This weekend, the National Hot Road Association (NHRA) Mello Yello Drag Racing Series heads to the Houston Raceway Park for the Mopar Express Lane Spring Nationals. This will mark the fifth of twenty-four events for the 2019 racing season. The Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) teams are looking to gain some ground in the points this weekend, so let’s take a look at the DSR teams as they head to Houston…
LEAH PRITCHETT – Driver of the Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster:
Leah and her team return to the drag strip wearing their Pennzoil team colors, while looking to continue their past success at Houston Raceway Park. After winning the event in 2017, Leah reset the Houston Raceway Park E.T. record to capture the Top Fuel pole in 2018. During last year’s race, Leah and her team went to round three, before being eliminated by Terry McMillen. Pritchett is currently fourth in the Top Fuel points race.
“Even at the celebration of Pennzoil and Houston partnering together at the track earlier this year I could already feel the excitement building, knowing that collectively this race is going to be a huge deal. The transition of partners for the track and transformation of colors everywhere immediately created a sense of home turf. That’s a feeling few get to experience, and I am incredibly thankful to be a part of that equation to represent Pennzoil in such a historic year. Pennzoil has consistently proven to be such an active partner in DSR’s on-track success that performing on a track coated in their colors is just the next step of being a part of the Pennzoil nation. My sole focus in Houston is to bring home the Wally gold for our golden Pennzoil partners. I cannot wait to give this Pennzoil takeover everything we’ve got!” – Leah Pritchett
JACK BECKMAN – Driver of the MD Anderson Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT Funny Car:
This weekend, the Infinite Hero Foundation team wears a new special paint scheme that will make its debut during round one of qualifying. The special one-race-only MD Anderson tribute livery in honor of the late Terry Chandler. Currently second place in the Funny Car points, “Fast Jack” has been the runner-up at this event three times (2009, 2014, 2015) and is looking to gain some ground on points leader Robert Hight.
“I’m a cancer survivor; my mom didn’t beat it. It’s something that hit my house hard and then came back years later. I drive for a man who is a cancer survivor, who went to MD Anderson for treatment, and that’s part of the reason he’s still here.
“I drive the car as a tribute to Terry Chandler, a woman who didn’t survive cancer. The folks at MD Anderson did everything they could for her so I feel a debt of gratitude to the people who work there, and I feel for the people who are patients there. I can’t think of a better way to pay it forward and pay it back than to fly their colors into the winner’s circle at Houston.” – Jack Beckman
RON CAPPS – Driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT Funny Car:
The NAPA Auto Parts team has struggled in the first few events of the season. Capps returns to Houston Raceway Park as a four-time winner (2006, 2007, 2015, 2017) of this event. However, last year Capps was eliminated in the first round by teammate Matt Hagan. Capps and his team need a good performance in Houston since they currently sit in the eight place position in the Funny Car points race.
“We’re excited about this year’s race. Houston has always been great for us and I’ve had a lot of success there in the past, but this year with Pennzoil as part of the race track and our partnership with Shell, Pennzoil and MOPAR, we’re looking to show off a little more than usual. There’s nothing better than to get in the winner’s circle when you have one of your sponsors at that race. That being said, we left the Four-Wide in Vegas with a lot of momentum. We feel a lot more comfortable with the changes to our tune-up; trying to get the engine and the clutch matched together better, and we’re really getting a good feel for this Dodge HELLCAT body. Even though we lost a close race in the second quad in Vegas, we feel really good about the changes we made. I think this back-to-back race at Houston is going to be a real momentum builder.” – Ron Capps
MATT HAGAN – Driver of the Pennzoil Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT Funny Car:
Matt Hagan and his team, return to Houston Raceway Park wearing their Pennzoil colors this weekend. Last year, Hagan qualified third before going to the second round and being eliminated by Tim Wilkerson. Currently fifth in the points chase, the Pennzoil team looks to win their second race of the season and take home another Wally trophy for the DSR collection.
“I can’t wait to get to Houston. It’s a Pennzoil sponsored track, a MOPAR sponsored race, I’m going to be back in the Pennzoil chrome car. To have those two brands as partners and to be able to run the Pennzoil brand in their backyard is going to be huge. I cannot wait to hit the gas on this new yellow race track. I’ve been in Vegas the past few days and traveled over to Houston yesterday. I’ve got some really cool gigs lined up this week leading into the event – early morning TV shows, a tour of some of Texas’ best BBQ joints. It’ll be a busy week, got a lot on my schedule, but it’ll be an exciting week and hopefully we can go out and win the race.” – Matt Hagan
TOMMY JOHNSON JR. – Driver of the Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT:
After finishing runner-up last weekend at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals on his birthday weekend, Johnson is looking to better his previous record at Houston. Last year, the team struggled qualifying seventh before being eliminated in the first round by J.R. Todd. With seven round wins this season, the Make-A-Wish Foundation team looks to build on their current third place in the current points standings.
“Looking forward to Houston this week especially since it’s a Pennzoil and MOPAR race. The way our car is running, we’ve seem to put all of our early-season problems behind us and now we’re coming off of a runner-up from the past race. Pretty confident a win is coming shortly. Our team is doing so well, and hopefully Houston is where we can get it done and collect the first of many Wally trophies this season.” – Tommy Johnson, Jr.
After four events in the twenty-four events on the calendar for this season, let’s take a look at the current points results…
2019 NHRA Championship — Point Standings After Round 4 of 24
(Season Wins in Parentheses)
NHRA Funny Car
1. Robert Hight (2) – 363
2. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT – 297
3. Tommy Johnson, Jr., Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT – 283
4. J.R. Todd (1) – 280
5. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT (1) – 271
6. John Force – 258
7. Tim Wilkerson – 246
8. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT – 205
9. Bob Tasca III – 198
10. Cruz Pedgregon, Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT– 179
NHRA Top Fuel
1. Doug Kalitta (1) – 319
2. Mike Salinas (1) – 286
3. Steve Torrence – 256
4. Leah Pritchett, Mopar HEMI – 244
5. Richie Crampton (1) – 233
6t. Billy Torrence (1) – 231
6t. Clay Millican – 231
8. Brittany Force – 224
9. Terry McMillen – 198
10. Antron Brown – 184