DSR Las Vegas 1 Post-Race Recap

NHRA Four-Wide Nationals
Event No. 2 of 22
The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Las Vegas, Nev.
April 16-18, 2021
DSR Elimination Highlights:

  • Reigning Funny Car world champion Matt Hagan raced to a runner-up finish at the first four-wide style event in nearly two years
  • Antron Brown (Top Fuel) and Ron Capps (Funny Car) also advanced to the final elimination quad; both recorded semifinal finishes
  • All four DSR entries (Brown, Capps, Hagan, and Leah Pruett) advanced past the first round
  • Brown, Capps, and Hagan occupy ‘top five’ spots in the point standings 

Driver Information:

Top Fuel:
Driver of the Matco Tools Toyota Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 8 (3.808 E.T. at 287.05 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.827 E.T. at 313.15 MPH defeated Justin Ashley 3.899 E.T. at 268.22 MPH; Bye
E2: 3.761 E.T. at 316.23 MPH defeated Brittany Force 3.815 E.T. at 315.27 MPH, Billy Torrence (no time)
E3: 4.728 E.T. at 157.83 MPH defeated by Steve Torrence 3.823 E.T. at 321.73 MPH, Doug Kalitta 3.866 E.T. at 270.75 MPH

Race Recap:
A five-time winner at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Antron Brown was looking to extend his track win count by picking up a second consecutive Vegas triumph on Sunday at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals. In his 440th start, Brown began race day from the No. 8 qualifying position and faced Brittany Force and Justin Ashley in round one. Brown made a clean pass straight down the groove, defeating Ashley to advance to round two where he navigated the Matco Tools Toyota to its best run of the weekend and quickest of his quad, clocking a 3.761 E.T. at 316.23 MPH. The final round found Brown facing reigning world champ Steve Torrence and veteran racers Doug Kalitta and Clay Millican. Brown was out of the gate first for the second time in a row, but his holeshot advantage was short-lived, as he started losing traction early into the run, crossing the finish line fourth. His Vegas outing will be recorded as a semifinal finish.

“We overcame a lot of obstacles this weekend by keeping our heads down and just working with it. We certainly didn’t qualify where we wanted to at No. 8, but we made it to the final round and that’s always the end result we want. That was our race. We were out in front and just lost traction. We had low E.T. of the semifinals and we backed it off, but just not enough. Any time you go to the final round and get semifinal round points, that’s something. We almost got the icing on the cake, now we just need to add the cherry on top. We’ll keep working for Atlanta. We’re working in the right direction and getting better. I’m proud of the guys and the two new guys with Adem (Cave) and John (Gilbert) and it’s been a pleasure to welcome them to the Matco family. We’re starting to jell and we’ll grow and we’ll be dangerous come the Countdown this fall.”

Driver of the Mopar Dodge//SRT Top Fuel Dragster

Qualified: No. 7 (3.800 E.T. at 312.13 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.808 E.T. at 315.27 MPH defeated Greg Carrillo 4.107 E.T. at 223.21 MPH, Cameron Ferre 4.143 E.T. at 225.97 MPH
E2: 10.921 E.T. at 55.03 MPH defeated by Steve Torrence 3.773 E.T. at 322.04 MPH, Doug Kalitta 3.768 E.T. at 325.22 MPH

Race Recap:
Starting from the top half of the field for the fifth consecutive event (dating back to Dallas, Oct 2020), No. 7 qualifier Leah Pruett drew Steve Torrence, Greg Carrillo, and Cameron Ferre in her first elimination quad on Sunday in Vegas. Pruett was the first among her competitors to stand on the throttle and she used her starting line advantage coupled with a solid 3.808 E.T. to set off the win light and advance to round two. In the second elimination round, Pruett lined up against Torrence, Doug Kalitta, and Shawn Langdon, but her hopes for a first Four-Wide Wally went up in smoke as soon as she hit the throttle. Pruett’s machine immediately lost traction, and she was forced to click it off.   

“This was a ‘when it rains, it pours’ weekend for our Mopar Dodge//SRT team at the Four-Wide Nationals. We had a mix of problems that grew and it put us behind after qualifying. Not being able to make full pulls in the 3.70s during qualifying really put us behind the competition, and we were trying to work on the tune-up on race day and we just didn’t quite have the hot rod that we thought we had coming in here this weekend. We have a plan for the chassis moving forward and we found we were down on power and we’ll work on that and figure it out the next few weeks before Atlanta. When you’re down on power, it affects all of the other parts of the car, and when you have limited runs with just three qualifying laps, all the small details make a difference. We’ll do a 180 and when the team is on, I’m on, and we’re looking forward to regaining our momentum at the very last Atlanta race.”

