DSR Las Vegas II Qualifying Report

DSR Las Vegas II Saturday Highlights:

  • Funny Car racer Tommy Johnson Jr. clinches the No. 1 qualifying spot for the third race in a row
  • Johnson made the best run of the round in both Q3 and Q4 and ran the second quickest pass of Q2
  • Top Fuel pilots Antron Brown and Leah Pritchett will start race day from the quick half of the field
  • Jack Beckman joins his Funny Car teammate with a solid qualifying position, beginning race day from the No. 3 spot
  • Brown and Pritchett earn bonus points for each making a ‘top three’ pass on Saturday
Tommy Johnson Jr. Clinches Third Consecutive No. 1 Qualifying Position
LAS VEGAS (October 27, 2018) – Tommy Johnson Jr. captured his third consecutive No. 1 qualifying position on Saturday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The exceedingly consistent Johnson drove his Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger R/T to a pass of 3.879-seconds at 327.82-mph during the final round of qualifying to clinch the pole. It is the first time in the veteran driver’s career that he has captured back-to-back-to-back No. 1 qualifiers.
“Our car has been running so well as of late,” said Johnson, who has qualified in the top half of the Funny Car field for the past 11 events, dating back to the Epping race in July. “To come out here and run a 94, 92 an 89 and an 87, you go into race day with a ton of confidence.”
While Johnson’s string of success includes a semifinal finish or better at six of the last eight events and three No. 1 qualifiers in five Countdown races, the Make-A-Wish team has come up short on race day, having been unable to finish the weekend in the winner’s circle as of yet in 2018. Johnson feels confident that his John Collins/Rip Reynolds-led team will fare better on Sunday at the NHRA Toyota Nationals and is ready to parlay their current No. 1 starting position into a Las Vegas winner’s circle celebration.
“We came out today and John said, ‘there’s more there; I know where to fix it, I think it can run an 89,’ and then to go out there and run an 89 in the warm conditions was just outstanding. Then John said we’re going to run an 87 the next run, and it did. That’s just how good of a handle the guys have on our Make-A-Wish Dodge right now. John can make a change and tell you what it will run. Our car is so happy and performing so well and is so predictable. He can almost dial-in what he wants, and it’ll go out there and run it.”
While Johnson no longer has 2018 championship aspirations, his sights are set on finishing as high as possible in the Funny Car standings – and outranking his team members, an achievement that would reward him with a Dodge Hellcat to use as his daily driver for a year.
“It’s not about finishing first anymore, that’s pretty much out of reach, but we won’t quit, and we’ll continue to try. All we can do is to try and win this one, win the next one and run the best we’ve ever run every round, and see if we can get as high in the points as we can. There’s a Dodge Hellcat on the line at DSR. The highest finishing Funny Car driver gets a Hellcat to drive for a year, so that’s even more motivation.
“The season isn’t over yet. I’m excited about tomorrow. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to sleep tonight, I just want to get to first round. Let’s go, let’s do this.”
Johnson will begin his campaign for his 18th career win, and the 150th Funny Car event win by a DSR entry, with a first-round matchup against No. 16 qualifier Jeff Arend. Round one of eliminations will begin at 11 a.m. PST.
Qualified: No. 1

The Competition: No. 16 Jeff Arend

The Results: 
Q1: 3.947 E.T. at 321.65 MPH
Q2: 3.928 E.T. at 324.28 MPH (Two bonus points for second quickest run of the session)
Q3: 3.899 E.T. at 324.98 MPH (Three bonus points for quickest run of the session)
Q4: 3.879 E.T. at 327.82 MPH (Three bonus points for quickest run of the session)

Bonus Points: Eight 

Driver Information:

Top Fuel:

Driver of the Matco Tools Maximus 3.0/U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 5 (lane choice)

The Competition: No. 12 Blake Alexander

The Results: 
Q1: 3.766 E.T. at 324.28 MPH (Three bonus points for quickest run of the session)
Q2: 3.766 E.T. at 322.04 MPH
Q3: 3.741 E.T. at 322.88 MPH (One bonus point for third quickest run of the session)
Q4: 3.742 E.T. at 328.22 MPH 

Bonus Points: Four

“We feel good. We went down all four laps the last two days, a pair of 76s Friday, a pair of 74s today. We’ve got a really consistent car. That’s something to say – that we can race with a package like that. We wanted to go quicker, but we were trying stuff, going back and forth to try to pick the car up. Now we have some insight on where we need to move to be really competitive tomorrow. We have lane choice first round so we’ve got to go out there and give it all we’ve got and take it from there. We’ll see if we can make this Matco Tools Maximus 3.0/U.S. Army car do what it do, like Ray Charles.”

