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DSR St. Louis Pre-Race Report

Mopar Express Lane NHRA Midwest Nationals Presented by Pennzoil
Event No. 8
World Wide Technology Raceway
Madison, Ill.
October 2-4, 2020

Highlights:

  • DSR carries a streak of 10 consecutive national event Funny Car wins and a four-way championship battle into the Mopar Express Lane NHRA Midwest Nationals Presented by Pennzoil
    • While they jostle for position atop the leaderboard, No. 1 ranked Jack Beckman, No. 4 ranked Ron Capps, No. 2 ranked Matt Hagan and No. 3 ranked Tommy Johnson Jr. will also be looking to extend DSR’s current undefeated Funny Car streak to a record 11 victories
    • Each driver has contributed at least one Wally trophy to the string of 10 wins that dates back to October 2019. DSR previously set the consecutive win record in a single class at 10 races during the 2017 season with the same driver lineup
    • Capps leads the Funny Car category in number of wins at St. Louis (four) and put himself solidly in the 2020 championship hunt after his win in Gainesville last weekend
  • In Top Fuel, Leah Pruett leads the DSR dragster trio. Pruett currently sits third in the championship standings, and is within two round wins of the top ranked driver
  • For the third time this season, Pruett will have the opportunity to bring home two trophies as she will pull double-duty by competing in both Top Fuel and the Factory Stock Showdown Series alongside her teammate, Mark Pawuk
  • Top Fuel star Antron Brown leads the NHRA’s pro classes in number of wins at St. Louis (five)
DSR Track Records:
Top Fuel, speed: 332.75 mph, Leah Pruett (2017)
 

DSR Driver Information:
 
Top Fuel:

ANTRON BROWN
Driver of the Matco Tools 'Tools for the Cause'/Global Electronic Technology/Toyota Top Fuel Dragster

St. Louis Event Highlights: 
  • Five-time event champion (2009, 2012-2015)  
  • 2005 runner-up (Pro Stock Motorcycle)  
  • Two-time No. 1 qualifier
    • Pro Stock Motorcycle (2001, 2004) 
2019 St. Louis Recap:
Qualified 11th; First round exit (defeated by Leah Pruett)

Last Event (Gainesville):
Qualified third; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Cameron Ferre in E1; defeated by Terry McMillen in E2)

2020 Statistics:
Seven round wins; ranked eighth in points

Career Statistics:
437 races; 66 wins (16 Pro Stock Motorcycle); 49 No. 1 qualifiers (11 PSM)

Noteworthy:
  • Leads the pro classes as most victorious driver in St. Louis history having won five events: 2009, 2012 - 2015
Quotable:
“I’m really looking forward to getting back to St. Louis. World Wide Technology Raceway feels like home for me. Each time we go there, the conditions are always good and seem to favor our Matco Tools/Global Electronic Technology/Toyota team. We’ve had a lot of successful years there. Normally, St. Louis is one of our first end-of-year Countdown events, where the races and points really count. St. Louis was one of the first races that you needed to do really well at if you wanted to have a shot to win the championship. There’s no Countdown this year of course, but it still feels like a ‘Countdown’ because after St. Louis there will only be three races left before a champion is crowned, so it’s important that we have another successful showing there this year.
 
“Our team is on the rise. We feel really good, and it’ll feel good to be ‘home’ at World Wide Technology Raceway and do what we do, and that’s be competitive, try and run low E.T. and take it one round at a time on Sunday to try to win the Wally.”


LEAH PRUETT
Driver of the Mopar Dodge Top Fuel Dragster

 

2019 St. Louis Recap:
Qualified sixth; Semifinal finish (defeated Antron Brown in E1, Austin Prock in E2; defeated by Billy Torrence in E3)

Last Event (Gainesville):
Qualified eighth; Semifinal finish (defeated Joe Morrison in E1, Clay Millican in E2; defeated by Steve Torrence in E3)

2020 Season Statistics:
13 round wins; ranked third in points

Career Statistics:
148 races; eight wins; 12 No. 1 qualifiers 

Noteworthy:
  • Sits third in the Top Fuel point standings, and is within two rounds of the No. 1 ranked driver
  • Owns the St. Louis track speed record (332.75 mph) achieved during the 2017 event
  • Pulling double-duty, competing in both Top Fuel and the Factory Stock Showdown Series
Quotable:
“We might be hitting the track in St. Louis with our cool, crisp blue-chrome Mopar dragster, but we will continue to bring the heat to what looks to be a very cool St. Louis weekend. (Crew chiefs) Todd Okuhara and Neal Strausbaugh are known to have a strong set-up sheet for ultra-fast times in these conditions, and given our consistency, we are definitely looking forward to laying down rubber and making every run count as we chase this championship. Points are tight, with the competition even tighter, and right now we are honing-in on tightening up our program and digging hard to get that elusive Wally gold this weekend. We are aware of the points, but continue to race as we have done all season. We are focused on each individual run, conditions, and getting as much of our Mopar power stuck tight to the track to turn on win lights, no matter who we are up against. It is an exciting time with just four races left in the season, and we know that our St. Louis fans are just as excited as us to catapult our momentum.”


