DSR Richmond Post-Race Report

NHRA Virginia Nationals
Event 8 of 24 (Richmond)
Virginia Motorsports Park
North Dinwiddie, Va.
May 17-19, 2019

DSR Richmond Elimination Highlights:

  • Ron Capps powered the NAPA Brakes Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car to its second consecutive victory on Sunday during the NHRA Virginia Nationals
  • The event win marks Capps’ 63rd victory overall, 62nd in a Funny Car, second of 2019 and first at Virginia Motorsports Park
  • Capps’ 63 wins rank eighth on the all-time NHRA Mello Yello win list, fourth among the two nitro categories and second in the Funny Car category
  • Behind the wheel of the Matco ‘Tools for the Cause’ Top Fuel dragster, Antron Brown raced to his second final round of the season and 123rd of his career
  • After two consecutive wins in his NAPA Brakes Hellcat, Capps jumped from ninth at the start of May to third in the Funny Car point standings
  • With his final round appearance, Brown advanced from seventh to fifth in the Top Fuel rankings
  • Capps’ win was third of the season for Don Schumacher Racing, and 336th overall 
Ron Capps and the NAPA Brakes Team Race to Second Consecutive Victory
NORTH DINWIDDIE, Va. (May 19, 2019) – Ron Capps raced the NAPA Brakes Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car to its second consecutive victory during the second annual NHRA Virginia Nationals near Richmond on Sunday.

Capps followed his Atlanta triumph two weeks ago with a run through the Funny Car field on an extremely warm day in Virginia to score his 63rd career victory, his 30th win with crew chief Rahn Tobler, all since 2012, and his first Wally trophy at Virginia Motorsports Park.

Capps’ march to the winner’s circle began with three stout runs during qualifying to position him third to start race day. In the opening round of eliminations, Capps was the only Funny Car driver to dip into the three-second range with his 3.997-second E.T. to dispatch opponent Jim Campbell, who smoked the tires early into his run. Up next for Capps was a battle with current point leader Robert Hight. The two world champions staged a classic pedalfest as both cars lost traction multiple times, but it was Capps that was able to reach 1,000 feet first. His lap of 6.173 seconds was enough to advance for another semifinal match-up with teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. Capps took the starting line advantage and pulled away for the victory despite losing a cylinder while Johnson went up in smoke and never recovered. 
In his 120th career final, Capps was not to be denied as he left first on reigning Funny Car champion J.R. Todd and posted his second-best run of the day to capture the win.
“I saw about 120 Kalitta members walking around up there on the starting line and all I can think of is their Kalitta mosh pit and how I wanted to spoil it,” said Capps of his final round match with Todd. “I do not want to lose and watch the mosh pit at the starting line. Tobler told me back in the pit that we were going to put it just like first round and I rolled it in there and it did what it had to do. That’s vintage Rahn Tobler.”

“I can’t say enough. I’m so lucky to be driving this car. To be able to run the NAPA Brakes car again. We are trying to make America safe, one brake job at a time. For NAPA to let us do this on a national stage, to give it two wins, this is what dreams are made of. I told Tobler and those guys that I’ve never won at this track. My NAPA AutoCare Center boys, Pennzoil, USA Compression, and especially Dodge today, we could not have won a couple of those rounds today without that Hellcat and its downforce. I was able to keep it straight even with a hole out. Don Schumacher gives us everything we need. And Rahn Tobler, this is our 30th win together since 2012. That’s craziness.”
With Sunday’s victory, Capps ranks eighth on the all-time Mello Yello win list and fourth among the two nitro categories. At the start of the month of May, Capps was ranked ninth in the championship standings. His two race wins have allowed him to jump six spots up to third to start the upcoming four-race June swing.
Qualified: No. 3 (3.927 E.T. at 321.50 MPH)
The Results:
E1: 3.997 E.T. at 313.58 MPH defeated Jim Campbell 6.497 E.T. at 99.14 MPH
E2: 6.173 E.T. at 251.11 MPH defeated Robert Hight 6.204 E.T. at 270.75 MPH
E3: 4.212 E.T. at 301.94 MPH defeated Tommy Johnson Jr. 10.184 E.T. at 90.53 MPH
E4: 4.097 E.T. at 310.98 MPH defeated J.R. Todd, Broke (No Time)

Driver Information:

Top Fuel:
Driver of Matco's Tools for the Cause Top Fuel Dragster
Matco's Tools for the Cause to benefit the Fisher House Foundation
Qualified: No. 11 (3.839 E.T. at 320.97 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.872 E.T. at 312.42 MPH defeated Leah Pritchett 5.388 E.T. at 139.06 MPH
E2: 4.446 E.T. at 231.00 MPH defeated Brittany Force 4.659 E.T. at 234.53 MPH
E3: 4.846 E.T. at 160.44 MPH defeated Mike Salinas 11.990 E.T. at 33.39 MPH
E4: 3.899 E.T. at 309.49 MPH defeated by Steve Torrence 3.881 E.T. at 319.82 MPH

