DSR Phoenix Post-Race Report

Magic Dry Organic Absorbent NHRA Arizona Nationals
Event 2 of 24 (Phoenix)
Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park
Chandler, Arizona
February 22-24, 2019

DSR Phoenix Elimination Highlights:

  • Matt Hagan raced to victory for the 30th time in his Funny Car career and third time at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park
  • Hagan’s Arizona Nationals triumph secured Funny Car win No. 150 for DSR 
  • Hagan became the first MOPAR-powered driver to park the new Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat body in the winner’s circle
  • By winning the Phoenix race, Hagan advanced to second in the Funny Car point standings
  • Leah Pritchett advanced to the Top Fuel final round and propelled to third in the Top Fuel rankings
  • Pritchett’s final round appearance was her third Phoenix final in four years 

Matt Hagan Wins NHRA Arizona Nationals; Picks Up Funny Car Win No. 30 

CHANDLER, Arizona (February 24, 2019) – Matt Hagan raced to his career 30th Funny Car victory and captured DSR's 150th Funny Car Wally trophy on Sunday at the Magic Dry Organic Absorbent NHRA Arizona Nationals.
It was a near-perfect weekend for Hagan and his Sandvik Coromant Funny Car team at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix. Led by crew chief Dickie Venables, the team looked untouchable as they began their campaign for the Phoenix Funny Car Wally by unloading with a 3.942 second run on Friday in Q1 when no other team was able to make a clean pass. They followed that up with two more ‘top three’ runs during the remaining two qualifying sessions to start race day from the No. 2 spot.
The Sandvik Coromant team picked off opponents Phil Burkhart Jr., Shawn Langdon, and Bob Tasca III to set-up a final round matchup between Hagan and defending world champion J.R. Todd. Hagan powered to a 3.890 E.T. versus Todd’s instant tire smoker to set off the win light and claim his third Phoenix Wally.
“Hats off to Dickie Venables; the guy won the race, that’s for sure,” said Hagan of the impressive accomplishment of being the only team to go seven for seven in making clean, full pulls during every run over the course of the weekend. “He had a race car underneath me that was going down the race track every lap. That gave me a lot of confidence. He gave me the car to win, this Wally goes to him for sure, as well as my entire team. They all came back for 2019.”
Not only did Hagan reach a milestone 30th victory in 55 final rounds, he also got to claim bragging rights of becoming the first MOPAR-powered driver to park the new Dodge Hellcat body in the winner’s circle for the first time.
“This is huge because it’s the first win with the new Hellcat body. MOPAR put so much into designing this new body, and it’s great to be able to put it in the winner’s circle for them.”
“To be able to drive for Don for the past 11 years and be able to win 30 races is awesome. It’s pretty cool out of DSR’s 150 Funny Car wins, I have 30 of them. That’s a pretty good chunk. It just goes to show you I’ve been put around really good people, and talented crew chiefs that work hard. Dickie is one of the best out here and I’m really glad to have him in our corner.”
With Sunday’s victory, Hagan moves into second place in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship point standings.  
“We’re looking forward to this season. J.R. (Todd) is a great driver, and the reigning world champ, and I have nothing but respect for him but it’s a new year, and a new season, and we have to go out here and make our own way.”
Qualified: No. 2 (3.881 E.T. at 323.43 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.919 E.T. at 324.12 MPH defeated Phil Burkhart Jr. 5.662 E.T. at 126.26 MPH
E2: 3.894 E.T. at 327.19 MPH defeated Shawn Langdon 3.951 E.T. at 326.48 MPH
E3: 3.921 E.T. at 321.96 MPH defeated Bob Tasca III 3.983 E.T. at 320.13 MPH
E4: 3.890 E.T. at 325.06 MPH defeated J.R. Todd, Broke (no time)


Driver Information:

Top Fuel:
Driver of the Matco Tools Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 3 (3.718 E.T. at 322.34 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.728 E.T. at 330.63 MPH defeated Steve Torrence 3.930 E.T. at 256.50 MPH
E2: 4.198 E.T. at 261.12 MPH defeated Austin Prock 4.389 E.T. at 179.40 MPH
E3: 3.763 E.T. at 325.85 MPH defeated by Leah Pritchett 3.721 E.T. at 332.10 MPH

Race Recap:
No. 3 qualifier Antron Brown found himself with a tough first-round draw in defending Top Fuel world champion Steve Torrence. Brown had the immediate advantage against Torrence and maintained his pace to drive to victory when Torrence’s machine began to haze the tires near halftrack.
Next up for the three-time Phoenix champion was newcomer Austin Prock. Once again, Brown’s quick reaction time yielded the early lead before losing traction. His opponent encountered similar troubles and Brown’s pedaling expertise propelled him across the finish line first to claim the round win.
In a semifinal battle versus teammate Leah Pritchett, Brown wheeled his Matco Tools/Toyota down the track in 3.763 seconds, but was unable to outgun Pritchett’s 3.763 E.T.

