DSR ‘Doubles Up’ in Bristol; Schumacher and Capps Race to Victory

NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals
Event 11 of 24 (Bristol)
Bristol Dragway
Bristol, Tennessee
June 15-17, 2018

DSR Bristol Elimination Highlights:

  • Don Schumacher Racing ‘doubles up’ in Bristol
    • Tony Schumacher – Top Fuel (84th career win)
    •  Ron Capps – Funny Car (59th career win, 58th Funny Car win)
  • DSR extends overall win tally to 323
  • Capps’ victory was a milestone 300th nitro event Wally for DSR
  • Capps becomes the fifth straight DSR Mopar Dodge Bristol Funny Car champion
    • 2018, 2017 Capps
    • 2016 Tommy Johnson Jr.
    • 2015 Matt Hagan
    • 2014 Johnson
  • Schumacher moves to third in Top Fuel points standings; Capps advances to fifth in Funny Car
  • Jack Beckman remains ranked second (Funny Car)
DSR ‘Doubles Up’ in Bristol
Schumacher and Capps Race to Victory

Bristol, Tennessee, (June 17, 2018) –  Don Schumacher Racing celebrated its first ‘DSR Double Up’ of 2018 on Sunday at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, when Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel) and Ron Capps (Funny Car) raced to victory at Bristol Dragway. It was the first trip to the winner’s circle this season for the Mopar-powered veteran racers.

U.S. Army Top Fuel driver Tony Schumacher led all DSR drivers in qualifying, racing to the No. 2 spot and earning two bonus points. “The Sarge” opened up race day against No. 15 Terry McMillen and used the second quickest run of the first round to advance, then was quickest of the quarterfinal round with a 4.028 E.T. that knocked out Pat Dakin in a close race, decided by a margin of about five feet.

In the semifinals, Schumacher was first off of the starting line with a 0.064-second reaction time against Steve Torrence and paired it with a 4.038-second at 297.02-mph run to advance to his 150th final round and third of the season.

With lane choice over Mike Salinas, Schumacher once again left first with a near-identical 0.065 reaction and never trailed. He wrapped up his Father’s Day with a sub-four second, 3.946-second at 313.58-mph run to seize the first win of the season for the U.S. Army team.

“(Crew chief) Mike (Neff) was telling me to get the fact it’s my 150th final round and his first (Top Fuel event win) out of my head, to just do what I do, get a 60 light, go down the racetrack, keep it in the middle and pull the parachutes,” said Schumacher, a father of three.

“We’ve been in 150 final rounds, and people are going to win some of those against us. When you race in the final round, you have to be calm, relaxed, do your job and get that win. At the end of the day what you don’t want to do is say you could’ve had more wins, but you’ve left something on the table. We’ve had times when we’ve lost on a holeshot, times we’ve done different things and got outrun – there’s always going to be a reason why you didn’t win, but you’ve got to minimize that. We try to be the best we can, try to be a machine and just replicate what we do best. I was definitely prepared to do my best on that last run today because he had run very, very close to us. I didn’t expect it to be an easy round by any means. So, great job for the Army team. It was Father’s Day, which makes it a big moment day and those are the kinds we’ve been the best at over the years.”

The victory was a record sixth for Schumacher at Bristol, the most of any driver, and also the 84th of his career.

It was another Father’s Day victory for Ron Capps, as the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T driver picked up his second consecutive NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals Funny Car Wally and first trophy of the 2018 season.

The 2016 world champion defeated John Force, reigning world champ Robert Hight, J.R. Todd and Bob Tasca III on his way to becoming the most decorated Funny Car driver in Bristol Dragway history, with five victories at the picturesque facility.

Both Capps and Force entered the race weekend tied for the most Funny Car wins at Bristol Dragway, with four trophies each. Capps was quick on the throttle against the veteran driver, launching his NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge off of the starting line in 0.049-seconds and never trailing for the win.

“That’s a final round matchup,” said Capps. It’s a matchup for a championship, it always is. We didn’t have lane choice, we’re running John Force, and someone had just spilled oil in that lane, but typical (crew chief) Rahn Tobler, he put it right down the track, over the bump and it was just on a great run and set the tone for the rest of the day.”

