Pritchett, Johnson Pace Mopar and Dodge in NHRA Carolina Nationals Qualifying

Mopar Top Fuel driver Leah Pritchett and Funny Car counterpart Tommy Johnson Jr. qualified No. 3 in their respective categories for this weekend’s NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway, putting HEMI® power from Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) near the top of Sunday’s Nitro elimination ladders as the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship begins.

Pritchett made a best lap of 3.725 seconds at 327.98 mph during the second qualifying session on Friday evening in her Papa John’s Pizza/Mopar Pennzoil dragster from DSR. The pass ultimately was just .002 off the No. 1 time, barely keeping Pritchett from her seventh top qualifying spot of the year, but still in prime position to advance deep on Sunday.

Johnson meanwhile went 3.901 at 325.06 in his DSR-prepared Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T on Friday evening at the pristine facility outside Charlotte, putting him third in Funny Car. Johnson, whose team excels in warm conditions like those being seen at zMAX this weekend, has finished as runner-up in the Carolina Nationals the past two seasons. He qualified No. 1 in each of those events.

Pritchett’s Top Fuel teammate Tony Schumacher will begin from the ninth spot in his U.S. Army dragster featuring HEMI power, while the other three Mopar Dodge Charger R/T Funny Cars from DSR had varying qualifying results. Jack Beckman landed fourth in the Infinite Hero car, Ron Capps, who won at zMAX Dragway this spring in the Four-Wide Nationals, qualified his Dodge Charger R/T in the 10th position, and Matt Hagan’s Mopar/Freightliner team will start from the 11th spot.

A total of five Mopar Dodge Funny Cars will compete in the 16-car field.

The 10th annual Carolina Nationals event serves as the first in the Countdown to the Championship, a six-race playoff to determine the year-end titleholders in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
Mopar/Dodge Notes & Quotes
(best elapsed time in bold)

Leah Pritchett, Papa John’s Pizza/Mopar Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified No. 3, will face No. 14 Wayne Newby
Friday: (3.791 seconds at 323.27 mph – Q1); (3.725/327.98 – Q2)
Saturday: (6.107/112.24 – Q3); (10.305/69.51 – Q4)

“This is where it begins, starting tomorrow. There’s so much on the line you can be nervous or you change what people call nervousness into excitement and that’s what we have. Excitement is the positive feature. So everything going forward is we’re excited about the opportunities that we have.”

Tommy Johnson Jr., Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
Qualified No. 3, will face No. 14 Dave Richards
Friday: (4.345 seconds at 206.35 mph – Q1); (3.901/325.06 – Q2)
Saturday: (4.077/309.63 – Q3); (5.010/151.22 – Q4)

“It was a nice qualifying effort. It’s going to be warm again tomorrow and that seems to be our forte. If we can go out there and put four solid runs together and get off to a good start in the Countdown that’s what I’m looking for. You can kind of set yourself up for the Countdown at this race. The last two years we’ve kicked it off with a runner-up. I’d love nothing more than to put a win in that column and go into Reading with good momentum.”

Matt Hagan, Mopar/Freightliner Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
Qualified No. 11, will face No. 6 Robert Hight
Friday: (3.981 seconds at 324.12 mph – Q1); (4.784/163.49 – Q2)
Saturday: (6.310/107.20 – Q3); (4.000/323.89 – Q4)

“It’s hot out here. Obviously on a 130-degree racetrack it’s tough to negotiate as far as tuning and driving. It’s home (Hagan is from Christiansburg, Virginia) so we need to put on a show. We got two decent runs out of four to work off of. I feel like (crew chief) Dickie Venables really kind of started reeling it in on Q4 and understanding where the track’s at in these conditions. I think that we’ll be just fine tomorrow. It’s probably going to be similar conditions, maybe a little cooler first round, so we’ll press a little bit more and we’ll see what happens.”
Jack Beckman, Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
Qualified No. 4, will face No. 13 Jim Campbell
Friday: (5.820 seconds at 117.11 mph – Q1); (3.906/330.47 – Q2)
Saturday: (4.565/187.60 – Q3); (3.988/325.92  – Q4)

Ron Capps, NAPA Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
Qualified No. 10, will face No. 7 Tim Wilkerson
Friday: (4.996 seconds at 152.07 mph – Q1); (4.012/257.87 – Q2)
Saturday: (4.016/322.50 – Q3); (3.980/323.04 – Q4)
Tony Schumacher, U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified No. 9, will face No. 8 Shawn Langdon
Friday: (4.481 seconds at 175.30 mph – Q1); (5.391/127.57 – Q2)
Saturday: (3.800/323.74 – Q3); (3.788/325.30 – Q4)
Tune-in Info    
FOX Sports 1 will broadcast the elimination rounds of the 10th annual NHRA Carolina Nationals LIVE at 2:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, September 17.

For more information on Mopar and Dodge in NHRA, check out the Mopar brand’s official blog,
Mopar Motorsports PR
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