DSR Gatornationals Saturday Qualifying Report

NHRA Gatornationals Qualifying Report

NHRA Gatornationals
Event No. 1 of 22
Gainesville Raceway
Gainesville, Fla. 
March 12-14, 2021

DSR Qualifying Highlights:

  • Defending Gatornationals event champ Ron Capps earned the first Funny Car No. 1 qualifier of the 2021 NHRA season
  • Capps posted the only sub-3.9-second Funny Car pass of the weekend, and ran quickest of the session in both Q1 and Q2 to earn six bonus points
  • Reigning 2020 NHRA Funny Car world champion Matt Hagan clocked the third-quickest pass of Q2 to earn a starting position in the top half of the field
  • Leah Pruett powered to the third-quickest run of the final Top Fuel qualifying session to earn a bonus point and the No. 3 starting position

Matt Hagan, the 2020 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series Funny Car champion, was presented with his championship ring during qualifying at the 2021 NHRA season-opener on Saturday. An image from the ring presentation is included below, immediately following Hagan's qualifying results.

Ron Capps Earns Pole Position at First Race of 2021 NHRA Season

Capps is First Funny Car Driver to Claim Coveted Yellow No. 1 Qualifier Hat in New NHRA Camping World Era

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 13, 2021) – As the defending NHRA Gatornationals Funny Car champion, Ron Capps will attempt to go back-to-back and pick up his fifth Gainesville Raceway victory on Sunday, starting race day from the pole position.
Capps earned his first Gainesville No. 1 qualifier and 26th overall when he ran the only sub-3.9-second Funny Car pass of the weekend during Friday’s sole qualifying session. On day two of the 2021 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season-opener, Capps unloaded with another stout run, clocking a 3.948 E.T. behind the wheel of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, which held up to be quickest of the session. After running low E.T. of Q1 and Q2 and collecting six bonus points, Capps’ newly-acquired duo of champion tuners opted to take a chance and step on it in Q3 but fell short of their aggressive target of a mid-3.8-second elapsed time.  
“We all know how good this car is and what an excellent team Guido (Dean Antonelli) and (John) Medlen have developed with all these guys and gals,” Capps said of his new co-crew chiefs and their proven team of crew members. “It’s a lot of fun to see this car do well and how happy everybody is in the NAPA camp. I just want to come in and try to blend in and be the best I can and not mess up. I want to help show how good of a team this is.
“First round will be at 10:00 a.m. in prime conditions, so don’t be late because it’s going to be some great racing,” added the 2016 Funny Car world champion of Sunday’s early start. “But overall, just a great job for NAPA and GEARWRENCH so far this weekend. We got the very first yellow No. 1 Camping World hat and it matches this NAPA uniform with the yellow and blue. We’re hoping for a blue race win hat tomorrow.”
With 65 Funny Car triumphs, Capps is the second-winningest driver in the category and will square off against No. 16 qualifier Jim Campbell in round one of eliminations. Not only are Capps and the NAPA team racing for the Gatornationals Wally trophy, but they will be aiming to extend DSR’s undefeated streak of 14 consecutive Funny Car conquests.

Qualified: No. 1 (lane choice)

The Competition: No. 16 JIm Campbell

The Results:
Q1: 3.895 E.T. at 329.02 MPH (Three bonus points for quickest run of the session)
Q2: 3.948 E.T. at 320.66 MPH (Three bonus points for quickest run of the session)
Q3: 4.802 E.T. at 163.65 MPH

Bonus Points: Six


Driver Information:

Top Fuel:

Driver of the Matco Tools Toyota Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 10

The Competition: No. 7 Mike Salinas

The Results: 
Q1: 4.308 E.T. at 187.18 MPH
Q2: 10.597 E.T. at 57.59 MPH
Q3: 3.809 E.T. at 316.75 MPH

“After the third round of qualifying, we got this Matco Tools Toyota dragster right down the track. We were really aggressive the first two laps. We thought the track could hold more, but it didn’t on the starting line. We stepped up and got ready for race day and we’ll keep our heads down and keep it one round at a time, and take it from there.”

