DSR Topeka Post-Race Recap

Menards NHRA Nationals 
Presented by PetArmor
Event No. 11 of 20
Heartland Motorsports Park
Topeka, Kan.
Aug. 13 - 15, 2021

DSR Elimination Highlights:

  • Leah Pruett took her Dodge Challenger Mopar Drag Pak to its second consecutive final round appearance, and has advanced to third in the Factory Stock Showdown Series point standings
  • Ron Capps and Antron Brown clinched berths into the 2021 Countdown to the Championship playoffs during qualifying at Heartland Motorsports Park, and made it official by signing and adding their names to the leaderboard on Sunday morning
  • Capps advanced to the quarterfinals and departs Topeka ranked second in the Funny Car standings; Brown occupies the No. 3 spot in the Top Fuel rankings
  • All DSR Camping World Series competitors are currently ranked in the ‘top five’ heading into the next event in Brainerd, Minn.
    • Pruett sits fourth in the Top Fuel rankings, and reigning Funny Car world champion Matt Hagan, who clocked low E.T. of race day, is tied for fifth

Driver Information:

Top Fuel:
Driver of the Matco Tools Toyota Top Fuel Dragster

Qualified: No. 8 (3.808 E.T. at 322.34 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 4.914 E.T. at 155.788 MPH defeated by Shawn Langdon 3.900 E.T. at 307.16 MPH

Race Recap:
Antron Brown officially clinched a Countdown to the Championship playoff berth during qualifying for the Menards NHRA Nationals presented by PetArmor where he powered to the second-best pass of Q2. By clinching, the 2021 Countdown will mark Brown’s 13th consecutive playoff appearance in Top Fuel, and ensures he will finish ranked in the Top 10 for the 24th year in a row. Brown has been a Top Fuel Countdown contender every year since transitioning into the category in 2008.
Brown, who departs Topeka ranked third, qualified eighth and drew Shawn Langdon as his round one opponent on race day. Against Langdon, Brown was up in smoke early. Langdon also encountered issues in the opposite lane but was further down track when he got out of shape and was able to win the coasting match.

“That was definitely not the race day we wanted here in Topeka. We certainly wanted to come out and do much better. We thought we had a Matco Tools car that could win this race. We ran really well yesterday in the heat, but we just pushed too hard. That being said, we learned a lot this weekend. The good news is Brainerd (Minn.) is next weekend so we have another race to redeem ourselves. We’ll keep our heads down and get after it at B.I.R. The Countdown is around the corner and we’ll come out swinging next weekend.”

Driver of the Cookie and Candy Pop Top Fuel Dragster

Qualified: No. 11 (3.897 E.T. at 314.31 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.776 E.T. at 319.75 MPH defeated by Steve Torrence 3.736 E.T. at 325.61 MPH

Race Recap:
Fresh off of two consecutive final round appearances which included a win at the most recent event in Pomona, Calif., Leah Pruett entered Heartland Motorsports Park looking to keep her positive momentum rolling. After struggling during the Q1 ‘field setting’ session, Pruett and the Cookie and Candy Pop team found themselves in the No. 11 qualifying position and facing a tough round-one competitor in Steve Torrence. Against the point leader, Pruett was first on the throttle and made a respectable 3.776-second pass but found herself on the bad side of a good drag race when Torrence clocked a 3.736 E.T., ending Pruett’s chances at going two-for-two with Wally trophies.

“Man, what a drag race that was. Not the result we wanted with this Candy and Cookie Pop car. We really felt like we had a race car to go rounds today, and we did. We would’ve beaten many other cars if you look at the ladder, except for Steve Torrence. There’s a reason that team is leading the points and he is a three-time champion. We overcame our challenges in qualifying and this isn’t going to get us down. We ran a great .77 and the team did their job. We left first and made a clean lap. It’s a great, friendly rivalry, but we were on the wrong end of that drag race. Brainerd (Minn.) is just around the corner and we found that we were down on power a little bit this week. We just need to give it a little more going into Brainerd next weekend, and we’ll put all the nitro to it.”

