DSR Topeka Post-Race Report

Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals
presented by Minties

Event 10 of 24 (Topeka)
Heartland Motorsports Park
Topeka, Kan.
June 7-9, 2019

DSR Topeka Elimination Highlights:

  • Funny Car driver Jack Beckman advanced to the final round to lead DSR at the NHRA Heartland Nationals in Topeka, Kansas
  • Beckman’s final round appearance was his second of the season, and fourth consecutive for a DSR Funny Car driver
  • Tommy Johnson Jr. maintains his No. 2 ranking in the Funny Car championship point standings
  • Antron Brown powered to the Top Fuel semifinal round for the third consecutive event

Driver Information:

Top Fuel:
Driver of the Matco Tools Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 4 (3.798 E.T. at 292.33 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.740 E.T. at 329.58 MPH defeated Scott Palmer 3.825 E.T. at 324.20 MPH
E2: 3.743 E.T. at 327.98 MPH defeated Doug Kalitta 3.773 E.T. at 326.16 MPH
E3: 5.603 E.T. at 128.22 MPH defeated by Steve Torrence 3.750 E.T. at 328.94 MPH

Race Recap:
Antron Brown started race day seeded fourth and faced Scott Palmer as he began his campaign for a second Heartland Motorsports Park Top Fuel victory. Brown was first on the throttle and navigated the Matco Tools Toyota to its best run of the weekend (3.740 seconds) to outpace Palmer’s 3.825 E.T.
In the quarterfinals, he lined up opposite fellow Top Fuel heavy-hitter, Doug Kalitta. Once again, Brown had the starting line advantage and never trailed, posting another 3.74-second pass to take the win over Kalitta and set up a semifinal match versus Steve Torrence.
Brown and Torrence were nearly even leaving the starting line, but the Matco machine was up in smoke early, and for the third consecutive event, Torrence was successful in thwarting Brown’s efforts to claim his first Top Fuel Wally trophy of the year. Brown’s semifinal appearance, his third in three races, helped to propel him up to fourth in the Top Fuel standings.

"We're definitely making gains, but we've been so close. We're learning as we're going, though. Our Matco Tools Toyota dragster is running really, really good. I'm starting to get back on my game on the starting line, too. The more laps you get, the better you get. With that said, we just need to back it off a little more. We're looking good going into Bristol. We just need to keep doing what we're doing, and maybe we can pop a win off there. I thought this was going to be the race where we got a win, but really I thought that over each of the last three races. We are really close to it. We'll get after it and see what we can do in Bristol. You want to be in the top three when the Countdown starts. It really doesn't matter how many points you have, but it's nice to get those race wins. We definitely want to get to the winner's circle, but our main focus is just to keep going rounds, and it will pay off in the end.  The goal is to be right and tight for when the Countdown starts after Indy, where we have to put together six great races together, and I think we're on the right track to do that."

Driver of the Shell ROTELLA Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 10 (3.883 E.T. at 318.47 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.779 E.T. at 327.98 MPH defeated by Doug Kalitta 3.737 E.T. at 331.69 MPH

Race Recap:
Leah Pritchett was looking to make a deep run aboard the Shell ROTELLA Top Fuel dragster Sunday after qualifying 10th. She drew Doug Kalitta in the first round and despite posting a pass of 3.779 seconds, her best run of the weekend, she couldn't keep up with Kalitta who led from start to finish.

"We were definitely looking forward to the different conditions that we had today compared to what we had Friday and Saturday. This team is known for making very fast passes and things coming together. Unfortunately, today is a result of qualifying. We know that if we would have qualified better, we wouldn't have matched up in the first round with a final round-type of competitor in Doug Kalitta. We were smart about our approach to today's race and gave it all we had. We were just on the losing end of a really good drag race today. If there was ever more fuel to add to the drive for this team to have, this definitely adds to it. In the moments after, we are already thinking about how we can be better for next week. It's disappointing we couldn't make Sunday a long day, but thankful to get that message out about Shell ROTELLA Gas Truck and be able to race this race. There is a reason the season is 24 races. We learned a lot today, and we will use that moving forward."

