NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Toyota Nationals: Notes & Quotes:

Mopar Teams Reflect On Their Performances In Vegas...

With 23 of the 24 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series in the books, we take a look at what the Mopar teams thought of their performances this past weekend at Toyota Nationals in Las Vegas.

Matt Hagan, Pennzoil Mopar Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT Funny Car
(No. 9 Qualifier – 3.949 ET)

Rd.1: (.071-second reaction time, 3.908 seconds at 326.08 mph) beat No.8 Tim Wilkerson (-.091/5.608/124.44)
Rd.2: (.084/3.919/326.08) beat No. 1 Tommy Johnson Jr. (-.027/5.395/133.38)
Rd.3: (.075/3.928/323.89) beat No. 4 Bob Tasca III (.053/3.952/319.29)
Rd.4: (.037/4.087/263.62) lost to No. 2 J.R. Todd (.058/3.921/318.39)

“It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t get that win light in the final round. We had such amazing sponsorship support with the folks from Pennzoil, Shell and Mopar and had so many key clients rooting us on here in Las Vegas. We have the SEMA Show this week here in (Las) Vegas and we wanted nothing more than to take the Wally trophy to the Mopar booth to show off with our Chrome Pennzoil Funny Car. At the end of the day, we went to the final round and it was a good day. That’s just drag racing and sometimes we lose. It wasn’t our day, but we’ll go to Pomona with a strong race car. I’m proud of our guys. They did great all weekend and we were just pressing hard trying to run in the high (3).80s and the track just wouldn’t hold it.”

Leah Pritchett, Pennzoil Mopar Dodge Top Fuel Dragster
(No. 4 Qualifier – 3.731 ET)

Rd.1: (.089-second reaction time, 3.735 seconds at 327.43 mph) beat No. 13 Troy Buff (.053/3.808/319.67)
Rd.2: (.088/3.740/322.42) beat No. 12 Blake Alexander (.059/3.968/276.29)
Rd.3: (.071/3.730/328.46) beat No. 9 Tony Schumacher (.055/6.004/93.72)
Rd.4: (.019/5.317/148.85) lost to No. 2 Steve Torrence (.047/3.751/326.32)

“We have a really incredible racecar – the tune-up for Vegas, a solid effort and chance at a runner-up finish in the championship. To put a silver lining on it, we made it to the final with seven solid passes. The buck stopped at me and I take full responsibility for that, wanting so badly not just to put a stop to Torrence’s reign in this Countdown, but more than anything the win for this team is what I wanted most for them. Seven just incredible runs, finally the issues we’ve been having with our superchargers and chassis, I think we’ve conquered those. So, if anything, a solid run for a good spot in the championship and a really good head start into 2019. The guys have really stepped up and this entire team has been really impressive to me.”

Tony Schumacher prior to running his U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster. (Mopar).

Tony Schumacher, U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
(No. 9 Qualifier – 3.772 ET)

Rd.1: (.065-second reaction time, 3.818 seconds at 315.86 mph) beat No. 8 Scott Palmer (.060/3.850/304.94)
Rd.2: (.046/3.754/328.70) beat No. 1 Clay Millican (.106/4.025/242.15)
Rd.3: (.055/6.004/93.72) lost to No. 4 Leah Pritchett (.071/3.730/328.46)

“I wish I could tell you what happened – they’re still trying to figure it out. It spun the tires real high and real fast and then it came down and sheared the clutch off of it. That was awful because we had a good car. We were just slow in the first round, and then, in the second round, we went great. We got the blower back up, the power was made and we went fast. That last round, everything was fine but it literally sheared the clutch completely out of it – one clean cut. We’ll figure everything out and come back for a strong finish to the season in Pomona. We’ve got a good chance to salvage a second-place finish in the Countdown if all goes well for us. Congratulations to Steve Torrence on the championship. Welcome to the fraternity of Top Fuel world champions.”

