Pritchett and Schumacher Advance to Quarterfinals at Virginia NHRA Nationals, Parker Earns Stock Eliminator Victory

  • Leah Pritchett takes her FireAde/Mopar Dodge Top Fuel dragster to quarterfinals
  • No. 1 qualifier Tony Schumacher advances his U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster to round two
  • Randy Parker races to Stock Eliminator overall win and Dodge Top Finisher award
  • Mopar-powered Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T driver Jack Beckman remains second in Funny Car point standings
  • Mopar Express Lane Funny Car driver Matt Hagan fourth in standings
  • Longtime Mopar Sportsman Racer Ed Longhaney earns Dodge Top Finisher in Super Stock
  • More info on Mopar in NHRA available at http://blog.mopar.com
  • New Dodge Garage (www.dodgegarage.com), a digital content hub for muscle car and race enthusiasts, launches and will include highlights from NHRA season

June 10, 2018,  Auburn Hills, Mich. – Mopar Dodge//SRT Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) drivers Leah Pritchett and Tony Schumacher were the DSR drivers to reach the quarterfinals on Sunday, June 10 at the sold-out inaugural Virginia NHRA Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park in Dinwiddie, Virginia. In the NHRA Sportsman ranks, Randy Parker raced his Mopar-powered Dodge Mirada to the Stock Eliminator victory.

Leah Pritchett was the No. 5 Top Fuel qualifier in her FireAde/Mopar Dodge dragster and faced off against Clay Millican in round one. Pritchett advanced easily and gained revenge on her recent final-round loss to Millican in Chicago when he red-lighted and fouled out early, handing the win to the Mopar Dodge driver.

In the quarterfinals, the Southern Nationals winner gave up lane choice to Doug Kalitta, the No. 4 qualifier. Kalitta got the holeshot with a .067 against Pritchett’s .074 and never trailed for the win with his quickest pass of the weekend at 3.817 E.T. versus Pritchett’s 4.023. The FireAde car hazed the tires and dropped a cylinder just past halftrack, ending Pritchett’s chances for a fourth semifinal appearance this season.

No. 1 Top Fuel qualifier Schumacher received a bye in the first round and came up against Richie Crampton in the quarterfinals. They had identical reaction times, but Crampton took the lead with his quickest pass of the weekend at 3.805 to Schumacher’s 3.823 E.T. and advanced to the semifinals.

First up in round one Funny Car eliminations was No. 3 qualifier, a multiple bonus points earner and driver of the NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T, Ron Capps, facing No. 14 qualifier Tim Wilkerson. The veteran duo has faced each other, including today, a total of 59 times. Capps has won 39 of those meetings. However, the two-time Virginia runner-up (2000, 2007) from San Luis Obispo, California, couldn’t capture his 40th [WU1] win against Wilkerson this time out.

Wilkerson got off the starting line first and led to the 60-foot mark before Capps got by him and led to the 660-foot cone before losing traction about the 1/8-mile, as Wilkerson got by for the win.

Last week’s Chicago No. 1 qualifier and two-time Funny Car World Champ Matt Hagan qualified 11th in his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T machine and faced No. 6 qualifier Jonnie Lindberg. Hagan entered the match with a record of three wins in five outings against Lindberg, and the Christiansburg, Virginia, native was anxious to return to his “home” track for the first time since 2009 in a 10,000-plus-horsepower Dodge Charger R/T machine.

The two took part in a good side-by-side race, with Hagan off the line first with a slightly quicker .102 reaction time against Lindberg’s .109. However, Hagan dropped a cylinder and Lindberg picked up the win with a 4.095 against Hagan’s 4.251.

Mopar-powered Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T driver Jack Beckman, the No. 5 qualifier, had lane choice as he faced No. 12 Del Worsham. Beckman previously was a No. 1 qualifier in 2009 and 2008 runner-up at the now newly paved Dinwiddie track.