Driver of the Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 4 (lane choice) 

The Competition: No. 13 Troy Buff

The Results:
Q1: 3.783 E.T. at 317.12 MPH (One bonus point for the third quickest run of the session)
Q2: 3.781 E.T. at 319.52 MPH
Q3: 3.744 E.T. at 329.02 MPH
Q4: 3.731 E.T. at 322.65 MPH (One bonus point for third quickest run of the session)

Bonus Points: Two

“All things considered, it was a great day. The communication process is going well with our race car, nicknamed Silvia for the silver she gives us that makes us feel like gems. It’s been great, but of course there are a lot of awesome-running racecars here this weekend, ours included. We set out to put up a really good number that last run. We were really close to running at 3.72 and it put two holes out right at the very end. But, really, there are not a lot of complaints here. Super proud of the team gearing up. There’s nothing like race day, the mindset that we get to do absolute battle. Right now we are definitely a unit of one. We are the Pennzoil nation and we’re fighting strong to be able to stay as high in the points as possible and that’s all that matters. We’ll take it one round at a time.”

Driver of the U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 9

The Competition: No. 8 Scott Palmer

The Results:
Q1: 4.168 E.T. at 206.86 MPH
Q2: 3.772 E.T. at 330.15 MPH
Q3: 3.971 E.T. at 311.27 MPH
Q4: 4.269 E.T. at 193.90 MPH

“It was running well (in Q4). It left good, it was up on power. We were down on power the previous run, just had a blower that wasn’t making any power. This time we had power, had some giddyup, started to pull and then downtrack it started to pull the tires off of it. We can slow it down. It is what it is. I’m looking forward to tomorrow. It doesn’t matter who we race. We seem to have a really good handle on Sunday-morning racing. We’ll get up and we’ll see if we can get that first-round win. We’ve got to get those points leaders. We’ve got to stop them.”

Funny Car:

Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

Qualified: No. 3 (lane choice)

The Competition: No. 14 Jim Campbell

The Results:
Q1: 3.922 E.T. at 327.19 MPH (Three bonus points for quickest run of the session)
Q2: 3.978 E.T. at 322.73 MPH
Q3: 6.101 E.T. at 111.72 MPH
Q4: 3.937 E.T. at 324.98 MPH

Bonus Points: Three

“It was nice to finish with another quick run. On Q3 I think we found where our limit was, we pushed pretty hard, but that is the luxury of running good on Friday. And we will leave with some extra bonus points and will have a good spot on the ladder. All you have to do is beat four people on Sunday. Man, we ought to be able to close the deal.”

Driver of the Pennzoil Synthetics/NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T

Qualified: No. 12

The Competition: No. 5 John Force

The Results: 
Q1: 4.009 E.T. at 323.58 MPH
Q2: 4.195 E.T. at 228.89 MPH
Q3: 4.205 E.T. at 226.51 MPH
Q4: 3.971 E.T. at 315.71 MPH

“Well we did get behind a little bit in qualifying, it went back out Q3 and did what it did Friday night. Although, that 3.97 doesn’t seem like it’s what we wanted, I think that is. (Crew chief Rahn) Tobler wanted to go down in Q4 and just make sure that we sleep at night and are confident in the tune-up going into Sunday morning. I think we are going to have the same weather conditions; it’s going to be dry air. It isn’t where we wanted to be, obviously, not having lane choice. You’ve heard me time and time again, every Sunday morning I feel like our NAPA car, especially this week with Pennzoil on it, is as good or better than anybody on the grounds. You know right now we are fighting for a championship and I don’t see why we can’t go out and win the race tomorrow. We are going to concentrate on first round and go out and just do what we know how to do and that is win rounds.”

Driver of the Pennzoil Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

Qualified: No. 9

The Competition: No. 8 Tim Wilkerson

The Results: 
Q1: 4.022 E.T. at 320.13 MPH
Q2: 4.828 E.T. at 164.11 MPH
Q3: 3.966 E.T. at 324.36 MPH
Q4: 3.949 E.T. at 322.65 MPH

“I feel great man. You know we got us a real race car that’s going down the race track. It has been down both lanes. You know my lights are pretty good other than that last one, I was dead late, I didn’t even want to look at it. Other than that, we got us a good race car to go race with.”

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