final-round appearance in the class.
“That’s what we call a picture-perfect weekend over here on the left side of the racetrack,” said Pritchett, a resident of nearby Avon, Indiana.
“Absolutely overwhelmed and impressed. The developmental work by Mopar and Dodge to not only be fast, but to make more power than anybody else, to stick it to the ground and do it time and time again, reliably, is so impressive. For one, I love having fun when I race and this is the epitome of having fun and racing. Tuning to the track and constantly always working on being faster, and to be low of every single session of the U.S. Nationals, that’s eight rounds. When I say that, I mean legally and officially, not to be contested. It is a testament to this team – Kevin Helms, Terry Snyder and all of DSR and the people back in Detroit.
“The expectations are high. Don Schumacher wants us to be No. 1 qualifier, low of every round and win the race, and there’s no better time to do that than the U.S. Nationals. We know how to do it now, we’re not going to let that get too far ahead of us. The season is coming to a close, and we are going to make a run at this as hard and as fast as possible just like these Drag Paks do.”

Qualified: No. 1 (8.002 E.T. at 172.56 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 8.111 E.T. at 170.04 MPH defeated Aaron Stanfield 8.171 E.T. at 167.38 MPH
E2: 8.077 E.T. at 170.73 MPH defeated Kevin Skinner 9.409 E.T. at 107.61 MPH
E3: 8.119 E.T. at 169.74 MPH defeated Stephen Bell 8.593 E.T. at 166.23 MPH
E4: 8.108 E.T. at 170.26 MPH defeated Mark Pawuk 8.191 E.T. at 167.51 MPH

Driver Information:

Top Fuel:
Driver of the Matco Tools/U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 3 (3.772 E.T. at 325.22 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.835 E.T. at 324.12 MPH defeated Brittany Force 4.693 E.T. at 160.58 MPH
E2: 6.903 E.T. at 104.84 MPH defeated by Doug Kalitta 4.089 E.T. at 249.90 MPH

Race Recap:
This year’s NHRA U.S. Nationals marked 400 events for three-time Indy winner Antron Brown.
The resident of nearby Pittsboro, Indiana entered his hometown event fresh off of two consecutive final round appearances, including his 50th Top Fuel victory in Seattle. He qualified third to start race day and faced reigning world champion Brittany Force in the opening round of eliminations. Against Force, Brown had the starting line advantage and never trailed for the win.
The three-time world champion, who has raced to Indy victory in both the Top Fuel and Pro Stock Motorcycle categories, drew Doug Kalitta in the quarterfinals. Almost immediately, Brown’s 11,000 horsepower machine lost traction and Kalitta was able to score the round win.

Brown will enter the Countdown to the Championship ranked sixth.

"We started off really good today. We qualified third and were in a good spot against Brittany Force, who you never expect to face after qualifying third. In the first round, we were within a couple thousandths of the quickest pass in the round. In the second round, everything was on the line with Dougie (Kalitta). The track was the hottest it's been all weekend and we just got a little bit too aggressive on the starting line. Doug just made it farther down the track. We would have liked to have won that round to be fifth in the points and have a shot at moving up to third in the points, but with that said, they'll be reset. Now we go to Reading and the Countdown is on. That's where the focus is."

Driver of the Papa John's Pizza Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 6 (3.797 E.T. at 323.50 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 5.580 E.T. at 125.12 MPH defeated by Doug Kalitta 3.888 E.T. at 273.44 MPH

Race Recap:
Papa John’s Pizza Top Fuel driver and Avon, Indiana, resident Leah Pritchett was able to get one of the two wins she was dreaming of at her home track.

Pritchett posted her Top Fuel dragster No. 6 in qualifying and in the top half of the field. The two-time Top Fuel event winner this year was matched up against Doug Kalitta in the opening round, but Pritchett’s dragster smoked the tires at about the 330-foot mark and dashed any hopes to double up with both Top Fuel and Factory Stock Showdown wins at Indy.

Pritchett will begin her campaign for her first Top Fuel world title from the No. 4 spot.