“Overall, it was a good day. Anytime that you make it to the semifinals it was a good race. We would have loved to have won it. I feel that we’re in a good position and we could do a lot of winning in our Matco Tools/Toyota dragster this year. We just have to keep moving forward. I think we’ve got all the right people. Our time is coming. We qualified well again and made it to the semifinals.

"Our next race is at Gainesville and our mindset is to be better. If we can be better, we’ll be winning soon. We had some parts issues and some different things this weekend that we have put behind us. We need to keep tightening things up and doing what we need to do and we’ll be right where we need to be at the right time to contend for a championship.”

Driver of the MOPAR Dodge Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 7 (3.744 E.T. at 282.42 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.722 E.T. at 329.67 MPH defeated Cameron Ferre 4.263 E.T. at 207.82 MPH
E2: 3.731 E.T. at 308.64 MPH defeated Terry McMillen 5.011 E.T. at 146.69 MPH
E3: 3.721 E.T. at 332.10 MPH defeated Antron Brown 3.763 E.T. at 325.85 MPH
E4: 9.568 E.T. at 75.68 MPH defeated by Billy Torrence 3.965 E.T. at 326.40 MPH

Race Recap:
Leah Pritchett returned to the NHRA Arizona Nationals eyeing a third win in the last four seasons at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park. The driver of the MOPAR Dodge Top Fuel dragster charged her way into the final before losing to No. 1 qualifier Billy Torrence in the pair’s first-ever meeting.

Pritchett, who scored her first career Top Fuel triumph at the facility in 2016, entered Sunday’s elimination rounds from the seventh qualifying position and started her day strong with a first-round defeat of Cameron Ferre. Next, she used a stout run of 3.731 seconds to knock out No. 2 qualifier Terry McMillen in the quarterfinals. For the second time in 2019, she faced her DSR teammate Antron Brown in eliminations and once again, Pritchett turned on the win light to reach her 14th career final. Unfortunately for Pritchett, she wasn’t able to get off the starting line versus Torrence as her dragster went up in tire smoke at the hit.

Despite leaving Arizona without a Wally, Pritchett climbed up to third in the championship point standings heading to the 50th annual Gatornationals in two weeks. 

“We are extremely proud of the momentum this MOPAR team has been able to create here in Phoenix. After fixing and solving the problems we had in Pomona, to grow and improve the way we have this weekend was a win-win scenario. We consider this weekend a win. We had a such a consistent car today in the first three rounds and unfortunately, we had some traction issues in the final. To really compare how we are now compared to where we were at the start of the season, has us all really excited about heading to Gainesville. I couldn’t be more proud of this team. Not only their hard work, but their attitude. They’ve had to go through so much to get everything right and I’m extremely impressed. I am so happy with the direction that we are going and I look forward to being able to push a little more.”

Funny Car:
Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 14 (5.022 E.T. at 159.80 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.901 E.T. at 327.03 MPH defeated Tim Wilkerson 4.736 E.T. at 168.41 MPH
E2: 3.963 E.T. at 321.73 MPH defeated by Bob Tasca III 3.950 E.T. at 321.96 MPH

Race Recap:
Fresh off a runner-up finish at the NHRA season-opener, Jack Beckman was looking to retain his top-tier points standing at the NHRA Arizona Nationals. The three-time Phoenix champ found himself starting race day from an unfamiliar position – the No. 14 spot. While the Infinite Hero Foundation team struggled to make a full pull during qualifying, their troubles seemed to be behind them as they unleashed a 3.901 E.T. during the first round of eliminations to claim the upset win over No. 3 qualifier Tim Wilkerson.
In the quarterfinals, Beckman and opponent Bob Tasca III were nearly even leaving the starting line, but Tasca nabbed the lead early and held on for the win. Despite the quarterfinal exit, Beckman leaves Arizona ranked third.

“Losing is always frustrating. I feel like we have the better car and we lost to Tasca by half a car length out there. The silver lining is, we didn’t have the better car going into first round, and our guys put their heads together and came up with a great tune-up and we went right down the less-preferred lane and got a win light against Tim Wilkerson. At the end of the day, you take your lessons, you take your lumps and you move on. We’re going to unload our brand-new car tomorrow, we’ll test it. The plan is if that car tests well, it will become our new primary, and our ‘old reliable’ we won’t touch. We’re going to stick it upstairs and if we ever need a race car, it will be our backup car. I’m hoping we might have lost the battle here, with the testing, and unloading the new car. We’re heading into the 50th annual Gatornationals as the defending champion, hopefully that will help us win the war.”

