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DSR Reading Pre-Race Report


Reading Pre-Race Report


Dodge NHRA Nationals
Event 19 of 24 (Reading)
NHRA Countdown, Event 1 of 6
Maple Grove Raceway
Mohnton, Pennsylvania
September 14-16, 2018

Noteworthy:

  • Ron Capps returns as the defending Funny Car event champion
  • Capps has been to the final round at Reading the past two years, winning in 2017 and finishing as the runner-up in 2016
  • DSR has ‘doubled up’ at Reading three out of the last four years
  • Tony Schumacher leads the class in number of Top Fuel victories (five) at Maple Grove Raceway
  • Schumacher has been the Reading No. 1 qualifier seven times- the most of any Top Fuel driver at a single event
  • Tommy Johnson Jr.’s first Funny Car event win occurred at the 1999 Reading race

DSR-Owned Track Records:
Top Fuel, E.T.: 3.688 seconds, Antron Brown (2016)

DSR Driver Information:

Top Fuel:


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

Countdown to the Championship Ranking: No. 6

NHRA Reading Event Highlights:
  • Two-time event champion (2015, 2016)
  • Three-time runner-up
    • Top Fuel (2012, 2013)
    • Pro Stock Motorcycle (2004)
  • Three-time No. 1 qualifier
    • Top Fuel (2009, 2011)
    • Pro Stock Motorcycle (2004)
2017 Reading Recap:
Qualified eighth; Semifinal finish (defeated Richie Crampton in E1, Clay Millican in E2; defeated by Brittany Force in E3)

Last event (Indianapolis):
Qualified third; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Brittany Force in E1; defeated by Doug Kalitta in E2)

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

Career Statistics:
400 races; 66 wins (16 Pro Stock Motorcycle); 49 No. 1 qualifiers (11 PSM)

Quotable:
“It’s very important to start the Countdown strong. You have to break out with a series of round wins. In the past when we’ve won championships, we’ve always started off the first three Countdown races really strong. We just need to focus on the first one, then, we’ll focus on the next one and then the next one. Hopefully, you can put yourself in position to attack the final three races and win a championship. At that point, you know you’re going to get everyone’s ‘A’ game and every round is so competitive. So we know that we have to take our game to the highest level. That’s what makes the sport of drag racing so great. It’s head-to-head competition every round at the highest level.”



LEAH PRITCHETT
Driver of the Mopar Dodge 1320 Top Fuel Dragster

Countdown to the Championship Ranking: No. 4

NHRA Reading Event Highlights:
  • 2016 No. 1 Qualifier

2017 Reading Recap:
Qualified sixth; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Terry McMillen in E1; defeated by Steve Torrence in E2)

Last event (Indianapolis):
Qualified sixth; First round exit (defeated by Doug Kalitta in E1)

2018 Season Statistics:
25 round wins; ranked fourth in points

Career Statistics:
112 races; seven wins; ten No. 1 qualifiers

Noteworthy:
  • Earned her first Top Fuel No. 1 qualifier at the 2016 event

Quotable:
"Never a dull moment or a slow roll for this team, that's for sure. All we can work towards is a Denver 2.0. Those are lofty goals, but that is what it's going to take to excel in this Countdown. Picking up qualifying points, and more than just round wins, we need race wins to advance. Some call it pressure to win at a sponsor's race; we call it euphoric opportunity. There is no extra pressure, because we honestly can't do or try any better than we already would, especially as a Countdown-opening race.

"I feel more prepared than ever before because of the performance diversity this race car and team have shown. What have I learned from the other two Countdowns? That you can age monthly daily if you let it. I've also learned that operating out of fear of losing something is not as advantageous as operating out of passion for what could be."



