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DSR Vegas 2 Pre-Race Report

 

Dodge//SRT NHRA Nationals
Presented by Pennzoil

Event 19 of 20
Countdown Event 6 of 7
The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Las Vegas, Nev.
October 29-31, 2021

Noteworthy:

  • Championship contenders Ron Capps and Matt Hagan sit 1-2 atop the Funny Car leaderboard and are separated by just one point. They are focused on maintaining their top-seeded rankings while jostling for the points lead as each battles to deliver a 19th world championship for Don Schumacher Racing 
  • Capps is a five-time Vegas champion, and finished as the runner-up to Hagan at the Dodge//SRT NHRA Nationals Presented by Pennzoil in 2020
  • Reigning world champion Hagan has three Vegas victories and will be defending his back-to-back wins in 2019 and 2020 at the facility this weekend
    • Hagan has visited the Dodge//SRT NHRA Nationals final round for the last four consecutive years, finishing as the runner-up only in 2018
    • Hagan was crowned the Funny Car series champion for the third time in his career during the October 2020 event
  • Antron Brown is the defending Top Fuel event champion, having powered to victory during the 2020 October Vegas race. Brown will be looking for his second consecutive Fall Vegas event triumph as he campaigns the pink Matco Tools ‘Tools for the Cause’ Top Fuel dragster benefitting the Breast Cancer Research Foundation for the final time in 2021
  • Top Fuel star Leah Pruett is aiming to continue her streak of finishing the season within the top-five for the fifth consecutive year, and enters the second-to-last race of the season ranked sixth in the standings
  • The final Constant Aviation Factory Stock Showdown event of 2021 will be contested this weekend at the Dodge//SRT NHRA Nationals Presented by Pennzoil with Pruett, Mark Pawuk and David Davies each chasing a win to close out their season
  • Pruett is doubling down this weekend in Vegas, hoping to accomplish driving both her Top Fuel dragster and her Mopar Drag Pak to wins in the same weekend

 

 

DSR Driver Information:

Top Fuel:

 
ANTRON BROWN
Driver of the Matco Tools 'Tools for the Cause' Toyota Top Fuel Dragster

Countdown to the Championship standing: 8th

Las Vegas 2 Event Highlights: 
  • Two-time event champion (2013, 2020)  
  • 2001 runner-up (Pro Stock Motorcycle)   
  • 2015 No. 1 qualifier 


2020 Las Vegas 2 Recap:
Qualified fourth; Event champion (defeated Tony Schumacher in E1, Clay Millican in E2, Billy Torrence in E3, Steve Torrence in E4)

Last Event (Bristol):
Qualified 13th; First round exit (defeated by Mike Salinas in E1)

Career Statistics:
459 races; 68 wins (16 Pro Stock Motorcycle); 49 No. 1 Qualifiers (11 PSM)

Noteworthy:

  • Brown is the defending Top Fuel event champion, having powered to victory during the 2020 October Vegas race.
  • With five LVMS victories, Brown leads the class among active Top Fuel drivers 
  • Campaigning the 2021 'Tools for the Cause' livery for the final time this weekend to benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF)
    • Throughout October, 15% of the purchase price of 'Tools for the Cause' merchandise will be donated directly to BCRF
    • Since 'Tools for the Cause' began in 2012, Matco has donated over one million dollars to breast cancer research
    • The Breast Cancer Research Foundation is a nonprofit organization committed to achieving prevention and a cure for breast cancer. They provide critical funding for cancer research worldwide to fuel advances in tumor biology, genetics, prevention, treatment, metastasis, and survivorship.   
    • NHRA fans can visit their Matco Tools distributor to purchase Tools for the Cause merchandise or visit www.matcotools.com/toolsforthecause 


Quotable:
“Looking forward to getting to Las Vegas. It’s the second-to-last race of the year, and it’s always a big event. The last time we were in Vegas in the Fall, we ended up with a win to close out our 2020 season. So, we’re looking to lean on what we did last year and push hard and see if we can put this Matco Tools ‘Tools for the Cause’ dragster in the winner’s circle. This is our last race fielding the pink Matco car in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, and we’d love nothing more than to close it out with a win.” 



LEAH PRUETT
Pruett's Vegas 2 Primary Partner will be Announced by Stellantis on Fri., Oct. 29

Countdown to the Championship standing: 6th

Las Vegas 2 Event Highlights:
  • 2018 event runner-up  
  • 2019 No. 1 qualifier 


2020 Las Vegas 2 Recap:
Qualified sixth; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Chris Karamesines in E1; defeated by Justin Ashley in E2)

Last Event (Bristol):
Qualified sixth; First round exit (defeated by Spencer Massey in E1)

Career Statistics:
170 races; nine wins; 12 No. 1 Qualifiers 

Noteworthy:

  • Aiming to continue her streak of finishing the season within the top-five for the fifth consecutive year, and enters the second-to-last race of the year ranked sixth in the standings
  • Pruett is doubling down this weekend in Vegas, hoping to accomplish driving both her Top Fuel dragster and her Mopar Drag Pak to wins in the same weekend


Quotable:
"My mindset going into this Dodge//SRT Nationals weekend is stronger than ever. My entire career has been about proving something, and this weekend is about proving that this Dodge//SRT team can be consistent and win races. All we can do is race to the best of our ability, and that mindset serves us well as we set our sights on getting a win at this Dodge-sponsored track. To play spoiler can seem like fun, but really, it’s because we are advancing and not because we're putting any particular opponent on the trailer. We want this win for us and for Dodge.” 