In the quarterfinals against Hight, Capps was machine-like, gaining the holeshot start over his opponent. Hight was able to catch up early in the run, and the veteran drivers battled neck-and-neck until Capps was able to surge ahead and take the win with his 4.208-second run.

Capps made a clean pass against J.R. Todd in the semifinals, driving right down the groove to take the win and advance to his second final round of the season and second in three races. Capps has now run for the Funny Car trophy 112 times — second only to John Force in Funny Car career final-round appearances.

In the finals, Capps quickly made up a small starting line advantage by Tasca and added to his lead all the way down the stripe. The victory earned Capps his 58th Funny Car win, 59th overall and a milestone 300th nitro event Wally for Don Schumacher Racing.

Many top-tier nitro teams have struggled with NHRA’s new track preparation procedures, and the NAPA team was no exception, but Capps is confident that his crew chief, Rahn Tobler, has cracked the code on a hot weather tune-up, and Sunday’s win is an example of that.

“Tobler looked so down on himself (on Saturday morning). We didn’t run well the night before, and he just had that look. Those are the times you have to play cheerleader, and that’s what I think my job is. I said ‘Tobler, you’re going to find it today. Today is going to be like tomorrow (Sunday). You were the bar for the last three years. You were the one who went out and made other crew chiefs want to retire in these hot conditions,’ and he did. He found that clutch disc problem and away we went.”

With their Thunder Valley Nationals Father’s Day victory, the two dads were able to move up in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship points standings. Schumacher advanced from fourth to third, Capps moved from sixth to fifth.

Tony Schumacher, driver of the U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster

Qualified: No. 2 (3.830 E.T. at 323.66 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.917 E.T. at 316.82 MPH defeated Terry McMillen 5.112 E.T. at 141.40 MPH
E2: 4.028 E.T. at 288.64 MPH defeated Pat Dakin 4.041 E.T. at 298.14 MPH
E3: 4.038 E.T. at 297.02 MPH defeated Steve Torrence 4.104 E.T. at 254.04 MPH
E4: 3.946 E.T. at 313.58 defeated Mike Salinas 5.251 E.T. at 152.18 MPH

Ron Capps, driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T

Qualified: No. 11 (4.193 E.T. at 301.07 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 4.243 E.T. at 296.37 MPH defeated John Force 5.824 E.T. at 128.57 MPH
E2: 4.208 E.T. at 299.33 MPH defeated Robert Hight 4.233 E.T. at 300.73 MPH
E3: 4.242 E.T. at 298.93 MPH defeated J.R. Todd 4.372 E.T. at 285.65 MPH
E4: 4.234 E.T. at 296.37 MPH defeated Bob Tasca III 4.300 E.T. at 286.98 MPH

Driver Information:

Top Fuel:

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

Qualified: No. 3 (3.832 E.T. at 319.67 MPH)

The Results: 
E1: 3.897 E.T. at 316.82 MPH defeated Richie Crampton 4.057 E.T. at 297.22 MPH
E2: 5.090 E.T. at 155.65 MPH defeated by Steve Torrence 4.232 E.T. at 253.33 MPH

Race Recap:
The No. 3 seeded Matco Tools team made two ‘top three’ runs during qualifying and with the added bonus of lane choice, felt confident in their first-round matchup against Richie Crampton. Brown threw down a session-best 3.897-second pass, ousting Crampton who posted a 4.057 E.T.

In the quarterfinals, Brown faced current points-leader Steve Torrence. The three-time world champion had the better reaction time, but lost traction right at the hit of the throttle. He gave it a pedal, but was immediately back up in smoke, and Torrence was able to reach the end of the track first and nab the round win.

“This is the hottest racetrack we’ve raced on so far this year. We made the necessary changes to slow it down, but the track was still really hot. With that said, we made it down there and we were just a little bit too fast. I’m very proud of my Matco Tools/U.S. Army/Toyota guys. They’ve shown a great work ethic and we keep gaining and getting better and better. One of our goals was to come in here and qualify in the top-five and we did it by qualifying No. 3. We have the same goal for next week, we want to go to Norwalk and qualify in a top-tier spot. We just need to keep working on our whole package and making it better, including myself getting better. We stayed consistent this weekend and I felt pretty good. I’m just looking forward to the next race. I love the way we’re making gains and getting better and better. We dropped the low E.T. of the first round in some really hot and intense conditions. We’re just scratching the surface of what we’re capable of.”


