After Ron Capps win in Charlotte two weeks ago, the Mopar teams are back with high hopes heading out to the Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the Toyota Nationals. This marks the fifth of six events that make up the Countdown to the Championship.
Leah Pritchett – Driver of the Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster:
Leah goes into Vegas still sitting fourth in the Top Fuel points (295 points behind the leader Steve Torrence). This week she will be driving a special edition Pennzoil paint scheme. Last year at this event, Pritchett qualified eighth and went to the semifinals before getting beat by Brittany Force. She looks to push her way forward in the points this weekend.
“Vegas! For most, it’s the land of luck and bright lights, but for us heading back to the high desert with just two races left means betting it all. All the chips on the table, playing our best cards and taking chances, all with a new Pennzoil livery. We’re going hard, so much so that we have some new internals and externals for this race. TF4 and the DSR fab shop men went hard to work after Charlotte with yet another front-half pipe on our dragster. Not a move most teams make during the Countdown, but it was necessary.
“The fans will have something to look forward to as we reveal a never-before-seen Pennzoil livery that matches the current national campaign. We’ve never had anything like this. I look forward to revealing our new look, but most importantly, putting our eye-catching digger in the winner’s circle. The focus at this point continues to be getting a solid first qualifying hit so we can put it down in Q2 and build on that to go for low (E.T.) every time. We need to gain qualifying points, and ultimately, go four rounds deep into eliminations on Sunday.
“It’s been almost two weeks since our last race, and I know for me it’s felt like a month, with ten airport stops and non-stop travel. I am so incredibly ready to be back racing with my guys and putting on our own Vegas win lights.” – Leah Pritchett
Tony Schumacher – Driver of the U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster:
“The Sarge” comes into Vegas, sitting in third place in the Top Fuel points (210 points behind the leader). Last year at this event, Schumacher qualified first and went to the quarterfinals before getting beat by his teammate Leah Pritchett. Tony looked strong in Charlotte and even had a chance to gain a lot of points against the point leader Steve Torrence. Unfortunately, Schumacher lost to Torrence in the third round of eliminations. The U.S. Army team is aiming for a solid run this weekend and hoping Torrence’s reign of good luck will run out.
“As slim of a chance as it might be at the moment, the reality is that we still have a shot at the championship and that’s been the goal from day one. It would take two perfect weekends on our part, which we know this U.S. Army team is certainly capable of pulling off, especially with the gains we’ve made the last couple of race weekends with our outright speed, but we would also need a whole lot of help and I’m not sure if that would even be enough. It’s a huge longshot, for sure, but all we can do is control our part of it and hope for some help this weekend. There is no quit in this U.S. Army team and I’ve always said we perform our best when we absolutely have to – backs against the wall in the bottom of the ninth. I’ve been part of some incredible moments with the U.S. Army team and we’re just hoping to keep the dream alive. The first part of doing that is being fast right off the trailer. I know Mike (Neff, crew chief) and Phil (Shuler, assistant crew chief) and the guys have been working hard to make sure that happens. We’ve had so many good weekends racing at The Strip and, despite not having the success we were aiming for so far in the Countdown, we still have the chance to do something special here at the end of the season.” – Tony Schumacher
Jack Beckman – Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT Funny Car:
Jack Beckman has struggled ever since he switched over to the new Charger SRT HELLCAT Funny Car body. In Charlotte, the team qualified tenth before being eliminated in the first round. Lady luck might have an ace up her sleeve in Vegas though. Beckman, has had strong performances in Vegas in the past. He qualified on the pole for this event the past two years. “Fast Jack”, currently sits ninth in the Funny Car points.
“Realistically, the hopes for the Infinite Hero team aren’t pointed towards a world championship this year. We’re too far back in the points and too many things would have to happen. With two races left, our goal is pretty simple: turn an otherwise good year into a very successful year. We’ve already won twice; there’s two more trophies available, and we would very much like to get back into the ‘top five’ in the final point standings.” – Jack Beckman
Ron Capps – Driver of the Pennzoil Synthetics/NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T:
Coming off their win in Charlotte, the NAPA team is sitting third in the Funny Car points (109 points behind points leader, Robert Hight). Ron will be driving his Pennzoil colors still weekend, in which the team won with earlier this year. Capps, has to collect as many points as he can during qualifying this weekend to be able to get a good run on Hight and J.R Todd who currently sits second.
“This is the time of year when everything you’ve worked for all season comes to this. Thankfully for me, our NAPA team is always in the hunt for a championship, and nothing is better than to go into the Las Vegas race and be in that conversation. A lot of great stories have been written in the past at this Fall Las Vegas event. It’s where championships have been won and lost. We go to Vegas this year with some great momentum after winning the Carolina Nationals two weeks ago. While we’re not as close as we would like to be, that win put us into third and in a position to have a run at the championship.
“One of the coolest things about this coming weekend in Las Vegas is that we get to run our Pennzoil/NAPA Funny Car paint scheme that we won the Seattle race with back in August. As soon as we brought that car out, our fans loved it, and we would love nothing better than to put it right back in the winner’s circle in Vegas.
