This weekend, the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series heads to Charlotte, North Carolina, and the legendary zMAX Dragway for the 4-Wide Nationals. While the Don Schumacher Racing Funny Car teams will be trying to reel in points leader Robert Hight, Leah Pritchett will pull double duty while trying to defend her Factory Stock Showdown Series title while chasing her first Top Fuel championship.
Let’s take a look at the Mopar-backed Don Schumacher Racing as they go into the sixth event of the season.
LEAH PRITCHETT – Driver of the Pennzoil MOPAR Top Fuel Dragster:
Currently sitting in fifth place for the Top Fuel points, Leah Pritchett’s Pennzoil Mopar Top Fuel Dragster team is looking to making up some ground in the points race. Last year, at this event the team qualified 15th, before being defeated in the first round by Dom Lagana and Clay Millican.
“Charlotte is the most unique race of the year for me personally, and I am excited for it. There is not another event where I compete four-wide and two-wide in the same weekend. Performance wise, the Pennzoil team led by Todd Okuhara and Neal Strausbaugh have a very good handle on the Top Fuel car, and I am working on what it takes to have a consistent mindset in an ever-fluctuating pressure-filled environment to give them the same consistent wining results. On the Factory Stock side, this is a huge race with the new updates to our competition rules in order to maintain parody in the class. I know we have a competitive MOPAR Drag Pak that I love driving and working with so this will be one heck of a battle. This weekend for me is truly about being the driver I know I am and turning on win lights for our dedicated fans who have shown support for our teams, no matter what colors we adorn. Running the chrome Pennzoil car again feels good and I can’t wait to get some redemption for the Pennzoil nation.” – Leah Pritchett
JACK BECKMAN – Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT:
Currently ranked 5th in the Funny Car points, “Fast Jack” Beckman and his Infinite Hero Foundation team have shown they have what it takes to be serious contenders in Charlotte. Beckman is the 2011 and 2015 event winner while coming in the runner-up spot in 2017. The team is looking to improve after a disheartening finish in Houston, being defeated in the first round by Bob Tasca III.
“We made the final quad at the Vegas Four-Wide earlier this year even though we struggled during qualifying. From there, we went to Houston where we went back to our normal two-wide format, and now we’re going into our next and final Four-Wide of the year, and I like it. I like the format. I find it challenging and I’ve had good success with it. You want to get a win out of the way early in the season to set the tone for the rest of the year. We’ve got a good car, we took a beating with a parts failure in Houston and I think it’s time to get back on the horse. I know we have a car that’s capable of winning the race, and Charlotte has been so great to me. I won the inaugural two-wide there, I’ve won their Four-Wide twice and I’d love to leave with another trophy.
“We will back to the traditional purple and black Infinite Hero scheme this weekend. We ran a one-off MD Anderson livery on the car at our last event in Houston, but we continued to raise funds for injured veterans. In fact, NHRA fans bought 83 more challenge coins at the last race and it’s just another way we get to change lives in a positive way.” – Jack Beckman
RON CAPPS – Driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT:
Ron Capps and his NAPA Auto Parts team are no strangers to the winner’s circle at Charlotte. The team won the 2017 4 Wide Nationals. After qualifying 2nd in the last event in Houston, the team was defeated by teammate Matt Hagan in the 3rd round of eliminations. Last year in Charlotte, the NAPA team qualified 2nd and was eliminated in the 2nd round. Currently, in the 7th position in points, Ron Capps and his team are looking to improve their position in the Funny Car points.
“We feel like we have unfinished business after leaving the Vegas Four-Wide Nationals. We only get to run the four-wide format twice a year and for me personally, it’s growing on me more and more every time we do it. It’s something different for us. It’s certainly something different for the fans. After this weekend, it’s back to the normal two-wide racing for the rest of the year. Getting the Four-Wide win at zMAX a few years ago was definitely a notch in the belt for our team. You feel like you really earned something when you go through a weekend of four-wide racing. It brings out a lot of different emotions in drivers. It really heightens everything. I’m pumped up. Plus, we really feel like we’re gaining momentum. I told our NAPA Nation fans that our car is getting better and better and to hang in there because we’re gaining momentum with every run we make. I really felt like we had the car to win the race in Houston. It’s getting there. I can see the confidence growing in (crew chief) Rahn Tobler with every run we make. It’s that time of year, we need to make some strides and get back up in the points and I think we have the team to do it.” – Ron Capps
MATT HAGAN – Driver of the Pennzoil/Mopar ExpressLane Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT:
Matt Hagan is currently sitting 2nd in the Funny Car points standings. In Houston, the team finished runner-up to Robert Hight, the current points leader. The Pennzoil/Mopar ExpressLane team look to edge out the John Force Racing team of Robert Hight, with a great performance in Charlotte, an event Hagan won in 2013.
“zMAX Dragway is about three hours from home so I’m looking forward to getting down there and mixing it up with a lot of local folks. We’re coming off of a final round in Houston, and we’ll be running the Pennzoil car again. Our Dodge Hellcat has been performing great. The guys are working hard and putting a solid race car underneath me. My lights have been good; everything is coming around. This will be our second four-wide event of the year. We had a little practice in Vegas earlier this season and we feel pretty good going into this weekend. Hopefully we can turn on three win lights on Sunday.” – Matt Hagan
TOMMY JOHNSON JR. – Driver of the Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT:
The two-time zMAX Dragway No. 1 qualifier and the runner-up is looking to gain some ground in the points this weekend. In Houston, the team was defeated by teammate Matt Hagan and the team fell to 6th in the Funny Car points.
“I’m looking forward to Charlotte. We were runner-up a few weeks ago at the Vegas Four-Wide Nationals. We came close. I’ve been to a four-wide final a few times now so hopefully we can put a win in the books this weekend. The four-wide format is an interesting challenge, but I enjoy it.
“My family lives in the Charlotte area and my mom hasn’t been doing well, so I’d love nothing more than to park our Make-A-Wish Hellcat in the winner’s circle this weekend and cheer her up a little.” – Tommy Johnson, Jr
|NHRA FRIDAY NITRO||Friday, April 26||8:00pm – 9:00pm ET||FS1|
|NHRA SATURDAY NITRO||Saturday, April 27||11:00pm – Midnight ET||FS1|
|FINALS||Sunday, April 28||6:00pm – 9:00pm ET||FS1|
2019 NHRA Championship — Point Standings After Round 5 of 24
(Season Wins in Parentheses)
NHRA Funny Car
1. Robert Hight (3) – 476
2. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT (1) – 366
3. J.R. Todd (1) –341
4. John Force – 339
5. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT – 332
6. Tommy Johnson, Jr., Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT –315
7t. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT – 286
7t. Tim Wilkerson – 286
9. Bob Tasca III – 250
10. Shawn Langdon – 223
NHRA Top Fuel
1. Doug Kalitta (1) – 367
2. Brittany Force (1) –349
3. Steve Torrence – 343
4. Mike Salinas (1) – 320
5. Leah Pritchett, Mopar HEMI – 303
6. Clay Millican – 302
7. Antron Brown – 278
8. Billy Torrence (1) – 265
9. Richie Crampton (1) – 264
10. Terry McMillen – 231