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DSR Epping Pre-Race Report


Epping Pre-Race Report


NHRA New England Nationals
Event 13 of 24 (Epping)
New England Dragway
Epping, New Hampshire
July 6-8, 2018

Noteworthy:

  • Matt Hagan returns as the defending Funny Car event champion
  • Hagan enters the New England event fresh off of his second win of the season (Norwalk)
  • Leah Pritchett claimed the 2017 Top Fuel No. 1 qualifier when she powered to the quickest pass in New England Dragway history (3.673-seconds)
  • Antron Brown has been to the final round at Epping the past two years, winning in 2016 and finishing as the runner-up in 2017
  • Tony Schumacher and Ron Capps lead their classes in number of victories at New England Dragway, both with two Epping wins
  • Brown leads the Top Fuel class in number of No. 1 qualifiers (two) at Epping
  • Capps' Dodge Charger R/T will feature a patriotic NAPA Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund livery

DSR-Owned Track Records:
Top Fuel, E.T.: 3.673-seconds, Leah Pritchett (2017)

DSR Driver Information:

Top Fuel:

ANTRON BROWN
Driver of the Matco Tools Top Fuel Dragster

NHRA Epping Event Highlights:
  • 2016 event champion
  • 2017 runner-up
  • Two-time No. 1 qualifier (2014, 2016)
2017 Epping Recap:
Qualified fourth; Event runner-up (defeated Shawn Reed in E1, Scott Palmer in E2, Leah Pritchett in E3; defeated by Brittany Force in E4)

Last event (Norwalk):
Qualified fifth; First round exit (defeated by Blake Alexander in E1)

2018 Season Statistics:
Ten round wins; ranked seventh in points

Career Statistics:
394 races; 65 wins (16 Pro Stock Motorcycle); 49 No. 1 qualifiers (11 PSM)

Notable:
  • Leads the Top Fuel class in number of No. 1 qualifiers (two) at Epping: 2014, 2016
  • Has been to the final round at Epping the past two years, winning in 2016 and finishing as the runner-up in 2017

Quotable:
"Epping has always been a good track for us. It’s an east coast track not too far from where I grew up in New Jersey. It’s one of those old school tracks with a new really smooth concrete surface. It can get hot during the day in July, but then it cools off. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see it down in the low 60s when we run on Friday night. You have to adapt to different situations, but I think that suits our Matco Tools/U.S. Army/Toyota team. This is the time of the year when our team usually starts to sort things out and get ready for the Countdown. We’re building and getting better each race and I think when the Countdown comes, we’re going to peak at the right time."



LEAH PRITCHETT
Driver of the Mopar Top Fuel Dragster

NHRA Epping Event Highlights:
  • 2017 No. 1 Qualifier

2017 Epping Recap:
Qualified No. 1; Semifinal finish (defeated Bye in E1, Steve Torrence in E2; defeated by Antron Brown in E3)

Last event (Norwalk):
Qualified eighth; Semifinal finish (defeated Doug Kalitta in E1, Clay Millican in E2; defeated by Blake Alexander in E3)

2018 Season Statistics:
16 round wins; ranked fifth in points

Career Statistics:
106 races; six wins; eight No. 1 qualifiers

Quotable:
"We always have confidence going into a race, but I think a little bit more for this one. We believe this Mopar crew gained control of an intermittent issue over the past events that’s caused added levels of difficulties to qualifying and race day.

"There may have been a week off from racing, but the workload did not slow down, with the team making repairs from the (four-race) swing and restocking inventory. Not to mention, a heavy travel itinerary for me focusing on upcoming campaigns and the future.

"We are taking the Norwalk momentum into Epping. I look forward to (seeing) all of our northeast fans, specifically because they haven’t gotten their NHRA nitro drag racing fix since Englishtown was removed from the schedule. Hard to believe we are already at the halfway point, but just like on the track, the guys have been preparing for the clutch to kick in and this season to really start pulling."



TONY SCHUMACHER
Driver of the U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster

NHRA Epping Event Highlights:
  • Two-time event champion (2014, 2015)
  • 2015 No. 1 Qualifier

2017 Epping Recap:
Qualified third; First round exit (defeated by Smax Smith in E1)

Last event (Norwalk):
Qualified fourth; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Kyle Wurtzel in E1; defeated by Blake Alexander in E2)

2018 Season Statistics:
16 round wins; ranked third in points

Career Statistics:
492 races; 84 wins; 87 No. 1 qualifiers

Notable:
  • Leads the Top Fuel class in number of victories at Epping (two): 2014, 2015

Quotable:
“I can’t think of a better place to be coming off the Fourth of July. We really look forward to racing in Epping. It’s a vintage race track where the fans are seemingly right on top of you. We’ve had a little bit of time since Norwalk and I know I’m focused on getting back in the U.S. Army machine. I’ve been saying all year that we have a really good car. We’ve had to adapt to some new challenges out here, but Mike Neff, Phil (Shuler) and the U.S. Army guys have kept battling. We put it all together in Bristol and celebrated not only Father’s Day, but the U.S. Army’s birthday by getting the win. We’ve won a couple times in Epping and we’re shooting for (win) number three there this weekend.”



Funny Car:

JACK BECKMAN
Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T

2017 Epping Recap:
Qualified fifth; First round exit (defeated by Del Worsham in E1)

Last event (Norwalk):
Qualified 11th; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Tim Wilkerson in E1; defeated by Matt Hagan in E2)

2018 Season Statistics:
17 round wins; ranked second in points (tied with Matt Hagan)

Career Statistics:
288 races; 27 wins; 24 No. 1 qualifiers

Quotable:
"We're headed back to the northeast to officially kick-off the second half of the season. We're going to have four races in five weeks; it's a very hectic summer schedule.