Funny Car:

RON CAPPS
Driver of the Pennzoil Synthetics/NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat


Countdown to the Championship standing: 1st

Las Vegas 2 Event Highlights: 
  • Four-time event champion (2001, 2005, 2011-2012)  
  • 2020 runner-up  
  • Two-time No. 1 qualifier (2011, 2020) 


2020 Las Vegas 2 Recap:
Qualified No. 1; Event runner-up (defeated Chris Morel in E1, J.R. Todd in E2, Tommy Johnson Jr. in E3; defeated by Matt Hagan in E4)

Last Event (Bristol):
Qualified second; Semifinal finish (defeated Blake Alexander in E1, Cruz Pedregon in E2; defeated by J.R. Todd in E3)

Career Statistics:
584 races; 68 wins (one Top Fuel); 29 No. 1 qualifiers 

Noteworthy:

  • Championship contenders Ron Capps and Matt Hagan sit 1-2 atop the Funny Car leaderboard and are separated by just one point. They are focused on maintaining their top-seeded rankings while jostling for the points lead as each battles to deliver a 19th world championship for Don Schumacher Racing 
  • Capps is a five-time Vegas champion, and finished as the runner-up to Hagan at the Dodge//SRT NHRA Nationals Presented by Pennzoil in 2020


Quotable:
“I believe this type of scenario is what NHRA envisioned when they came up with the Countdown to the Championship format. Obviously, we’ve talked all year about how 2021 has been one of the tightest Funny Car battles we’ve seen in a long time, and here we are, two races to go and we’ve got a pretty bunched-up field. Consistency has really been the key for our Pennzoil/NAPA AUTO PARTS team. Qualifying high in the field and earning qualifying bonus points has helped put us in the points lead going into the Dodge//SRT Nationals presented by Pennzoil, and we’d love nothing more than to be able to shine for Dodge and Pennzoil at their event. We’ve got a great battle going on with our teammate Matt Hagan, and the other Funny Cars are nipping at our heels. It definitely seems that this will be a pivotal race; it always seems that way when the points are tight, but our NAPA AutoCare team has given me a great car every weekend, and we’ve won some very big rounds in the Countdown, and I have a feeling there will be more of that this weekend in Vegas.” 



MATT HAGAN
Hagan's Vegas 2 Primary Partner will be Announced by Stellantis on Fri., Oct. 29

Countdown to the Championship standing: 2nd

Las Vegas 2 Event Highlights:
  • Three-time event champion (2017, 2019-2020)  
  • Two-time runner-up (2010, 2018) 




2020 Las Vegas 2 Recap:
Qualified second; Event champion (defeated Cruz Pedregon in E1, Paul Lee in E2, Alexis DeJoria in E3, Ron Capps in E4)

Last Event (Bristol):
Qualified third; First round exit (defeated by J.R. Todd in E1)

Career Statistics:
291 races; 39 wins; 43 No. 1 qualifiers 

Noteworthy:

  • Championship contenders Ron Capps and Matt Hagan sit 1-2 atop the Funny Car leaderboard and are separated by just one point. They are focused on maintaining their top-seeded rankings while jostling for the points lead as each battles to deliver a 19th world championship for Don Schumacher Racing 
  • Reigning world champion Hagan has three Vegas victories and will be defending his back-to-back wins in 2019 and 2020 at the facility this weekend
  • Hagan has visited the Dodge//SRT NHRA Nationals final round for the last four consecutive years, finishing as the runner-up only in 2018
  • Hagan was crowned the Funny Car series champion for the third time in his career during the October 2020 event


Quotable:
“I don't really approach this event any differently. I approach every round as if it's the most important round ever. I've done that all year long, but unfortunately, I can count six or seven races where we lost by just two or three-thousandths of a second. It's nothing that we haven't dealt with before. I think every championship that I've won has come down to the last race in the semifinals or finals. So why should this year be any different, right?”

“I feel like (crew chief) Dickie Venables is going to be aggressive moving into these next two races. We're going to run hard and let the cards fall where they may, but I'm excited about it. It's going to be fun. It's business as usual. We’re staying focused and will do the best job we can for our sponsors and our fans." 