Funny Car:
Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 10 (4.018 E.T. at 319.14 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.912 E.T. at 326.24 MPH defeated Matt Hagan 3.925 E.T. at 326.40 MPH
E2: 3.940 E.T. at 325.45 MPH defeated Tim Wilkerson 3.956 E.T. at 320.58 MPH
E3: 3.970 E.T. at 326.56 MPH defeated John Force 4.001 E.T. at 323.74 MPH
E4: 3.969 E.T. at 323.97 MPH defeated by Robert Hight 3.895 E.T. at 330.88 MPH

Race Recap:
Jack Beckman advanced to the final round to lead DSR at the NHRA Heartland Nationals in Topeka, Kansas. Beckman’s run through the Funny Car field on Sunday allowed him to collect 60 points and narrow the margin between him and his fellow 2019 Funny Car championship hopefuls. 

After qualifying 10th for the 31st annual Heartland Motorsports Park event, Beckman faced teammate Matt Hagan in round one. The stablemates were nearly even leaving the starting line, and both powered to their quickest passes of the weekend, but it was Beckman that posted the win with his 3.912 E.T. versus Hagan’s 3.925. 

In round two, the two-time Topeka event champion piloted the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat to another great run – a 3.940 to defeat opponent Tim Wilkerson’s 3.956-second pass and earn Beckman a bid to the semifinals. Against the winningest Funny Car driver in NHRA history, Beckman blasted down the track in 3.970 seconds, outgunning John Force’s losing 4.001-second effort. 

For the second week in a row, the final round saw a DSR Dodge pitted against current Funny Car point leader Robert Hight. It was the second time Beckman and Hight had faced off in the final round this season, with Hight emerging the victor during the season-opener in Pomona, California. Beckman dug deep to try and even the score, ripping off a .029-second reaction time, but his lead did not last long. Hight pulled ahead almost immediately and held on for the win, ending Beckman’s chances at his first Funny Car triumph of the season. 

“This is the nice thing about having back-to-back races. After me fumbling in the semis at Chicago, we had the chance to redeem ourselves this weekend. We did not look good in qualifying, but lately, that’s kind of been our M.O. It doesn’t matter how well we run Friday and Saturday, (co-crew chiefs Dean) Guido (Antonelli) and John (Medlen) just seem to find a way on Sunday. We kept plugging away at it, and nobody likes to lose in the final round, but I see our stock on the uptick right now, and I can’t wait for next week in Bristol and then the week after that in Norwalk. I think we finally have a car that can contend for the championship.”

Driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 5 (3.952 E.T. at 317.19 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.974 E.T. at 317.57 MPH defeated Jim Campbell 4.165 E.T. at 274.94 MPH
E2: 3.941 E.T. at 320.13 MPH defeated by Tommy Johnson Jr. 3.941 E.T. at 320.66 MPH

Race Recap:
Back behind the wheel of the signature blue-and-gold NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge, Ron Capps unloaded with an impressive 4.006-second pass right out of the gate to earn two bonus points during the first qualifying session of the weekend. Capps and the Rahn Tobler-guided team followed that up with two more solid passes to secure their third consecutive top-half qualifying position.
Against his first-round opponent, Capps rocketed the 11,000 horsepower NAPA Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat straight down the Heartland Motorsports Park track in 3.974 seconds to take the round win and extend his record to a perfect 8-0 against Jim Campbell.
Round two featured an intramural teammate battle with Capps squaring off against Tommy Johnson Jr. Both of the veteran drivers launched their MOPAR-powered machines to the finish line in 3.941 seconds, but Johnson’s slight starting line advantage gave him the extra edge to capture the holeshot win.
Ron Capps and the NAPA AUTO PARTS Funny Car team won’t have to wait long to have another shot at picking up their third Wally trophy of the year. They’ll be back on the track this Friday to begin qualifying for the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol, Tenn. where Capps returns as the defending event champion and winningest Funny Car driver in Bristol Dragway history.

