DSR Norwalk Post-Race Report

NHRA Nationals
Event 12 of 24 (Norwalk)
Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park
Norwalk, Ohio
June 21-23, 2019

DSR Norwalk Elimination Highlights:

  • Jack Beckman advanced to the final round on Sunday to lead DSR at the 13th annual NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio
  • With his run to the final, Beckman powered to two runner-ups and two semifinal finishes over the past four consecutive events
  • Tommy Johnson Jr. recorded his fifth semifinal appearance in six events 
  • Leah Pritchett snapped a four-race first-round exit streak by advancing to the Top Fuel semifinals
  • Johnson, Beckman, and No. 1 qualifier Ron Capps leave Norwalk ranked in the ‘top five’ in the Funny Car rankings
  • Antron Brown maintained his No. 4 position in the Top Fuel standings 

Driver Information:

Top Fuel:
Driver of the Matco Tools Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 7 (3.742 E.T. at 326.00 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 4.170 E.T. at 263.10 MPH defeated Scott Palmer 5.116 E.T. at 142.60 MPH
E2: 3.981 E.T. at 304.39 MPH defeated by Leah Pritchett 3.821 E.T. at 326.00 MPH

Race Recap:
Antron Brown posted a ‘top half’ qualifying effort at the first three events of the June four-race swing, and that trend carried into the NHRA Norwalk event. As the No. 7 qualifier, Brown drew Scott Palmer in round one of eliminations.
The 2014 Norwalk Top Fuel champion’s swift reflexes gave him the early advantage out of the gate, and when his machine started to lose traction near the 330 mark, he was quick to pedal it and navigated the Matco Tools Toyota to a winning 4.170 E.T. versus Palmer’s 5.116. 
Against teammate Leah Pritchett in the quarterfinals, Brown was once again fast to stand on the gas. When the tree lit up, Brown launched ahead of his teammate clocking a .042 reaction time versus her .122, but his lead did not last long. A dropped cylinder early into the run caused him to slow to a 3.981, and he was unable to chase down Pritchett’s session-best 3.821-second run.

“The race, it was a good race. We learned a lot here. The main thing is that we’re growing from each and every run, and we got her backed down enough to where it should’ve gone down the race track. We just dropped a hole at the step, unfortunately. But we’re making big strides where we can be low E.T. of qualifying rounds. We’re getting good qualifying bonus points, and we can run with anybody out there. The thing about it is we keep on learning, and then eventually the tide will change and start going our way. We’re pushing hard, learning, getting better and better. Definitely starting to get our groove, my game’s getting a lot better up there on the starting line, and we’re getting ready to do what we do. This is one of those deals. I wanted to win it here, this is Matco’s home track, but we’ll suck it up and get ready for Epping and hit that race hard.”

Driver of the John Schnatter Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 2 (3.714 E.T. at 325.45 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.807 E.T. at 327.11 MPH defeated Luigi Novelli 4.600 E.T. at 167.53 MPH
E2: 3.821 E.T. at 326.00 MPH defeated Antron Brown 3.981 E.T. at 304.39 MPH
E3: 5.378 E.T. at 223.76 MPH defeated by Pat Dakin 4.603 E.T. at 170.43 MPH

Race Recap:
For the fifth time this year, Leah Pritchett pulled double-duty, competing in both the Top Fuel and Factory Stock Showdown categories. A busy weekend of juggling both classes couldn’t unnerve Pritchett as she recorded her second consecutive No. 2 starting position among a competitive 19-car field.
Pritchett began her campaign for her first Norwalk triumph by defeating No. 15 qualifier Luigi Novelli in round one. She clocked a 3.807-second pass versus Novelli’s tire-smoker to snap a four-race first-round exit streak. Next up for the seven-time Top Fuel winner was a date with teammate Antron Brown. She used the quickest run of the second round (3.821) to capture the victory and earn a bid to the semifinals. Pritchett’s day ended in the third round when she stood on the throttle and immediately went up in smoke.

