DSR Reading Post-Race Recap

Dodge NHRA Nationals
Event 19 of 24 (Reading)
NHRA Countdown, Event 1 of 6
Maple Grove Raceway
Mohnton, Pennsylvania
September 14-16, 2018
DSR Reading Elimination Highlights:
  • Tony Schumacher recorded a runner-up finish at Maple Grove Raceway; his eighth final round at Reading
  • Schumacher’s final round appearance was his fifth of the season, and 152nd of his career
  • Schumacher moved to second (tied) in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship Top Fuel standings
  • All three DSR Top Fuel drivers are ranked in the top half in the Countdown standings
  • Ron Capps and Matt Hagan sit in the top half of the Funny Car Countdown rankings
  • Antron Brown set off the win light for a milestone 700th time in his career during round two of race day

Driver Information:

Top Fuel:
Driver of the Matco Tools/U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 6 (3.767 E.T. at 328.22 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.800 E.T. at 327.35 MPH defeated Brittany Force 4.124 E.T. at 288.27 MPH
E2: 3.840 E.T. at 313.51 MPH defeated Leah Pritchett 4.300 E.T. at 199.29 MPH
E3: 4.206 E.T. at 254.33 MPH defeated by Tony Schumacher 3.939 E.T. at 292.96 MPH

Race Recap:
The driver of the Matco Tools/U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster began race day from the top half of the field with the advantage of lane choice over opponent Brittany Force. Brown’s 3.800-second pass defeated the reigning world champion’s 4.124 E.T. and pitted him against teammate Leah Pritchett in round two.
Against Pritchett, Brown navigated his 11,000-horsepower machine down the track in 3.840 seconds, setting off the win light for the 700th time in his career, while his opponent suffered an explosion in the other lane. The semifinals found Brown facing his other Top Fuel teammate, Tony Schumacher. In the intramural dragster battle, Brown hazed the tires at the 330-foot cone. He gave it a good pedal effort but was unable to chase down Schumacher, and Brown’s attempt to claim his third Maple Grove Raceway event win in four years ended with the semifinals.

“This Countdown is rough, but that’s the way it’s supposed to be. It was a tough road today having to race both of my teammates, but you have to beat everybody to win in the Countdown. That’s what our team has always thrived on. 

"But it’s a great start to the Countdown for us. Any time you can kick off the Countdown in the top four it’s a plus. This race track was really tricky. We just need to get a couple of things leveled out. Now we’re going to keep pushing hard and get ready for St. Louis. If we keep doing what we’re doing, I think we’re going to be in the right spot. We have five races left, so we’re definitely still in it. I’m very excited to get down to Gateway. It’s always been a great race track for us. We’ll come out swinging."

Driver of the Mopar Dodge 1320 Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 3 (3.758 E.T. at 312.50 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.786 E.T. at 323.50 MPH defeated Audrey Worm 4.004 E.T. at 265.01 MPH
E2: 4.300 E.T. at 199.29 MPH defeated by Antron Brown 3.840 E.T. at 313.51 MPH

Race Recap:
Leah Pritchett started race day from the No. 3 seed and opened eliminations against Audrey Worm with a strong 3.786-second at 323.50-mph pass in her Mopar Dodge 1320 “Angry Bee’ Top Fuel dragster, earning the two-time 2018 race winner lane choice over teammate Antron Brown in the quarterfinals.

Pritchett’s quick 0.034-second reaction time boosted her “Angry Bee” to the lead off the line, but a loss of traction followed by a fiery engine bang ended her quest for a first career win at Maple Grove Raceway. Pritchett is now ranked fourth in the NHRA playoff chase.

"There’s definitely more positives than negatives, and all of that shows in our data. We’re going to have more momentum heading into St. Louis than we did coming here, actually. That creates a lot of confidence for us. A mechanical gremlin caused us to smoke the tires (in round two), and on race day, you pedal and leg it out and try and make it to the finish line first and that didn’t happen second round. But, I’m feeling better as a driver. This team is jelling better and harder than they’ve been in a long time.
"We’re just five days away from doing it all over again. Some drivers don’t like swings, I personally love them. Right back into it is exactly where I want to be. These days off unfortunately, we have a lot of work to do. That (explosion during round two) caused a lot of carnage and damage. The Countdown is about to stepping up on the track, and this week we are stepping up off the track to get our parts in place.
"This is my third Countdown opportunity and it takes every single thing out of you, to do what we do at this professional level. We’ve been preparing for this all year long and it’s time to see who can stand out during this last sprint of the marathon."

