The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series returns to action at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis, Indiana this weekend. It marks the second consecutive weekend for competition at the famed quarter-mile and the Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) teams are looking to repeat their performance from last weekend. DSR is the NHRA’s winningest team and quickly approaching the 350 victory mark (currently at 348). The team is campaigning cars in three different categories (Top Fuel, Funny Car, and the return of Factory Stock) during the weekend, so achieving that milestone is within reach.
Let’s take a look at how the DSR teams are preparing for this weekend’s Lucas Oil NHRA Summernationals.
CORY MCCLENATHAN – Driver of the Nordic Boats/Hawkeye Industries Top Fuel Dragster:
Cory “Mac” returns to racing this weekend, racing one of Leah Pruett’s back-up cars on the second of the two-race campaign of his comeback tour. McClenathan ranks 9th on the NHRA’s all-time Top Fuel wins list, with 34 victories and is looking to tie the legendary Don Garlits’ 35 NHRA wins.
“I know we had a rough weekend with the Nordic Boats/Revchem Composites Top Fueler last week, but we’ll definitely show everyone what we’re made of this weekend. Our crew has got everything worked out and I’m looking forward to getting back out there and having a good race weekend.” – Cory McClenathan
LEAH PRUETT – Driver of the Mopar Dodge SRT Hellcat Redeye Top Fuel Dragster:
Last weekend, Pruett qualified 10th at Indy before defeating teammate Tony Schumacher (who was running Toyota power) in the first round. Leah went on to the second round of eliminations falling to Doug Kalitta. Currently, she sits fourth in the Top Fuel point standings and hopes to have success with her new Hellcat Redeye paint scheme as she did with her “Angry Bee” scheme.
Pruett will be pulling double duty this weekend with the return of the popular Factory Stock category returning to action. In her 17 race career in Factory Stock, she has earned 3 wins, 1 runner-up, and two No. 1 qualifiers.
“I’d like to say that I’m surprised how good this Redeye paint scheme looks, but I’ve come to expect nothing but the remarkable from Dodge when it comes to showcasing their cars. They stand out on the racetrack and they stand out with their performance. It makes me feel like when you’ve got a really nice dress and your dancing shoes on, then you go and have a good night out on the town. This Redeye dragster is going to have a good weekend. I can just tell. There is an aura about it. The Redeye stands for ultimate power and it’s a way for us to be able to relate to those Redeye owners. It’s a new version for us to highlight. We had the 1320 and the Demon and I personally have driven a couple of Redeyes and I wish I had one of my own. I feel that we are going to not only look good, but do well. I’m just very impressed with how forward-thinking Dodge has been working with DSR on the paint scheme. They’ve actually simplified that paint scheme into something that really pops with the chrome detail and that flat black is simple and refined. While I love my blue Mopar for how sleek and cool, like “with a lot of o’s” cool it is, this Redeye is spicy hot.”
“Coming back to racing has brought some sense of normalcy back and getting back in the Drag Pak is one of my favorite places to be on earth. We were very much looking forward to debuting a new Mopar 2020 Dodge Challenger Drag Pak this year, but even though we’re not, we’re still going to be out entering, qualifying and competing and chasing down a Wally with Mopar and making as much power as we can, while we can, in the circumstances that we can. I think the strength really shows in how dedicated Mopar is to this sport and the grassroots racer. No matter what is happening in the world, they still care and still value the racer, the brand, the image, and the power. We will do our best to prepare for when that fourth-generation Challenger Drag Pak does come out so we can have a ton of confidence and be dominant again. I feel this 2020 season is going to be a nice cap on what is a great Drag Pak era before we start a new one.” – Leah Pruett
JACK BECKMAN – Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat:
Funny Car point leader Jack Beckman is focused on maintaining his position atop the leaderboard. Beckman won the 2020 season-opener and finished as the runner-up in Phoenix. Last week, Beckman went on to the second round of eliminations before being defeated by teammate Matt Hagan.
“After 19 weeks off, I’m so happy that we get a chance to go right back out and race again the following week. I think we had a car that clearly could’ve won the race last weekend. We qualified third, and of the eight cars that made it into the second round, we had the second-best numbers. We would’ve beaten any other car out there except the one we lined up with. It’s time to get back into the winner’s circle. I’m excited to get back out there and see the fans and do our best to social distance but still be friendly, and leave with the trophy.” – Jack Beckman
RON CAPPS – Driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat:
Capps has been victorious at every track on the current NHRA tour with the exception of Indianapolis and is focused on that elusive first Lucas Oil Raceway triumph during his 26th season of nitro racing. Ron and his NAPA Auto Parts team currently sit 6th in the Funny Car points standings with three-round wins.
