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DSR St. Louis Pre-Race Report


St. Louis Pre-Race Report


AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals
Event 20 of 24 (St. Louis)
NHRA Countdown, Event 2 of 6
Gateway Motorsports Park
Madison, Illinois
September 21-23, 2018

Noteworthy:

  • Tony Schumacher will reach the '500 events' milestone this weekend at the NHRA Midwest Nationals
  • Ron Capps returns as the defending Funny Car event champion
  • Antron Brown leads the professional classes as the most victorious driver in Gateway Motorsports Park NHRA history, having won five events
  • Brown has won four of the last six St. Louis events
  • Capps leads the Funny Car category in most wins (four) at Gateway
  • DSR has been victorious, picking up a win in at least one category every year since the reintroduction of the St. Louis race in 2012
  • Capps' first Funny Car event win occurred at the 1997 event
  • Tommy Johnson Jr. secured his first Funny Car No. 1 qualifier at the 1999 event
  • Leah Pritchett and Mark Pawuk return to Factory Stock Showdown Series competition since racing to an event win and runner-up finish, respectively, at the previous FSXX race

DSR-Owned Track Records:
Top Fuel, speed: 332.75-mph, Leah Pritchett (2017)
DSR Driver Information:

Top Fuel:


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

Countdown to the Championship Ranking: No. 5

St. Louis Event Highlights:
  • Five-time event champion (2009, 2012 - 2015)
  • 2005 runner-up (Pro Stock Motorcycle)
  • Two-time No. 1 qualifier
    • Pro Stock Motorcycle (2001, 2004)
2017 St. Louis Recap:
Qualified sixth; Semifinal finish (defeated Terry McMillen in E1, Tony Schumacher in E2; defeated by Steve Torrence in E3)

Last event (Reading):
Qualified sixth; Semifinal finish (defeated Brittany Force in E1, Leah Pritchett in E2; defeated by Tony Schumacher in E3)

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

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

Noteworthy:
  • Leads the four professional classes as the most victorious driver in Gateway Motorsports Park NHRA history, having won five events
  • Has won four of the last six St. Louis events

Quotable:
“This Countdown is rough, but that’s the way it’s supposed to be. We had a great start to the Countdown in making the semifinals at Maple Grove. Any time you can kick off the Countdown in the top four it’s a plus. We just need to get a couple of things leveled out. We’re going to keep pushing hard. I’m very excited to get down to Gateway. It’s always been a great racetrack for us. We’ll come out swinging and if we keep doing what we’re doing, I think we’re going to be in the right spot. We have five races left, so we’re definitely still in the championship hunt."



LEAH PRITCHETT
Driver of the Papa John's Pizza Top Fuel Dragster

Countdown to the Championship Ranking: No. 4

2017 St. Louis Recap:
Qualified second; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Ashley Sanford in E1; defeated by Steve Torrence in E2)

Last event (Reading):
Qualified third; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Audrey Worm in E1; defeated by Antron Brown in E2)

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

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

Noteworthy:
  • Reset the Gateway Motorsports Park Top Fuel speed record during the 2017 event (332.75-mph)
  • Will pull double-duty, competing in both Top Fuel and the Factory Stock Showdown Series
    • Raced to victory at most recent FSXX event (Indianapolis)

Quotable:
“My thoughts on St. Louis are concise and simple. Steady and ready. Racing two cars at an event having such pendulum championship percussions will be the epitome of focus and attention to detail. I talk about the strive for perfection, and these are the times it matters most; the times I look forward to most.

“We continue to slightly tweak our strategy to find that extra edge, and this weekend is no different. The overall game plan is always the same – grab as many qualifying points as possible, and race one round at a time. We had some extensive carnage from our second round in Reading that brought on an extra workload for the crew this week. A St. Louis win right now is really what they deserve, and what we plan to deliver in the Papa John’s Pizza Top Fuel dragster this weekend.”

Regarding the Factory Stock Showdown Series:
“I am not a fan of the 25-pound weight gain mandated to the Mopars, as well as the 25-pound weight minimum reduction to the COPOs and Cobra Jets, but there’s nothing we can do about it now. I’m working on being even faster, and the team is working on laying down more power.”



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

Countdown to the Championship Ranking: No. 2 (tied)

St. Louis Event Highlights:
  • Two-time event champion (2006, 2010)
  • Three-time runner-up (1999, 2008, 2016)

2017 St. Louis Recap:
Qualified third; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Troy Buff in E1; defeated by Antron Brown in E2)

Last event (Reading):
Qualified second; Event runner-up (defeated Dan Mercier in E1, Scott Palmer in E2, Antron Brown in E3; defeated by Steve Torrence in E4)

2018 Season Statistics:
26 round wins; tied for second in points

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

Noteworthy:
  • Will reach the '500 events' milestone this weekend at the NHRA Midwest Nationals

Quotable:
"It’s been proven that wins in the Countdown go a long way toward winning the championship. When we first won in St. Louis back in 2006, things were a lot different. It was in June, we were coming off consecutive championships and had not won a race yet and were struggling through a tough start to the year. We get that first win and what happened later that year was a historical run that probably had something to do with a Countdown being created. We fell behind Doug Kalitta by 346 points during that season and ended the year having to win the final race and set a new world record to be champions, and we did it. Bottom of the ninth, bases loaded, two outs and we absolutely had to come up big and we did. That mentality and ability to come through when the pressure was at its highest is something we’ve carried on with this U.S. Army team ever since. This weekend, we are taking the same approach in St. Louis. We have to go out and get qualifying points each round. And like last week, we must put ourselves in a position to win Sunday. You have to string together wins. Round by round. Race by race.”