“We’re definitely ending on our highest note of this four-race swing. We made six consistent full-pulls this weekend. That’s given this team not only the confidence that we’ve needed, but the performance heading into this next phase of the season. We haven’t been able to attribute what caused our tire-smoking situation yet; everything checks out. Thankfully we have some time off to decipher what happened there in E3. But, we made it to the semifinals today. That’s great for the guys and a great thing to build on heading into our next race.”

Funny Car:
Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 4 (3.915 E.T. at 329.26 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.950 E.T. at 324.75 MPH defeated Jonnie Lindberg 9.971 E.T. at 71.79 MPH
E2: 4.015 E.T. at 318.77 MPH defeated Shawn Langdon 4.075 E.T. at 313.95 MPH
E3: 4.980 E.T. at 234.45 MPH defeated Tommy Johnson Jr. 6.969 E.T. at 143.34 MPH
E4: 11.764 E.T. at 77.85 MPH defeated by Bob Tasca III 4.383 E.T. at 245.09 MPH

Race Recap:
Jack Beckman advanced to the final round on Sunday to lead DSR at the 13th annual NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio. The 28-time Funny Car winner had a strong June swing, advancing to two runner-ups and two semifinal finishes over the past four consecutive events. With his run to the Norwalk final, Beckman catapulted from seventh at the start of the four-race swing, up to fourth in the Countdown to the Championship point standings.
Behind the wheel of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, Beckman started race day from the No. 4 position and with a round-one matchup versus Jonnie Lindberg. The three-time Norwalk champion was first out of the gate and posted the second-quickest run of the round (3.950) to defeat Lindberg. In the quarterfinals, Beckman captured the lead by the time he reached the 60-foot cone and never trailed for the win against Shawn Langdon.
The semifinals featured the late Terry Chandler’s ‘giving cars,’ with Beckman squaring off against recent race winner, Tommy Johnson Jr.  Beckman’s teammate was up in smoke right at the hit. The Infinite Hero machine began to haze the tires near half-track, but Beckman had no trouble finessing the throttle and getting his machine to recover quickly to post the win.
In the finals, Beckman’s third of the season, his hopes for the coveted Norwalk ‘ice cream scoop’ trophy went up in smoke as soon as he hit the gas. His car immediately lost traction, and his opponent drove to the win.

“We had a really solid four-race swing, but we really need a trophy. That’s what sets in the minds of all the crew guys that ‘we can do this.’ I’ll take all the runner-ups we can get in the Countdown because then it’s about points. Right now, we really want that trophy, and we are so close. It’s bittersweet to run this good, and then not put a good effort in the final round. In the last four races, we have won 10 rounds, which is about as good as anyone is doing in Funny Car. We are moving back up in the points. Our cars are making consistent runs, and I think now we are one of the favored cars again. As a driver that always feels great. You drive better when you feel like you are on a faster horse. I feel that way right now, and I wish we were racing next weekend.”   

Driver of the Pennzoil Synthetics/NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 1 (3.879 E.T. at 329.18 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.961 E.T. at 318.69 MPH defeated Bob Bode 10.304 E.T. at 87.07 MPH
E2: 11.144 E.T. at 75.31 MPH defeated by Tommy Johnson Jr. 4.058 E.T. at 316.38 MPH

Race Recap:
Ron Capps rolled into race day brimming with confidence on the heels of his first No. 1 qualifier of the season. The Pennzoil Synthetics/NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat was dominant throughout qualifying. Capps posted the quickest E.T. of the second and fourth qualifying sessions, and second-quickest E.T. of the first and third sessions, amassing ten out of 12 possible qualifying bonus points.
Starting race day from the top of the board and facing No. 16 qualifier Bob Bode, Capps unloaded with his fifth consecutive three-second run. He powered the Pennzoil/NAPA Dodge down the Summit Motorsports Park in 3.961 seconds, dispatching his round-one opponent who smoked the tires as soon as he stood on the gas.
Round two pitted the 2016 Funny Car world champion against teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. Capps stood on the throttle and immediately went up in smoke, ending the No. 1 qualifier’s chances at capturing a second Norwalk trophy.