“We qualified well, ran well, we just got beat by another car that’s running really, really well. I always say every time we race Tommy Johnson, I’m racing (Make-A-Wish crew chief) John Collins and Rahn Tobler because I feel like we’re running our own car over there. That’s a huge compliment to both crew chiefs. When Don Schumacher put me together with Rahn Tobler in 2012, John Collins was Rahn’s assistant, and while we were happy for him to have the opportunity to be a crew chief, we knew he’d be very, very competitive running a car. So, it’s fun to race them.
“It’s a bummer to have not collected more points in Topeka, but everyone is so bunched up in the Funny Car point standings right now. The good thing is, we go right to Bristol. We only have a few days off, and when you have a car that’s running as good as our NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, you love back-to-back weekends.”

Driver of the Shelor Motor Mile Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 7 (3.987 E.T. at 319.60 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.925 E.T. at 326.40 MPH defeated by Jack Beckman 3.912 E.T. at 326.24 MPH

Race Recap:
Driving the Shelor Motor Mile Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, Matt Hagan secured a top-half qualifying position for his 250th Funny Car event and drew teammate Jack Beckman in round one. Both Funny Car champions were nearly even launching off the line, and despite making his best pass of the weekend (3.925 seconds), Hagan was not able to outrun Beckman, who clocked a 3.912 E.T. for the win.

“Short race day, unfortunately. We had a really good race car, and it was running really well. I think it did everything (crew chief) Dickie Venables wanted it to do out there. It was just tough; we were going up against a really strong car. Not to take away from anybody else, but it makes it tough when you have to line up against a teammate first round.”

Driver of the Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 4 (3.948 E.T. at 316.60 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.918 E.T. at 317.05 MPH defeated Terry Haddock 4.174 E.T. at 286.68
E2: 3.941 E.T. at 320.66 MPH defeated Ron Capps 3.941 E.T. at 320.13 MPH
E3: 13.237 E.T. at 75.91 MPH defeated by Robert Hight 3.900 E.T. at 330.63 MPH

Race Recap:
Arguably the hottest driver in the Funny Car class coming into the weekend was last week’s Chicago winner Tommy Johnson Jr. After reaching the semifinals in Atlanta and Richmond behind the wheel of the Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, Johnson sealed the deal last Sunday in the Route 66 Nationals. He was looking to make it back-to-back wins this Sunday after qualifying fourth, and underscored that statement with his best run of the weekend, a 3.914 E.T., in his round one victory over Terry Haddock.

Against Ron Capps in the quarterfinals, Johnson got the starting line advantage with his .039-second reaction time and took the holeshot victory after making identical 3.941-second runs. In the semifinal, Johnson faced point leader Robert Hight and his chance to defeat Hight in consecutive events ended quickly when he left -0.102 early and turned on the red light before going up in smoke at the starting line. Johnson continues to rank second in the championship standings.

“This was another weekend where we had a really good car. Big picture-wise we made it to another semifinal and leave here sitting second in points. I hate it that I made a mistake there at the starting line. I was just pushing. We knew Robert (Hight) was running well, and we had to push hard. I pushed just a little too much. The bottom line is the Make-A-Wish Dodge SRT Charger Hellcat is a really good car right now and we’ll head to Bristol and hopefully go to another final round.” 

NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship Standings:

Top Fuel
1. Steve Torrence - 949
2. Doug Kalitta - 628
3. Brittany Force- 625
4. Antron Brown - 619
5. Mike Salinas - 573
6. Clay Millican - 557
7. Leah Pritchett - 529
8. Richie Crampton - 467
9. Austin Prock - 452
10. Billy Torrence - 440

Funny Car
1. Robert Hight - 933
2. Tommy Johnson Jr - 725
3. John Force - 681
4. Ron Capps - 666
5. J.R. Todd - 656
6. Jack Beckman - 645
7. Matt Hagan - 592
8. Tim Wilkerson - 556
9. Shawn Langdon - 468
10. Bob Tasca III - 455

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