Funny Car:
Driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 9 (3.968 E.T. at 324.36 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.955 E.T. at 325.92 MPH defeated Chad Green (No Time; did not make a full run)
E2: 3.994 E.T. at 317.49 MPH defeated by J.R. Todd 3.996 E.T. at 318.99 MPH

Race Recap:
By qualifying for the Menards NHRA Nationals at Heartland Motorsports Park, NAPA AUTO PARTS Funny Car pilot Ron Capps became the first Funny Car driver to officially clinch a spot in the 2021 Countdown to the Championship playoffs. He is on track to finish in the Top 10 for the 17th consecutive season, and has earned the opportunity to compete in the Countdown for the 14th time. Capps has been a Countdown contender every year since the format was introduced in 2007.
Capps was third-quickest during Q3 in Topeka, but found himself in unfamiliar territory on Sunday morning, starting from the bottom half of the field for the first time in 2021 after struggling to get down the track and take advantage of Friday night’s prime Q1 conditions.
Starting race day from the ninth seed, Capps faced Chad Green in round one. He took the NAPA Dodge to the finish line in 3.955 seconds, posting his best pass of the weekend for the win, while his opponent had immediate issues in the adjacent lane. During his fifth consecutive quarterfinal outing, Capps faced fellow world champ, J.R. Todd. Against Todd, Capps clocked another solid E.T. (3.994 seconds), but Todd’s slight starting line advantage coupled with a 3.996-second pass allowed him to capture the holeshot victory, ending Capps’ day early.

“You wait until all the hurt goes away, and my team and the whole DSR organization, we put so much into what we do and winning races. It’s tough to lose those close ones. As good as our car and this NAPA team is, that’s tough to go up there with a .76 light and run a great lap and lose, but we’re going to see a lot of that going into the playoffs with teams as good as J.R.’s (Todd). Like I always brag about with ‘Guido’ (Dean Antonelli) and John Medlen, and their NAPA Know How, again we went down the race track at a very good pace. When you do as well as we have this season and rank high in the standings, it puts a bullseye on your back because the teams know they have to show up and perform and give it their best, and we’ll continue to see more of that as this season continues. It hurts a little bit right now, but it didn’t hurt us too badly in the Camping World points. We’re going to another great track at Brainerd that will have great conditions with great people and a great bunch from NAPA, and it’s one we enjoy so much. It’s nice to have a back-to-back race before we get to Indy and the U.S. Nationals, and then the Countdown.”

Driver of the DSR Performance Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye

Qualified: No. 4 (3.911 E.T. at 325.14 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.920 E.T. at 323.89 MPH defeated Jack Wyatt 4.263 E.T. at 243.28 MPH
E2: 4.193 E.T. at 276.13 MPH defeated by Blake Alexander 4.126 E.T. at 252.95 MPH

Race Recap:
Reigning Funny Car world champion Matt Hagan secured the No. 4 seed to start race day after recording the best run of Q3, and third-quickest run of Q2 to earn four bonus points overall. Hagan squared off against Jack Wyatt in round one of eliminations where he nabbed the starting line advantage and clocked low E.T. of race day (3.920 seconds) to earn lane choice over his round two opponent, Blake Alexander. In the quarterfinals, Hagan was first out of the gate once again. He held the lead until halftrack when his machine started dropping cylinders and losing traction, and his opponent was able to pull ahead for the win.  

“It’s the middle of the summer, it’s hot and tricky out here and the race tracks are changing. We had a really good qualifying session and had a great E1 run, and we had a lot of confidence, but it gets hotter and hotter out there and the track is more marginal when you try to apply all that power that we make with these DSR Performance parts and this Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye. It bit us today, but we’re back in less than a week at Brainerd (Minn.) with the Mopar colors and we’ll put on a show and get back to winning rounds.”

NHRA Camping World Countdown to the Championship Standings (unofficial):

Top Fuel

1 Steve Torrence   1090
2 Brittany Force   748
3 Antron Brown   736
4 Leah Pruett   611
5 Shawn Langdon   587
6 Mike Salinas   571
7 Justin Ashley   523
8 Billy Torrence   510
9 Clay Millican   482
10 Doug Kalitta   471

Funny Car
1 John Force   816
2 Ron Capps   787
3 J.R. Todd   778
4 Bob Tasca III   766
5 Matt Hagan   748
5 Robert Hight   748
7 Alexis DeJoria   691
8 Cruz Pedregon   610
9 Tim Wilkerson   584
10 Blake Alexander   417

