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Indianapolis Pre-Race Report

 
 

NHRA U.S. Nationals

Event 18 of 24 (Indianapolis) 
Lucas Oil Raceway
Indianapolis, Indiana
August 31-September 3, 2018

Noteworthy:

  • DSR celebrates a milestone 20th anniversary at the 2018 Indianapolis event 
  • The Indy race marks Antron Brown's 400th professional event  
  • Jack Beckman enters the race weekend as the most recent Funny Car winner on tour 
  • Brown is seeking his third consecutive final round appearance of 2018 
  • Ron Capps raced to the Indy Funny Car final in 2017 
  • Matt Hagan reset the track speed and Funny Car E.T. record en route to claiming the 2017 Funny Car pole  
  • Leah Pritchett and Mark Pawuk return to Factory Stock Showdown competition 
  • Tony Schumacher is the winningest NHRA driver in Indianapolis history having won the event an unprecedented 10 times
  • Schumacher leads the Top Fuel class in the number of final round appearances (12) at a single event, occurring at Indy
  • Brown has both Top Fuel and Pro Stock Motorcycle victories at Indianapolis 
  • Hagan made his NHRA Funny Car debut at the 2008 U.S. Nationals 
  • Team patriarch Don Schumacher raced his Funny Car to the Winners Circle at the 1970 event
  • Hometown event for DSR which is headquartered two miles away from the famed Indy dragstrip
  • Home track for Brown, Johnson, and Pritchett who all reside in the greater Indianapolis area

DSR-Owned Track Records:
Top Fuel, speed: 330.31-mph, Tony Schumacher (2016)
Funny Car, E.T.: 3.799 seconds, Matt Hagan (2017)
Funny Car, speed: 338.77-mph, Hagan (2017)

DSR Driver Information:
 
Top Fuel:

ANTRON BROWN
Driver of the Matco Tools Top Fuel Dragster

NHRA Indianapolis Event Highlights: 
  • Three-time event champion
    • Top Fuel (2011) 
    • Pro Stock Motorcycle (2000, 2004) 
  • Four-time No. 1 qualifier (2009, 2011, 2012, 2013) 
2017 Indianapolis Recap:
Qualified sixth; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Scott Palmer in E1; defeated by Steve Torrence in E2)
 
Last event (Brainerd):
Qualified third; Event runner-up (defeated Luigi Novelli in E1, Brittany Force in E2, Steve Torrence in E3; defeated by Billy Torrence in E4)

2018 Season Statistics:
21 round wins; ranked sixth in points
 
Career Statistics:
399 races; 66 wins (16 Pro Stock Motorcycle); 49 No. 1 qualifiers (11 PSM)

Noteworthy:
  • Will reach the 400th event milestone this weekend 
  • Seeking his third consecutive final round appearance of 2018 (Seattle, Brainerd) 
  • Owns both Top Fuel and Pro Stock Motorcycle victories at Indianapolis 
  • Hometown track (resides in nearby Pittsboro, Ind.) 

Quotable:
"What makes the U.S. Nationals so special to me is that I distinctly remember growing up how my dad and uncle would make trips to Indy. I never knew what this place was, and every year they were like ‘we’re going to Indy, we’re going to Indy.’ We lived in New Jersey. They would just make that trek west straight across the Pennsylvania turnpike and straight out 70 right here to Indy. They would come home with their Indianapolis and U.S. Nationals shirts. That right there was a memory that always stuck in my mind, and now to actually be a part of it is unbelievable. It’s the heritage and history. Just this race meaning so much worldwide, not just here in the U.S. Competitors come from around the world because they know if they win Indy, they’ll have won on the biggest stage in drag racing history." 


 
LEAH PRITCHETT
Driver of the Papa John's Pizza Top Fuel Dragster 
2017 Indianapolis Recap:
Qualified second; Semifinal finish (defeated Wayne Newby in E1, Pat Dakin in E2; defeated by Steve Torrence in E3)
 
Last event (Brainerd):
Qualified eighth; First round exit (defeated by Scott Palmer in E1)

2018 Season Statistics:
25 round wins; ranked fourth in points
 
Career Statistics:
111 races; seven wins; ten No. 1 qualifiers

Noteworthy:
  • Will pull double-duty, competing in both Top Fuel and the Factory Stock Showdown Series
  • Hometown track (resides in nearby Avon, Ind.) 

