Schumacher Runner-up in Mopar-powered U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster at Dodge NHRA Nationals

  • Tony Schumacher jumps into tie for second in NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoff standings with runner-up showing
  • Final round is fifth of season for Schumacher, eighth at Maple Grove Raceway, 152nd of his career
  • Don Schumacher Racing driver Ron Capps races Mopar-powered Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car to semifinals
  • Capps is fourth in Countdown standings, less than 30 points out of first
  • Leah Pritchett runs to quarterfinals in Mopar Dodge 1320 “Angry Bee’ Top Fuel dragster, ends weekend fourth in standings
  • Matt Hagan keeps Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car in top five of Countdown battle despite early exit
  • Tom Sheehan, Nick Reiter earn Dodge Top Finisher honors

September 16, 2018,  Mohnton, Pennsylvania – Tony Schumacher advanced to his fifth final round of the season and 152nd of his career, finishing runner-up in his Mopar-powered U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster at the Dodge NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway near Reading, Pennsylvania.

Schumacher handled Dan Mercier in round one, then knocked out Scott Palmer in a close quarterfinals battle, using a 3.827-second elapsed time at 323.19 mph to beat Palmer’s 3.833/324.59 to the finish stripe. In the semifinals, “The Sarge” left first with a .047 reaction time and battled through dropped cylinders to post a winning 3.939/292.96 against Antron Brown, who smoked the tires early.

Schumacher’s eighth career final round at Maple Grove Raceway featured a marquee matchup with points leader Steve Torrence, but the eight-time Top Fuel champion lit up the tires early and watched as Torrence pulled away for the event win. Schumacher now has three runner-ups to go along with his five career wins at the Dodge NHRA Nationals, and with his performance jumped up into a tie for second in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs.

Ron Capps recorded four consistent runs in the three-second range during qualifying to post his Mopar-powered Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car fifth in qualifying, and continued to do the same in eliminations with a 3.972/324.26 pass to send home Jonnie Lindberg. In the quarterfinals, Capps quickly made up a slight starting line deficit to outgun Cruz Pedregon with a 3.972/319.07 run that was second quickest of the round.

The defending Dodge NHRA Nationals event winner matched up against J.R. Todd in the semifinals. Capps’ string of three-second runs came to an end, and his 4.014/315.12 paired with a solid .051 reaction time fell short of Todd’s winning 3.975/320.28 mark. Capps stayed fourth in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs with his semifinals showing, less than 30 points out of first as he pursues his second career Funny Car championship crown.

Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) driver Leah Pritchett started No. 3 and opened eliminations against Audrey Worm with a strong 3.786/323.50 pass in her Mopar Dodge 1320 “Angry Bee’ Top Fuel dragster, earning the two-time 2018 race winner lane choice over Antron Brown in the quarterfinals. Pritchett’s quick .034-second reaction time boosted her “Angry Bee” to the lead off the line, but a loss of traction followed by a fiery engine bang ended her quest for a first career win at Maple Grove Raceway. Pritchett remains fourth in the NHRA playoff chase.

Tommy Johnson Jr. kicked off eliminations from the No. 3 spot after blasting to the quickest run of the final qualifying session. Behind the wheel of his John Collins-led Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge, Johnson claimed victory over first-round opponent and fellow Mopar Dodge driver Jim Campbell. Round two found the two-time Reading champion matched up against reigning world champion Robert Hight. The two drivers were nearly even until just past the 330-ft cone, when Hight pulled ahead for the round win. Johnson leaves Maple Grove Raceway sitting in the seventh spot in the NHRA Countdown rankings.

Two-time NHRA Funny Car World Champion Matt Hagan’s campaign for a third title got off to a rocky start at the first race of the NHRA playoff series. Hagan entered race weekend fresh off of a runner-up finish in his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat and ranked second in the Funny Car standings. The 2014 Reading champion qualified 10th for race day and was locked in a close first-round race with John Force until just past halftrack, when Hagan’s machine slowed to a 4.164 E.T., with Force taking the win with a 4.007 second pass. Hagan is now fifth in the Countdown standings.

Infinite Hero Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car driver Jack Beckman started race day in the No. 4 spot with the goal of adding to his two career wins at Maple Grove Raceway. Beckman had the edge off the starting line against Cruz Pedregon in round one, but smoked the tires near the 330-ft. mark and slowed to a losing 5.135/152.07 effort. “Fast” Jack, the 2012 NHRA Funny Car World Champion, leaves Reading in the eighth position in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs.