“We started the weekend rising to the occasion by putting that lap on the board Friday night, but the rest of the qualifying sessions were a challenge. We had confidence coming into today after putting in a new clutch package for last night’s final qualifying run. Unfortunately against Doug (Kalitta), it just wasn’t quite enough. It’s something that we thought we had a grasp on, but obviously we aren’t quite there yet. It’s frustrating for the crew chiefs right now. We were all hoping that we were making a change for the better, but it’s something we are going to have to figure out quickly with the Countdown starting. Yeah, Indy has kicked our butt again, but that’s okay because the Countdown is definitely where this team is going to shine.”  

Driver of the U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 7 (3.801 E.T. at 328.14 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 4.203 E.T. at 256.55 MPH defeated by Billy Torrence 3.831 E.T. at 320.05 MPH

Race Recap:
The winningest driver in NHRA U.S. Nationals history entered the race weekend with a mission – park the U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster in the Indy winner’s circle one final time.
With an incredible 83.3% U.S. Nationals win average, Schumacher kicked off his campaign for an 11th Indy win from the No. 7 spot. Against first round opponent Billy Torrence, Schumacher was in the hunt until the Army machine gave way to tire smoke down track and Torrence was able to claim the win, ending the 10-time Indy winner’s day early. It was only his fifth first-round exit in 23 career U.S. Nationals.
Schumacher and the Army team will begin their quest for the 2018 Top Fuel title seeded third.

“What a way to end a frustrating weekend. This is Indy and you want to come out and be your best every day here. Especially today when everything was on the line. We have a fast race car, but just never got a handle of it this weekend. That’s tough, because we had good results last week here testing. This place has been so special to me and the U.S. Army for the last 18 years. We certainly had a different outcome in mind for this weekend, but it doesn’t always work out the way you want it to. We just finished a team meeting led by (crew chief) Mike Neff and the message was 'we will not be outworked and we have an opportunity to win the championship.' We’re sitting third heading into the Countdown and we earned that spot. It’s almost a clean slate from here on. It’s about the team that can finish now. Six races to decide it all. That starts in Reading in two weeks and we’ll be ready.” 

Funny Car:
Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 11 (4.018 E.T. at 313.88 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 5.089 E.T. at 156.50 MPH defeated by Courtney Force 4.095 E.T. at 308.35 MPH

Race Recap:
Infinite Hero Foundation driver Jack Beckman, winner at the recent NHRA Brainerd race, qualified No. 11 in his switch to the new Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car body.

The 2012 NHRA Funny Car champion and 2015 U.S. Nationals event winner drew points leader Courtney Force in round one. Beckman was quicker off the line with a 0.062 second reaction time to his opponent’s 0.077 mark and had his Hellcat ahead early in the run, but his hopes would go up in tire smoke as Force sped away to claim the round win. “Fast” Jack will begin the Countdown playoffs from the No. 6 starting position.

“It’s never easy losing, but it’s much tougher losing first round because you leave here beating nobody. We didn’t qualify in the top half so we didn’t have lane choice today, but you can’t make excuses. You need to be able to win no matter which lane you’re in and we didn’t get it done. The hope is we learned something that’s going to help us in the Countdown. We lost in the biggest race of the year and now we’ll reset the points and go into the Countdown and run for a world championship. So from this point on it’s not about the trophy, it’s about round wins and points. We’re going to have to step on it during qualifying and go after all the bonus points that are possible and be nearly flawless on race day. “
“Everybody looks forward to Maple Grove for gorilla conditions and national records. Here’s the deal, we’re probably not going to have the weather conditions and even if we did, we’re not going to have the same track prep we’re used to. I’m assuming the crew chiefs will not even open last year’s Maple Grove page and will tune off of similar conditions from this year with less track prep.”

Driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 13 (4.095 E.T. at 305.98 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 4.894 E.T. at 170.77 MPH defeated by Tommy Johnson Jr. 4.105 E.T. at 255.58 MPH

Race Recap:
There are only two tracks on the current 24-race NHRA tour where Ron Capps has yet to claim victory – the recently reinstated Virginia Motorsports Park and Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis. The 2016 Funny Car world champion came close to leaving with the coveted NHRA U.S. Nationals Wally trophy in 2017, but the Indy victory once again eluded Capps when he came up just short in the final round.