Driver of the U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 2 (3.754 E.T. at 328.86 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.816 E.T. at 326.40 MPH defeated Dan Mercier 5.312 E.T. at 133.18 MPH
E2: 3.827 E.T. at 323.19 MPH defeated Scott Palmer 3.833 E.T. at 324.59 MPH
E3: 3.939 E.T. at 292.96 MPH defeated Antron Brown 4.206 E.T. at 254.33 MPH
E4: 4.196 E.T. at 234.82 MPH defeated by Steve Torrence 3.819 E.T. at 325.45 MPH

Race Recap:
Tony Schumacher advanced to his fifth final round of the season and 152nd of his career, finishing as the runner-up in his U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster during the Dodge NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway.
Schumacher handled Dan Mercier in round one, then knocked out Scott Palmer in a close quarterfinals battle, using a 3.827-second E.T. at 323.19-mph to beat Palmer’s 3.833-second pass to the win stripe. In the semifinals, “The Sarge” left first with a 0.047-second reaction time and battled through dropped cylinders to post a winning 3.939 E.T. against Antron Brown, who smoked the tires early.
Schumacher’s eighth career final round at Maple Grove Raceway featured a marquee matchup with points leader Steve Torrence, but the eight-time Top Fuel champion lit up the tires early and watched as Torrence pulled away for the event win. Schumacher now has three runner-ups to go along with his five career wins at the Dodge NHRA Nationals, and with his performance, jumped up into a tie for second in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs.

“We got a lot better here this weekend and I’m happy about that. We’ve got a really good U.S. Army car right now. We still have some changes to make, but we are close. We were absolutely terrible in Indy. To come here and qualify No. 2 and then make good runs down the track all weekend is exactly what had to happen. In the final against Torrence, we were very aggressive in our approach. There’s a bump out there that goes across the track. We struggled with that one area, but a lot of cars did.

"We won some rounds today and leave here tied for second in the points. It’s time for a battle. We have five races to go. Those will all be monster battles coming up with extremely good cars. It’s time for the fans to show up, the drivers to show up, the teams to show up, and the game to be played. I love it.”

Funny Car:
Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 4 (3.939 E.T. at 328.22 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 5.135 E.T. at 152.07 MPH defeated by Cruz Pedregon 4.214 E.T. at 225.33 MPH

Race Recap:
Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car driver Jack Beckman started race day in the No. 4 spot with the goal of adding to his two career wins at Maple Grove Raceway. Beckman had the edge off the starting line against Cruz Pedregon in round one, but smoked the tires near the 330-foot mark and slowed to a losing 5.135-second at 152.07-mph effort. “Fast” Jack, the 2012 NHRA Funny Car World Champion, leaves Reading in the No. 8 position in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs.

“Sometimes drag racing is would’ve, could’ve and should’ve. We had a great race car with our Dodge Hellcat Charger, and we lost first round. We watched Courtney Force, the No. 1 car in points, smoke the tires and get beat right in front of us, and we didn’t capitalize on that. We came in here in sixth place, and we’re likely going to lose ground. There’s no reason to beat ourselves up about it; these race cars are 11,000-horsepower, slightly unpredictable beasts.
“We have to be smart. We have to figure out what we should have done better, put that in our brains, in our data loggers, take that with us to St. Louis and try our best to be better every single run. We’re going to have to capitalize on qualifying bonus points. We did a great job of that this weekend, but at the end of the day they (qualifying runs) are only worth three points per run, where round wins are worth 20. That’s where we are going to have to win the championship.”

Driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 5 (3.942 E.T. at 321.19 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.972 E.T. at 324.28 MPH defeated Jonnie Lindberg 4.356 E.T. at 243.63 MPH
E2: 3.972 E.T. at 319.07 MPH defeated Cruz Pedregon 4.126 E.T. at 289.51 MPH
E3: 4.014 E.T. at 315.12 MPH defeated by J.R. Todd 3.975 E.T. at 320.28 MPH

Race Recap:
Ron Capps recorded four consistent runs in the three-second range during qualifying to seed his NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car fifth at the Dodge NHRA Nationals. Capps’ consistent performance continued into eliminations with a 3.972-second at 324.26-mph pass to send home Jonnie Lindberg in round one. In the quarterfinals, Capps quickly made up a slight starting line deficit to outgun Cruz Pedregon with a 3.972-second run that was second quickest of the round.
The defending Dodge NHRA Nationals event winner matched up against J.R. Todd in the semifinals. Capps’ string of three-second runs came to an end, and his 4.014 E.T. paired with a solid 0.051-second reaction time fell short of Todd’s winning 3.975-second mark.