Driver of the Papa John’s Pizza/FireAde Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 9 (4.001 E.T. at 296.31 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 4.011 E.T. at 287.72 MPH defeated by Mike Salinas 4.023 E.T. at 295.53 MPH

Race Recap:
Leah Pritchett pulled double-duty at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, manning the helm of both the Papa John’s Pizza/FireAde Top Fuel dragster and the Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak.

Pritchett, the 2017 event runner-up in Top Fuel at Bristol, drew Mike Salinas in round one after qualifying ninth. The two drivers had just one previous meeting, with Pritchett emerging the victor, but on Sunday at Bristol Dragway, Salinas was able to even the score against the six-time Top Fuel winner. Salinas was off of the starting line first. Both cars dropped cylinders, and both drivers stayed in it, but Pritchett’s machine encountered problems first and she was unable to catch up to her opponent.

In the Factory Stock Showdown Series, Pritchett qualified 13th in a stacked 24-car field. The Mopar-powered driver raced to victory over Leonard Libersher in round one but fell to Arthur Kohn in a close side-by-side race in round two. Pritchett will have the opportunity to avenge both losses when she returns to the seat of both machines in Norwalk, Ohio in less than one week.

“We definitely felt hopeful – felt good – going into today after finishing with a strong qualifying effort. It’s been a little while since we’ve been the first pair out. There’s no sugar coating it at all. The numbers don’t lie. I was the weak link within our team and I wasn’t able to get to the finish line first. (Mike) Salinas had a jump on me out of the gate. I’ve been struggling with my reaction times all over the board and this weekend it got us.

“Our car was there. It was the quicker car in the best conditions of the day. When something happens with the car or the team, what I love the most about it is, whatever goes wrong or if we have a situation, someone takes responsibility for it and I take responsibility for this one. But, I tell you what, it’s not going to be pretty for whoever I line up against first at Norwalk. These things sting and I’m going to find my way around it and over it. Already, we’re moving on to Norwalk. It’s unfortunate for my team. They don’t deserve that. It’s a learning process and I’ll never stop learning.”

Funny Car:

Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 7 (4.130 E.T. at 307.86 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 4.283 E.T. at 281.30 MPH defeated Shawn Langdon 4.569 E.T. at 266.37 MPH
E2: 4.333 E.T. at 277.49 MPH defeated by J.R. Todd 4.203 E.T. at 295.92 MPH

Race Recap:
Jack Beckman, a two-time runner-up at Bristol Dragway, including at last year’s event, was quickest of the four-car DSR Funny Car squad in qualifying, posting his Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T seventh. An event winner earlier this year at the NHRA Gatornationals, Beckman opened Sunday with a victory over Shawn Langdon, using a .055 reaction time to jump to a lead he would not relinquish.

Beckman waged a tight race against the higher-qualified No. 2 starter J.R. Todd in the second round, with both drivers making clean, solid runs down the hot dragstrip. Beckman trailed slightly off the starting line and stayed within striking distance, but the 2012 Funny Car World Champ was unable to reel in Todd.

“We’re better than a second-round car. When you leave here and say ‘okay, we won a round and we lost in the second round,’ that’s not what we’re supposed to do. We’ve got the best parts, we’ve got great people. What we have right now is an issue – we have a new chassis, we have a new clutch, and we have a different race track prep, with no data on any of the three. We’re racing while we’re collecting data, so we’re actually not doing a bad job of accruing points, and we’re going to get this Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger pointed in the right direction. After Norwalk, we’re going to stay Monday and send this car down the track several more times, just to get more data compiled. The whole deal with this (series) is the first 18 races, you want to get some trophies. The championship will be decided in the last six, and I feel like we’re headed in the right direction to accomplish that.”