At the 64th annual running of the event, Capps entered the four-day weekend with his sights set on racing to Indy victory on Don Schumacher Racing’s 20thanniversary, but qualifying struggles, particularly during the Friday night ‘field setting’ session, led to a bottom-half race day starting position. As the No. 13 qualifier, Capps and the NAPA AUTO PARTS Funny Car team faced stablemate Tommy Johnson Jr. in round one of eliminations. Against Johnson, Capps launched and lost traction early into the run. In the other lane, Johnson’s car also encountered issues but was further down the stretch and was able to post the win.

Capps and the NAPA AUTO PARTS team will begin their 2018 Funny Car title campaign from the No. 4 spot.

“This was a classic case of showing how hard the sport of drag racing is. We always seem to overcome little things thrown at us so quickly, but this weekend was an example of one little thing stepping up and biting us on the opening qualifying run on Friday night, which is the run you need to make in the cool conditions. Then we changed our approach on Saturday to try to fix what happened Friday night and in that case, it just snowballed a little more than usual.
“With an extra day of qualifying (crew chief Rahn) Tobler and the guys wanted to work on another way to approach this hot race track. The next thing you know, it’s Sunday and we’re at the bottom of the field and we need to move up, and at that point, it’s already hot and humid. It’s just a classic example of getting behind a little bit, which you don’t often hear me saying of Tobler and our NAPA AutoCare team. In this case, it just reminds me, as well as everyone else on our team, that this is so hard to do. You get used to how easy Tobler makes it look.”

Driver of the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 3 (3.943 E.T. at 324.05 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 4.401 E.T. at 217.56 MPH defeated Jonnie Lindberg 9.208 E.T. at 80.50 MPH
E2: 4.397 E.T. at 219.58 MPH defeated Courtney Force 4.557 E.T. at 219.15 MPH
E3: 4.129 E.T. at 298.60 MPH defeated Shawn Langdon 4.148 E.T. at 307.16 MPH
E4: 4.141 E.T. at 300.60 MPH defeated by J.R. Todd 4.062 E.T. at 311.70 MPH

Race Recap:
Matt Hagan raced the new Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car to its first ever final-round appearance at the 64th annual NHRA U.S. Nationals.
Hagan earned the No. 3 starting spot and the 2016 event winner at Indy began race day by defeating Jonnie Lindberg in a challenging run that saw Hagan deftly manage traction and engine issues to lock down the round win. Matched up against points leader Courtney Force in the quarterfinals, both drivers hazed the tires near halftrack with Hagan once again using his driving skills to pedal his car to the finish line for his 330th round win.
In the semifinals, three-time 2018 race winner Hagan recorded his best run of the day, a 4.129-second elapsed time at 298.60 mph, to knock off Shawn Langdon and advance to his sixth final round of the year and 53rd of his career. Lacking lane choice in the final against J.R. Todd, Hagan was first off the starting line but Todd soon pulled ahead, and Hagan’s solid 4.141 second run wasn’t enough to close the gap. Hagan will start second when the six-race NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs begin at the next race, the Dodge NHRA Nationals in Reading, Pennsylvania.

"We’re going into the Countdown with some good points and a good lead on some of the heavy hitters. All we can focus on now is these next six races coming up. They’re important, but like I was telling my guys, it’s so easy to get wrapped up in points. We all want to do the best job we can and want nothing more than to put this new Hellcat body in the winner’s circle, and I feel like we’re going to do it two or three times in the Countdown, it’s just a matter of time. My take on it is to have some fun. The Countdown is always tough. You’ve got to figure out how to just enjoy the ride. We all deal with pressure and different things in a different way, but for me, it’s just rising to the occasion when the opportunity is there. We’re going to make opportunities for ourselves, we’ll capitalize on them, and hopefully turn that it into win lights on race day."