Mopar Dodge//SRT NHRA Sportsman Spotlight
Tom Sheehan of Belle Vernon, Pennsylvania, raced his Super Stock GT/NA 2000 Chrysler Sebring to a round three finish at the Dodge NHRA Nationals, earning the Dodge Top Finisher award in the class. Powered by a 318 cubic-inch Mopar small-block V8 engine, Sheehan’s Super Stock was running high ten-second times all weekend, paired with strong reaction times. Unfortunately, Sheehan missed his dial-in in the third round of eliminations, ending his day.

In Stock Eliminator, another Keystone State native, Nick Reiter of Warminster, Pennsylvania, drove his 1971 D/SA Dodge Charger R/T to a second round finish and Dodge Top Finisher honors. Reiter qualified 5th among 40 competitors with a 10.59-second run on an 11.55 index in his Charger, powered by a Mopar 440 Six Pack V8. During eliminations, Reiter left the starting line too soon and bowed out on a red-light foul.

The Dodge Top Finisher award, now in its second year, awards $500 to Stock Eliminator and Super Stock drivers who advance the furthest behind the wheel of a Mopar-powered Dodge, Chrysler, or Plymouth race car at all 24 NHRA national events.

Mopar Dodge//SRT NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series: Notes & Quotes

Tony Schumacher, U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
(No. 2 Qualifier – 3.754 ET)

Rd.1: (.070-second reaction time, 3.816 seconds at 326.40 mph) beat No. 15 Dan Mercier (.098/5.372/133.18)
Rd.2: (.082/3.827/323.19) beat No. 7 Scott Palmer (.079/3.833/324.59)
Rd.3: (.047/3.939/292.96) beat No. 6 Antron Brown (.059/4.206/254.33)
Rd.4: (.067/4.196/234.82) lost to No. 4 Steve Torrence (.036/3.819/325.45)

“We got a lot better here this weekend and I’m happy about that. We’ve got a really good U.S. Army car right now. We still have some changes to make, but we are close. We were absolutely terrible in Indy. To come here and qualify number two and then make good runs down the track all weekend is exactly what had to happen. In the final against Torrence, we were very aggressive in our approach. There’s a bump out there that goes across the track. We struggle with that one area, but a lot of cars did. We won some rounds today and leave here tied for second in the points. It’s time for a battle. We have five races to go. Those will all be monster battles coming up with extremely good cars. It’s time for the fans to show up. The drivers to show up. The teams to show up and the game to be played. I love it.”

Ron Capps, NAPA Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 5 Qualifier – 3.942 ET)

Rd.1: (.076-second reaction time, 3.972 seconds at 324.28 mph) beat No. 12 Jonnie Lindberg (.060/4.356/243.63)
Rd.2: (.073/3.972/319.07) beat No. 13 Cruz Pedregon (.045/4.126/289.51)
Rd.3: (.051/4.014/315.12) lost to No. 8 J.R. Todd (.038/3.975/320.28)

“We came into Reading as the only car to make three-second passes all throughout qualifying. I shut off a little early in the semifinals when J.R. Todd crossed the finish line and it went 4.01; it may have run another three (second run). But the point is, that’s seven more runs under power without tire smoke or tire shake. That’s the consistency that we like to keep up, and that’s the pressure we like to put on our opponents. Things are clicking well for our team. It’s unfortunate we lost that close race today, but points are pretty bunched up. We said coming into the Dodge Nationals, you can’t win the Countdown this weekend, but you can certainly lose it, and we had a great start. We’ll take this, build on it and head to St. Louis.”

Leah Pritchett, Mopar Dodge 1320 Top Fuel Dragster
(No. 3 Qualifier – 3.758 ET)

Rd.1: (.055-second reaction time, 3.786 seconds at 323.50 mph) beat No. 14 Audrey Worm (.220/4.004/265.01)
Rd.2: (.034/4.300/199.29) lost to No. 6 Antron Brown (.062/3.840/313.51)

“There’s definitely more positives than negatives, and all of that shows in our data. We’re going to have more momentum heading into St. Louis than we did coming here, actually. That creates a lot of confidence for us. A mechanical gremlin caused us to smoke the tires (in round two), and on race day, you pedal and leg it out and try and make it to the finish line first and that didn’t happen second round. But, I’m feeling better as a driver. This team is jelling better and harder than they’ve been in a long time.

“We’re just five days away from doing it all over again. Some drivers don’t like swings, I personally love them. Right back into it is exactly where I want to be. This is my third Countdown opportunity and it takes every single thing out of you, to do what we do at this professional level. We’ve been preparing for this all year long and it’s time to see who can stand out during this last sprint of the marathon.”