Driver of the Shell ROTELLA Dodge Charger R/T 
Qualified: No. 9 (4.188 E.T. at 292.14 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 5.381 E.T. at 142.06 MPH defeated by Tommy Johnson Jr. 4.253 E.T. at 291.26 MPH

Race Recap:
Behind the wheel of the Shell ROTELLA Dodge Charger R/T, the 2015 NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals event champ started race day fresh off of an impressive session-best Q4 pass. Matt Hagan, a resident of Christiansburg, Va., was seeking his third final round appearance at Bristol Dragway, his home track, but first he’d have to get past teammate Tommy Johnson Jr.

Hagan had the immediate advantage over his stablemate, but lost traction 200-feet out. The two-time world champion was on-and-off the throttle, but the car made a hard move to the left and Hagan wisely backed off. In the opposite lane, Johnson made a smooth, clean pass and was able to take the win and represent DSR in the quarterfinals.

“It’s super-hot and we’re just trying to negotiate the race track. We had a blower belt break on Friday night and I think that kind of set the tone for qualifying and put us in the back side of the field. Not having lane choice going into race day was tough. Dealing with the track that’s out there, we’re pushing pretty hard to run some numbers, but it’s one of those things where we’re still learning these hot conditions. The race track is 140-degrees and we haven’t seen stuff like that. We’re learning as we go. Obviously, everyone wants results, but sometimes you just have to be patient and let it come to you.”

Driver of the Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger R/T 
Qualified: No. 8 (4.167 E.T. at 303.03 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 4.253 E.T. at 291.26 MPH defeated Matt Hagan 5.381 E.T. at 142.06 MPH
E2: 5.139 E.T. at 158.45 MPH defeated by Courtney Force 4.197 E.T. at 298.14 MPH

Race Recap:
Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T pilot Tommy Johnson Jr. banked four bonus points during qualifying, earning a berth in the top half of the field in the No. 8 spot. The Ottumwa, Iowa, native entered Sunday gunning for his third win in the last five years at Bristol and was matched up in round one against Matt Hagan in a battle of Mopar-powered DSR Funny Cars. Johnson trailed slightly at the start but sailed solidly down the strip to collect the round win after Hagan smoked the tires.

Hoping for another even-year Bristol victory (his previous wins at the venue came in 2014 and 2016), Johnson lacked lane choice in the quarterfinals against pole-sitter Courtney Force. He put a cylinder out shortly after launch and encountered more trouble before shutting it down, as Force pulled away for the win.

“I thought we were running really well this weekend and had a car that would go down the racetrack, so I felt good about our chances. It’s unfortunate, we had a piston break at the hit of the throttle in the second round that cost us. But with the warm track conditions, I thought we had a really good setup. If the conditions are anywhere similar in Norwalk, I think we have a good shot at getting ourselves a win. We’re doing everything right to put ourselves in position to go rounds on Sunday, so I’m looking forward to it.”

NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship Points Standings:Top Fuel

1. Steve Torrence – 896
2. Clay Millican – 786
3. Tony Schumacher – 760
4. Doug Kalitta – 717
5. Leah Pritchett – 663
6. Antron Brown – 588
7. Brittany Force – 552
7. Terry McMillen – 552
9. Scott Palmer – 461
10. Mike Salinas – 421

Funny Car

1. Courtney Force – 937
2. Jack Beckman – 736
3. Robert Hight – 717
4. J.R. Todd – 694
5. Ron Capps – 693
6. Matt Hagan – 669
7. Tommy Johnson Jr. – 606

8. Cruz Pedregon – 508
9. John Force – 502
10. Bob Tasca III – 500

Factory Stock Showdown Series:

Driver of the Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak

Qualified: No. 13 (8.384 E.T. at 164.59 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 8.406 E.T. at 165.33 MPH defeated Leonard Libersher, Foul (Red light)
E2: 8.330 E.T. at 165.46 MPH defeated by Arthur Kohn 8.318 E.T. at 160.81 MPH

“Was really looking forward to that second round today, as a rematch of Charlotte. (Kohn) is an extremely talented racer. We brought our best set-up and our best run of the weekend in some of the worst conditions. It’s definitely not something to hang our head about. It was a close race, technically it doesn’t get any closer than 0.001 at the finish line. It just shows how competitive this class is. Between now and Norwalk we are testing. We don’t take this class lightly by any means. I love hitting that tree, I love this class, I love these racers. We’re looking forward to Norwalk.”


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