“It hurts not to walk out of here with a Wally with as good as this Pennzoil/NAPA car was. That green hat we got for qualifying number one represents a crew chief and a crew that adapted to so many different conditions on Friday and Saturday. That’s a feather in the cap for those guys, but we really felt like we had an excellent car for race day.
“Smoking the tires at the hit of the throttle isn’t something our car does too often. We didn’t feel like we were pushing too hard. (Crew chief) Rahn (Tobler) is looking at the data. I think these little moments we are having at these tracks where we are exiting early are going to help us down the road. Getting rid of all these little issues will only help to get us ready for the Countdown to the Championship.”

Driver of the Sandvik Coromant Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 11 (3.943 E.T. at 325.85 MPH)

The Results:
E1: Foul, Red Light; defeated by Bob Tasca III 3.957 E.T. at 324.59 MPH

Race Recap:
The defending Norwalk Funny Car event champ entered the weekend hoping to close out the June four-race swing with a long Sunday of going rounds. Behind the wheel of the Sandvik Coromant Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, Matt Hagan faced Bob Tasca III in the opening round of eliminations. In an uncharacteristic move for one of the best ‘leavers’ in the class, Hagan stood on the gas early and activated the red light, allowing his opponent the automatic round win.

“I messed up bad today. Red lit, double-stepped it. I was up there ready to go, and it seemed like a long light to me. My foot said ‘go,’ and the tree hadn’t fallen yet. I was a little too amped up, I guess. We have a little break (in the schedule) coming up. We’ll get back into the groove of things and have a fresh start in Epping. I’ve got some time to let the dust settle. We didn’t have such a great four-race swing, but we still have a lot of racing to do.”

Driver of the Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 8 (3.928 E.T. at 326.40 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 4.288 E.T. at 215.62 MPH defeated Tim Wilkerson 4.462 E.T. at 195.11 MPH
E2: 4.058 E.T. at 316.38 MPH defeated Ron Capps 11.144 E.T. at 75.31 MPH
E3: 6.969 E.T. at 143.34 MPH defeated by Jack Beckman 4.980 E.T. at 234.45 MPH

Race Recap:
After winning the Route 66 NHRA Nationals three weeks ago, Tommy Johnson Jr. was looking to bookend the four-race stretch with another victory behind the wheel of his Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat. He opened Sunday with a round win over Tim Wilkerson, extending his record to 25 – 6 over the tenured driver and set up a match with teammate Ron Capps. Against Capps, Johnson was clean from start to finish, clocking a run of 4.058 seconds to easily defeat the No. 1 qualifier who lost traction at the hit. Johnson advanced to his sixth semifinal of 2019 where he faced another teammate in Jack Beckman. Ultimately, Johnson suffered the same fate as Capps in the right lane. He lost traction early versus Beckman who also lost traction during his run, but Johnson wasn’t able to capitalize.

“We were hoping to have a shot at our first Norwalk win, but just overpowered the track early and couldn’t get it back under me to chase down Jack. We can’t be too disappointed in the four-race stretch. We got a win and two semifinal appearances. We’ve got a really good Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat right now. It’s been a long four-in-a-row, and everybody is looking forward to a weekend off. We’ll regroup and come back swinging in Epping.” 

NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship Standings:

Top Fuel
1. Steve Torrence - 1164
2. Doug Kalitta - 760
3. Brittany Force- 744
4. Antron Brown - 733
5. Mike Salinas - 732
6. Leah Pritchett - 651
7. Clay Millican - 649
8. Richie Crampton - 532
9. Terry McMillen- 524
10. Austin Prock - 518

Funny Car
1. Robert Hight - 1022
2. John Force - 869
3. Tommy Johnson Jr - 856
4. Jack Beckman - 819
5. Ron Capps - 809

6. J.R. Todd - 764
7. Bob Tasca III - 689
8. Matt Hagan - 656
9. Tim Wilkerson - 619
10. Shawn Langdon - 580 

Factory Stock Showdown Series:
Driver of the MOPAR Dodge Challenger Drag Pak

Qualified: No. 13 (8.017 E.T. at 170.11 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 8.047 E.T. at 171.60 MPH defeated by Bill Skillman 7.919 E.T. at 172.72 MPH 

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