Both cars launched with close times and both cars smoked the rear tires. It was a pedalfest between the veteran drivers, as both were on and off the throttle. Worsham was able to pedal his car across the finish line first and collected the win with a 4.828 E.T. versus Beckman’s 4.972. Beckman will remain second in Funny Car point standings despite this weekend’s first-round loss.

The always popular Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car driver and No. 10 qualifier Tommy Johnson Jr. faced four-time Richmond winner John Force. Quick out of the gate with a .059 mark to Force’s .070, Johnson was .050 seconds ahead at the 330-foot line, but Force started to close the gap and got by Johnson after the 660-foot marker to take the victory with a 4.141 E.T. to TJ’s 4.233.

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

Leah Pritchett, FireAde/Mopar Dodge Top Fuel Dragster
(No. 5 Qualifier – 3.830 ET)

Rd.1: (.081-second reaction time, 4.630 seconds at 187.94 mph) beat No. 12 Clay Millican (-.031/6.168/99.01)
Rd.2: (.074/4.023/247.02) lost to No. 4 Doug Kalitta (.067/3.817/323.89)

“That run against Clay (Millican) was our redemption round for last week at Chicago. Our power source shut off down the track and the car started feeling erratic. I wasn’t sure Clay red-lighted, so I stayed in it as long as I could, to make sure I got that win light, even though the car was acting up.

“What was difficult about our loss in the second round is that there is nothing we would’ve changed. For us, everything looked perfect. All of a sudden, to smoke at halftrack, that’s not a typical thing. I knew we put in a really hot tuneup. And then for it to surprisingly smoke like that, it was eventful. For us, we’re not letting it get us down even though we can’t change the circumstance of what happened. We feel good about what we came to race with. Ultimately, that’s going to set us up for championship contention, and we’ll take a lot of character and morale to Bristol.”

Tony Schumacher, U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
(No. 1 Qualifier – 3.777 ET)

Rd.1: (.106-second reaction time, 3.825 seconds at 323.74 mph) BYE
Rd.2: (.068/3.823/315.93) lost to No. 8 Richie Crampton (.068/3.805/316.01)

“It was on a 77, 78 run and we spun the tires. There was no reason that far down the track to spin the tires. It was already through the clutch. And there’s nothing we would’ve done differently that could’ve changed what happened. It’s frustrating because we’ve got an amazing U.S. Army car and we’re running great. And it goes out there and it spins the tires on us on an amazing racetrack. We were on a great run, one that would’ve won the round easily, low for the session. And it spins the tires, like it hits a bump where there isn’t a bump. There are really only two explanations for it – I either drove through oil, or I drove through oil (laughs). And then we put a hole out and we lost by just a few feet at the line. It’s frustrating, but we know we’ve got a good car and sooner or later things are going to start going our way on Sundays.”

Ron Capps, NAPA Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 3 Qualifier – 4.039 ET)

Rd.1: (.115-second reaction time, 4.152 seconds at 280.43 mph) lost to No. 14 Tim Wilkerson (.090/4.130/303.43)

“This is what NHRA Drag Racing is. You just never know. As well as we qualified, we never thought that we even had a chance at smoking the tires. The car has been so solid. When you run Tim Wilkerson, you know that it’s going to be a tough race. The car was running really well, and then it started slowly spinning the tires a little past halftrack and then slowly went into more tire smoke, and then I saw Wilkerson out next to me.

“Being the first pair out, we were pretty bummed. We feel like we beat ourselves. We didn’t feel like the car was even going to be close to smoking the tires but watching the rest of the Funny Car session that first round, it was really whoever could get down that track would win. The heat, the humidity; it was a tough first round.”

Matt Hagan, Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 11 Qualifier – 4.088 ET)

Rd.1: (.102-second reaction time, 4.251 seconds at 245.72 mph) lost to No. 6 Jonnie Lindberg (.109/4.095/310.77)

“Very, very tough weekend for Don Schumacher Racing. All four Funny Cars went out first round. We’re still looking at the data. The car is responding to everything we’re asking it to do. Talking to (crew chief) Dickie (Venables), I asked him if he was confident in everything we’re doing, and he said he is. We just needed more data and more runs in these conditions to be able to fill-in these graph sheets. Now that we have less glue and a different prep on the race track, we’ve had to revamp how we run these cars. It’s just taking more runs to get there. Some people are making some hero runs here and there, but really, no one has it totally figured out. We’re really trying hard to get it pinned down to where we can get some more consistency and try and find some more downforce.”