Factory Stock Showdown Series:
Driver of the Empaco Equipment Dodge Challenger Mopar Drag Pak
Qualified: No. 13 (8.102 E.T. at 173.07 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 8.020 E.T. at 172.78 MPH defeated by Aaron Stanfield 7.974 E.T. at 171.34 MPH

Race Recap:
Mark Pawuk was hoping for a proper sendoff for his 2015 Empaco Equipment Dodge Challenger Mopar Drag Pak before moving into the 2021 edition at the next Factory Stock Showdown event in Indianapolis. After qualifying 13th out of a stacked 18-car field, Pawuk drew point leader and defending series champion Aaron Stanfield in round one. Pawuk made a good 8.020-second pass, clocking his best run of the weekend, but was outpaced by Stanfield’s 7.974 E.T., ending Pawuk’s day early.

“Certainly not the weekend we were hoping for here at Topeka (Kan.) with this Empaco Equipment Mopar Drag Pak. Unfortunately, we didn’t qualify as well as we’d hoped, and we got stuck running Aaron Stanfield again and it seems like we get him at every race. He’s about 40 years younger than me and a very tough competitor doing very well in two classes, Factory Stock and Pro Stock. We’re going to keep working on this Dodge Challenger. We did make some headway last night and this morning, and we’re really looking forward to bringing our new 2021 Drag Pak out at Indy in a few weeks. It’s going to be busy, testing and getting ready for the U.S. Nationals.”

Driver of the Dodge Challenger Mopar Drag Pak
Qualified: No. 10 (8.011 E.T. at 175.64 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 8.986 E.T. at 113.00 MPH defeated Doug Hamp (Foul; red light)
E2: 7.987 E.T. at 174.35 MPH defeated Daniel Condon 7.993 E.T. at 172.85 MPH
E3: 7.929 E.T. at 174.77 MPH defeated David Barton 7.883 E.T. at 175.66 MPH
E4: 8.808 E.T. at 169.76 MPH defeated by John Cerbone 7.912 E.T. at 174.32 MPH

Race Recap:
Leah Pruett powered her 2021 Dodge Challenger Mopar Drag Pak to another runner-up finish in her second consecutive final round battle in the Constant Aviation Factory Stock Showdown series.
Pruett qualified 10th to start race day, setting up a round one meeting with Doug Hamp whose red light start enabled the 2018 Factory Stock Showdown Series champion to secure a bid in the quarterfinals. Her opponent, Daniel Condon, took the early lead, but Pruett chased him down in the lights for a nail-biter of a side-by-side victory. In the semifinals, Pruett was uber-fast on the tree, ripping off an .011 reaction time and a 7.929 second run to earn a solid holeshot win over No. 3 seed David Barton’s 7.883 E.T.
The final showdown pitted her against No. 1 qualifier John Cerbone, but this time, even after posting another quick reaction time, an immediate loss of traction derailed her run and gave her opponent the lead and eventual win. Pruett leaves Topeka ranked third in the Factory Stock championship rankings.

“What an outstanding performance by this Dodge Factory Stock Drag Pak team all day long here at Topeka, adapting to challenging track conditions, being aggressive as the day got longer and hotter, and working on our performance window of this Mopar Drag Pak. I’m so proud of Kevin (Helms), A.J. (Berge), Mark Pawuk and this entire team here at DSR for sticking together. For me, it’s the fourth final in two different classes in the last four races, and two straight Factory Stock finals. We’re building momentum and we have plans to test and get better before the Indy U.S. Nationals. We’re back in the hunt and No. 3 in the points, and it’s very reminiscent of our 2018 season where we came on strong in the last half of the season and that was by no accident then or now. There’s been a lot of hard work by this DSR team and crew. I’ve had a smile on my face all day. I’m having a lot of fun driving this Drag Pak and we’re so looking forward to Indy.”

NHRA Constant Aviation Factory Stock Showdown Series Championship Standings (unofficial):
1 Aaron Stanfield   420
2 David Barton   359
3 Leah Pruett   280
4 John Cerbone   270
5 Stephen Bell   255
6 David Janac   243
7 Jesse Alexandra   236
8 Doug Hamp   200
9 Arthur Kohn   200
10 Mark Pawuk   197

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