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

Countdown to the Championship Ranking: No. 3

NHRA Reading Event Highlights:
  • Five-time event champion (2003 - 2005, 2008, 2014)
  • Two-time runner-up (1999, 2015)
  • Seven-time No. 1 qualifier (2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2014)

2017 Reading Recap:
Qualified fifth; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Scott Palmer in E1; defeated by Brittany Force in E2)

Last event (Indianapolis):
Qualified seventh; First round exit (defeated by Billy Torrence in E1)

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

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

Noteworthy:
  • Leads the class in number of Top Fuel victories (five) at Maple Grove Raceway: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2014
  • Has been the Reading No. 1 qualifier seven times- the most of any Top Fuel driver at a single event: 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2014

Quotable:
“This is the 12th season of the Countdown and as much as things have changed since 2007, the bottom line is you still have to be at your best during these six races if you want to win the championship. Someone is going to get hot and put up some wins and a lot of times that’s been the difference. We have the capability to be that team this year. I talk about it all the time when I’m out speaking to kids. You know when the test is coming. Your teacher gives you the questions and the answers can be found in the book you have. So over prepare and go with the flow. The U.S. Army team, led by Mike Neff and Phil Shuler, has spent the entire season building the book. We know the test is now and we will show up in Reading prepared to take the test. It’s that simple. Show up ready to be A+ students this weekend and give ourselves a great start in the Countdown.

“I think there are just some tracks where we’ve experienced a great deal of success and there are a lot of factors involved. Reading is one of those historic tracks and such a unique facility. Old school. Throwback to the early days of drag racing. The fans pack that place and you can certainly feel the energy. Most of the time we are racing there when it really matters - in the Fall where we have to win to keep our championship aspirations in line. Maybe one of the last three or four races of the year. This year, we are starting the Countdown at Maple Grove so the stakes are just as high. We’ve proven over the years that this U.S. Army team performs at its best when the stakes are the highest. It might be the first Countdown race, but we’re approaching it like it’s the bottom of the ninth and the winning run is on second base. We want to be the first winner and set the tone for the rest of the Countdown. Maple Grove is the perfect place for us to do that.”



Funny Car:

JACK BECKMAN
Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

Countdown to the Championship Ranking: No. 6

NHRA Reading Event Highlights:
  • Two-time event champion (2008, 2015)
  • 2012 No. 1 qualifier

2017 Reading Recap:
Qualified fifth; Semifinal finish (defeated Cruz Pedregon in E1; Jonnie Lindberg in E2; defeated by Courtney Force in E3)

Last event (Indianapolis):
Qualified 11th; First round exit (defeated by Courtney Force in E1)

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

Career Statistics:
294 races; 28 wins; 24 No. 1 qualifiers

Quotable:
"It’s hard to believe we’ve completed 18 races and have now moved into the Countdown. Maple Grove is one of those tracks where you never know what you’re going to get, weather-wise. It could be cool and provide record-style runs, or it could be hot and muggy. Either way, the plan is to finish the weekend with our Infinite Hero Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat parked in the winner’s circle. That’s the goal every weekend, but particularly so at Dodge’s own race. Before we even get to racing, we’ll begin our weekend with the Mopar Block Party on Thursday evening, and I encourage everybody in the area to come out. It’s free, and Mopar does such a great job with the event every year.

"As we have now moved into the Countdown, we’re coming off of a race at Indianapolis where we stumbled and actually dropped two positions in the standings, however the silver lining for the Infinite Hero team is that we moved closer to first place with the points reset. Now it’s going to be about optimizing every single run. It’s not just about winning the race, it’s about winning rounds and it’s about gathering up as many of those qualifying bonus points as possible. It’s not something that’s out of our reach, it’s not something we don’t try and do every single race, but it’s going to be mandatory if you want to have that big ‘No. 1’ on the side of your car at the end of the year."



