DSR Richmond Post-Race Recap

Virginia NHRA Nationals
Event 10 of 24 (Richmond)
Virginia Motorsports Park
Dinwiddie, Virginia
June 8-10, 2018

DSR Richmond Elimination Highlights:

  • Antron Brown raced to a semifinal finish at the inaugural Virginia NHRA Nationals
  • The entire DSR Top Fuel contingent advanced to the quarterfinals
  • Brown gained two spots in the Top Fuel points standings
  • Jack Beckman remains second in the Funny Car standings
  • Four DSR drivers sit in the ‘top five’
    • Top Fuel: Leah Pritchett, Tony Schumacher; Funny Car: Beckman; Matt Hagan
  • Schumacher leaves Virginia Motorsports Park with the facility’s E.T. and Top Fuel speed record
    • 3.771-seconds (2008)
    • 327.51 MPH (2018)

Driver Information:

Top Fuel:

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

Qualified: No. 10 (3.878 E.T. at 319.14 MPH)

The Results: 
E1: 3.869 E.T. at 321.96 MPH defeats Mike Salinas 4.321 E.T. at 238.22 MPH
E2: 3.865 E.T. at 321.04 MPH defeats Bill Litton 4.709 E.T. at 172.19 MPH
E3: Foul (red light) defeated by Steve Torrence 3.875 E.T. at 320.36 MPH

Race Recap:
Antron Brown and the Matco Tools/U.S. Army/Toyota team raced to a semifinal finish on Sunday at the Virginia NHRA Nationals. By advancing to the third round, Brown was able to amass 74 points over the course of the race weekend and move up two spots in the Top Fuel points standings.

Brown, who finished as the Richmond runner-up in 2009, the last national NHRA event at Virginia Motorsports Park, began his quest for his first title of 2018 with a round-one matchup against Mike Salinas. Brown piloted his Matco Tools machine down the stretch in 3.869-seconds, easily defeating Salinas’ tire-smoking 4.321 E.T.

In the quarterfinals, it was Bill Litton who attempted to thwart Brown’s campaign for the Virginia hardware. Brown left the line first and never trailed, powering to his best pass of the weekend (3.865) and earning the round win.

The semifinal round found Brown staging next to friend Steve Torrence. Unfortunately for Brown, Torrence would get the immediate win when the three-time world champion suffered a rare miscue and stood on the gas early, activating the red light and fouling out.

“This race definitely was our breakout race. We didn’t qualify where we wanted to, but we made great strides each and every round and our car went down the track every lap except for one. With that being said, we made some changes and we had enough shots at it today where, in that semifinal right there, with the help of Mark (Oswald), Brad (Mason, co crew chiefs) and Mike Green and all the Matco Tools/U.S. Army boys, we went after it and we stepped up. The car would’ve done a 3.84 that run no problem. I shut it off because I knew I went red and I didn’t want to tear up any parts. But we got enough data to look at and know we’re definitely on the right track. That was a great run in those hot conditions, and we could compete with anybody with a run like that.

“We’re going to wrap it up and go to Bristol, and I’m going to get myself right; back in tune. I just want to win bad. I pushed it, I went out there to annihilate the tree, and the tree got the best of me and I just let these boys down. They’ve been working their tails off and I just wanted to get through that round so we can get to the final and get this race win here coming back to this fantastic facility. Virginia Motorsports Park, the Franklin family, did a great job all weekend long. I just want to get back to that winner’s circle. I just wanted it too bad and that’s when it bites you, when you try too hard. But, we will be back in Bristol and the switch is on right now.”


Driver of the FireAde Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 5 (3.830 E.T. at 320.05 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 4.630 E.T. at 187.94 MPH defeats Clay Millican (Foul, red light)
E2: 4.023 E.T. at 247.02 MPH defeated by Doug Kalitta 3.817 E.T. at 323.89 MPH

Race Recap:
It was a battle of the Route 66 Nationals Top Fuel finalists at Virginia Motorsports Park when Leah Pritchett drew Clay Millican in round one. Pritchett was able to avenge last week’s final round loss to Millican when he stood on the gas early and fouled out, allowing Pritchett and the FireAde team to claim the round win.

The Southern Nationals winner squared off against Doug Kalitta in the quarterfinals. Both drivers appeared to be on a good run, but Kalitta was able to race to victory when the FireAde car hazed the tires and dropped a cylinder just past halftrack, ending Pritchett’s chances at a fourth semifinal appearance in 2018.