Capps stayed fourth in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoff rankings with his semifinal showing, a mere 29 points out of first as he pursues his second career Funny Car championship crown.

“It’s always fun to watch the progression of (crew chief) Rahn Tobler, and unfortunately, we gave up a chance to get a win at the U.S. Nationals to make sure that we were ready for the Countdown. There were some things that we needed to get right, and we made sure of that through the U.S. Nationals. The big picture was ‘let’s be ready to win a championship.’
“We came into Reading as the only car to make three-second passes all throughout qualifying. I shut off a little early in the semifinals when J.R. Todd crossed the finish line and it went 4.01; it may have run another three (second run). But the point is, that’s seven more runs under power without tire smoke or tire shake. That’s the consistency that we like to keep up, and that’s the pressure we like to put on our opponents. Trust me, that’ll get into your head if you’re racing someone that you know is going to go down the race track.
“Things are clicking well for our team. It’s unfortunate we lost that close race today, but points are pretty bunched up. We said coming into the Dodge Nationals, you can’t win the Countdown this weekend, but you can certainly lose it, and we had a great start. We’ll take this, build on it and head to St. Louis.”

Driver of the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 10 (3.960 E.T. at 321.12 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 4.164 E.T. at 257.97 MPH defeated by John Force 4.007 E.T. at 326.87 MPH

Race Recap:
The two-time Funny Car world champion’s campaign for a third title got off to a rocky start at the first race of the NHRA playoff series.
Matt Hagan entered the race weekend fresh off of a runner-up finish and ranked second in the Funny Car standings. The 2014 Reading champion qualified 10th for race day and faced John Force in the opening round. Hagan and Force were locked in a close race until just past halftrack when Hagan’s machine slowed to a 4.164 E.T. and Force was able to take the win with his 4.007 second pass.

Hagan will enter Countdown race No. 2 ranked fifth.

“Life is full of bounce back situations. You have to be down in order to be up sometimes. Obviously, going out first round like that is not how we wanted to start this Dodge race. At the end of the day, it comes down to digging deep and working hard and figuring out what the issues are and racing our car the way we know how. I came in this morning thinking that we really had the car to beat John (Force). He’s a good racer and I have a lot of respect for him, but at the end of the day, I feel like I have the best crew chief out there, and I think that’ll show at the end of the season. We’ve got another race coming up really quick, we don’t have to worry about sitting on this loss for a whole weekend. Thank you so much to Mopar and Dodge for what they put into this deal.”

Driver of the Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 3 (3.921 E.T. at 324.90 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.950 E.T. at 321.73 MPH defeated Jim Campbell 6.714 E.T. at 98.20 MPH
E2: 4.012 E.T. at 318.24 MPH defeated by Robert Hight 3.946 E.T. at 325.77 MPH

Race Recap:
Tommy Johnson Jr. started race day from the No. 3 spot after blasting to the quickest run of the final qualifying session. Behind the wheel of his John Collins-led Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge, Johnson claimed the win over first round opponent Jim Campbell with his 3.950-second pass versus Campbell’s tire smoking attempt.
Round two found the two-time Reading champion matched up against the reigning world champion Robert Hight. The two drivers were nearly even until just past the 330-cone when Hight pulled ahead to post the round win.
Johnson, who claimed his first Funny Car event win at the 1999 Reading event, will leave Maple Grove Raceway sitting in the seventh spot in the NHRA Countdown rankings.

"We had such a good race car all weekend and to come up short second round, it’s just frustrating. It was an opportunity to make up some ground in points; we did a little, but it could’ve been a really good day for points. I still think we have a really strong car for the Countdown. We’ll regroup, go to St. Louis and see if we can’t continue the streak we’re on."

NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship Points Standings:
Top Fuel
1. Steve Torrence - 2219
2. Tony Schumacher - 2169
2. Clay Millican - 2169
4. Leah Pritchett - 2118
5. Antron Brown - 2116
6. Doug Kalitta - 2103
7. Mike Salinas - 2067
8. Terry McMillen - 2062
9. Scott Palmer - 2053
10. Brittany Force - 2052

Funny Car
1. J.R. Todd - 2166
2. Robert Hight - 2143
3. Courtney Force - 2141
4. Ron Capps - 2137
5. Matt Hagan - 2112
6. Tim Wilkerson - 2101
7. Tommy Johnson Jr. - 2090
8. Jack Beckman - 2080
9. John Force - 2064
10. Shawn Langdon- 2054

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