Race Recap:
Despite qualifying only 11th, Antron Brown showed signs on Saturday that he would be a top contender on Sunday after placing second and fourth in the final two qualifying runs. That held true throughout race day as he powered to his 123rd career final round and second in 2019.
Brown’s first competitor en route to the finals was teammate Leah Pritchett. The three-time world champion unleashed an impressive 3.872-second pass to upset his higher qualified stablemate in Sunday’s opening match-up. In the second round, Brown had a substantial advantage on the tree and went on to defeat Brittany Force by more than a quarter of a second, earning a bid to his third semifinal of the season.
As temperatures soared into the 90s with track temps hitting 140 degrees, Brown was on a good semifinal pass until the car threw the blower belt off, but he held on for the win as Mike Salinas overpowered the track early. That triumph set up a final round match-up with reigning Top Fuel world champion and current point leader Steve Torrence.
Brown and Torrence left together, but Brown pulled out a sizable advantage early and took a three-hundredths of a second lead to the 330-foot mark shortly before suffering a dropped cylinder. Despite the loss in power, he maintained the lead until around the 800-foot mark when Torrence eventually chased him down for the win. 

“The whole race day was good. We had some lucky rounds that we had deposited after having a number of rounds where we should have won that went against us. We were really gaining ground on a hot, hot track. In the final, the car was running well, but then we dropped a hole out there, and I didn’t do my job on the starting line. I was really crisp all day long. I had an .064, an .055 and an .067 in the first three rounds. And if I had just done the same job, that would have brought this win home. We were three-hundredths out in front of him. We out 60-footed him, we out 330’d him and it dropped a hole just before then. We were still two-hundredths quicker than him at half-track with no mile-an-hour, so we were still out in front because we both basically cut the same light. We’re usually two of the quickest-leavers in the class and that tree caught both of us off-guard. I’m just kicking myself in the butt. You want something so bad and then you go and shoot yourself in the foot.  We’ll just get back after them, but I really thought this was going to be our time to get the win. We had it right where we wanted and it just is what it is.

"It’s going to be hard, but once we break through and get that first win, I think we’re going to be just fine. We’re definitely going in the right direction. We have an incredible crew with Mark Oswald, Mike Neff, Brad Mason and all of our Matco Tools Toyota Racing boys. We work so hard and I just wanted to give them their due. We’ve been up and down and now we’re finally settling on something. We had the quickest 60-foots all day long. The car is definitely working better. We just have a couple of more tweaks we need to make and I think we’re going to be right where we needed to be. It was a good day for points today, but at the end of the day we just want to get some race wins and it’s coming.”

Driver of the MOPAR Dodge Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 6 (3.793 E.T. at 321.58 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 5.388 E.T. at 139.06 MPH defeated by Antron Brown 3.872 E.T. at 312.42 MPH 

Race Recap:
While Leah Pritchett’s qualifying performance earned her a starting position in the top half of the field for the seventh consecutive race weekend, it also meant she had to face teammate Antron Brown in round one. It was the fourth time in 2019 the two had gone head-to-head in competition with Pritchett previously emerging victorious twice. On Sunday morning, Brown was able to even the score when Pritchett powered into early tire smoke allowing her teammate to drive away with the win.

“The learning curve for these hot conditions is very steep. Unfortunately, we had to race our teammate in round one. We gave it everything we had. We knew they were bringing their A game, and we definitely thought that we were bringing ours. We had confidence in our tune-up. We’ve been chasing clutch wear issues and trying to make them as consistent as possible. At the beginning of this heat wave, we’re taking as much information as we can. This first round loss stings a little bit, but you won’t see another team work as hard as we are right now to find a solution and move past this as soon as possible.”

Funny Car:
Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 10 (4.005 E.T. at 320.28 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 4.649 E.T. at 251.44 MPH defeated Matt Hagan 5.115 E.T. at 225.41 MPH
E2: 8.238 E.T. at 102.56 MPH defeated by Tommy Johnson Jr. 5.356 E.T. at 212.03 MPH

Race Recap:
As the 2008 Virginia Motorsports Park Funny Car runner-up, Jack Beckman was hoping to seal the deal on Sunday at the NHRA Virginia Nationals and capture his first event win of the year. Faced with the hottest conditions teams have seen all season, the Infinite Hero squad struggled to get their footing during qualifying, eventually settling in the No. 10 starting position to set up a first-round draw with teammate Matt Hagan. Both DSR Dodges lost traction and the two world champions were quick to get back on the throttle. Beckman was able to rein-in his Hellcat first and take the win.
The quarterfinals featured another DSR intramural battle, this time with Beckman squaring off against Tommy Johnson Jr. Once again, the two cars were up in smoke almost immediately, setting up another pedalfest. Unfortunately for Beckman, it was Johnson who managed to get his machine to recover first, cutting Beckman’s day short at round two.