Jack Beckman, Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 5 Qualifier – 4.053 ET)

Rd.1: (.100-second reaction time, 4.972 seconds at 199.94 mph) lost to No. 12 Del Worsham (.083/4.828/228.46)

“The only silver lining today is just about all of the other Funny Cars near us in points lost early. It is the ‘upset nationals’ here at Richmond. Did not see that coming. Never bet on a Funny Car race; qualifying doesn’t matter, you don’t race them on paper. Anybody can win on Sunday. We were picking away towards getting back to our optimal tune-up. We did not see (our car) going up there and throwing us a curveball. We will check the data and we can redeem ourselves in just a few days.”

Tommy Johnson Jr., Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 10 Qualifier – 4.083 ET)

Rd.1: (.059-second reaction time, 4.233 seconds at 272.06 mph) lost to No. 7 John Force (.070/4.141/308.78)

“It was a frustrating weekend. We were off a little bit all weekend. We actually feel good and confident with the new car. We’re starting to figure it out. Heading into Bristol, it’s one of our favorite tracks and we’ve had a lot of success there. I think it’s probably going to be a good weekend for the Make-A-Wish team.”

Mopar Dodge//SRT NHRA Sportsman Spotlight
Randy Parker from Four Oaks, North Carolina, drove his I/SA 1980 Dodge Mirada to a Stock Eliminator victory during the inaugural Virginia NHRA Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park. Powered by a Mopar 360 small-block, Parker’s Dodge was consistent during all six-rounds of eliminations in reaching the finals, where he downed Eugene Monahan. The Wally trophy was Parker’s second NHRA national event career win, and also earned him $500 for being the Dodge Top Finisher in Stock Eliminator at Virginia.

Longtime Mopar Sportsman Racer Ed Longhaney from Wade, North Carolina, advanced to the second round of eliminations in his SS/KA 1974 Plymouth Duster 360. Unfortunately, Longhaney’s race weekend ended earlier when he left too early and red lighted in round two. For his efforts, Longhaney will receive $500 for being the Dodge Top Finisher in Super Stock at the inaugural Virginia NHRA Nationals.

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

Dodge Garage: New Digital Hub for Drag Racing News
Fans now have a new one-stop destination for Mopar and Dodge drag racing news. Dodge Garage 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 a three-part video series “Chasing the Title,” that offers fans a unique, behind-the-scenes glimpse at Pritchett and her DSR team in action.

For information on Mopar on and off the track, check out the Mopar brand’s official blog.

Up Next:
Next on the schedule for the Mopar and Dodge//SRT squad is the Fitzgerald USA NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, scheduled for June 15-17 at Bristol Dragway in Bristol, Tennessee.

2018 NHRA Championship — Point Standings After Round 10 of 24
(Season Wins in Parentheses)

NHRA Funny Car
1. Courtney Force – 856
2. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger R/T (1) – 683
3. Robert Hight – 665
4. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger R/T (1) – 633
5. J.R. Todd – 615
6. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger R/T – 576
7. Tommy Johnson Jr. , Dodge Charger R/T – 554

8. John Force – 468
9. Shawn Langdon – 461
10. Cruz Pedregon – 454

NHRA Top Fuel
1. Steve Torrence – 827
2. Clay Millican – 719
3. Doug Kalitta – 665
4. Tony Schumacher, Mopar HEMI – 641                      
5. Leah Pritchett, Mopar Dodge HEMI (1)– 639

6. Antron Brown – 530
7. Terry McMillen – 521
8. Brittany Force – 518
9. Richie Crampton – 387
10. Scott Palmer – 383