The National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) returns to the Texas Motorplex near Dallas, Texas with a new look for this weekend’s AAA NHRA Texas FallNationals. Gone are the Mello Yello sponsorship colors of the series and in its place are the colors of RV sales giant Camping World, which becomes the new series title sponsor after a legal dispute between CocaCola and the NHRA.
It also means that teams will be eager to win the first racing under the new title sponsor banner. The Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) team will be looking to secure its 12th consecutive Funny Car victory this weekend. The undefeated streak first began an entire year ago, dating back to the 2019 Texas event when Matt Hagan raced to the FallNationals winner’s circle.
Each of the DSR’s Funny Car drivers have contributed to at least two Wally trophies, during their 11 win run. DSR previously set the consecutive win record in a class at 10 races, during the 2017 season with the same driver lineup. In addition to keeping the win streak alive, the DSR Funny Car contingent will also be battling it out for the point lead. Currently, Hagan occupies the No. 1 spot, with Jack Beckman, Tommy Johnson Jr., and Ron Capps rounding out the top four, respectively.
So let’s look at the teams going into this weekend’s race…
LEAH PRUETT – Driver of the Mopar Dodge SRT Hellcat Redeye Top Fuel Dragster:
Pruett comes into the weekend currently sitting third in the Top Fuel point standings. With 14 round wins this season, she is still looking for her first Wally this season. For the fifth time this season, Leah will be pulling double duty, as she will be competing in both Top Fuel and the Factory Stock Showdown class in her Dodge Challenger Drag Pak.
“Busy week for all since the St. Louis incident. The team has been working diligently on preparing our spare car that Tony (Schumacher) had just gained possession of before Gainesville, and they’re getting a strong handle on it. Our spare has a fresh front-half on it now and we are not letting the ‘chassis roulette’ effect our championship hunt. Our eyes and focus are forward to Dallas and maintaining our strategy of qualifying well for the best Sunday result. I personally have been approaching a full recovery and am very much looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of both my Redeye Top Fueler and Dodge Drag Pak.” – Leah Pruett
JACK BECKMAN – Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat:
Coming into the weekend second in the Funny Car points chase, Beckman is looking to capture his third win of the season and his first win ever at Texas. He sits 16 points out of first. Beckman previously maintained the No. 1 ranking during six of the first eight races and has never dropped below second. “Fast Jack” has been a runner-up twice in his career at Texas (2009, 2015).
“This year marks the 35th year of the Texas Motorplex, and let me tell you, I was there for ‘year one.’ I drove a thousand-mile round trip with a buddy of mine from the Air Force to be at the 1986 Nationals, and it was breathtaking. Texas Motorplex is a state-of-the-art facility and there was nothing like it at the time. It still makes the hair on my arms stand up just thinking about it. I’ve had so many awesome experiences at Dallas over the years. What I have not had, is a winner’s circle, and we fully intend to fix that this year.” – Jack Beckman
RON CAPPS – Driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat:
Capps was successful in picking up a Texas Motorplex win in 1998 at the discontinued Dallas 1 event but is still searching for his first FallNationals victory. He has been a three-time runner-up (2011, 2016-2017) and a two-time No. 1 qualifier (1997, 2005) at the FallNationals. Ron has two event wins, 13 round wins, and ranks fourth in points.
“I have to be honest, every time we’re talking about these upcoming races, I think some of us are taking this for granted. It was only a few months ago that we were all wondering what was going to go on with the NHRA season, and while it’s been a crazy year, we obviously hoped that we were going to see some of these race tracks back on our schedule. Props to NHRA for keeping us out racing. I’m always excited to go to Dallas and visit Billy Meyer’s Texas Motorplex. Billy is an old Funny Car driver and I always thought the world of him, especially when he built the ‘super track’ back in the day. It’s a great race track, the fans are unbelievable there. It’s great for our sport to get back there. 2020 has been weird, but look how it’s blossomed into having Camping World come on board, and the fact that I get to strap into the NAPA AUTO PARTS Funny Car a few more times this year is awesome. We’re pumped to get to Dallas and try and move our way back up into the point standings and see if we can run for the championship this year.” – Ron Capps
MATT HAGAN – Driver of the Pennzoil Synthetics Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat:
Coming into this weekend’s event as the points leader, Hagan will also be sporting a new look. Instead of the Hellcat Redeye-themed paint scheme he has been running lately, we will get to see him in his new black and yellow paint featuring sponsor Pennzoil. Hagan has had a lot of success at the FallNationals as a three-time event champion (2010, 2016, 2019) and a runner-up (2012). As the Funny Car point leader, Hagan has two wins in three final rounds in 2020. He raced to a runner-up finish during the previous event in St. Louis.
“Rolling into Dallas as the new point leader, obviously there’s pressure all year long but now it’s time to make sure we keep that lead. We made up so much ground these last few races and were able to take the No. 1 spot from Jack Beckman. The points are still super tight though, and at the end of the day, Dallas is another race. Our car has been running really well all season long and (crew chief) Dickie Venables has a great handle on the tune-up. Going to a new track, new conditions, only two qualifying sessions, you just never know, but we’ll take it one round at a time. We’re running the Pennzoil scheme for the first time this year and it’s exciting to show them some new love, especially in their home state of Texas. We’re looking forward to doing big things, we’re blessed to do what we do, and I’m really proud of my team. Going to go out here and have some fun.” – Matt Hagan
TOMMY JOHNSON JR. – Driver of the MD Anderson Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat:
Johnson enters the weekend as the most recent Funny Car winner on tour and will be looking to pick up his third win of 2020 and first at Texas Motorplex. He currently sits 34 points out of first and ready to put the pressure on the rest of his teammates. Tommy has shown some success in Texas with a runner-up spot (1999) and was the No. 1 qualifier in 2018.
“Looking forward to Dallas, especially with the momentum coming off of the win at our last race in St. Louis. It’s getting down to crunch time, only three races left.”
“Texas Motorplex is such a historic track. I’ve been going there for years, and there are quite a few sentimental memories there. This year, with the limited NHRA schedule, we weren’t sure what would end up back on our schedule, but I’m certainly happy we’re able to go to the Motorplex, the original all-concrete track. The conditions should be good for everybody. It’ll be interesting, we’ve had extreme heat followed by extreme cold at the last two races, so maybe we’ll meet somewhere in the middle this weekend. Our MD Anderson team needs to go rounds and we would love nothing more than to win it this weekend; that would help our cause a lot. Not only are we battling everyone else for the race win, but we’re battling our teammates for the points. It’s going to come down to the wire, but I’m looking forward to building off of the momentum we’ve got.” – Tommy Johnson, Jr.
AAA NHRA FallNationals T.V. Schedule:
|SATURDAY QUALIFYING||Saturday, October 17||7:30pm – 8:30pm ET||FS1|
|SUNDAY QUALIFYING||Sunday, October 18||1:00pm – 2:00pm ET||FS1|
|FINALS||Sunday, October 18||2:00pm – 5:00pm ET LIVE||FS1|