NHRA New England Nationals
Event No. 6 of 21
New England Dragway
June 11-13, 202
DSR Elimination Highlights:
Antron Brown maintained his No. 2 ranking on the Top Fuel leaderboard
Brown and Leah Pruett advanced to the Top Fuel quarterfinals
No. 1 Funny Car qualifier Matt Hagan clocked the quickest E.T. of round one to earn a bid to round two
Driver of the Matco Tools Toyota Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 6 (3.792 E.T. at 323.89 MPH)
E1: 3.773 E.T. at 324.98 MPH defeated Brittany Force 3.843 E.T. at 319.07 MPH
E2: 3.850 E.T. at 319.22 MPH defeated by Billy Torrence 3.837 E.T. at 326.79 MPH
The 2021 Matco Tools paint scheme made its competition debut at the NHRA New England Nationals, and three-time Epping finalist Antron Brown qualified his new-look machine sixth on the strength of his 3.792-second Q3 pass. Brown drew Brittany Force as his round-one competitor, and the former world champions were the first two drivers to take to the track on Sunday morning. Against Force, Brown was first out of the gate and posted his best run of the weekend to defeat his opponent and capture the first win light of race day. In round two, Brown squared off with Billy Torrence. Both Brown and Torrence were nearly even launching off of the starting line with Brown claiming the early lead. Their machines kept pace until the eighth-mile marker when Torrence pulled ahead to claim the narrow victory.
“We have a lot of confidence. This Matco Tools car is running so consistently for Toyota and TRD and Global Electronic Technology and Hangsterfers and everybody out here who supports us. We’re working on fine-tuning this thing and we didn’t try to slow the car down that much in round two, but it did; it just slowed down too much. I staged safe and shallow, and was waiting for Billy Torrence and I wanted to get him on the tree, but I still didn’t have the light I wanted. I can be better than a .70 light. We got through a tough first round and we just really wanted to get past that second round to have a Bye into the finals. We’ll take our licks and bruises today and we’re looking forward to getting to Norwalk. We have a week off to regroup. It’s going to start getting hot during the summer and we want to get better. We’ll be there in those final rounds soon, contending for those race wins.”
Driver of the DSM Precision Manufacturing Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 10 (3.927 E.T. at 278.92 MPH)
E1: 3.771 E.T. at 324.28 MPH defeated Justin Ashley 4.063 E.T. at 274.78 MPH
E2: 3.811 E.T. at 323.12 MPH defeated by Steve Torrence 3.823 E.T. at 320.13 MPH
Celebrating her 25th NHRA anniversary at the New England Nationals, DSM Precision Manufacturing Top Fuel pilot Leah Pruett was hoping her ‘silver anniversary’ weekend would end with Wally gold. As the No. 10 seed, Pruett overcame a rough qualifying outing by clocking a stout 3.771-second pass in round one of eliminations to defeat Justin Ashley and avenge last event’s first-round loss to her fellow championship contender. Pruett’s win over Ashley pitted her against Steve Torrence in the quarterfinals. Once again, Pruett’s DSM machine ran another solid pass, crossing the finish line beams in 3.811 seconds, but Torrence’s starting line advantage was enough to propel him to the holeshot victory.
“A second-round exit is not what we had in mind for this DSM Precision Manufacturing dragster today. The silver lining on the weekend is that we have a car that is having conversations with us. We had the second-quickest E.T. of round one, and that was awesome with that 3.771. We were behind a little bit after having some bad data from the weather station during qualifying. The team did a phenomenal job of getting us qualified and into a winning position on race day. The first-round win was great. We had never been able to beat Justin Ashley before, so that was a boost for this team. The second round was just a good, close drag race. We lost on a holeshot and that’s on me. Walking away from this, we have a race car that is properly working and we’re now very confident heading into Norwalk where we get to pull double-duty with the Dodge SRT dragster and Factory Stock Dodge Drag Pak."
Driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 2 (3.927 E.T. at 324.59 MPH)
E1: 4.292 E.T. at 263.20 MPH defeated by Terry Haddock 4.214 E.T. at 253.23 MPH
Ron Capps and the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Funny Car team were solid during qualifying at the NHRA New England Nationals, posting the third-quickest run of Q2 followed by the quickest run of Q3 to earn four bonus points and the No. 2 starting position. Capps had raced to a runner-up finish at the previous event (Houston), and his best qualifying pass of 3.927 seconds put him in a good position to have another long race day of advancing deep into the field at New England Dragway.