Jack Beckman, Infinite Hero Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT Funny Car
(No. 3 Qualifier – 3.922 ET)

Rd.1: (.053-second reaction time, 3.935 seconds at 326.24 mph) beat No. 14 Jim Campbell (.270/4.035/300.33)
Rd.2: (.074/3.951/320.51) beat No. 6 Courtney Force (.063/3.969/320.66)
Rd.3: (.074/3.937/327.90) lost to No. 2 J.R. Todd (.060/3.906/327.11)

“I think people knew that the Funny Car championship was down to a few cars, but there’s still trophies and a top five spot. We have a really solid running race car. I have to take my hat off to the entire DHL team. They are just getting it done. They’re not getting any gimmees. They’re making big runs and J.R. (Todd) is driving fantastic and that’s a tough combination to beat. Our plan is to get our car back in that area where it’s predictable and quick and driving the thing is a pleasure and we’re getting close.”

Tommy Johnson Jr., Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 1 Qualifier – 3.879 ET)

Rd.1: (.078-second reaction time, 3.938 seconds at 326.08 mph) beat No. 16 Jeff Arend (.072/7.197/92.39)
Rd.2: (-.027/5.395/133.38) lost to No. 9 Matt Hagan (.084/3.919/326.08)

“It’s just frustrating and one of these days we’ll get it all put together on a Sunday. (Matt) Hagan ran really well first round and we know what he’s capable of and I knew I had to push and pushed a little too hard. We’ll regroup and go to Pomona for the Finals where we’ve had great success winning the last two years and try to finish this thing off with a win.”

Ron Capps, NAPA Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 12 Qualifier – 3.971 ET)

Rd.1: (.060-second reaction time, 3.954 seconds at 325.22 mph) beat No. 5 John Force (.045/3.972/330.31)
Rd.2: (.066/3.963/322.81) lost to No. 4 Bob Tasca III (.066/3.943/322.11)

“This weekend at Vegas, coming off of the win at Charlotte, we didn’t qualify where we wanted to and it’s what makes this sport so heartbreaking and rewarding. It’s a constant fight. (Crew chief Rahn) Tobler found the issue between Q3 and Q4 and we did exactly what we needed to do to make a good run Q4.

“Typical Tobler, we went up there in the left lane without lane choice and beat John Force in the first round today. And that setup a match with our old assistant crew chief Eric (Lane) and Tasca’s car. We have a lot of respect for that team and they just outran us. We made a big adjustment and got after it, but just lost a close race. I didn’t see him until the finish line.”

Up Next: NHRA Finals
The 2018 finale of the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship will be held November 8-11 at the Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif. Last year, Tommy Johnson Jr. took home the Wally at the NHRA Finals at Pomona.

2018 NHRA Championship — Point Standings After Round 23 of 24
(Season Wins in Parentheses)

NHRA Funny Car
1.  J.R. Todd — 2553
2. Robert Hight — 2479
3.  Ron Capps, Dodge Charger R/T (3) — 2388
4.  Tim Wilkerson — 2367
5. Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger R/T — 2362
6.  Courtney Force — 2324
7.  Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT (3) — 2321
8.  Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT (2) — 2283

9.  John Force — 2277
10. Shawn Langdon — 2204

NHRA Top Fuel
1.  Steve Torrence – 2718
2.  Clay Millican — 2487
3.  Tony Schumacher, Mopar Dodge HEMI (1) — 2454
4.   Leah Pritchett, Mopar Dodge HEMI (2) — 2394

5.   Brittany Force — 2302
6.   Antron Brown — 2291
7t.  Mike Salinas — 2259
7t.  Doug Kalitta — 2259
9.   Terry McMillen — 2253
10.  Scott Palmer — 2182

Robert S. Miller

Robert S. Miller is a diehard Mopar enthusiast who lives and breathes all that is Mopar. The Michigander is not only the Editor for MoparInsiders.com, 5thGenRams.com, and HDRams.com but an automotive photographer. He is an avid fan of offshore powerboat racing, which he travels the country to take part in.

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