"Our team hasn't been to a final round in way too long. We have a new car and a new clutch, we're adapting to new track conditions across the tour, and John Medlen, Dean Antonelli and Neal Strausbaugh have digested a whole lot of data. We stayed and tested after Norwalk and I feel like this is the point where our commitment and sacrifice is going to start paying dividends."



RON CAPPS
Driver of the NAPA Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund Dodge Charger R/T

2017 NAPA Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund Funny Car
NHRA Epping Event Highlights:
  • Two-time event champion (2014, 2016)
  • 2016 No. 1 Qualifier

2017 Epping Recap:
Qualified third; Semifinal finish (defeated Jeff Diehl in E1, Bob Tasca III in E2; defeated by Courtney Force in E3)

Last event (Norwalk):
Qualified second; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Jeff Diehl in E1; defeated by J.R. Todd in E2)

2018 Season Statistics:
15 round wins; ranked sixth in points

Career Statistics:
519 races; 59 wins (one Top Fuel); 21 No. 1 qualifiers

Notable:
  • Leads the Funny Car class in number of victories at Epping (two): 2014, 2016
  • Capps' Dodge Charger R/T will feature a patriotic livery to support the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund
    • NAPA continues to be a committed partner to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund (IFHF) which serves United States military personnel experiencing Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS). To date, the NAPA family has donated more than $10 million to IFHF

Quotable:
“We are very lucky on our NHRA circuit to have races like the one we're going to this weekend at New England Dragway. When they first announced that we were going back to the east coast/Boston-area, it brought a big smile to my face because as a kid growing up in California I read about the history of that facility as well as the racers from that area.

“As far as the race itself, it’s an unbelievable track to both drive on and for the crew chiefs to apply their magic to catapult these nitro funny cars down at unbelievable times and speeds. As far as off the track and leading up to the race, I've always had a huge relationship with our NAPA customers and fans from the Maine, Massachusetts, and of course the New Hampshire area. You could tell from the first year we came back to New England Dragway just how passionate these race fans are by the line leading into the race track as well as the packed grandstands and pit area.

“We've had great success with our NAPA AUTO PARTS team, winning the New England Nationals two times and setting the track record, so we can’t wait to get started on Friday and try to do it again.”

On the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund:
"One cool thing I really look forward to every year is being able to not only support but also run a special paint scheme with NAPA and the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, and this year, we’re getting to run it at the New England Nationals.

"Our NAPA team is extremely proud to run this year’s paint scheme at Epping to not only celebrate Independence Day weekend, but also to celebrate the NAPA family that as of now, has helped to raise more than 10 million dollars for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. That makes us all very proud."



MATT HAGAN
Driver of the Sandvik Coromant Dodge Charger R/T

NHRA Epping Event Highlights:
  • 2017 event champion

2017 Epping Recap:
Qualified fourth; Event champion (defeated John Force in E1, Del Worsham in E2, Tommy Johnson Jr. in E3, Courtney Force in E4)

Last event (Norwalk):
Qualified third; Event champion (defeated Tommy Johnson Jr. in E1, Jack Beckman in E2, J.R. Todd in E3, Courtney Force in E4)

2018 Season Statistics:
18 round wins; ranked second in points (tied with Jack Beckman)

Career Statistics:
228 races; 28 wins; 32 No. 1 qualifiers

Notable:
  • Enters New England Dragway fresh off of an event win; his second victory of the season (Norwalk)
Quotable:
"Coming off a win so we have that momentum going for us. We're tied for second in the points with (Jack) Beckman. It's midway through the season, and a win at Epping would be a great way to split the difference and try and start to close the gap on (points leader) Courtney (Force). It's going to be tough to catch up with her but I think maybe we can pull away from Jack a little bit.

"Epping is a race that I've won. I'm returning as the defending champion. It's always a good, fast race track. I remember racing up there back in the day with Pro Mods. The crowds are always good, the track itself is really nice, and the weather is usually pretty good. I think it's going to be a little warmer this weekend, but all in all, I'm just excited to get back up there and eat some lobster and do big things.

"It's been nice to have a little break (since Norwalk) and get caught up on the farm. My wifes about ready to pop. (Her due date) is about 20 days away, and we have a lot going on, but just going to try and focus when I get up to Epping and hopefully pull off another win. Our team is capable, (crew chief) Dickie Venables has been getting a lot more confident, and my lights have been really good so hopefully we'll keep that rolling."



TOMMY JOHNSON JR.
Driver of the Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger R/T

NHRA Epping Event Highlights:
  • Two-time runner-up (2015, 2016)
  • 2015 No. 1 Qualifier

2017 Epping Recap:
Qualified ninth; Semifinal finish (defeated J.R. Todd in E1, Mike Smith in E2; defeated by Matt Hagan in E3)

Last event (Norwalk):
Qualified 14th; First round exit (defeated by Matt Hagan in E1)

2018 Season Statistics:
11 round wins; Ranked seventh in points

Career Statistics:
434 races; 17 wins (two Top Fuel); 15 No. 1 qualifiers (one Top Fuel)

Quotable:
"I'm looking forward to going to Epping. It's one of my favorite races on the tour. I can't wait to see all of the fans. Epping has a old-school feel, and there's something really cool about racing there. We've done well at Epping the past few years so I'm looking forward to getting back up to the northeast, and I think it's going to be a great event."​

 

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