DSR Las Vegas II Post-Race Recap

DSR Las Vegas II Elimination Highlights:

  • Leah Pritchett and Matt Hagan raced their chrome Pennzoil machines to runner-up finishes in Top Fuel and Funny Car, respectively
  • Tommy Johnson Jr. claimed his career 400th round win on Sunday morning
  • Tony Schumacher and Jack Beckman raced to semifinal finishes 
  • All four DSR Funny Cars advanced to the quarterfinals 

Driver Information:

Top Fuel:
Driver of the Matco Tools Maximus 3.0/U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 5 (3.741 E.T. at 322.88 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.793 E.T. at 314.61 MPH defeated by Blake Alexander 3.734 E.T. at 326.48 MPH

Race Recap:
After qualifying his Matco Tools Maximus 3.0/U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster in the top half of the field, Antron Brown faced Countdown spoiler Blake Alexander in the first round of eliminations. Brown had the slight starting line advantage, but his 11,000-horsepower machine started pumping raw fuel out of the pipes early into the run causing Brown to slow to a 3.793-second pass, and Alexander was able to drive away with the win.

“It’s just one of those times where we have to stay positive and stay after it. The good thing is that we had four great qualifying runs this weekend and we’re getting progressively better. After talking to (crew chiefs) Mark (Oswald), Brad (Mason), and Mike (Green), the car was all over a 72 run. The crank broke at 1.8 seconds into the run and it’s amazing it held on and ran a 79 like that. We take some good stuff away from this weekend. We’ll make some test runs tomorrow and get ready for Pomona and we want to end the year on a good note and gear up for next year.”

Driver of the Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 4 (3.731 E.T. at 322.65 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.735 E.T. at 327.43 MPH defeated Troy Buff 3.808 E.T. at 319.67 MPH
E2: 3.740 E.T. at 322.42 MPH defeated Blake Alexander 3.968 E.T. at 276.29 MPH
E3: 3.730 E.T. at 328.46 MPH defeated Tony Schumacher 6.004 E.T. at 93.72 MPH
E4: 5.317 E.T. at 148.85 MPH defeated by Steve Torrence 3.751 E.T. at 326.32 MPH

Race Recap:
Behind the wheel of her chromed-out Pennzoil Mopar Dodge Top Fuel machine, aka ‘Silvia’ as nicknamed by No. 4 qualifier Leah Pritchett, the seven-time race winner began eliminations with a win against part-time racer Troy Buff.
Next up was Blake Alexander. Pritchett was able to stop the perennial race win spoiler in the quarterfinals with a 3.740-second pass versus Alexander’s 3.968 E.T. She drew teammate Tony Schumacher in the semifinals and had no trouble getting past him as she powered to her best run of the weekend (3.730) versus Schumacher’s instant tire smoker.
Team Pennzoil faced newly crowned series champion Steve Torrence in the finals. Pritchett was eager to stop Torrence’s current reign of terror which included an undefeated streak of 19 round wins. Unfortunately, Pritchett was slightly overzealous on the line and double-stepped the throttle, immediately giving way to tire smoke. Torrence powered to a clean win and extended his round and race win streak.

“We have a really incredible racecar – the tune-up for Vegas, a solid effort and chance at a runner-up finish in the championship. To put a silver lining on it, we made it to the final with seven solid passes. The buck stopped at me and I take full responsibility for that, wanting so badly not just to put a stop to Torrence’s reign in this Countdown, but more than anything to get the win for this team. And to get myself in that mental state and hang it out all on the line, and I did, and my foot thought otherwise. It wasn’t the best driving job to be able to get to the finish line first. Seven just incredible runs, finally the issues we’ve been having with our superchargers and chassis, I think we’ve conquered those. So, if anything, a solid run for a good spot in the championship and a really good head start into 2019. The guys have really stepped up and this entire team has been really impressive to me.”