TONY SCHUMACHER
Driver of the Okuma/Sandvik Coromant
Toyota Top Fuel Dragster

 

St. Louis Event Highlights: 
  • Two-time event champion (2006, 2010)  
  • Three-time runner-up (1999, 2008, 2016) 
2019 St. Louis Recap:
DNS

Last Event (Gainesville):
Qualified 13th; First round exit (defeated by Steve Torrence in E1)

Career Statistics:
508 races; 84 wins; 87 No. 1 qualifiers

Quotable:
“I grew up in Chicago, and St. Louis is the closest venue we’ve got right now. So, we’ll go down there, my friends will come from the Chicagoland area and hopefully watch us win a race.
 
“It’s been a cutthroat, shortened season of NHRA Drag Racing. We missed the first couple of races along the way and then we didn’t perform at the first couple of Indy events. We have (crew chief) Mike Green back in our stable now, and he’s someone I’m used to working with. It would be a super cool deal to get into the top 10, heck even put ourselves in the ‘top seven.’ We’ve got tremendous talent on our Okuma/Sandvik Coromant/Toyota team. Including St. Louis, we still have four races to go, so we’ve definitely got a shot at breaking into the top 10.” 


Funny Car:

JACK BECKMAN
Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat


 

St. Louis Event Highlights: 
  • Two-time event champion (2012, 2016)  
  • Two-time runner-up (2010, 2013)  
  • 2012 No. 1 qualifier  
2019 St. Louis Recap:
Qualified ninth; First round exit (defeated by J.R. Todd in E1)

Last Event (Gainesville):
Qualified ninth; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Paul Lee in E1; defeated by Matt Hagan in E2)
 
2020 Season Statistics:
Two event wins; 16 round wins; ranked No. 1 in points

Career Statistics:
331 races; 32 wins; 27 No. 1 qualifiers

Noteworthy:
  • Maintains his ranking atop the Funny Car leaderboard; has occupied the No. 1 spot during six of the first seven events
Quotable:
“We stumbled at Gainesville, and that was driver error. I let the car get too far out of the groove. We were pushing hard, we knew we had to. The car was probably going to run low E.T. of the meet and I just let it get out into the loose stuff too much, and that ended our day. That was a big round; we were up against the No. 2 car in points. But we dodged a bullet. We still left there in first place. We go to St. Louis where it should be radically different conditions. Everyone only gets two qualifying runs. If they gave us four, we’d figure out the tune-up. At two, it’s going to be a total crapshoot, and those bonus qualifying points are going to be increasingly important from here on out, and I can’t wait!”
 
 
RON CAPPS
Driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

 

St. Louis Event Highlights: 
  • Four-time event champion (1997, 2005, 2007, 2017)  
  • 2009 runner-up and No. 1 qualifier 
2019 St. Louis Recap:
Qualified fifth; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Blake Alexander in E1; defeated by Robert Hight in E2)

Last Event (Gainesville):
Qualified fourth; Event champion (defeated John Smith in E1, Alexis DeJoria in E2, Matt Hagan in E3, Tim Wilkerson in E4)

2020 Season Statistics:
Two event wins; 12 round wins; ranked fourth in points

Career Statistics:
562 races; 66 wins (one Top Fuel); 24 No. 1 qualifiers

Noteworthy:
  • Enters the event as the most recent Funny Car winner on tour after capturing the Gainesville trophy last weekend
  • Leads the Funny Car class in most wins (four) at World Wide Technology Raceway: 1997, 2005, 2007, 2017
  • Capps’ first Funny Car event win occurred at St Louis at the 1997 race 
Quotable:
“We’re coming off of such a great weekend in Gainesville, and now we’re headed to St. Louis where we’ll see such a contrast in the weather. We’ve seen that in the past at this track where we’ve gone there in September or October and had very cool conditions. In the past, we’ve always had a car that seems to excel when the conditions are difficult and hot, but after last year with some of the runs we made in prime conditions, setting track records and the speed that we ran, I feel very confident going into any type of conditions. That’s why I always brag about (crew chief) Rahn Tobler. We can go from one race where it’s hot and humid, to go into what we’ll see this weekend, and do well at both. World Wide Technology Raceway is a track where I’ve been lucky enough to win at numerous times. We’ve got to make up some more ground in the points, and that’s what we’re focused on this weekend.”
  