Funny Car:

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

Countdown to the Championship Ranking: No. 8

St. Louis Event Highlights:
  • Two-time event champion (2012, 2016)
  • Two-time runner-up (2010, 2013)
  • 2012 No. 1 qualifier

2017 St. Louis Recap:
Qualified sixth; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Del Worsham in E1; defeated by Ron Capps in E2)

Last event (Reading):
Qualified fourth; First round exit (defeated by Cruz Pedregon in E1)

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

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

Quotable:
“With consecutive first-round losses at Indy and Maple Grove, our backs are up against the wall. Nobody is panicking on the Infinite Hero team because we know we have the people and the resources to be competitive. That being said, if we’re going to be a factor in the championship, St. Louis is a race where we almost certainly have to make the final round to stay up near the top and within reach of the points lead. I’ve had success there before; it propelled me to my 2012 championship, and I think if our Charger Hellcat with Pennzoil is going to be the one crowned the season champions this year, our path starts in St. Louis.”



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

Countdown to the Championship Ranking: No. 4

St. Louis Event Highlights:
  • Four-time event champion (1997, 2005, 2007, 2017)
  • 2009 runner-up
  • 2009 No. 1 qualifier

2017 St. Louis Recap:
Qualified third; Event champion (defeated Jim Campbell in E1, Jack Beckman in E2, John Force in E3, Jonnie Lindberg in E4)

Last event (Reading):
Qualified fifth; Semifinal finish (defeated Jonnie Lindberg in E1, Cruz Pedregon in E2; defeated by J.R. Todd in E3)

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

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

Noteworthy:
  • Returns as the defending Funny Car event champion
  • Leads the Funny Car category in most wins (four) at Gateway
  • Raced to his first Funny Car event win at the 1997 event

Quotable:
“You can certainly tell it's the playoffs, NHRA Countdown time, by looking around the pit area last weekend at the opening race in Pennsylvania. We had said that while you can't win the championship the first couple of races of the Countdown, you can certainly put yourself in a position to lose a chance at the championship. Our NAPA team did a great job of getting off on the right foot; a semifinal finish gave us a good start.

“Now we head to St Louis and Gateway Motorsports Park, which for me, holds a lot of great memories as well as always seems to give us great momentum every year we race there. Not only are we going in as defending event champions, but Gateway Motorsports Park is also where I got my very first NHRA professional win in the Funny Car division. I've been lucky enough to visit the winner’s circle at that track several times.

“We talk about how important momentum is in the Countdown. (Crew chief Rahn) Tobler and our NAPA AutoCare team has worked very hard to make sure that we are ready for anything thrown at us in the six-race playoffs. I'm looking forward to getting on the track and continuing the momentum that we started in Pennsylvania last weekend and trying to repeat our win from last year at Gateway Motorsports Park.”



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

Countdown to the Championship Ranking: No. 5

St. Louis Event Highlights:
  • Three-time runner-up (2012, 2014, 2015)
  • Two-time No. 1 qualifier (2013, 2015)

2017 St. Louis Recap:
Qualified eighth; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Tommy Johnson Jr. in E1; defeated by Robert Hight in E2)

Last event (Reading):
Qualified tenth; First round exit (defeated by John Force in E1)

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

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

Quotable:
“Coming off of a really tough race in Reading. Didn’t qualify that great, didn’t have lane choice and went out first round. Not the way we wanted to start the Countdown but to be at the top, you have to feel what it’s like to be at the bottom. It’s all about adversity and bouncing back and working hard. We really need a good race in St. Louis. It needs to be kind to us to make sure we stay in this hunt and that we have an opportunity to win this championship for Mopar, Pennzoil, Sandvik with this new Hellcat body. I know from the outside looking in things probably don’t look that good right now, but we’re making some changes that I think will point us in the right direction for these last five races. I have confidence in (crew chief) Dickie (Venables) and my team. It’s just a matter of making sure it comes together for the next couple of races. The pressure is always there; we’re just going to focus and do what we know how to do.”



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

Countdown to the Championship Ranking: No. 7

St. Louis Event Highlights:
  • Two-time runner-up (2001, 2016)
  • 1999 No. 1 qualifier

2017 St. Louis Recap:
Qualified ninth; First round exit (defeated by Matt Hagan in E1)

Last event (Reading):
Qualified third; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Jim Campbell in E1; defeated by Robert Hight in E2)

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

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

Noteworthy:
  • Secured his first Funny Car No. 1 qualifier at the 1999 event

Quotable:
“Always love racing in St. Louis. It’s kind of where I grew up. My dad got his only national event win there so one of these days, I’d like to get a win there as well. We’ve got a great car right now. Unfortunately, we lost a close race second round (at Reading), but we’re still in the hunt. Funny Car points are about as tight as they could be right now. With the momentum, and the way we’ve been running lately, I think it’s just a matter of time. Hopefully this is the year we get that St. Louis win.”​
 

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