Driver of the U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 9 (3.772 E.T. at 330.15 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.818 E.T. at 315.86 MPH defeated Scott Palmer 3.850 E.T. at 304.94 MPH
E2: 3.754 E.T. at 328.70 MPH defeated Clay Millican 4.025 E.T. at 242.15 MPH
E3: 6.004 E.T. at 93.72 MPH defeated by Leah Pritchett 3.730 E.T. at 328.46 MPH

Race Recap:
Tony Schumacher qualified No. 9 and drove his U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster to a round-one victory over Scott Palmer, setting off the very first win light of race day.

In the quarterfinals, “The Sarge” led from start to finish against Countdown contender Clay Millican, setting up an all-Mopar DSR battle against Leah Pritchett. Schumacher was quicker in reaction time but smoked the tires shortly after launch and it was all Pritchett after that, ending the four-time Vegas winner’s day.

“I wish I could tell you what happened – they’re still trying to figure it out. It spun the tires real high and real fast and then it came down and sheared the clutch off of it. That was awful because we had a good car. We were just slow in the first round, and then, in the second round, we ran great. We got the blower back up, the power was made and we went fast. That last round, everything was fine but it literally sheared the clutch completely out of it – one clean cut. We’ll figure everything out and come back for a strong finish to the season in Pomona. We’ve got a good chance to salvage a second-place finish in the Countdown if all goes well for us. Congratulations to Steve Torrence on the championship. Welcome to the fraternity of Top Fuel world champions. That was a team on a mission all year and they earned it – an outstanding job by everyone on that team.”

Funny Car:
Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 3 (3.922 E.T. at 327.19 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.935 E.T. at 326.24 MPH defeated Jim Campbell 4.035 E.T. at 300.33 MPH
E2: 3.951 E.T. at 320.51 MPH defeated Courtney Force 3.969 E.T. at 320.66 MPH
E3: 3.937 E.T. at 327.90 MPH defeated by J.R. Todd 3.906 E.T. at 327.11 MPH

Race Recap:
Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car veteran Jack Beckman qualified strong in the third position and began race day with a 3.935 E.T. to outrun Jim Campbell.

In round two, Beckman trailed early against Courtney Force but rebounded to take the victory by about four feet with a 3.951-second pass. Beckman moved on to a semifinals battle with major playoff implications against new points leader J.R. Todd. "Fast Jack's" 3.937 at 327.90-mph effort was solid, but not strong enough to best Todd's quicker 3.906 E.T.

“I think people knew that the Funny Car championship was down to a few cars, but there’s still trophies and a top five spot. We have a really solid running race car. I have to take my hat off to the entire DHL team. They are just getting it done. They’re not getting any 'gimmes.' They’re making big runs and J.R. (Todd) is driving fantastic and that’s a tough combination to beat. Our plan is to get our car back in that area where it’s predictable and quick and driving the thing is a pleasure, and we’re getting close.”

Driver of the Pennzoil Synthetics/NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 12 (3.971 E.T. at 315.71 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.954 E.T. at 325.22 MPH defeated John Force 3.972 E.T. at 330.31 MPH
E2: 3.963 E.T. at 322.81 MPH defeated by Bob Tasca III 3.943 E.T. at 322.11 MPH

Race Recap:
No. 12 qualifier Ron Capps began race day with a first-round matchup against John Force in the 98th meeting between the two most successful Funny Car racers of all time. Capps, a five-time Las Vegas champion, was able to overcome a slight starting line deficit to outgun Force with a 3.954-second pass versus Force’s slower 3.972 E.T.
In round two, the driver of the Pennzoil Synthetics/NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T faced Countdown spoiler Bob Tasca III. Both drivers had identical reaction times (0.066-seconds), but Tasca was able to gain a slight lead early into the run. Capps kept pace but was unable to chase down his opponent.
The 2016 NHRA Funny Car world champion leaves Las Vegas 165 points behind the current points leader, J.R. Todd. While his chances are slim, with 191 points up for grabs at the season finale in Pomona, California, Capps is still mathematically in the 2018 title hunt.

“This weekend at Vegas, coming off of the win at Charlotte, we didn’t qualify where we wanted to and it’s what makes this sport so heartbreaking and rewarding. It’s a constant fight. (Crew chief Rahn) Tobler found the issue between Q3 and Q4, and we did exactly what we needed to do to make a good run Q4.
“Typical Tobler, we went up there in the left lane without lane choice and beat John Force in the first round today. And that set up a match with our old assistant crew chief Eric (Lane) and Tasca’s car. We have a lot of respect for that team and they just outran us. We made a big adjustment and got after it, but just lost a close race. I didn’t see him until the finish line.”

