DSR Houston Qualifying Recap

NHRA SpringNationals
Event 5 of 24 (Houston)
Royal Purple Raceway
Baytown, Texas
April 20-22, 2018

DSR Houston Qualifying Highlights:

  • Defending Top Fuel event champion Leah Pritchett will start race day from the No. 1 spot
  • Tony Schumacher ran ‘top three’ of the session during all four qualifying rounds
  • Pritchett ran the fastest Top Fuel speed of the weekend (326.00-mph)
  • Jack Beckman ran top Funny Car speed of the meet (317.42-mph)
Leah Pritchett Takes Over the Top Fuel Qualifying Lead Heading into Race Day
BAYTOWN, Texas (April 21, 2018) – Leah Pritchett leads the Top Fuel field heading into race day at the NHRA SpringNationals. The defending event champion took over the No. 1 spot when she piloted the Mopar Dodge Top Fuel dragster to a blazing 3.680-second pass during the weekend’s final qualifying session.

The No. 1 qualifier is Pritchett’s first of the season and eighth of her professional career. Pritchett considers Saturday evening’s monster pass a major step in the right direction for her Todd Okuhara-led team, which has experienced its fair share of hiccups in 2018.

“We’ve been developing some of our confidence in the last couple of races, specifically Vegas, where we tested the day after and, to finally put it on track is phenomenal,” said Pritchett, a five-time Top Fuel winner.

“I think one of the things I’m most proud of with our team is the amount of unity from each individual, knowing what we’ve done right and what we’ve done wrong and knowing to be very outspoken about it and learn from that.

“It’s easy to get down if you compare this season to last season and go, ‘Man, what’s the difference?’ The difference is last year we were racing and this year we have been developing, and now we’re developing and racing because we know we have to be exceptional against exceptional competition.

“Going into that run right there on Q4, obviously we knew we had to lay it down. The numbers we had in our packages before should have produced that and, time and time again, adversity struck. That run, I knew by 100-feet that we got that first part right. Then, the second quarter of track, we got that nice little quiver, and in my mind, I thought, ‘There’s that high-speed quiver that we’re going after,’ and then we started moving. Once I saw we were getting to the finish line, I thought, ‘If this isn’t No. 1, I don’t know what is.’ It felt great. It was a feeling that we finally got it figured out.

“Everybody needs a little bit of confidence,” added Pritchett, who as the reigning quickest female in NHRA history is no stranger to exceptional runs. “We’ve got the Mopar-power, and Pennzoil is running through our car, and we’ve got it running through our blood. And we’re proud to do it for the Pennzoil nation.”

Pritchett and the Mopar Dodge Top Fuel team will begin their campaign to defend their SpringNationals event title by squaring off against No. 16 qualifier Terry Brian in round one of eliminations.

Qualified: No. 1 (Lane Choice)

The Competition: No. 16 Terry Brian

The Results:
Q1: 4.142 E.T. at 204.60 MPH
Q2: 9.039 E.T. at 78.42 MPH
Q3: 3.745 E.T. at 321.96 MPH (One bonus point for third quickest run of the session)
Q4: 3.680 E.T. at 326.00 MPH (Three bonus points for quickest of the session)

Bonus Points: Four

Driver Information:

Top Fuel:

Driver of the Matco Tools/U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster

Qualified: No. 5 (Lane Choice)

The Competition: No. 12 Terry McMillen

The Results: 
Q1: 4.922 E.T. at 132.93 MPH
Q2: 3.740 E.T. at 324.98 MPH
Q3: 3.776 E.T. at 318.24 MPH
Q4: 3.791 E.T. at 303.98 MPH

“We were set up to run a high 60 – that’s what we were trying to run. We nuked the clutch out of it and we need to figure out why that happened. It left the starting line good but literally nuked the clutch out of the car. That being said, we’ll just keep working on it, plugging away at it, figure out what caused it. The power level was good. The car felt really good. It left the line and it was moving. We just needed some more clutch with it. We just need to figure out how we can make that better and improve on that. That’s all there is to it.”


Driver of the U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 3 (Lane Choice)

The Competition: No. 14 Bill Litton

The Results:
Q1: 3.777 E.T. at 318.99 MPH (Two bonus points for second quickest run of the session)
Q2: 3.711 E.T. at 322.73 MPH (Two bonus points for second quickest run of the session)
Q3: 3.703 E.T. at 319.75 MPH (Three bonus points for quickest run of the session)
Q4: 3.713 E.T. at 320.97 MPH (Two bonus points for second quickest run of the session)

Bonus Points: Nine

“The car is fine, the track is challenging, but we need to race on it. So we have to learn, somehow, to slow it down a bit and we’re just struggling with that. As we get to race day, it’s going to come to us a little bit. It should be building rubber. Our early numbers are just fine. Leah made an exceptional run on that. She was 6-mph faster at halftrack, so they did a great job stepping it up and we just missed it by a little bit – we’re just partially smoking the tires. But it’s all good. I’m as comfortable as I’ve ever been going into race day. I think the Army team is doing a great job. We earned a lot of points during qualifying. Now, we just have to win. I’m tired of just getting close. Mike (Neff, crew chief) is tired of just getting close. The whole U.S. Army team is tired of just getting close. It’s time to go out and get it done tomorrow.”