Quotable:
"Winning Denver was the pinnacle for me and my team. It would have to be the perfect storm for anything to top that win, but the U.S. Nationals certainly provides us with that backdrop. You look at what we did out there. Let’s say we go out here this weekend and we're No. 1 qualifier, low E.T. in every single round and I won a couple rounds on holeshots in really close races and without hurting parts. That would be like the perfect weekend, especially being able to do it on the biggest stage. I’m going to be honest, Denver was incredible on so many levels. To go back and seal the deal at a place where I raced a national event as a child, that was a really emotional win. Ironically, the only other national event I raced as a child was here in Indy, and the first time I ever came here, I ate a piece off the ground, because I knew this was where the professionals raced.

"That’s what it would mean to me. To close the book on another career milestone. I won a Wally here as a junior drag racer and that’s the only thing I’ve won here. This is the biggest race of the year. They call it the Big Go for a big reason."
 

 
TONY SCHUMACHER
Driver of the U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
NHRA Indianapolis Event Highlights: 
  • Ten-time event champion (2000, 2002 - 2004, 2006 - 2009, 2012, 2016) 
  • Two-time runner-up (1996, 2005) 
  • Four-time No. 1 qualifier (2005 - 2007, 2014) 
 
2017 Indianapolis Recap:
Qualified fourth; Semifinal finish (defeated Terry McMillen in E1, Doug Kalitta in E2; defeated by Kebin Kinsley in E3)

Last event (Brainerd):
Qualified seventh; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Terry McMillen in E1; defeated by Steve Torrence in E2)

2018 Season Statistics:
23 round wins; ranked second in points
 
Career Statistics:
497 races; 84 wins; 87 No. 1 qualifiers

Noteworthy:
  • Winningest NHRA driver in Indianapolis history, having won the event an unprecedented 10 times
  • Leads the Top Fuel class in the number of final round appearances (12) at a single event, occurring at Indy
  • Leads the class in the number of consecutive final round appearances (eight) at a single event, occurring at Indy (2002-2009)
  • Made his professional NHRA debut at the 1996 event and raced to the final round 
  • Debuted the U.S. Army sponsorship at the 2000 event and won the race 

Quotable:
"You know, Indy for me, it means kind of everything. There are a few tracks on the circuit that have extra special meaning and this is one of them. This is the first place that I ever raced a Top Fuel car and so much happened that weekend as a young driver coming into the sport. We lost a world champion. We lost a Top Fuel motorcycle rider. We qualified 16th in a car that I had never made a full pass in my entire life with a team of guys that I met the week before. That was the welcome to Top Fuel racing and NHRA for me. It was right here. I can remember the faces, the smells. And to be in the final round, I remember the talk with Cory Mac before and the talk with Cory Mac after, who beat me in the finals. That was the beginning for me at this place and to have the chance now, so many years later, to come into a race here with ten Indy wins. You know, the first was in 2000 against Gary Clapshaw, who red-lit, but to have that moment with a new sponsor in the U.S. Army, who we were going to show what this team was made of. To go out and win the first one, it was incredible. Now fast forward 19 years later, and knowing that this is our last time together to have a chance to give back to them, the final Indy with the U.S. Army is huge. What they have done for DSR, the team members and me personally as a character-building group of men and women, it’s just been so fantastic. I know I would be proud and my team would be proud to give them one last trophy from Indy."



Funny Car:
 
JACK BECKMAN
Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
NHRA Indianapolis Event Highlights: 
  • 2015 event champion 
  • Two-time runner-up (2008, 2013) 
  • 2015 No. 1 qualifier  

2017 Indianapolis Recap:
Qualified fifth; Semifinal finish (defeated Tommy Johnson Jr. in E1, Del Worsham in E2; defeated by Ron Capps in E3)
 
Last event (Brainerd):
Qualified 14th; Event champion (defeated Matt Hagan in E1, Shawn Langdon in E2, Courtney Force in E3, Tommy Johnson Jr. in E4)

2018 Season Statistics:
24 round wins; ranked fourth in points 
 
Career Statistics:
293 races; 28 wins; 24 No. 1 qualifiers

Noteworthy:
  • Enters the race weekend as the most recent Funny Car winner on tour 
  • All three Indy final rounds were against the same opponent, Robert Hight  

Quotable:
"Indy is the convergence of a whole lot of things. It's obviously the biggest race of the year for us. It's points and a half, and it's the last race of the regular season. Our Infinite Hero team will go into the Countdown somewhere between second and fifth in the points, and to me, that's not nearly as big a deal as trying to win that trophy from Indy. I feel like we have an excellent chance. We're the most recent winners on tour, we had an excellent outing Sunday at Brainerd and left with the trophy. Then we went to Indy for a two-day test. Bolted the brand-new Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat body on the car and went right down the track all four runs on Wednesday with the two quickest runs of the day, so I feel like we have as good a chance as any car out there."
 