Driver of the Pennzoil Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 9 (3.949 E.T. at 322.65 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.908 E.T. at 326.08 MPH defeated Tim Wilkerson 5.608 E.T. at 124.44 MPH
E2: 3.919 E.T. at 326.08 MPH defeated Tommy Johnson Jr. (Foul, Red Light)
E3: 3.928 E.T. at 323.89 MPH defeated Bob Tasca III 3.952 E.T. at 319.29 MPH
E4: 4.087 E.T. at 263.62 MPH defeated by J.R. Todd 3.921 E.T. at 318.39 MPH

Race Recap:
Defending event champ Matt Hagan opened race day with a first-round win over Tim Wilkerson. He clocked a 3.908-second E.T. in his chrome Pennzoil Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car, the quickest of the round. Next up for the No. 9 qualifier was teammate Tommy Johnson Jr., and Hagan once again paced the field with a winning 3.919 E.T.
In the semifinals, Hagan trailed early but was able to reel in Bob Tasca III with a 3.928 at 323.89-mph run, edging out his foe at the stripe in a close race to advance to his seventh final round of the year and 54th of his career. The two-time Funny Car world champion left first in the final round with a 0.037 reaction time and briefly maintained the lead over J.R. Todd before a dropped cylinder slowed Hagan’s momentum and ended his drive for a fourth win on the season, and 150th Funny Car win for DSR.

“It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t get that win light in the final round. We had such amazing sponsorship support with the folks from Pennzoil, Shell, and Mopar and had so many key clients rooting us on here in Las Vegas. We have the SEMA show this week here in (Las) Vegas and we wanted nothing more than to take the Wally trophy to the Mopar booth to show off with our chrome Pennzoil Funny Car.

"At the end of the day, we went to the final round and it was a good day. That’s just drag racing and sometimes we lose. It wasn’t our day, but we’ll go to Pomona with a strong race car. I’m proud of our guys. They did great all weekend and we were just pressing hard trying to run in the high 80s and the track just wouldn’t hold it.”

Driver of the Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 1 (3.879 E.T. at 327.82 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.938 E.T. at 326.08 MPH defeated Jeff Arend 7.197 E.T. at 92.39 MPH
E2: Foul (Red Light) defeated by Matt Hagan 3.919 E.T. at 326.08 MPH

Race Recap:
After securing his third No. 1 qualifier in a row, Tommy Johnson Jr. kicked off race day by driving to his career 400th round win when he defeated Jeff Arend in round one.
Round two found Johnson squaring off against teammate Matt Hagan, who had just laid down a stout 3.908 in the first session. Johnson was amped up, knowing he had stiff competition in his teammate. The DSR Dodges staged, and it was immediate heartbreak for the driver of the Make-A-Wish Dodge as he stood on the throttle early and activated the red light, allowing Hagan the automatic round win.

“It’s just frustrating and one of these days we’ll get it all put together on a Sunday. (Matt) Hagan ran really well first round and we know what he’s capable of and I knew I had to push and pushed a little too hard. We’ll regroup and go to Pomona for the Finals where we’ve had great success winning the last two years and try to finish this thing off with a win.”

NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship Points Standings:

Top Fuel
1. Steve Torrence - 2718
2. Clay Millican - 2487
3. Tony Schumacher - 2454
4. Leah Pritchett - 2394
5. Brittany Force - 2302
6. Antron Brown - 2291
7. Mike Salinas - 2259
7. Doug Kalitta - 2259
9. Terry McMillen - 2253
10. Scott Palmer - 2182

Funny Car
1. J.R. Todd - 2553
2. Robert Hight - 2479
3. Ron Capps - 2388
4. Tim Wilkerson - 2367
5. Tommy Johnson Jr. - 2362
6. Courtney Force - 2324
7. Matt Hagan - 2321
8. Jack Beckman - 2283
9. John Force - 2277
10. Shawn Langdon - 2204

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