The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series heads to Virginia Motorsports Park near Richmond, Virginia this weekend and the Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) teams are ready for action. Ron Capps and his NAPA Auto Parts team enter the weekend as the most recent Funny Car winner on tour after picking up the 62nd win of his career. So let’s take a look at the rest of the DSR Mopar teams, going into NHRA Virginia Nationals.
LEAH PRITCHETT – Driver of the MOPAR Dodge Top Fuel Dragster:
Leah Pritchett goes into the Virginia Nationals pulling double-duty for the third time this year, while she continues to defend her Factory Stock Showdown series title as well as looking to win the Top Fuel Championships. Last year, she qualified fifth at the Virginia Nationals taking her car to a quarterfinal finish. Currently, sitting fourth in the Top Fuel points, Leah looks to make some headway this weekend in the points.
“Virginia might be for lovers, but we plan on bringing all of the fight. We feel confident that our Top Fuel program is back and primed in a position to bring us our first gold man of the year.
“In Factory Stock, an additional rule change has been made ensuring further parity in the class. For the first time all year, I honestly feel we have a shot at going rounds and winning this race without miracle acts now that we have these larger pulley changes. We have a lot of ground to make up, but it starts with qualifying well and that’s what we’re focused on.” – Leah Pritchett
JACK BECKMAN – Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT:
Jack Beckman is looking to rebound after a disappointing finish in Atlanta with a first-round exit. Now the Infinite Hero Foundation team is focusing on moving up the point ladder, where they currently sit 8th in the point standings. The team currently has nine-round wins this season.
“We’ve had three subpar outings in a row for a variety of reasons and it’s frustrating. When you know you have a team capable of winning a race and you’re struggling to get to the semifinals, you’re underachieving. The fix for that isn’t qualifying No. 1, it isn’t another final round, it’s the yellow ‘event winner’ hat.
“We’re going back to Richmond. This is the second year since it came back on tour. Last year it was the smoothest track we’d raced on in over a decade but it didn’t have a whole lot of rubber for grip down on it. So, it’ll be interesting to see how much its evolved over the last year and if our crew chiefs can use some of the data that we have to run even more consistently there.” – Jack Beckman
RON CAPPS – Driver of the NAPA Brakes Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT:
After winning in Atlanta, the NAPA Auto Parts team returns wearing the colors the won with. The paint scheme was only supposed to run in Atlanta, but after an overhelming response from fans, it returns and the team is hoping the luck will continue this weekend. Capps has never won at Virginia, however, he has been a runner-up twice (2000 & 2007). Currently, the team sits 7th in the points standings.
“Obviously coming off a win is always big. It’s great to have momentum anytime you can get it, especially in the Funny Car class. We’ve seen some teams’ kind of run away with it but the NAPA team has battled. I wouldn’t say we’re out of the trenches, but we’ve battled to stay afloat. We knew a win was coming soon, and the confidence I have in our NAPA AutoCare team is always huge. No matter where we qualify, we can win from any position and that’s exactly what happened at our last race in Atlanta.
“For me, Richmond is a track that means a lot. It’s one of the first places I went as a rookie in Top Fuel. We traveled from California out there; I drove the 18-wheeler, worked on the car and drove the Top Fuel car, and we ended up staying on the road for about a week. We met some people down the road that owned a grocery store that took us in and we became friends with them, so it’s always meant a lot to be able to go there and race. Richmond is one of two tracks on our circuit that I personally have never won at. It sure would mean a lot to get a win there and carry on the momentum we have right now. We know that track is as good as it gets. It’s probably one of the best on our whole circuit, surface-wise, so the fans are going to see some great side by side racing.” – Ron Capps
MATT HAGAN – Driver of the Shelor Motor Mile Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT:
After a first-round exit in Atlanta, Matt Hagan sits in 2nd place in the points. However, he is 191 points behind the leader, Robert Hight. The team goes into Virginia wearing their Shelor Motor Mile colors. With NHRA legend John Force only 2 points behind, Hagan is looking to make some headway at his home track.
“Headed into Richmond and I’m really excited about it. It’s a home track for me. I started Pro Mod racing there back in the day and just have a lot of good memories from that track. This will be our second year back in Dinwiddie and it’s a great facility, but the best part is my friends and family can drive there. We’re going to be running the Shelor Motor Mile car this weekend which is really cool because it’s in the area and my family has had a lot of support at DSR. It’s a great opportunity for everyone that runs up I-81 to see Shelor and then see the car on the race track.
“Hopefully we can turn on four win lights this weekend. We’re still No. 2 in points and have a great race car, we’re just coming off of a little bit of a rocky deal in Atlanta. We got a little bit behind the eight ball during qualifying and that first round loss was tough but going into Richmond I feel confident. We have one of the best cars we’ve had in a long time. I’m excited, every time I put my helmet on and get into my car I know we’re capable of winning the race.
“I’m glad Capps pulled out a win in Atlanta. Robert (Hight) is still leading the points but it was good Capps was able to take the win there. Still a long season left to go. Our Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT is running great, our guys are working so hard; they’ve done such a good job. I think between me, (crew chief) Dickie (Venables) and (assistant crew chief) Mike Knudsen, we’re going to turn on a lot of win lights and win some more races here soon. I can’t wait to say hi to all of our local Virginia supporters. Plus, it’s going to be a MOPAR race, so all around good vibes this weekend.” – Matt Hagan
TOMMY JOHNSON JR. – Driver of the Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT:
After going to the semifinals in Atlanta and being defeated by teammate Ron Capps, Johnson, and his Make-A-Wish Foundation team are ready to have a strong run in Virginia. The team has ten round wins this season and currently sits 5th in the points standings.
“Looking forward to Richmond. Last year, we debuted a new car and didn’t have the success we would’ve liked. We switched back to a five-disc clutch there and since then, we’ve been able to figure it all out, so I’m looking forward to getting back and running there. It was extremely hot last year and right now our car is running really well in the heat. If things are consistent and the same as last year, we should have a very good weekend. It’s one of the best tracks on tour, surface-wise, and I’m very much looking forward to it.” – Tommy Johnson, Jr.
|NHRA FRIDAY NIGHT NITRO||Friday, May 17||10:30pm – 11:30pm ET||FS1|
|SATURDAY NITRO LIVE||Saturday, May 18||1:30pm – 3:00pm ET||FS1|
|FINALS||Sunday, May 19||7:30pm – 10:30pm ET||FS1|
2019 NHRA Championship — Current Point Standings (Season Wins in Parentheses):
NHRA Funny Car Points:
1. Robert Hight (3) – 663
2. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT (1) – 472
3. John Force – 470
4. J.R. Todd (1) – 456
5. Tommy Johnson, Jr., Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT –445
6. Tim Wilkerson – 436
7. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT (1) – 430
8. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT – 425
9. Shawn Langdon (1) – 365
10. Bob Tasca III – 338
NHRA Top Fuel Points:
1. Steve Torrence (2) – 579
2. Brittany Force (1) –483
3. Doug Kalitta (1) – 464
4. Leah Pritchett, Mopar Dodge – 433
5. Clay Millican – 427
6. Mike Salinas (1) – 384
7. Antron Brown – 373
8. Richie Crampton (1) – 329
9. Terry McMillen – 319
10. Austin Prock – 288