Tommy Johnson Jr., Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 3 Qualifier – 3.921 ET)

Rd.1: (.113-second reaction time, 3.950 seconds at 321.73 mph) beat No. 14 Jim Campbell (.107/6.714/98.20)
Rd.2: (.067/4.012/318.24) lost to No. 11 Robert Hight (.056/3.946/325.77)

“We had such a good race car all weekend and to come up short second round, it’s just frustrating. It was an opportunity to make up some ground in points; we did a little, but it could’ve been a really good day for points. I still think we have a really strong car for the Countdown. We’ll regroup, go to St. Louis and see if we can’t continue the streak we’re on.”

Matt Hagan, Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car
(No. 10 Qualifier – 3.960 ET)

Rd.1: (.075-second reaction time, 4.164 seconds at 257.97 mph) lost to No. 7 John Force (.056/4.007/326.87)

“Life is full of bounce back situations. You have to be down in order to be up sometimes. Obviously, going out first round like that is not how we wanted to start this Dodge race. At the end of the day, it comes down to digging deep and working hard and figuring out what the issues are and racing our car the way we know how. I came in this morning thinking that we really had the car to beat John (Force). He’s a good racer and I have a lot of respect for him, but at the end of the day, I feel like I have the best crew chief out there, and I think that’ll show at the end of the season. We’ve got another race coming up really quick; we don’t have to worry about sitting on this loss for a whole weekend. Thank you so much to Mopar and Dodge and what they put into this deal.”

Jack Beckman, Infinite Hero Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car
(No. 4 Qualifier – 3.939 ET)

Rd.1: (.088-second reaction time, 5.135 seconds at 152.07 mph) lost to No. 13 Cruz Pedregon (.105/4.214/225.33)

“Sometimes drag racing is would’ve, could’ve and should’ve. We had a great race car with our Dodge Hellcat Charger, and we lost first round. We watched Courtney Force, the No. 1 car in points, smoke the tires and get beat right in front of us, and we didn’t capitalize on that. We came in here in sixth place, and we’re likely going to lose ground. There’s no reason to beat ourselves up about it; they (the race cars) are 11,000 horsepower, slightly unpredictable beasts.

“We have to be smart. We have to figure out what we should have done better, put that in our brains, in our data loggers, take that with us to St. Louis and try our best to be better every single run. We’re going to have to capitalize on qualifying bonus points. We did a great job of that this weekend, but at the end of the day they (qualifying runs) are only worth three points per run, where round wins are worth 20. That’s where we are going to have to win the championship.”

Up Next: AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals
Mopar-powered Dodge//SRT racers will go right back to work next weekend at the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals, set for September 21-23 at Gateway Motorsports Park, the second race of the six-event NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs. Ron Capps drove his Mopar-powered Dodge Charger R/T to the Funny Car event win last year at the track near St. Louis. Leah Pritchett will once again pull double duty, driving both the Mopar Dodge Top Fuel dragster as well as her Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak, which she steered to a win in the NHRA Factory Stock Showdown class at the NHRA U.S. Nationals in early September.

Dodge Garage: Digital Hub for Drag Racing News
Fans now have a one-stop destination for Mopar and Dodge drag racing news. Dodge Garage (http://www.dodgegarage.com) is a digital content hub and premier destination for drag racing and muscle car enthusiasts.

Fans can view daily updates and get access to an online racing HQ, news, events, galleries, available downloads and merchandise. Dodge Garage features include exclusive content, such as the “Chasing the Title” video series, which offers fans a unique, behind-the-scenes glimpse at DSR drivers and teams in action on and off the track.

For information on Mopar on and off the track, check out the Mopar brand’s official blog, http://blog.mopar.com.

2018 NHRA Championship — Point Standings After Round 19 of 24
(Season Wins in Parentheses)

NHRA Funny Car
1.  J.R. Todd — 2166
2.  Robert Hight — 2143
3.  Courtney Force — 2141
4.  Ron Capps, Dodge Charger R/T (2) — 2137
5.  Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat (3) — 2112

6.  Tim Wilkerson — 2101
7. Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger R/T — 2090
8.  Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat (2) — 2080

9.  John Force — 2064
10. Shawn Langdon — 2054

NHRA Top Fuel
1.   Steve Torrence – 2219
2t.  Tony Schumacher, Mopar Dodge HEMI (1) — 2169
2t.  Clay Millican — 2169
4.   Leah Pritchett, Mopar Dodge HEMI (2) — 2118
5.   Antron Brown — 2116
6.   Doug Kalitta — 2103
7.   Mike Salinas — 2067
8.   Terry McMillen — 2062
9.   Scott Palmer — 2053
10. Brittany Force — 2052