Driver of the Mopar Dodge//SRT Top Fuel Dragster

Qualified: No. 3 (lane choice)

The Competition: No. 14 Mike Bucher

The Results: 
Q1: 6.567 E.T. at 94.57 MPH
Q2: 3.863 E.T. at 314.53 MPH
Q3: 3.741 E.T. at 326.32 MPH (One bonus point for running third-quickest of the round)

Bonus Points: One

“It’s amazing how one small tire shake situation very much humbles us. We didn’t get the start to the event that we wanted, but we immediately bounced back. We had a strategy in Q2 to lay down a very solid, honest pass so that we could pick away at it in Q3, and that’s exactly what we did. I’m so proud of this team and the authority that they’re taking. The car is reacting well; I’m driving well. Our test before this went great. Qualifying third in our HEMI dragster at this first event is fantastic. As I’ve said before, it doesn’t matter who we line up with, it’s just about taking it one round at a time. So far, things are working in unison, and we look forward to keeping it working that way, just as our Pennzoil oil keeps us running smoothly.”


Funny Car:
Driver of the Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye

Qualified: No. 8 (lane choice)

The Competition: No. 9 Bob Tasca III

The Results:
Q1: 4.308 E.T. at 209.62 MPH
Q2: 3.981 E.T. at 324.59 MPH (One bonus point for running third-quickest of the session)
Q3: 3.974 E.T. at 325.30 MPH

Bonus Points: One

"Race day is everything. Driving this Dodge SRT Hellcat Redeye Funny Car into race day and hopefully carrying on that championship-momentum into tomorrow. At the end of the day, we've got (crew chief) Dickie Venables in our corner and that's all that really matters. I'm confident in the team and confident in the car."
Matt Hagan (right), the 2020 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series Funny Car world champion, received his championship ring from NHRA President Glen Cromwell (left) on Saturday during qualifying at the season-opening NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla.

Factory Stock Showdown Series:

Driver of the Empaco Equipment Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak

Qualified: No. 11

The Competition: No. 6 Jim Betz

The Results:
Q1: 8.008 E.T. at 172.81 MPH
Q2: 7.934 E.T. at 172.65 MPH
Q3: 7.873 E.T. at 174.12 MPH

“I was glad to get my Empaco Equipment, Ohio CAT, Mr. Heater Dodge Drag Pak down the race track. It got real cold and real tough out there. We were supposed to run at 3:00 p.m. and running after 10 at night gave us a little bit different of conditions. Too bad Leah (Pruett) didn’t get down but I think we made great progress with the new 2021 Drag Pak at the first race out. She ran very well, and unfortunately she would’ve been up quite a bit higher if she made it down tonight because the air conditions were so much better than they were the rest of the weekend, but we’re going to hang in there and do the best we can tomorrow, and keep our Dodges moving forward.”

Driver of the Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak

Qualified: No. 13

The Competition: No. 4 John Cerbone

The Results:
Q1: 7.966 E.T. at 175.09 MPH
Q2: 7.892 E.T. at 173.49 MPH
Q3: 9.849 E.T. at 129.57 MPH

“I think it's fair to say that our Dodge DSR team performed to its maximum of capabilities to get the car into competitive form with just a limited number of days with it before entering actual competition. We are definitely in the right direction. With the limited number of runs that we have had with it to really understand and get to know this car, where we're at has been in the positive progress domain. I wouldn't call it a conservative run out of the gate. It was more of a run to identify a baseline for this car, which we really didn't have before, so we're really tackling multiple things at one time. Qualifying with a 7.89 was fantastic. We thought we'd whip it up for the final session but unfortunately, lots of different factors played into the night. Running at 10:00 PM with an untouched starting line in over an hour, really did not work in anyone's favor. But that doesn't deter any of our focus and confidence. For tomorrow, we know we're going to be one of the first classes out. It's going to be cool (temperatures). We have the power for it. We're going to take as much knowledge of this car as we know to get it deep into the rounds.”



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