“I can’t tell you how good it felt to be back in my NAPA Hellcat last weekend at the Indy Nationals. Having a race close to home for the crew members is always very cool for me. All of the fans that came out the first week in Indy did a great job showing that they had paid attention to all of the safety policies. They were all wearing the masks, practicing social distancing, and everything they did really got NHRA drag racing started off in the right direction again. Our team’s performance wasn’t there like we’re used to. We didn’t qualify well and that put us in a bad position to race the No. 1 qualifier first round, and even though we were second-quickest of the round, it doesn’t matter when you’re facing a tough teammate like Tommy Johnson Jr. We’re going to focus on qualifying better this weekend and getting back to where the NAPA team is used to, and that’s finishing the weekend with a Wally.” – Ron Capps
MATT HAGAN – Driver of the Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye:
Matt Hagan enters the weekend as the most recent Funny Car winner. Hagan moved to third in the Funny Car point standings, with his win last weekend. He looks to continue his 2020 success with his new Hellcat Redeye paint scheme.
“My car this weekend is beautiful and those colors really pop and I think it’s going to look great at 330 mph, so don’t blink. Dodge always comes out with some awesome schemes, the coolest and fastest cars. I love that they really give me an opportunity to engage with the fans and the stuff they sell on the showroom floor. I’m excited for fans to see this Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye because I love it. It’s an amazing paint scheme. My Hellcat Redeye Funny Car might be faster, but when you have a production car that you can grab off the showroom floor and take it out there, that’s pretty awesome. It’s pure power. It’s probably the closest you can get to what we’re drag racing; having that raw power in the palms of your hands and underneath you. I can’t wait to get right back in the winner’s circle again this weekend and I’d love nothing more than to do it with this sleek-looking Redeye.” – Matt Hagan
TOMMY JOHNSON JR. – Driver of the MD Anderson Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat:
Johnson, comes into the weekend as last week’s runner-up after being the No.1 qualifier. The MD Anderson Cancer Center team looks to add to their success in 2020, which already consists of 1 event win and 8 round wins. Tommy currently sits second in the Funny Car point standings and looks to gain some ground on his teammate Jack Beckman.
“I can’t wait to get back out at the track this weekend and try and get that victory. We came up just a little short on Sunday, but it was an outstanding weekend for our MD Anderson team, and to pick up right where we left off from Phoenix after a long, extended break is very encouraging. I think things will just get smoother and smoother this weekend now that we’re back in the rhythm of things. If it’s anything like last weekend, we should shine and we’d love nothing more than to erase that two-point deficit between us and Jack Beckman who’s in the lead. We want to come out as the point leader. We had a tremendous weekend last weekend, and it was nice to see the fans out there and to see everybody doing their part in trying to be safe. The fans were very considerate with staying back a few feet from the pits and making sure they were masked up. It was a great weekend overall, and I can’t wait to do it again.” – Tommy Johnson, Jr.
MARK PAWUK – Driver of the Empaco Equipment Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak:
Mark Pawuk returns to Factory Stock competition for the 2020 season. He enters this weekend to get his first win in the series, after having success at Indy at last year’s U.S. Nationals, where he went to the third-round of eliminations.
“After almost a four-month hiatus, I’m really looking forward to competing in the NHRA Summernationals in Indianapolis. The last time I was down the track was in early March, and then the coronavirus shut our season down. It’s great that we can get back out there this weekend, and it’s great that NHRA was able to adjust the testing protocol on Friday, so we can get our car back on the track. We’re looking forward to the Empaco Equipment Don Schumacher Racing Dodge Drag Pak being ultra-competitive this weekend, and giving us a shot to get our first Wally on Sunday. Really looking forward to seeing the fans, and even though we’re social distancing, we’ll have autographs ready and we’d love for fans to stop by the Factory Stock pits and grab a handout.” – Mark Pawuk
Lucas Oil NHRA SummerNationals TV Schedule:
|SATURDAY QUALIFYING||Saturday, July 18||10:30pm – 11:30pm||FS1|
|SUNDAY QUALIFYING||Sunday, July 19||11:00am – Noon||FS1|
|FINALS||Sunday, July 19||Noon – 3:00pm||FOX|