The two-time Epping winner faced No. 13 qualifier Terry Haddock in the first round. Capps and the NAPA AUTO PARTS team felt confident in their ability to defeat Haddock which would have positioned Capps to have a Bye into the semifinals based on the way the Epping ladder was set up. Capps nabbed the starting line advantage over his opponent but started hazing the tires near halftrack. The veteran wheelman finessed the pedal, attempting to get his machine to recover, but it soon gave way to a fiery explosion. Capps maneuvered his machine to a stop and was able to safely exit his vehicle, while Haddock claimed the upset win.
“Haddock has been running well and we knew we couldn’t take them lightly, so we definitely were prepared to lay down a good number. ‘Guido’ (crew chief Dean Antonelli) came on the radio and said ‘we need to make sure we win this round’ because we knew there was a Bye into the semis and you can’t take that for granted. The car was driving fine, it was smooth, it didn’t seem out of control, and all of a sudden, the tires came loose. I waited and gave it a pedal and then the car blew up and caught fire. I didn’t even realize it at that point because I was trying to stay on it and get ahead of Haddock, and then just before the finish line, I saw him drive by. By then, my legs started to feel really hot so I just wanted to get the car stopped and get out of there. The fire burned up my suit pretty badly, and I’ve got to give credit to Impact Racing. My Impact firesuit protected my legs, and other than a little soreness, I’m alright. The suit did what it was supposed to do.
“The whole situation is a bummer because if we would’ve won that round, we would’ve had an automatic Bye to the semis, so it’s just disappointing to give up rounds like that. But, we’ll comb through all of the data, figure out why it smoked the tires, and head to Norwalk.”
Driver of the DSR Performance Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye
Qualified: No. 1 (3.891 E.T. at 331.53 MPH)
E1: 3.935 E.T. at 327.11 MPH on a Bye run
E2: 3.983 E.T. at 328.06 MPH defeated by Tim Wilkerson 3.956 E.T. at 324.44 MPH
Starting race day from the pole for the 41st time in his career and first time this season, three-time defending New England Nationals Funny Car champion Matt Hagan put himself in prime position to vie for a fourth straight Epping win on Sunday. He began his quest for the 2021 New England trophy by powering the DSR Performance Dodge Hellcat down the dragstrip in 3.935 seconds on a Bye run, which held up to be the quickest E.T. of the round. The defending Camping World Series Funny Car champion then faced Tim Wilkerson in round two where he took his machine on another smooth, solid pass but found himself on the wrong side of a good drag race when Wilkerson was able to outrun to the finish line, recording a 3.956 E.T. to Hagan’s 3.983.
“It was a pretty good weekend at Epping. We qualified No. 1 for the first time this year and got that yellow No. 1 Camping World hat. The car ran really well, and we have a really good race car. We were just on the bad side of a good drag race that second round against Tim Wilkerson. You’re going to have those. You lose more than you win, but when you do win them, it makes them that much more special. Our turn for a win is right around the corner, so I’m really looking forward to Norwalk. We’re doing everything right to turn on the win lights, but sometimes you get on the bad side and that’s just racing. Last year we were on the right side of most of those races. You pay your dues, work hard and it will come around for ya, and that’s what we’re doing right now. We’ll roll into Norwalk and be excited for a great weekend. We’re glad to get DSR Performance and the DSR.parts website some good exposure with getting the No. 1 qualifier this weekend. The car looked good and it ran good, too. There’s so much racing left this season. This is only our sixth race in and there’s so much racing left, but it’s all about the finish and we’re a marathoner, not sprinting.”
NHRA Camping World Countdown to the Championship Standings (unofficial): Top Fuel
Bob Tasca III
About Don Schumacher Racing:
Established in 1998 as a single-car Top Fuel team, Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) has grown to become the winningest organization in NHRA Drag Racing history, and further cemented its position as one of motorsports’ elite teams when it surpassed the ‘350 wins’ milestone during the 2020 season. DSR owns 18 world championships in three different NHRA categories, and including hall-of-fame team owner Don Schumacher’s five NHRA Funny Car triumphs from the 1970s, DSR has been successful in capturing 359 national event victories overall.
Headquartered in Brownsburg, Indiana, DSR fields four professional teams competing in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series. Three-time world champion Antron Brown, and double-duty driver Leah Pruett headline DSR’s Top Fuel dragster team. DSR’s two Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Cars are driven by 2016 Funny Car world champion Ron Capps, and Matt Hagan, who earned his third NHRA series title in 2020.
DSR also campaigns two entries in the Factory Stock Showdown Series. The duo of DSR Dodge Drag Paks is piloted by Pruett, the 2018 series champion, and former Pro Stock racer Mark Pawuk.
For more information, visit shoeracing.com, or Follow Us @shoeracing on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Public Relations Manager
Don Schumacher Racing [email protected]