Factory Stock Showdown Series:

DAVID DAVIES
Driver of the D H Davies Racing Dodge Challenger Mopar Drag Pak


2020 Las Vegas 2 Recap:
N/A

Last Event (St. Louis):
Qualified seventh; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Joseph Welch in E1; defeated by Mark Pawuk in E2)

FSS Career Statistics:
Four races (Norwalk, Topeka, Indianapolis, St. Louis 2021)

Quotable:
“Vegas marks the last Constant Aviation Factory Stock Showdown Series event of the season. We’ve had a full month off since St. louis, and I’m excited about heading into Vegas with the momentum we have behind us. Anytime in Vegas is a good time, especially at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. We’ve improved at every event this year, and the Vegas Nats will be no different. We’ve made some adjustments during our time off, and expect that trend to continue.
 
“This has been a testing year for us. We knew when we took delivery of the 2021 Drag Pak in April that it was going to take some work, and putting in the work has shown results. New car, new driver, new team; that’s been the season so far. Since joining DSR this year, the team and myself has had to acclimate to many changes, but all of those changes have put us where we are. We’ve pulled together as a team with a single vision – to improve, and win. I can’t thank the entire DSR organization enough – from the front office, to the shop, and on the track, for all of the help. The opportunity to work with the team at DSR has enabled me to gain experience and insight quicker than any other route that would have been available. Watching Mark (Pawuk), and how he works with (crew chiefs) A.J. Berge, Kevin Helms, and the rest of the crew in preparation for an event, and to be able to look over Leah (Pruett’s) shoulder, ask questions, and watch the effort she puts in during the race weekend with both teams is an experience that can’t be quantified. It’s a master’s class in what you need to do to succeed, and I consider myself fortunate to be in a position to learn and take advantage of the experience. I’m excited for Vegas, and with this being the last race of the season, there’s no reason to leave anything on the table.” 


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

2020 Las Vegas 2 Recap:
Qualified 15th; First round exit (defeated by Aaron Stanfield in E1)

Last Event (St. Louis):
Qualified second; Semifinal finish (defeated Lee Hartman in E1, David Davies in E2; defeated by Leonard Lottig in E3)

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

Noteworthy:
  • Pawuk's last national event win while competing in the Pro Stock category occured at the Fall Las Vegas race 10 years prior


Quotable:
“After our strong performance in St. Louis last month, qualifying second and advancing to the semifinals, I’m looking forward to finishing out the year at the Dodge//SRT Nationals in Las Vegas. We’ve made a lot of gains in the last month since we debuted our new 2021 Drag Pak, and hopefully we can continue that path for our Empaco Equipment, Ohio CAT, Mr. Heater Dodge Drag Pak team this weekend at the last race of the season.
 
“This year was kind of a disappointment after starting out so well in Gainesville. We struggled a bit throughout the middle of the season, and probably the biggest disappointment was not being able to qualify at my home race in Norwalk, Ohio, which meant the world to me. I’m looking forward to a strong rebound this weekend and into next year, and I’d love nothing more than to win Vegas this weekend. We’ll see how the cards lie, but my last national event win in Pro Stock was at the Fall Las Vegas race 10 years ago, so I’m going to work toward that goal of finishing out the season with a win. Our plan is to come out Friday, run strong, and be able to tune off of that the rest of the weekend. One goal we’ve set for ourselves the last couple of races is be conservative the first run and get data to get us down the race track and then we can tune from that, and that’s exactly what we did in St. Louis. The few races prior, we spun the tires in Q1 and we were behind the rest of the weekend, so I’m hoping we can continue to move the program forward. I’m excited about the direction our team is headed in, and I’m looking forward to visiting the winner’s circle very soon.
 
“I’d also like to acknowledge Dylan Cromwell with the Jim Head racing team, who lost his life in an accident over the weekend. It is such a tragedy, and it’s terrible to see something like that happen to a fellow racer. He and his family are in our thoughts and prayers.” 



LEAH PRUETT
Pruett's Vegas 2 Primary Partner will be Announced by Stellantis on Fri., Oct. 29

2020 Las Vegas 2 Recap:
Qualified third; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Kevin Skinner in E1; defeated by John Cerbone in E3)

Last Event (St. Louis):
Qualified fifth; First round exit (defeated by John Cerbone in E1)

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

Quotable:
"The Factory Stock Showdown finale feels like the ultimate homecoming for me because of how far Dodge and the Mopar Drag Pak program have come these past four years. Being a part of the program and its progression, then seeing the growing number of new Drag Pak entries and their own performance journey, has been truly enjoyable. To see a new generation of drivers choose Mopar Drag Paks as their weekend warrior or fierce piece of weaponry is outstanding. 
 
"An FSS Wally at the final race of the season; I couldn’t ask for much more, except maybe a double-up. It’s my last shot at it this year. That's what drives me this weekend and why I feel more determined than ever."

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