MATT HAGAN
Driver of the Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

 

St. Louis Event Highlights: 
  • Three-time runner-up (2012, 2014-2015)   
  • Two-time No. 1 qualifier (2013, 2015) 
2019 St. Louis Recap:
Qualified second; First round exit (defeated by Jim Campbell in E1)

Last Event (Gainesville):
Qualified No. 1; Semifinal finish (Bye in E1, defeated Jack Beckman in E2; defeated by Ron Capps in E3)

2020 Season Statistics:
Two event wins; 15 round wins; ranked second in points

Career Statistics:
271 races; 35 wins; 39 No. 1 qualifiers

Noteworthy:
  • Sits second in the Funny Car championship rankings, a mere four points behind top-ranked Jack Beckman
Quotable:
“I’ve never won at St. Louis, it’s one of the few places left where I haven’t been able to win a Wally to put up on the shelf, so I would really like to take care of business this weekend. We’ve got a great race car, we qualified No. 1 in Gainesville. St. Louis should have that ‘get after it’ kind of weather that Dickie Venables thrives in, where it’s pretty much ‘put your mouth piece in, your helmet on, and hang on.’ It’s going to be cool, it’s going to be tight, the rubber should be pretty good. Our entire set-up will pretty much change coming off of the heat in Florida, but overall, I’m super proud to be driving this Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat. It’s been extremely strong. We’ve narrowed the points gap from 35 to four last weekend, and we’ve really been getting after it every race. Point positions have been changing back and forth these last several races. Here we are, four points out of first with four races to go, and it should be a great weekend. We’re just going to keep moving forward, and focus on winning the championship.”
 
 
TOMMY JOHNSON JR.
Driver of the MD Anderson Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat 

 

St. Louis Event Highlights:
  • Two-time runner-up (2001, 2016)  
  • 1999 No. 1 qualifier 
2019 St. Louis Recap:
Qualified seventh; First round exit (defeated by Shawn Langdon in E1)

Last Event (Gainesville):
Qualified tenth; Quarterfinal finish (defeated J.R. Todd in E1; defeated by Tim Wilkerson in E2)

2020 Season Statistics:
One event win; 12 round wins; ranked third in points

Career Statistics:
477 races; 20 wins (two Top Fuel); 21 No. 1 qualifiers (one Top Fuel)

Noteworthy:
  • Secured his first Funny Car No. 1 qualifier at St. Louis in 1999  
  • Johnson's father captured his sole national event win at St. Louis in 1976 while competing in the Modified Eliminator category
Quotable:
“Heading into St. Louis, this is the first time we’ve raced back-to-back weekends in a long time. I think the momentum will help our team, there’s no time to get rusty. We’re going to have totally different conditions in St. Louis from what we experienced last weekend with the hot and humid Florida weather. We are expecting to see some very cool conditions, so the performance should be a lot better for all of the teams, and it should be a really good show for the fans.
 
“As far as points go, we didn’t hurt ourselves last weekend, but we didn’t help ourselves either, so we need to have a good weekend in St. Louis. I’ve been to the final there a few times, but have yet to win it. My dad won that race in 1976, and I’d love nothing more than to put my trophy alongside his.” 


Factory Stock Showdown Series:


MARK PAWUK
Driver of the Empaco Equipment Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak


 

St. Louis Event Highlights:
  • 2018 No. 1 qualifier 
2019 St. Louis Recap:
Qualified second; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Scott Libersher in E1; defeated by Jesse Alexandra in E2)

Last Event (Gainesville):
Qualified tenth; Quarterfinal finish (defeated David Kramer in E1; defeated by Stephen Bell in E2)

FSS Career Statistics:
16 races; three runner-ups; two No. 1 qualifiers

Quotable:
“After some struggles in Gainesville due to the high heat and humidity, I’m really looking forward to our Empaco Equipment/Ohio CAT/Mr. Heater Dodge Drag Pak rebound at St. Louis. We should see some cooler conditions this weekend.
 
“Looking back to St. Louis 2018 when I set the record for being the fastest Factory Stock car, and I would love to repeat that. We were able to get a round win in Gainesville. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get out of second round, but overall it was still a good weekend. We look forward to qualifying better in St. Louis and hopefully we can continue the momentum and go a few rounds this weekend. Both Leah (Pruett) and I are working hard to get our Dodges back in the winner’s circle.”

 

LEAH PRUETT
Driver of the Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak


 

St. Louis Event Highlights:
  • 2018 event champion 
2019 St. Louis Recap:
Qualified seventh; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Ryan Priddy in E1; defeated by Arthur Kohn in E2)

Last Event (Gainesville):
Qualified 12th; First round exit (defeated by Arthur Kohn in E1)

FSS Career Statistics:
20 races; three wins; one runner-up; two No. 1 qualifiers

Noteworthy:
  • Recorded the first official seven-second FS/XX pass at the 2018 event (7.936) 
Quotable:
“My Factory Stock teammate, Mark Pawuk, has been doing a phenomenal job pulling the weight of our Mopar team, and this week, crew chief Kevin Helms and Terry Snyder have made some substantial changes to El Bandito that will elevate us to match our competition. This is the last season for El Bandito in this series, and he is still fighting hard, and we are doing everything we can to maximize his potential before we transition to the 2021 Drag Pak next season. The evolution of this class, the Drag Pak, and our motor program is something I am excited about, and I am looking forward to a very strong back-half of the 2020 Factory Stock season.”

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