After surpassing an unprecedented milestone of 350 NHRA national event victories at the U.S. Nationals, Don Schumacher Racing will descend on Gainesville, Fla. this week with an opportunity to add another achievement to its impressive list of accolades – extending its current Funny Car win streak to 10-in-a-row during the NHRA Gatornationals, September 26-27.
The drag racing powerhouse has claimed nine consecutive Funny Car victories dating back to the October 2019 Ennis, Texas event. Achieving 10 consecutive wins in a single category is a tall order, but DSR’s lineup of Funny Car drivers know how to get the job done. Jack Beckman, Ron Capps, Matt Hagan, and Tommy Johnson Jr. each had a part in securing DSR’s 10-event-sweep in 2017, the only other time in NHRA history in which a professional team collected 10 back-to-back trophies in one class.
While the competition is fierce in the Funny Car category, no other team has been able to prevent DSR’s four-car fleet of Dodge Charger SRT Hellcats from bringing home the hardware in 2020. Throughout the first six races of the current season, the DSR Funny Cars have been unstoppable. So far this year, Beckman, Capps, Hagan, and Johnson have all delivered a W for the Brownsburg, Ind.-based team at least once, and the DSR Dodge Hellcats have qualified No. 1 five times, and battled head-to-head in the final round three times.
DSR occupies the top three spots in the Funny Car point rankings, with Beckman leading the class. Hagan and Johnson sit No. 2 and 3, respectively, and Capps rounds out the top five. Including this weekend’s rescheduled event at historic Gainesville Raceway, there are five races left until 2020 champions are crowned, and each of DSR’s Funny Car pilots is on pace to be a strong contender to win this year’s NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Funny Car title, setting the stage for what is sure to be a fierce battle for the ultimate prize until the very end. With championship implications heating up, Beckman, Capps, Hagan, and Johnson all realize a win this weekend at Gainesville Raceway will help to cement their bid for a championship run. Funny Car qualifying begins at 12:45 p.m. ET on Saturday, September 26.
“With a maximum of 20 rounds of eliminations left, and the fact that this championship is the first since 2006 that will be determined based on cumulative points, a win at Gainesville could prove essential to winning this year’s championship.”
“We have a great streak going with the DSR Dodge Funny Cars, but one of the things I love about Don Schumacher is that you’d never know it. He is throttle down and when you talk to him, you’d think that we haven’t won a race in two years, and I don’t mean that in a negative way. I mean it as in, he wants you to go up there and just absolutely crush your competition, and that’s what we’re trying to do. He’s ultra-competitive.
“I think with the NAPA team, you’re going to see more of what you saw at the last two Indy races, and that is, pushing it. We’re going to push it quite a bit more than we would have before. We won Indy 3 which was great, and we made up a lot of points there. Qualifying No. 1 during the first session of the U.S. Nationals, and then every other session we gathered those qualifying bonus points. We were one of the top three cars during every run, and I think that’s what you’re going to see at these last five races because really, it’s like a mini Countdown, and that’s how you have to approach it. Our teammates and J.R. Todd are ahead of us, but it doesn’t matter. When a world championship is on the line, we know we’re going to have to defeat the best cars anyways. I’m looking forward to this championship chase because I think you’re going to see a different mentality from (crew chief) Rahn Tobler and our NAPA team, and a little more aggressiveness.”
“The package we’ve created this year has been great. We’ve won a few races. The points battle is always a dogfight, but especially this year with no points reset. Everything is coming down to these last few races, and it’s going to be a battle to the end. Our DSR team cars are tough, there’s just no way around it. My teammates are good drivers, good leavers, they have good race cars, good tuners, and all of the same parts and pieces that we do, so it’ll come down to who will have the best tune-up/driver combo. I’ve won a championship with (crew chief) Dickie Venables before (2014), and my first in 2011, so I understand the pressure, and what it takes to get there. You just have to sit back and trust in your team and allow all of the hard work they’ve put in over the year and the winter to come to you. I’m just going to drive this Dodge Hellcat as best as I can, and focus on turning on four win lights this weekend.”
|“The points battle has come down to three of us from the same team, and the pressure is on. We know what the remaining schedule is going to be, we know how many races are left to gain as many points as we can. The U.S. Nationals didn’t go the way we had planned. We had some unfortunate parts damage first round that cost us the win and really hurt us with points. We had been looking so good.|
“Gainesville isn’t necessarily a must-win, but it’s a ‘must do really well’ weekend and we need to get a lot of good points so we can come out of there and still be in the race with my teammates. They’re going to be tough. I know what kind of competition they are, and what they have, and we’ll have to bring our best. It’s just like any other year; when it comes down to crunch time, you have to be on your game, and hopefully, we’ve got all of our bad luck and misfortune out of the way and we can make a real run at it these last five and see what we can do.”