Driver of the Riley Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 4 (3.948 E.T. at 320.36 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 4.105 E.T. at 255.58 MPH defeated Ron Capps 4.894 E.T. at 170.77 MPH
E2: 4.085 E.T. at 295.34 MPH defeated Tim Wilkerson 4.115 E.T. at 305.08 MPH
E3: 4.130 E.T. at 278.98 MPH defeated by J.R. Todd 4.045 E.T. at 312.21 MPH

Race Recap:
Armed with the confidence boost of a runner-up finish at the most recent event and an impressive performance throughout all three days of qualifying for the NHRA U.S. Nationals, Tommy Johnson Jr. looked prime for a long day of going rounds on Monday.
Behind the wheel of the Riley Dodge Charger R/T, Johnson earned a No. 4 qualifying position to start race day and drew teammate Ron Capps in the opening round of eliminations. Johnson moved first and led the entirety of the 1,000-foot stretch, despite dropping cylinders down track.
The quarterfinal round found Johnson with lane choice over Tim Wilkerson. Once again, Johnson prevailed, earning the win in the Riley car, a once-a-year tribute to the local children’s hospital at DSR’s hometown event. Johnson’s quick reflexes coupled with a stout 4.085 second pass, which held up to be low E.T. of the session, provided the advantage of lane choice going into the semifinals.
Against defending Indy Funny Car champion J.R. Todd, Johnson held on to the initial lead until just before halftrack when Todd pulled ahead and took the win, ending Johnson’s day at the semis. While the day didn’t end with the Riley car in the winner’s circle, Johnson and the team still count the weekend a success. The Doug and Terry Chandler funded giving car once again showcased Riley on a national platform, and a bigger victory was won earlier in the race weekend when DSR successfully raised more than $86,000 for Riley Hospital for Children at the team’s annual Open House event presented by Pennzoil.

Johnson will start the NHRA Countdown to the Championship ranked seventh.

“We had a really good car; a really good showing at Indy. We came up a round and a half short, but we’re really pleased with the way our car is running. We’re continuing the performance we’ve had the last few races and it’s a really great way to go into the Countdown. We’ll be a car to contend with. Would’ve loved to win Indy for Riley and all of the kids, but now we’re going to focus on winning the championship.”

NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship Points Standings:

Top Fuel
1. Steve Torrence - 1422
2. Clay Millican - 1234
3. Tony Schumacher - 1195
4. Leah Pritchett - 1170
5. Doug Kalitta - 1166
6. Antron Brown - 1112
7. Terry McMillen - 959
8. Brittany Force - 839
9. Mike Salinas - 768
10. Scott Palmer - 755

Funny Car
1. Courtney Force - 1457
2. Matt Hagan - 1247
3. Robert Hight - 1231
4. Ron Capps - 1227
5. J.R. Todd - 1174
6. Jack Beckman - 1161
7. Tommy Johnson Jr. - 1107
8. Shawn Langdon - 907
9. John Force - 904
10. Tim Wilkerson - 831 

Factory Stock Showdown Series:
Driver of the Empaco Equipment Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak
Qualified: No. 2 (8.027 E.T. at 170.39 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 14.177 E.T. at 66.20 MPH defeated Joseph Welch (Foul, Technical Violation)
E2: 13.842 E.T. at 87.24 MPH defeated Leonard Libersher (Foul, Red Light)
E3: 8.235 E.T. at 167.28 MPH defeated Arthur Kohn 8.261 E.T. at 166.19 MPH
E4: 8.191 E.T. at 167.51 MPH defeated by Leah Pritchett 8.108 E.T. at 170.26 MPH

Mark Pawuk believed his chance at a U.S. Nationals win was over after apparently losing to Joe Welch in the opening round, but his opponent was later disqualified by the NHRA, moving Pawuk on to round two. The driver nicknamed “The Cowboy” got by Leonard Libersher and then trailered Arthur Kohn in the semifinals with an 8.235 second at 167.28 mph run to set up his final-round battle with Pritchett and his second straight runner-up appearance.

“Somebody was shining over me this weekend. We think it might have been Bob Glidden, at least that’s what my son, Kyle, said. First round happened; it happens, but second round we got a break when it spun the tires. We went back and made a couple of changes to the car and the car came to life. Unfortunately, we didn’t have quite the steam that Leah did. I tried to get her in the final, but she just outran us. This is our third race where we’ve qualified with our Factory Stock Dodge Challenger Drag Pak and we’ve been in the final all three races so I’d say that’s a pretty good record. I’m really proud of my team, they’ve done a great job. Leah’s a great teammate, I just need to do a little better. Looking forward to going to St. Louis and having a shot at winning my first race since I’ve been back.”

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