Mopar Drivers Beckman and Schumacher Take No. 1 Qualifying Spots with Track Records at NHRA Vegas

Jack Beckman in Funny Car and Tony Schumacher in Top Fuel led the way for Mopar during qualifying for the 17th annual NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, each turning in track-record passes to slot them No. 1 to start Sunday’s elimination rounds in the penultimate race of the season.

Beckman qualified No. 1 for the first time this year in his HEMI®-powered Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T from Don Schumacher Racing (DSR), but it was the sixth time Mopar Funny Cars from DSR have taken the top spot in 2017. Schumacher meanwhile scored the No. 1 qualifier position in Top Fuel for the fourth time this year in his U.S. Army-backed and DSR-prepared Mopar dragster. Schumacher’s quick time represented the 10th No. 1 for Mopar in the category this season, bringing to 16 the total of No. 1 qualifying efforts for the brand in the Nitro categories (Funny Car and Top Fuel) overall. Mopar has also now swept Nitro qualifying on four occasions.

Beckman set the Funny Car track record by clocking a best pass of 3.854 seconds at 335.57 mph during Q4 on Saturday as the sun was starting to set after a day of warm temperatures at the facility adjacent to Nellis Air Force Base and approximately 15 miles north of the famous Las Vegas Strip. Beckman, who entered this weekend’s event fourth in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship playoffs point standings, also collected nine bonus points after turning in the quickest times of the second, third and fourth qualifying sessions (worth three points each). After taking the provisional top spot on Friday, Beckman lowered his quickest time and turned in the fastest speed of his career on Saturday. It was the 22nd time in Beckman’s career that he has qualified in the No. 1 position, which includes this event last season.

In Top Fuel, eight-time champion Schumacher extended his all-time best number of top qualifying efforts to 84 with a 3.673-second blast at 332.67 mph during the second qualifying session on Friday. The speed was the fastest of Schumacher’s historic career and tied the Top Fuel track record. He picked up a total of nine bonus points during qualifying after setting quick time in each session but the first.

Schumacher’s Top Fuel teammate Leah Pritchett put her specially branded, bright yellow Mopar Pennzoil Dodge dragster from DSR eighth on the elimination ladder, while the rest of the DSR Dodge Charger R/T Funny Cars all qualified in the top nine. Matt Hagan drove his Mopar Pennzoil Dodge to the fourth starting spot, current points leader Ron Capps will start from the sixth position, and Tommy Johnson Jr. and the Make-A-Wish team from DSR will begin the day from the ninth spot.

Pritchett finished second in Q1 and third in Q3 to claim three bonus points, Capps was the quickest of the first qualifying session and third in the fourth session to pick up four bonus points, and Hagan added three points to his tally after finishing third in Q3 and second in Q4.

A Mopar Sportsman driver also received recognition on Saturday, as Darcy Clarke’s red 1964 Plymouth Savoy powered by a a 426 Max Wedge engine won Best Appearing Car at the NHRA Nationals. Clarke hails from Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada, and was competing in the SS/EA class this weekend. His car is one of the few original lightweight package cars still featuring its original aluminum front-end body panel and components. 

Mopar/Dodge Notes & Quotes
(best elapsed time in bold)

Jack Beckman, Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
Qualified No. 1, will face No. 16 Jim Campbell
Friday: (8.006 seconds at 77.86 mph – Q1); (3.867/329.50 – Q2)
Saturday: (3.889/327.27 – Q3); (3.854/335.57 – Q4)
“We unloaded with an 8.00 and lulled everyone into a false sense of security and then got three points each session after that. I think if you can get ten qualifying points each session, you’re doing well. If you qualify No. 1, you’re guaranteed 11, three for quick of the session and eight for overall No. 1, but we got 17 points out of this. I don’t know if that will decide a championship and I don’t know if we can catch (Robert) Hight or (Ron) Capps but it sure as heck could decide third place. We’re not very far behind Courtney (Force) right now and we don’t want to look over our shoulders because there are three cars right behind us. It’s always nice before eliminations to eat away at the car ahead of you and put a little distance between the ones behind you.”

Tony Schumacher, U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified No. 1, will face No. 16 Troy Buff
Friday: (3.798 seconds at 325.61 mph – Q1); (3.673/332.67 – Q2)
Saturday: (3.743/325.22 – Q3); (3.694/326.40 – Q4)

“My crew chief Mike (Green) and (assistant crew chief) Phil (Shuler) are making calls and the U.S. Army car is reacting the way it should. That’s the biggest thing right now. I’ve won races from all different spots, but it comes back to how you perform on Sunday. It’s fantastic to get the points and fantastic to get the number one spot. I’m proud of the Army team. They did a great job, but tomorrow is really important. We have to win that trophy. We aren’t here for average. None of us showed up here from the Army team to be just decent. We are winning team with winning quality people and a winning sponsor in the U.S. Army. Winning everything is the only acceptable result.”

Leah Pritchett, Mopar Pennzoil Dodge Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified No. 8, will face No. 9 T.J. Zizzo
Friday: (3.754 seconds at 324.20 mph – Q1); (18.929/41.57 – Q2)
Saturday: (3.785/323.04 – Q3); (3.742/313.95- Q4)
“We started Vegas strong and ended with a good lap in Q4. We had some different variables across the board during qualifying that I’m proud of our team for getting through. Overall just going into Sunday we know the chance exists and we need eight rounds of winning to keep this dream (winning the championship) alive. We’re hungry, we’re starving for the success that we know that we’re capable of and I’m looking forward to unleashing the Demon on our opponents for Pennzoil and Mopar. We made the switch this weekend and we’re definitely enjoying representing our proud partners.”
Matt Hagan, Mopar Pennzoil Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
Qualified No. 4, will face No. 13 Gary Densham
Friday: (4.008 seconds at 321.19 mph – Q1); (3.929/330.88 – Q2)
Saturday: (3.930/330.31 – Q3); (3.882/330.15 – Q4)
“We’ve had four great runs in qualifying. It builds a lot of confidence going down the racetrack every time in the heat and at night. We’re really looking forward to tomorrow. It’s been awhile since we’ve been in the winner’s circle and I think that we’re kind of due. I don’t know that you’re ever due for anything out here but we have a good fighting chance for tomorrow and I’m pretty pumped up about it. I’ve never won in Vegas so I’d like to get one here.”

Ron Capps, NAPA Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
Qualified No. 6, will face No. 11 John Force  
Friday: (3.916 seconds at 325.06 mph – Q1); (6.597/103.02 – Q2)
Saturday: (3.937/326.56 – Q3); (3.896/326.08 – Q4)
Tommy Johnson Jr., Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
Qualified No. 9, will face No. 8 Jonnie Lindberg
Friday: (4.308 seconds at 212.63 mph – Q1); (4.021/286.74 – Q2)
Saturday: (9.626/86.66 – Q3); (3.922/325.77 – Q4)
Tune-in Info                            
FOX Sports 1 will broadcast the elimination rounds of the 17th annual NHRA Nationals LIVE at 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, October 29.
Mopar Motorsports PR
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