Funny Car:
Driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 4 (3.919 E.T. at 323.89 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.932 E.T. at 316.38 MPH defeated Bobby Bode 3.993 E.T. at 313.66 MPH, Jim Campbell 5.899 E.T. at 114.18 MPH
E2: 3.935 E.T. at 321.50 MPH defeated Robert Hight 3.951 E.T. at 318.24 MPH, J.R. Todd 3.983 E.T. at 319.29 MPH
E3: 3.978 E.T. at 316.75 MPH defeated by Bob Tasca III 3.938 E.T. at 328.46 MPH, Matt Hagan 3.955 E.T. at 324.98 MPH

Race Recap:
Ron Capps’ weekend got off to a bumpy start. After the first two qualifying sessions, Capps found himself on the unfavorable bump spot (16th) when he lined up for the third and final qualifying round, but the 2016 world champion and his team flexed their NAPA Know How and Capps rocketed his machine to a stout 3.919-second pass to advance up to fourth.
Capps’ first elimination round featured a showdown with eventual race winner Bob Tasca III, Bobby Bode, and Jim Campbell. Among the four racers, Capps was first on the throttle and drove the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge straight down the groove in 3.932 seconds to capture the win and advance to round two. Facing Robert Hight, J.R. Todd, and Tasca, Capps once again had the starting line advantage and won his quad on a holeshot to advance to a stacked final round. For the third time in a row, Capps found himself squaring off with Tasca, while teammate Matt Hagan and Tim Wilkerson rounded out the final quad. Capps was prepared to clock another low 3.9-second pass, but dropped a cylinder early into the run, causing his machine to slow, and allowing Tasca and Hagan to snag the winning and runner-up finishes. Capps leaves Vegas as a semifinalist and advanced one spot up to fourth in the point standings.  

“It’s so nice to be back racing again after that month break, but it wasn’t a smooth weekend for the NAPA team. We had a dropped cylinder the first run, but we fought back to get qualified and we were on the bump spot going into the last session. Guido (Dean Antonelli) and John Medlen made great decisions to get us into the No. 4 qualifying position on the last qualifying run. Today was clockwork. We ended up in the same lane all three rounds today and that final was a stout group of cars with (Matt) Hagan, (Tim) Wilkerson, and (Bob) Tasca (III). I felt confident that we’d go up and repeat with a low 3.90, but we had a hiccup with a cylinder at 300-feet and that dropped us back and I saw Tasca pop out there. It was a good weekend overall, and good with the points. The schedule is heating up and we’ll be at Atlanta in two weeks. Just a great job all around for our NAPA AutoCare team.”

Driver of the Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye
Qualified: No. 7 (3.946 E.T. at 325.22 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.932 E.T. at 329.42 MPH defeated Blake Alexander 3.958 E.T. at 320.97 MPH, Chris Morel 4.200 E.T. at 294.24 MPH
E2: 3.927 E.T. at 325.06 MPH defeated John Force 4.049 E.T. at 304.60 MPH, Alexis DeJoria 4.257 E.T. at 220.30 MPH
E3: 3.955 E.T. at 324.98 MPH defeated by Bob Tasca III 3.938 E.T. at 328.46 MPH

Race Recap:
The last time Matt Hagan raced at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, he won the event (Dodge NHRA Finals presented by Pennzoil) and was also crowned the 2020 NHRA Camping World Series Funny Car champion. Starting from the top half of the field on Sunday at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, Hagan came oh-so-close to making it two-for-two in Vegas, recording a runner-up finish and propelling four spots up to fifth (tied) in the Funny Car point standings.
The three-time world champion began his march to the final elimination quad by qualifying seventh. He defeated Blake Alexander and Chris Morel in round one by clocking his quickest pass of the weekend (3.932 seconds). In round two, Hagan improved upon his performance by powering the Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye to a stout 3.927-second pass, outrunning his three competitors and earning a bid to the final elimination round. Against teammate Ron Capps, Bob Tasca III, and Tim Wilkerson, Hagan was first on the throttle and while Tasca was first to the finish line and claimed the event win, Hagan’s quick reflexes earned him the holeshot win over Wilkerson and Capps, allowing Hagan to secure a runner-up finish.

“Well, the only guy we’ve lost to this year is the guy we sold our chassis to (Bob Tasca III), and we might have two Wallys already, but we don’t. That’s drag racing. We roll in here every weekend with the expectation of winning every race. We got some momentum going this weekend and we’ve got a great team led by Dickie (Venables). We’ve got some new guys and I’m really proud of them this weekend. Dickie made some personnel moves on our car, swapping positions, and it seems like a great fit for everyone right now. That gives me confidence as a driver seeing these guys being confident in bolting the car together. I’m really happy with my crew and we’re moving back up in the points. We’ve got a weekend off and then Atlanta, which we’ve won before, and then we finish May at Houston where I won my first race a long time ago. Overall, I’m just really happy leaving Vegas. The car is responding. It was a crazy four-wide event. I’m glad I didn’t red light or screw up. I’m really excited. We have a good team, we’re meshing and going rounds.”

NHRA Camping World Countdown to the Championship Standings (unofficial):

Top Fuel

1 Steve Torrence   184
2 Shawn Langdon   149
3 Antron Brown   145
4 Doug Kalitta   128
5 Billy Torrence   118
6 Josh Hart   113
7 Leah Pruett   105
7 Clay Millican   105
9 Justin Ashley   104
10 Brittany Force   99

Funny Car
1 Bob Tasca III   187
2 J.R. Todd   166
3 Robert Hight   152
4 Ron Capps   139
5 Matt Hagan   129
5 Tim Wilkerson   129
7 John Force   118
8 Alexis DeJoria   117
9 Cruz Pedregon   106
10 Chad Green   66

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