Driver of the Pennzoil Synthetics/NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 9 (3.951 E.T. at 315.49 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.968 E.T. at 319.98 MPH defeated by John Force 3.933 E.T. at 317.19 MPH

Race Recap:
Faced with challenging track conditions and a cancelled qualifying session, the Pennzoil Synthetics/NAPA AUTO PARTS Funny Car team struggled to find their groove during qualifying for the Magic Dry Organic Absorbent NHRA Arizona Nationals. As a result, Ron Capps started race day seeded ninth and faced John Force in the first round. Capps was seeking a bit of redemption against Force after falling to him in the quarterfinals at the NHRA season-opener two weeks prior.
On a clear and cool Sunday morning, fans were treated to what can only be described as a ‘marquee matchup’ between the two winningest Funny Car drivers in NHRA history. Capps was solid against his opponent in their 100thmeeting and navigated his Pennzoil Synthetics/NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge down the track in 3.968 seconds, but Force was able to squeak by and claim the win with his 3.933 E.T.

“Today was a product of where we qualified. Anytime you have to race a good car like John Force’s car, it’s going to be tough. That’s a team that usually qualifies better than eighth and obviously we’re a team that should have qualified better than ninth. Even our losing first-round run probably would have won six of those other matchups that session.
“To be honest with you, this weekend has been a little bit of a struggle for us. (Crew chief Rahn) Tobler has had his hands full. He’s so good at being able to find things when they go wrong. This sport is about tackling the next thing thrown at you and he’s always so good at that. We had a couple of issues with the race car, and again we didn’t test during the off-season, so we’re still trying to feel out this new 2019 DSR chassis. I love this new Hellcat body, and I’m still trying to get used to it as well.
“To go up there and run a 3.96 in round one today, I actually clicked it off a little before the finish line when I saw John cross, so it may have been a little bit better than a 96. As much as we had going on in this pit area, I think we should be proud of that 96. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn the win light on but we’re going to test on Monday, bring our other brand-new car out, make sure it’s good to go. If it’s running well, we’ll start using it in Gainesville, and if not, we’ll continue on with this car. I have no problem saying I’m confident enough in us that we can go to Gainesville and win it.”

Driver of the Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 4 (3.911 E.T. at 326.95 MPH)

The Results:
E1: No Time defeated Jim Campbell, Foul (centerline infraction)
E2: 5.048 E.T. at 134.74 MPH defeated by J.R. Todd 3.967 E.T. at 323.27 MPH

Race Recap:
Tommy Johnson Jr. celebrated the 30th anniversary of his nitro racing debut this weekend in Phoenix at Wild Horse Motorsports Park. The 2006 NHRA Arizona Nationals Funny Car winner qualified the Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car fourth and was part of a wild first-round matchup versus Jim Campbell. 

Johnson had the advantage on the starting line but suffered a chain reaction of mechanical issues just past the 330-mark, which resulted in an explosion. While Johnson controlled his machine and brought it safely to a stop, Campbell drove away and looked to be on his way to victory. Before reaching the finish line, Campbell crossed the centerline and made contact with the timing block which resulted in a disqualification.

With extensive damage to Johnson’s Funny Car, the Make-A-Wish team worked feverishly to get him back to the lanes for his second-round matchup with reigning Funny Car world champion J.R. Todd. Johnson and Todd launched together, but Johnson’s machine dropped a cylinder early into the run and gave way to another big boomer while Todd drove away with the clean round win.

“Today was a rough day. We had two separate totally different problems, and they happened on the same day, back-to-back. It’s awful rough. I felt we had a pretty good car going into race day, and actually first round it was running well before the axle broke on us. That just shows you what kind of team we have – the fact we came back from that and made it back up in time for second round. It’s a shame we had to have an issue again second round, it was totally unrelated. We’ll go back to shop, take the two weeks before Gainesville to regroup and come back swinging.”

NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship Standings:

Top Fuel
1. Billy Torrence - 178
2. Doug Kalitta - 172
3. Leah Pritchett - 145
4. Steve Torrence - 137
5. Terry McMillen - 132
6. Mike Salinas - 122
7. Antron Brown - 115
8. Austin Prock - 106
9. Jordan Vandergriff - 77
10. Richie Crampton - 66

Funny Car
1. Robert Hight - 205
2. Matt Hagan - 160
3. Jack Beckman - 151
4. Tommy Johnson Jr. - 132

5. Bob Tasca III - 129
6. John Force - 126
6. J.R. Todd - 126
8. Shawn Langdon - 111
9. Ron Capps - 89
10. Cruz Pedregon - 86

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