Dodge NHRA Nationals Presented by Pennzoil
Event 23 of 24 (Las Vegas II)
Countdown Event 5 of 6
The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
November 1-3, 2019
DSR Las Vegas II Saturday Highlights:
- Leah Pritchett (Top Fuel) and Jack Beckman (Funny Car) reset The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway track E.T. records in their respective categories to capture the nitro poles
- Pritchett’s No. 1 qualifier is the 12th of her career, and first of the season
- No. 2 ranked Beckman earned his third pole of the season, fourth at Vegas, and 27th of his career
- Tommy Johnson Jr. was second-quickest in three out of four sessions to secure the No. 2 qualifying position to start race day
DSR Paces the Field at Vegas; Pritchett and Beckman No. 1
LAS VEGAS (November 2, 2019) – Don Schumacher Racing swept the No. 1 qualifying positions in Top Fuel and Funny Car at this weekend’s penultimate event of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series’ Countdown to the Championship. Leah Pritchett (Top Fuel) and Jack Beckman (Funny Car) each drove their MOPAR-powered Dodge machines to the top spot for Sunday’s elimination rounds of the 19th annual Dodge NHRA Nationals Presented by Pennzoil at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Pritchett entered the weekend knowing that in order to remain in championship contention, she had to make a big move. The first step came Saturday afternoon as she drove the MOPAR Dodge Top Fuel Dragster quicker than any other driver on the property. She laid down a track record-setting pass of 3.654 seconds to claim her first No. 1 qualifying position of the season and 12th of her career. She will take on Cameron Ferre in the opening round with an opportunity to continue her team’s championship aspirations.
“That Q4 run was a phenomenal pass, and it started out with the attitude and plan that we had coming into the weekend, and that was about execution,” said Pritchett, who started the race weekend sitting fifth in the Top Fuel rankings. “I knew when I hit 330-feet that we were going to be on a run. We were trying to be the quickest of every round, and we made three consistent runs out of four. We knew what this car was capable of, and we put everything on the line to get those bonus points.
“To be No. 1 at the Dodge NHRA Nationals Presented by Pennzoil is phenomenal,” added Pritchett. “We have all of the support here. Our pit is full; we have all of the energy; it’s our first No. 1 of the season, and we just hope to carry this momentum into tomorrow.”
Beckman opened the Countdown with a victory at the MOPAR Express Lane NHRA Nationals in Reading, Penn., and will look to continue to better his chances at winning a second Funny Car world championship when he starts race day in Vegas from the top of the field. Beckman grabbed his third No. 1 qualifier position of 2019 behind the wheel of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat by making the quickest Funny Car lap at ‘The Strip’ with his Q4 run of 3.835 seconds. He set the new track record for speed at 335.90 mph during Friday night’s second session.
“I just want the trophy, and that will make it a perfect weekend,” said No. 2-ranked Beckman, DSR’s highest-positioned championship contender. “(John) Force’s 3.85 in Q3 was an eye-opener for everyone. No one thought you could run that quick, but the clocks didn’t lie because he ran that quick. So, we knew Q4 was going to be a little better, and obviously (co-crew chiefs Dean) ‘Guido’ (Antonelli) and (John) Medlen made perfect calls.
“In Q3, Force took three points for running quick E.T.,” added Beckman, who entered the weekend 70 points behind Robert Hight, the No. 1 ranked flopper pilot, and four points ahead of Force. “If we didn’t get points in Q4, Force would have passed us in the Funny Car standings. Those bonus points are enormous because they represent a round. If someone is one point behind you or 19 points behind you, it takes them a round to move around you. So, getting those points was probably the biggest deal for us as far as protecting our position. There are a ton of hungry competitors behind us, and Robert Hight has been great. He hasn’t stumbled much, but until we face him, all we can control is our own destiny.”
The 2012 Funny Car champion has been the top qualifier in three of the previous six events, and in the first two, Indianapolis and Charlotte II, he reached the final round. Beckman will face Terry Haddock in the first round on Sunday.