This weekend, the Mopar NHRA teams of Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) are heading to Atlanta Dragway for the Arby’s NHRA Southern Nationals. The DSR Funny Car teams are trying to chase down point leader Robert Hight, as his Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS team have been dominant in the first quarter of the 2019 season. So let’s take a look at the DSR teams as they head into the seventh race of the season.
LEAH PRITCHETT – Driver of the John Schnatter Top Fuel Dragster:
Leah Pritchett returns to Atlanta as the defending event champion. Currently sitting in the sixth spot in points, Pritchett and her team are looking to make ground up the Top Fuel points ladder in the second-quarter of the season. Pritchett has had a lot of success in her NHRA career at Atlanta, including resetting the Atlanta Dragway Top Fuel, E.T. record in 2017 with a 3.699-second pass.
“Atlanta! Back-to-back races are my favorite and being in the South holds a special spot as I once called Atlanta home. Work ethic, parts inventory, and vibes are high coming into this race, especially as defending champ and with a stout running hotrod.
“John Schnatter is a strong supporter of this team and our potential to bring home a Wally. With the challenging circumstance we had to complete funding for this event, he personally stepped up to ensure we would not miss it, and we thank him for the chance to defend our Atlanta title. I have stayed on the road as planned with the guys as in years past between races and look forward to seeing our dedicated fans in Atlanta.” – Leah Pritchett
JACK BECKMAN – Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT:
Currently, “Fast Jack” Beckman is sitting in the fourth spot in the Funny Car points going into Atlanta. With nine round wins this season, Beckman and his Infinite Hero Foundation team are starting to get their HELLCAT Funny Car dialed in. Beckman has won this event twice in his career (2009, 2011) and is looking to do it again for a third time this weekend.
“We’re hanging tough in the points and we have a great race car, but we’re also frustrated after a first-round loss at Houston and then a dropped cylinder right at the start of the second round in Charlotte. We know that we’re better than what we’re showing on the race track. We have a car that’s capable of qualifying in the top of the field and we’ve shown that. And we know we have a car capable of winning the race on Sunday, but we haven’t shown that. We got so close at the season-opener in Pomona. We need to make a statement. We’re coming to a point where it’s going to be imperative we put our Infinite Hero Dodge HELLCAT into the winner’s circle. If we can do that going into the hot months and stabilize that tune-up, we’ll go right back up to the top of the point standings.” – Jack Beckman
RON CAPPS – Driver of the NAPA Brakes Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT:
Driving a special one-race-only NAPA Brakes livery to support the NAPA Brakes program, Ron Capps is looking to turn his season around in Atlanta. It is unusual that the NAPA Auto Parts team is struggling throughout the season, but since they started running their new SRT HELLCAT Funny Car body, the team has been off their game. Currently ranked ninth in points, the NAPA team is hoping that the special edition paint scheme will bring them a little bit of luck this weekend.
“Atlanta is a big, big race. It’s the home of NAPA AUTO PARTS and our series sponsor, Mello Yello and Coca-Cola. We were very fortunate to win the championship a few years ago and we get to attend the Coke partners dinner on Thursday night. If you can win in your sponsor’s backyard, that’s the ultimate in racing. We have some NAPA executives coming out who have never been to an NHRA race and we’re excited to introduce them to the sport. This team isn’t far from the winner’s circle and I have the utmost confidence in my team. The way this journey has been this year, that first win will be very rewarding.” – Ron Capps
TOMMY JOHNSON JR. – Driver of the Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT:
Tommy Johnson Jr. has been a force to be reckoned with when it comes to qualifying this season. Currently, sixth in the standings, the team has been dialing in their new HELLCAT Funny Car body in. The team goes into Atlanta looking for their first victory of the 2019 season.
“It’s no secret, Atlanta’s probably not my favorite track. I’ve had a lot of really bad things happen over the years at that track. I actually was runner-up there back in 1985 (competing in Super Gas) and it’s been downhill since then, but one of these days I’m going to beat that track.
“We’re starting to run better; it’s getting hot and we’re learning in the hot conditions. I think our car is going to perform well from here on out. We learned a lot last weekend and this might be the year that I finally overcome all of the Atlanta problems I’ve had in the past.” – Tommy Johnson, Jr.
MATT HAGAN – Driver of the Dayco Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT:
Sitting in the second points, Matt Hagan and his team seem to be consistent this season. The team is hoping that the John Force Racing teams will struggle in Atlanta, to gain some ground on Robert Hight with John Force right behind them in the third position. Hagan finished as the runner-up in this event last year. The team will be wearing its Dayco sponsor colors this weekend.
“Headed into Atlanta, I’m really excited coming off of two finals. The car is running really well. We’re moving forward and I have so much confidence in our team, confidence in our race car and confidence in my lights. I think this car is going to turn on a lot of win lights this year and win some races. We’ve been to three out of the six finals and won one race. We’re still fine-tuning, but it’s all coming together. We’re going to do big things.” – Matt Hagan
2019 NHRA Championship — Point Standings After Round 6 of 24 (Season Wins in Parentheses)
NHRA Funny Car Points:
1. Robert Hight (3) – 582
2. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT (1) – 440
3. John Force – 417
4t. J.R. Todd (1) – 394
4t. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT – 394
6. Tommy Johnson, Jr., Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT – 371
7. Tim Wilkerson – 339
8. Shawn Langdon (1) – 338
9. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT – 318
10. Bob Tasca III – 282
NHRA Top Fuel Points:
1. Steve Torrence (1) – 460
2. Doug Kalitta (1) – 426
3. Clay Millican – 394
4. Mike Salinas (1) – 384
5. Brittany Force (1) – 382
6. Leah Pritchett, Mopar HEMI – 378
7. Antron Brown – 317
8. Terry McMillen – 309
9. Richie Crampton (1) – 296
10. Billy Torrence (1) – 265