“We’re also doing a lot of fun things around and leading up to the race. I have a special appearance on Thursday where I will change somebody’s oil for free with our Pennzoil brand and NAPA AutoCare Centers. We have the NHRA Fan Fest down on Fremont Street on Thursday night, which is always a great event to hang with our NHRA fans. Looking at the weather forecast, it looks like it’s going to be a great weekend for drag racing. You combine good weather with a great track like we have in Vegas, and that means great side by side racing.” – Ron Capps
Matt Hagan – Driver of the Pennzoil Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT Funny Car:
Matt Hagan will be piloting a special paint scheme for his sponsor Pennzoil this weekend. The car will be finished in a chrome wrap. Hagan and his Mopar team have struggled like his teammate Jack Beckman trying to get the new Charger SRT HELLCAT body setup dialed in to be competitive like the old Charger R/T body that they had so much success with. Matt currently sits eighth in points (216 points behind the points leader). Hagan is looking for just a solid run and is the defending event winner.
“Going to be in Vegas for eight days. I’m coming in early and staying after for the SEMA show. A lot going on but, it’s exciting. We’re running a new Pennzoil scheme this weekend. It’s going to be bright, it’s going to be shiny, and we’re looking forward to fans catching their first glimpse of it.
“We’re pretty far out of the championship hunt at this point, but Capps is in it and we really want to take out some of our competitors to help our teammate and put him in a better position to win the championship. But, it’s drag racing, it’s fuel Funny Car. You never know what’s going to happen. That’s why we race on Sunday. Nothing is a sure thing out here. It’ll be a fight to the end, and our goal is to win these next two races. We want to pull down a trophy or two before it’s all said and done. That’s what we’re here to do.” – Matt Hagan
Tommy Johnson Jr. – Driver of the Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger R/T:
Johnson comes off a very disappointing appearance in Charlotte, after taking the pole and getting eliminated in the first round. Tommy and his Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger R/T team are currently fifth in the Funny Car points (149 points behind the leader). Johnson, is looking for redemption for his performance two weekends ago and put his team back into the winner circle.
“Vegas is one of my favorite tracks, we always seem to have success there. I’m especially looking forward to getting back there after the four-wide event earlier in the season. We felt like we let one get away from us because we should’ve won that race, so we definitely want redemption.
“Now that we’re pretty much out of the championship hunt, the pressure is off. I think we have a car that’s capable of winning races, and we’re going to go out there and try and screw it up for another team by winning the last two.” – Tommy Johnson, Jr.
Current Top Fuel Point Standings:
|POSITION||DRIVER||POINTS||POINTS BEHIND LEADER||VEHICLE|
|01||Steve Torrence||2592||0||Capco Racing/Torrence Motorsports|
|02||Clay Millican||2423||-169||Parts Plus/ Great Clips/ UNOH dragster|
|03||Tony Schumacher||2382||-210||U.S. Army Dragster|
|04||Leah Pritchett||2297||-295||Papa John’s Dragster|
|05||Antron Brown||2253||-339||Matco Tools Dragster|
|06||Brittany Force||2243||-349||Monster Energy Top Fuel Dragster|
|07||Mike Salinas||2228||-364||Scrappers Racing|
|08||Doug Kalitta||2225||-367||Mac Tools Dragster|
|09||Terry McMillen||2221||-371||Amalie Motor Oil Dragster|
|10||Scott Palmer||2149||-443||CatSpot/Tommy Thompson Motorsports|
Current Funny Car Point Standings:
|POSITION||DRIVER||POINTS||POINTS BEHIND LEADER||VEHICLE|
|01||Robert Hight||2445||0||Auto Club Chevy Camaro SS|
|02||J.R. Todd||2434||-11||DHL Toyota Camry|
|03||Ron Capps||2336||-109||NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T|
|04||Tim Wilkerson||2334||-111||Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Shelby Mustang|
|05||Tommy Johnson Jr||2296||-149||Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T|
|06||Courtney Force||2264||-181||Advance Auto Parts Chevy Camaro SS|
|07||John Force||2241||-204||PEAK Chevrolet Camaro SS|
|08||Matt Hagan||2229||-216||Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT|
|09||Jack Beckman||2204||-241||Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT|
|10||Shawn Langdon||2152||-293||Global Electronic Technology Toyota|
|FRIDAY NITRO LIVE||Friday, October 26, 2018||6:00pm – 7:00pm ET||FS1||LIVE|
|FRIDAY NITRO LIVE||Saturday, October 27, 2018||8:00am – 9:00am ET||FS1||RE-AIR|
|SATURDAY NITRO LIVE||Saturday, October 27, 2018||5:00pm – 6:30pm ET||FS2||LIVE|
|FRIDAY NITRO LIVE||Sunday, October 28, 2018||1:00pm – 2:00pm ET||FS2||RE-AIR|
|SATURDAY NITRO LIVE||Sunday, October 28, 2018||2:00pm – 3:30pm ET||FS2||RE-AIR|
|SUNDAY LIVE||Sunday, October 28, 2018||3:30pm – 4:30pm ET||FS1||RE-AIR|
|NHRA FINALS||Sunday, October 28, 2018||7:00pm – 10:00pm ET||FS1||DELAYED|
|NHRA FINALS||Monday, October 29, 2018||8:00pm – 11:00pm ET||FS2||RE-AIR|
|NHRA FINALS||Tuesday, October 30, 2018||3:00am – 6:00am ET||FS1||RE-AIR|
|NHRA FINALS||Thursday, November 1, 2018||10:00pm – 1:00am ET||FS2||RE-AIR|
|NHRA IN 30||Thursday, November 1, 2018||9:30pm – 10:00pm ET||FS2||DELAYED|