“It was a crazy weekend. This morning, we had an issue that reared its head from yesterday. The car just would not idle during warmup this morning and it took us three tries to get to the bottom of the problem before our first-round run. When the belt broke in Q4 yesterday, it smacked the injector with such force that it cocked the butterflies and messed up our idle, and there’s nothing in the telemetry that would’ve told us that. Ingenuity on the fly as we warmed up for first round.

“That run against Clay (Millican) was our redemption round for last week at Chicago. Our power source shut off down the track and the car started feeling erratic. I wasn’t sure Clay red-lighted so I stayed in it as long as I could, to make sure I got that win light, even though the car was acting up.

“What was difficult about our loss in the second round is that there is nothing we would’ve changed. For us, everything looked perfect. Our numbers were right on target, clutch wear, it wasn’t ever trying to get too fast. All of a sudden, to smoke at halftrack, that’s not a typical thing. We left together, I know I’m ahead of him at 330 feet, I’m pushing that throttle down thinking, ‘we’ve got this, we are on a run,’ I knew we put in a really hot tuneup. And then for it to surprisingly smoke like that – and of course it’s race day so you pedal it with oily tires, it was eventful.

“For us, we’re not letting it get us down even though we can’t change the circumstance of what happened. We feel good about what we came to race with. We didn’t go up there to not lose, we were there to win. We didn’t go up there to run an 82, and we were on an incredible run and it should’ve stuck. And that’s what I’m proud of. Ultimately, that’s going to set us up for championship contention, and we’ll take a lot of character and morale to Bristol.”


Driver of the U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 1 (3.777 E.T. at 327.51 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.825 E.T. at 323.74 MPH defeats bye
E2: 3.823 E.T. at 315.93 MPH defeated by Richie Crampton 3.805 E.T. at 316.01 MPH

Race Recap:
After a stellar qualifying performance locked down the No. 1 position for the U.S. Army team, Tony Schumacher began race day with a bye run in the first round. Without the threat of an opponent in the opposite lane, the Army Racing team had the opportunity to throw-down in E1. Schumacher wheeled his Mopar-powered Army machine down the track in 3.825-seconds at 323.74-mph, running the second-best pass of the round and securing lane choice versus his quarterfinal opponent, Richie Crampton.

Against Crampton, Schumacher had a 3-2 record. Both drivers launched out of the gate in 0.068-secs, but Crampton pulled ahead and had a slight lead the entire way down the track to take the win and even the score.

“It was on a 77, 78 run and we spun the tires. There was no reason that far down the track to spin the tires. It was already through the clutch. And there’s nothing we would’ve done differently that could’ve changed what happened. It’s frustrating because we’ve got an amazing U.S. Army car and we’re running great. And it goes out there and it spins the tires on us on an amazing racetrack. We were on a great run, one that would’ve won the round easily, low for the session. And it spins the tires, like it hits a bump where there isn’t a bump. There are really only two explanations for it – I either drove through oil, or I drove through oil (laughs). And you don’t always catch that stuff. Sometimes oil is out there. (Steve) Torrence runs a 79 right in front of us, but it doesn’t matter, you could be in a slightly different line and there only needs to be a little something out there that can mess up a good run. You just don’t spin tires down there. And then we put a hole out and we lost by just a few feet at the line. It’s frustrating, but we know we’ve got a good car and sooner or later things are going to start going our way on Sundays.”

Funny Car:

Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 5 (4.053 E.T. at 312.06 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 4.972 E.T. at 199.94 MPH defeated by Del Worsham 4.828 E.T. at 228.46 MPH

Race Recap:
The 2008 Virginia Motorsports Park runner-up will remain ranked second in the Funny Car points standings leaving Dinwiddie, Va., despite a first round loss. The majority of the Funny Car teams, particularly the ‘heavy hitters,’ struggled to get down the track in the hottest conditions experienced so far in 2018. The Infinite Hero Foundation team was no exception.

After qualifying fifth, Jack Beckman had the advantage of lane choice versus first round opponent Del Worsham. Both drivers left the starting line, and both cars quickly lost traction. The veteran drivers were on and off the throttle, pedaling their way down the track, but Worsham crossed the beams first and was able to claim the upset win over the 2018 Gatornationals Funny Car champion.

“The only silver lining today is just about all of the other Funny Cars near us in points lost early. It was the ‘upset nationals’ here at Richmond. Did not see that coming. Never bet on a Funny Car race; qualifying doesn’t matter, you don’t race them on paper. Anybody can win on Sunday. We were picking away towards getting back to our optimal tune-up. We did not see (our car) going up there and throwing us a curveball. We will check the data and we can redeem ourselves in just a few days.”


Driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 3 (4.039 E.T. at 318.02 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 4.152 E.T. at 280.43 MPH defeated by Tim Wilkerson 4.130 E.T. at 303.43 MPH

Race Recap:
Ron Capps and the NAPA AUTO PARTS Funny Car team entered Dinwiddie, Va. fresh off of a final round appearance from the previous NHRA event less than one week prior near Chicago.

Armed with a renewed sense of confidence and eight rounds of data for their old, but new five-disc clutch setup, Capps, and the NAPA team were solid during qualifying at the Virginia NHRA Nationals earning five bonus points.

In the first two qualifying rounds at Virginia Motorsports Park, a facility that hasn’t seen a national NHRA event since 2009, Capps powered his NAPA Dodge Charger R/T to the third quickest run of each session, earning bonus points for both passes. In Q3, he picked up three more bonus points for making the best pass of the round. A stout showing during qualifying earned the NAPA team the No. 3 spot to start race day and pitted Capps against No. 14 qualifier Tim Wilkerson in round one.

The veteran drivers were the first pair out, kicking off what would end up being an elimination round full of upsets. Wilkerson led Capps to the 60-foot mark, but the NAPA Funny Car charged ahead and led until the 660-foot cone before losing traction and slowing to a 4.152, enabling Wilkerson to pull ahead for the win.

“This is what NHRA Drag Racing is. You just never know. As well as we qualified, we never thought that we even had a chance at smoking the tires. The car has been so solid.

“When you run Tim Wilkerson, you know that it’s going to be a tough race. It doesn’t matter where you qualify or where he qualifies; it’s going to be tough. The car was running really well, and then it started slowly spinning the tires a little past halftrack and then slowly went into more tire smoke, and then I saw Wilkerson out next to me.”

Driver of the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T 
Qualified: No. 11 (4.088 E.T. at 315.56 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 4.251 E.T. at 245.72 MPH defeated by Jonnie Lindberg 4.095 E.T. at 310.77 MPH

Race Recap:
The lifelong Virginia resident was hoping to bring the Virginia NHRA Nationals Funny Car Wally back home to his family in Christiansburg, but tricky track conditions halted Matt Hagan’s chances at leaving with the trophy.

Driving the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T, Hagan faced Jonnie Lindberg in round-one. The two left the starting line together and charged hard down the track in an exciting side-by-side race until a dropped cylinder caused Hagan to slow to 4.251 E.T. and Lindberg was able to nab the round win and advance to the quarterfinals.

“Very, very tough weekend for Don Schumacher Racing. All four Funny Cars went out first round. We’re still looking at the data. The car is responding to everything we’re asking it to do. Talking to (crew chief) Dickie (Venables), I asked him if he was confident in everything we’re doing and he said he is. We just needed more data and more runs in these conditions to be able to fill-in these graph sheets. Now that we have less glue and a different prep on the race track, we’ve had to revamp how we run these cars. It’s just taking more runs to get there. Some people are making some hero runs here and there, but really, no one has it totally figured out. We’re really trying hard to get it pinned down to where we can get some more consistency and try and find some more downforce.”

Driver of the Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger R/T 
Qualified: No. 10 (4.083 E.T. at 314.82 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 4.233 E.T. at 272.06 MPH defeated by John Force 4.141 E.T. at 308.78 MPH

Race Recap:
Tommy Johnson Jr.’s round-one matchup found him lined up opposite John Force. Johnson was first out of the gate and the Make-A-Wish Dodge led early. By the 660-foot mark, Force was able to catch up and eclipsed Johnson soon after, ending the Make-A-Wish team’s day early.

“It was a frustrating weekend. We were off a little bit all weekend. We actually feel good and confident with the new car. We’re starting to figure it out.

“It’s disappointing losing first round, especially with as hot as it is out here. It’s tough, if you’re going to suffer through this, you might as well get a win. But we’re really looking forward to Bristol. I think we will start to turn a corner there.”

NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship Points Standings:

Top Fuel                                             
1 Steve Torrence – 827
2 Clay Millican – 719
3 Doug Kalitta – 665  
4 Tony Schumacher – 641      
5 Leah Pritchett – 639 
6 Antron Brown – 530  
7 Terry McMillen – 521
8 Brittany Force – 518
9 Richie Crampton – 387
10 Scott Palmer – 383

Funny Car
1 Courtney Force – 856
2 Jack Beckman – 683
3 Robert Hight – 665
4 Matt Hagan – 633
5 J.R. Todd – 615
6 Ron Capps – 576
7 Tommy Johnson Jr. – 554

8 John Force – 468
9 Shawn Langdon – 461
10 Cruz Pedregon – 454

Don Schumacher Racing PR

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