Pre-Race Report: 2020 NHRA Arizona Nationals:

Beckman, Looking For Back-To-Back-To-Back Wins...

The Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) teams head to Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Arizona this weekend for the second event of the 2020 Mello Yello Drag Racing season, the NHRA Arizona Nationals. Funny Car driver Jack Beckman enters the NHRA Arizona Nationals as the most recent winner and Funny Car point leader. So let’s take a look at the DSR teams, going into the second race of the new season…

LEAH PRUETT – Driver of the Mopar Dodge Top Fuel Dragster:

Leah Pruett inside her Mopar Dodge//SRT Top Fuel Dragster. (Mopar).

Leah is not a stranger when it comes to winning at the NHRA Arizona Nationals. She is a two-time event champion (2016 and 2017), as well as the 2019 runner-up. She is currently ranked fourth in the points after a semifinal finish in Pomona.

“Exceptionally excited about Phoenix for a host of reasons. The fact that we have a race car that is continuously performing at its potential has delivered a degree of confidence in my crew chiefs that I have not seen in a long time. Additionally, the fans that attend the Arizona Nationals have become almost family. When a team performs well at a particular track year after year, you kind of become the people’s champion, and there really is no comparable feeling than not only wanting to succeed for ourselves and partners but to uphold their expectations and be the ultimate very best we can. We might not have mineshaft conditions as in before, but we will be digging hard for that Wally gold.” – Leah Pruett

JACK BECKMAN – Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

“Fast Jack” Beckman piloting his Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody Funny Car. (Mopar).

Like we said earlier, Beckman comes into the second race of the season first place in the Funny Car points and a big win at the Winternationals. Like Pruett, Beckman is no stranger in getting it done at the NHRA Arizona Nationals, he has won the event three-times (2008, 2010, and 2011). Beckman would love nothing more to propel his points lead in Arizona.

“Normally after a performance like ours at Pomona, I would’ve wanted to get right back in the car for the next race the following weekend, but I was kind of glad we had a week off because it gave me time to try and shake this cold I’ve been dealing with. I’m ultra-excited for the way our Infinite Hero Hellcat has been performing, and the way that our team serviced it flawlessly even with the quick turnarounds on Sunday in Pomona. We’re at the top of our game, and I can’t think of a better way to show it than to get another win in Phoenix.” – Jack Beckman

RON CAPPS – Driver of the Pennzoil Synthetics/NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

Ron Capps piloting his NAPA/Pennzoil Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT Funny Car. (Mopar).

Ron Capps will be wearing his Pennzoil colors this weekend while trying to improve his already impressive resume at Wild Horse Pass. Capps is also a three-time event winner (2003, 2009, and 2013), a four-time runner-up (1998, 2000, 2005, & 2017), and a three-time No. 1 qualifier (2000, 2009, & 2016). He was defeated in the first round of this event last year by John Force and is looking for redemption by taking home the Wally this weekend.

“Man, are we glad to see the Arizona Nationals on the schedule. We’re pretty pumped up for Phoenix for many reasons. Our NAPA AutoCare team had an incredible bounce-back after having our trailer catch on fire on the way to pre-season testing. After all of that, to qualify top-half in Pomona and to get to the quarterfinals was a perfect example of why you hear me brag about the NAPA Know How of our crew chief Rahn Tobler and the NAPA AutoCare team. We had a little mishap in the second round of eliminations, so the team spent the early part of last week getting our primary car put back together and ready for this weekend’s race. The other reason we’re pumped for this weekend is because we get to run the special Pennzoil/NAPA paint scheme for the first time this year. The car will have quite a bit of a different look to it than it has for the past few years, and I’m excited for the fans to see it when we unload on Friday. The first time we brought a Pennzoil/NAPA car out, we put it in the winner’s circle. We always have a great time representing Pennzoil along with NAPA AUTO PARTS. I always have confidence going into each and every race, and the Phoenix track has always been good to us. We’d love nothing more than to celebrate with our Pennzoil and NAPA friends in the winner’s circle on Sunday.” – Ron Capps

MATT HAGAN – Driver of the Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

Matt Hagan piloting his Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody Funny Car. (Mopar).

Matt Hagan and his Mopar Dodge Charger team, have a lot to be excited about this weekend. Hagan has won the Arizona National three-times (2015, 2017, and 2019) in the last five years. Last year, he edged out J.R. Todd to take home the Wally and is looking to be in victory lane on Sunday once again. Hagan currently sits third in the points standings.

“All around, good vibes heading into Phoenix. I’m ready to get into some drier air for my sinuses. I’ve been fighting a cold for the past few weeks now, so I’m hoping the desert air will dry me up and I’ll feel like a human again. But, I’m excited to crawl back into my race car; I feel like I’m on top of my game. I’ve rested up the last week or so and am ready to get back into the groove of things.
“Semifinal finish in Pomona, probably should’ve been in the finals, but ‘shoulda, coulda, woulda.’ Congrats to my teammate Jack Beckman for winning the race and keeping it in the DSR camp and bringing it home. The momentum between what we’ve got going on, and what Jack’s got going on, I feel like we have a good shot at bringing another Wally home to DSR this weekend. I can’t wait to get out to the dry Phoenix weather and get going.” – Matt Hagan

TOMMY JOHNSON JR. – Driver of the MD Anderson Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat 

Tommy Johnson, Jr. piloting the MD Anderson Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT. (Auto Imagery).

Tommy Johnson and his MD Anderson Dodge Charger team, currently sit sixth in the point standings. Johnson was defeated in Pomona, by another Charger driver (Cruz Pedregon) in the quarterfinals. But never count Johnson and his team out, they have proven that they are a clutch team and can come out on top when it is least expected. Johnson is the 2006 event champion at the NHRA Arizona Nationals, as well as the 2018 runner-up, and 2017 No. 1 qualifier. Expect the team to make up some points here in Arizona. 

Johnson also made his professional debut at this event back in 1989.

“We had a really good weekend in Pomona. We didn’t get the results we were looking for, but our MD Anderson Dodge Hellcat ran really well all weekend, with the exception of round two on Sunday. I feel confident. We had a car that was competitive right from the start with that first qualifying run. It was very consistent, and running low E.T. of first-round gives me a lot of confidence going into Phoenix. The Arizona Nationals is a race I enjoy, I’ve won it in the past, and have done well there. Now that all the rust is knocked off for everyone, I’m excited to get going and see if we can add some more round wins and match our teammate Jack (Beckman) by getting a win in Phoenix.” – Tommy Johnson, Jr.

TV Schedule for the 2020 NHRA Arizona Nationals:

FRIDAY NITRO Friday, February 21 11:00pm – Noon FS1
SUNDAY NITRO Sunday, February 23 3:00pm – 4:00pm FS1
FINALS Sunday, February 23 9:00pm – Midnight FS1

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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