RON CAPPS
Driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T

Countdown to the Championship Ranking: No. 4

NHRA Reading Event Highlights:
  • 2017 event champion
  • Three-time runner-up (1999, 2000, 2016)

2017 Reading Recap:
Qualified third; Event champion (defeated Jim Campbell in E1; Tommy Johnson Jr. in E2; Matt Hagan in E3; Courtney Force in E4)

Last event (Indianapolis):
Qualified 13th; First round exit (defeated by Tommy Johnson Jr. in E1)

2018 Season Statistics:
27 round wins; ranked fourth in points

Career Statistics:
525 races; 60 wins (one Top Fuel); 21 No. 1 qualifiers

Noteworthy:
  • Returns as the defending Funny Car event champion
  • Has been to the final round at Reading the past two years, winning in 2017 and finishing as the runner-up in 2016

Quotable:
"We won the Maple Grove race last year. We had such a great season, eight wins and all of those final rounds, and almost winning the championship. To go back to Maple Grove as the first race of the Countdown is something new for all of these teams in the NHRA. It’s going to be a different approach; the weather will be different. It’s one of the greatest race tracks we go to on the circuit. It’s run by a great group of people, and with Bill Bader on-board with the track now is fantastic; we’ve seen what he does with Norwalk.

"With Dodge as a major sponsor and all of the fun stuff we do with the Mopar Block Party on Thursday night, that adds to it. I’ve driven a Dodge longer than anybody out here and it’s a feather in my cap to know that I represent Dodge and HEMI, so I’m excited about everything going on at Maple Grove. But, it’s going to go by fast. These six races for a championship happen so fast, that’s why I’m so happy to have (crew chief) Rahn Tobler and the NAPA AutoCare team with me as we approach the Countdown."



MATT HAGAN
Driver of the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

Countdown to the Championship Ranking: No. 2

NHRA Reading Event Highlights:
  • 2014 event champion
  • 2010 runner-up
  • Two-time No. 1 qualifier (2010, 2016)

2017 Reading Recap:
Qualified second; Semifinal finish (defeated Jeff Diehl in E1, Tim Wilkerson in E2; defeated by Ron Capps in E3)

Last event (Indianapolis):
Qualified third; Event runner-up (defeated Jonnie Lindberg in E1, Courtney Force in E2, Shawn Langdon in E3; defeated by J.R. Todd in E4)

2018 Season Statistics:
27 round wins; ranked second in points

Career Statistics:
234 races; 29 wins; 34 No. 1 qualifiers

Quotable:
"Reading is a huge race. I’m going in early to do a school visit. I’ll get to talk to some folks about Mopar, staying in school and committing to graduate, which is pretty cool. It’s always great to see young faces; people that are driven, want to learn and are eager to work out in our industry. After that, I’ll have the pleasure of having dinner with John Fox of Mopar. Then, Thursday we kick things off with the Mopar Block Party. It’s such a big thing, they’ll have simulators, a midway, bands, homerun derby, just cool activations all the way around. Hopefully the weather holds out, but that’s Maple Grove, it’s typically rainy, cloudy, but it’s always fast. I’ve won the Grove before and want to win the Grove again.

"Heading into the Countdown, we have six races to win the championship. Coming off of a runner-up finish at Indy and we’re second in points, so it’s almost like a clean slate to get this thing rolling. Very eager, very hungry, very driven to win my third championship. We have a team that can do it. We’ve been consistent all year long. We just want to be positive and have fun in this Countdown. For me, it’s all about making sure my team is upbeat; surrounded by positive vibes. We’re working hard everyday to make sure we accomplish our goals."



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

Countdown to the Championship Ranking: No. 7

NHRA Reading Event Highlights:
  • Two-time event champion (1999, 2016)
  • 2014 event runner-up
  • 2006 No. 1 qualifier

2017 Reading Recap:
Qualified 11th; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Alexis DeJoria in E1; defeated by Ron Capps in E2)

Last event (Indianapolis):
Qualified fourth; Semifinal finish (defeated Ron Capps in E1, Tim Wilkerson in E2; defeated by J.R. Todd in E3)

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

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

Noteworthy:
  • First Funny Car event win occurred at Reading at the 1999 race

Quotable:
"Excited to get to Reading and start the Countdown. It’s a track where I’ve done well these past few years, not so much last year, but I won it the year before and was runner-up in 2014. So, I’m looking forward to getting back there. To have Dodge sponsor the race, and the Mopar Block Party beforehand, it’s turned into one of the premiere events. Looking to start the Countdown off on the right foot and hopefully we can continue the momentum we’ve had lately and move ourselves up quickly in the points and be a real contender for the championship."​
 

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