Funny Car:

Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 4 (Lane Choice)

The Competition: No. 13 Richard Townsend

The Results:
Q1: 4.065 E.T. at 266.27 MPH
Q2: 8.909 E.T. at 74.34 MPH
Q3: 3.953 E.T. at 317.42 MPH
Q4: 3.918 E.T. at 314.31 MPH (Two bonus points for second quickest run of the session)

Bonus Points: Two

“This time yesterday, we were sitting up here in the crew chief lounge thinking it was a high probability Saturday would be a complete rainout. We had a shut off run and a run where the parachute fell out, which would have been a good run and still qualified us.

“The fact that the weather held out on Saturday and our car was fourth quickest and second quickest of the two sessions today, it means we did everything right. I am so confident going into tomorrow. I hate using the word ‘proud,’ when people say, ‘I’m proud of my guys,’ because they don’t work for me and I’m not their dad. I am just really happy to be a part of this group. We had a great race car to take into eliminations tomorrow.”


Driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 14

The Competition: No. 3 Matt Hagan (Lane Choice)

The Results: 
Q1: 4.806 E.T. at 147.31 MPH
Q2: 8.447 E.T. at 65.75 14 MPH
Q3: 4.332 E.T. at 277.72 MPH
Q4: 4.077 E.T. at 305.77 MPH

“It’s not optimal to run your teammate first round. We’ve got four DSR Funny Cars and they’re all the cream of the crop. We all know we’re going to have to meet each other to win a race; that’s a given. You just don’t want to put yourself in a position to have each other first round. And it’s our fault. We didn’t qualify very well and we got behind. It was on a great run Friday night and then (crew chief, Rahn) Tobler had to just kind of back everything off to make sure we got in the show.

“This race track has been tricky, but that is part of what drag racing is. It’s having to deal with different conditions. Not every race track is the same. But you know what, how many times have we rolled up there with Tobler and he’s pointed at me through the windshield, no matter where we’re qualified, and he’s pointed at me before I stage the car, without lane choice, and everybody would have thought ‘no chance’ and we went on to win the whole race, so I have plenty of confidence.”

Driver of the Pennzoil Dodge Charger R/T 
Qualified: No. 3 (Lane Choice)

The Competition: No. 14 Ron Capps

The Results:
Q1: 3.984 E.T. at 298.40 MPH (One bonus point for third quickest run of the session)
Q2: 3.913 E.T. at 308.78 MPH (Three bonus points for quickest run of the session)
Q3: 3.931 E.T. at 311.20 MPH (Two bonus points for second quickest run of the session)
Q4: 3.938 E.T. at 311.85 MPH

Bonus Points: Six

“We went down four times on a tricky race track. Considering how many guys were puffing the tires off and shaking the tires and everything else, I feel like we got some really good data to work on for tomorrow. We have a lot of Pennzoil people here. Lots of grinning and gripping with a lot of folks who have never been out here so we’re just trying to show them what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. We’re trying to put a good experience in their mind.

“I think today was a huge success for some of our sponsors and our folks who support what we do and help us do what we do on the race track. Our car ran really good running the Pennzoil colors. We’re qualified No. 3. We led the qualifying position last night then came in here today with cool weather conditions, just trying to press and learn some new stuff and do some different things. I’m feeling very, very confident for tomorrow. We just have to remember tomorrow is a different day with different weather conditions. All in all, I’m really happy with qualifying.”

Driver of the Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger R/T 
Qualified: No. 7 (Lane Choice)

The Competition: No. 10 J.R. Todd

The Results:
Q1: 4.157 E.T. at 242.76 MPH
Q2: 8.731 E.T. at 78.73 MPH
Q3: 3.972 E.T. at 307.58 MPH
Q4: 3.926 E.T. at 313.00 MPH

“We’ve had a pretty good race car through qualifying, even with the difficult race track conditions. The guys have done a great job adapting and figuring it out and the performance has improved every run. I feel confident going into tomorrow. Each run we get better and better so it would be nice to do that four more times tomorrow.”


Sharing is caring!