“Disappointing weekend. We got beat second round and only made it to the finish line one time, which means we really didn’t acquire any data here and as hot as this place was, we’re going to see a heck of a lot more of that in the summertime. We just had to cycle in a brand-new clutch disc and we really don’t have another option for its spot in the clutch pack, but we might have to rethink how we apply it. The silver lining is, we got a round win out of here so we didn’t take too bad of a beating in the points, but we’ve just got to figure out what this thing needs for power application, and we need to figure it out by Chicago.”

Driver of the Shelor Motor Mile Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 7 (3.991 E.T. at 321.27 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 5.115 E.T. at 225.41 MPH defeated by Jack Beckman 4.649 E.T. at 251.44 MPH

Race Recap:
Two-time NHRA Funny Car world champion Matt Hagan was looking for his second triumph of 2019 this weekend in his home state of Virginia. After qualifying the Shelor Motor Mile Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat seventh in the field, he matched up with fellow Hellcat Funny Car pilot Jack Beckman in round one. Hagan took the starting line advantage but lost traction in a big way near the 800-foot mark. Beckman lost traction in his run as well, and the two veteran drivers were quick to get back on the throttle, but Hagan wasn’t able to gather his machine back in time to capture the win. The two are now tied with 22 victories versus one another in their 44 career meetings.

“It was a really hot, greasy weekend here in Richmond. We were hoping to get us a home state win here in Virginia, but we just could not get our Shelor Motor Mile Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat down the track clean in that race with Jack. He had some trouble too, but not as much as we did. It’s usually a little muggy out here and the humidity is crazy. Thanks to all of our fans that came out all weekend and especially today for the show everyone in NHRA puts on for them. Really looking forward to getting to Chicago. I’ve had a lot of success there. We have won that race several times and set some world records there. And we are just going to keep digging and do everything we can to put this MOPAR Funny Car in the winner’s circle very soon.” 

Driver of the Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 2 (3.922 E.T. at 323.58 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 4.027 E.T. at 316.52 MPH defeated Terry Haddock 4.132 E.T. at 296.24 MPH
E2: 5.356 E.T. at 212.03 MPH defeated Jack Beckman 8.238 E.T. at 102.56 MPH
E3: 10.184 E.T. at 90.53 MPH defeated by Ron Capps 4.212 E.T. at 301.94 MPH

Race Recap:
Tommy Johnson, Jr. continued his success in the hot climate this weekend during the NHRA Virginia Nationals. After a runner-up finish earlier this season in Las Vegas and a semifinal appearance two weeks ago in Atlanta, Johnson and the Make-A-Wish team have proven their Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car can handle the heat. He qualified second with his Q2 E.T., his best qualifying position to date in 2019, and took care of business seamlessly in his opening round match-up against Terry Haddock with his pass of 4.027 seconds.
With track temperatures reaching 140 degrees, Johnson and fellow Hellcat Funny Car racer Jack Beckman were on the spot immediately when their machines quickly last traction in round two. Johnson was able to recover almost right away and cruised to a victory over Beckman with his pass of 5.356. The victory set up a second consecutive semifinal contest with Ron Capps. Johnson lost traction early again, but this time he wasn’t able to recover and Capps knocked him out for the second event in a row.

“To say it was a tricky racetrack today would be a huge understatement. We had a nice run there in the first round and then the track got really tricky for everyone. To be able to win the second round on a pedal job was good. I was hoping Capps would smoke his tires too and we could pedalfest it out, but credit to those guys for getting down the track. We know moving forward the race tracks are only going to get hotter, so I’m glad we’ve run well in the heat. I feel like we are really close to having the right tune-up for it.”

NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship Standings:

Top Fuel
1. Steve Torrence - 701
2. Brittany Force - 541
3. Doug Kalitta - 498
4. Clay Millican - 489
5. Leah Pritchett - 469
6. Antron Brown - 467

7. Mike Salinas - 466
8. Richie Crampton - 363
9. Terry McMillen - 352
10. Austin Prock - 341

Funny Car
1. Robert Hight - 717
2. J.R. Todd - 556
3. Ron Capps - 548
4. Tommy Johnson Jr. - 527
5. John Force - 524
6. Matt Hagan - 506
7. Jack Beckman - 477
8. Tim Wilkerson - 463
9. Shawn Langdon - 404
10. Bob Tasca III - 369

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