 
RON CAPPS
Driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T
NHRA Indianapolis Event Highlights: 
  • 2017 event runner-up  
 
2017 Indianapolis Recap:
Qualified eighth; Event runner-up (defeated Alexis DeJoria in E1, Jim Campbell in E2, Jack Beckman in E3; defeated by J.R. Todd in E4)
 
Last event (Brainerd):
Qualified second; First round exit (defeated by Jonnie Lindberg in E1)

2018 Season Statistics:
27 round wins; ranked second in points
 
Career Statistics:
524 races; 60 wins (one Top Fuel); 21 No. 1 qualifiers

Quotable:
“Once again, here we are leading up to the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis. While most sports have their biggest events at either the beginning of the season or at the end of the season, our sport of NHRA Drag Racing has the U.S. Nationals at a point in the season that I don't think could be more perfectly placed. While the U.S. Nationals is the end to our regular season, it brings awareness to your team that you better be ready for the playoffs or what we call the Countdown to the Championship. One of the greatest accomplishments I feel like we have is that our NAPA team is mentioned in the championship talk every season. This year seems to be no different. (Crew chief) Rahn Tobler and our NAPA AutoCare team have been able to try things here and there during the season, knowing full well that when we get to this point of the year, we better be what I call ‘Countdown ready.’
 
“We had a great Western Swing and came to Indy last week and had a very good test session. It's very easy for teams to start looking past Indy and to the Countdown to the Championship, but as I know being surrounded by many of my heroes, this is a race that means everything to a drag racer. It's great to know that our NAPA team will be well-prepared for anything that the U.S. Nationals brings us as we have seen in the past, and I can't wait to get on the track Friday night.”
 

 
MATT HAGAN
Driver of the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
NHRA Indianapolis Event Highlights: 
  • 2016 event champion 
  • Five-time No. 1 qualifier (2010, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017) 
 
2017 Indianapolis Recap:
Qualified No. 1; First round exit (defeated by Jim Campbell in E1)
 
Last event (Brainerd):
Qualified third; First round exit (defeated by Jack Beckman in E1)

2018 Season Statistics:
24 round wins; ranked fifth in points 
 
Career Statistics:
233 races; 29 wins; 34 No. 1 qualifiers

Noteworthy:
  • Reset the track speed (338.77-mph) and Funny Car E.T. (3.799 seconds) record en route to claiming the 2017 Funny Car pole  
    • career-best E.T.  
  • Made his NHRA Funny Car debut at the 2008 U.S. Nationals 

Quotable:
"We changed our motor combination around during Indy test so I feel like we'll come out with a new game plan; everything stronger. We've been off a little bit but after the test session, I feel like we're headed in the right direction going into the big Indy race and also the Countdown. We've got positive vibes rolling into this deal. 

"It's also a big weekend with Riley Kids. It's a cause near and dear to my heart, obviously, because I have four kids and couldn't imagine that helpless feeling if one of them was sick. When we go to Riley and visit the kids earlier in the week, it really hits home. I want to put a smile on their face more than I want my race car to go fast. 

"We've got a lot coming up. Indy is a big race. I'm glad I've won it and been able to check it off the list, so no pressure there but i want to win it again. We're all greedy like that."


 
TOMMY JOHNSON JR.
Driver of the Riley Dodge Charger R/T 
NHRA Indianapolis Event Highlights:
  • 2002 event runner-up 
  • Two-time No. 1 qualifier (1999, 2000) 

2017 Indianapolis Recap:
Qualified 12th; First round exit (defeated by Jack Beckman in E1)
 
Last event (Brainerd):
Qualified fifth; Event runner-up (defeated Del Worsham in E1, Tim Wilkerson in E2, J.R. Todd in E3; defeated by Jack Beckman in E4)

2018 Season Statistics:
20 round wins; ranked sixth in points (tied)
 
Career Statistics:
439 races; 17 wins (two Top Fuel); 15 No. 1 qualifiers (one Top Fuel)

Noteworthy:
  • Since 2014, the Doug and Terry Chandler-funded Make-A-Wish Dodge has donned a special Riley livery once a year at the Indy event as a way to bring exposure to the Indianapolis-based Riley Hospital for Children
  • Hometown track (resides in nearby Avon, Ind.) 

Quotable:
"Indy is the biggest drag race of the year, and with the way our car is running right now, I'm going into Indy as confident as ever. We had a great test session last week, ran really well, and with two semifinals and a final the last three races, I think the momentum is starting to swing our way. It would be great to go out there and put the Riley car in the winner's circle. It's always fun to run the Riley car living here in the Indianapolis area and that being the local children's hospital. Going to visit the kids during the week and representing them on the track and raising awareness for what a great hospital we have here in Indy, it would just be great to put that car in the winner's circle and hopefully have a bunch of Riley Kids right there with us."

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