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DSR Pomona I Post Race Recap

NHRA Winternationals
Event 1 of 24 (Pomona I)
Auto Club Raceway at Pomona
Pomona, Calif.
Feb. 9-11, 2018

DSR Pomona I Race Day Highlights:
  • Matt Hagan claimed the first Funny Car victory of 2018
  • Tony Schumacher posted a runner-up finish
  • Hagan became the first driver to win the season-opener from the No. 1 seed for two consecutive years since Don Prudhomme in 1976/1977


Matt Hagan Races to Victory at the NHRA Winternationals

POMONA, California (February 11, 2018) – Matt Hagan raced his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car to victory at the NHRA Winternationals on Sunday afternoon.

The two-time Funny Car world champion started race day as the No. 1 qualifier and defending event winner, a title that he also earned from the No. 1 seed one-year prior.

Along his way to the first Funny Car winner’s circle of 2018, Hagan raced past Jim Campbell, Cruz Pedregon and teammate Ron Capps.

In the final round matchup versus opponent Robert Hight, Hagan blazed down the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona track in 3.823-seconds at 335.90-mph. Hight gave it a solid effort, throwing down a 3.866 E.T., but the Mopar Dodge powered by Pennzoil crossed the finish line first.

“To watch my guys come together and work, everything is clicking so nice — you can tell the extra prep that they put in during the off-season,” said Hagan, adding, “It’s not so much just the parts and pieces, it’s looking at those parts and pieces, and putting your hands on them.

“I’m really just proud of them, but I’m proud to crawl in that race car that Don Schumacher owns. It’s a car that these guys have put together, that I know I can win in any give Sunday. That’s a crazy feeling. Every Sunday you know you can win the race. It’s a cool feeling.”

By winning the Winternationals for the second consecutive year from the top seed, Hagan achieved a feat that no other driver has been able to accomplish since Don Prudhomme won the first race of the season from the No. 1 spot in 1976 and 1977.

Hagan’s Sunday victory was the 27th of his career and his third Winternationals win in the past four years. Hagan and his Dickie Venables-led team will look to pick up another back-to-back win when they return to Phoenix in two weeks, the next stop on the NHRA tour as the defending event champions.

Qualified:
No. 1 (3.822 E.T. at 336.32 MPH)

Results:
E1: 3.902 E.T. at 331.53 MPH defeated Jim Campbell 4.387 E.T. at 213.77 MPH
E2: 3.954 E.T. at 329.34 MPH defeated Cruz Pedregon 4.006 E.T. at 322.11 MPH
E3: 3.938 E.T. at 330.07 MPH defeated Ron Capps 3.968 E.T. at 330.07 MPH
E4: 3.823 E.T. at 335.90 MPH defeated Robert Hight 3.866 E.T. at 336.99 MPH

NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Points Standing:
127 points, ranked No. 1
Leads second ranked Robert Hight by 26 points


Tony Schumacher Posts a Runner-Up Finish with New Tuning Duo

The new U.S. Army crew chief power duo of Mike Neff and Phil Shuler made their race day debut on Sunday at the NHRA Winternationals.

In round one, Tony Schumacher was first off of the starting line and led challenger Terry McMillen the entire way down the track. Schumacher’s 3.696-second pass was his best of the weekend and held up to be low E.T. of the first session.

In the quarterfinals, the six-time Auto Club Raceway at Pomona Top Fuel champion had the advantage of lane choice, and once again made the best run of the class, crossing the stripe in 3.717-secs, easily defeating Haddock’s early tire-smoker.

Schumacher faced his fellow U.S. Army representative Antron Brown in the semifinal round. For the third round in a row, Schumacher ran the quickest pass of the session, setting off the win light with a 3.711.

In the final round, Schumacher found himself lined up next to rival Doug Kalitta. It was the veteran drivers’ 17th time meeting in the finals.

Schumacher left first, but a mid-track explosion ended his chances at bringing home the Winternationals trophy for the third time in his career.

“That was a lot of fun – the whole day. It was a fun deal in every way except for what happened at the end,” said the winningest Top Fuel driver in NHRA history.

“The U.S. Army car is an awesome car. We should’ve won that but we broke a part. Generally speaking, we broke the whole rear end, there. Fortunately, that stuff doesn’t happen very often because we have the best-made parts in the business. That’s just an unfortunate one because we had a good car and they weren’t going to beat us – nobody was, not today. Still, we go on to Phoenix with absolute confidence in a great racecar and a bunch of smiling U.S. Army boys.”

Qualified:
No. 8 (3.732 E.T. at 331.20 MPH)

Results:
E1: 3.696 E.T. at 332.18 MPH defeated Terry McMillen 3.752 E.T. at 328.06 MPH
E2: 3.717 E.T. at 331.85 MPH defeated Terry Haddock 9.851 E.T. at 84.16 MPH
E3: 3.711 E.T. at 331.45 MPH defeated Antron Brown 3.737 E.T. at 330.72 MPH
E4: 4.715 E.T. at 145.93 MPH defeated by Doug Kalitta 3.779 E.T. at 324.28 MPH

NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Points Standing:
95 points, ranked No. 2
Leads third ranked Clay Millican by 11 points
Trails first ranked Doug Kalitta by 17 points


DSR Driver Information:

Top Fuel:

ANTRON BROWN
Driver of the Matco Tools/U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster


Qualified:
No. 6 (3.717 E.T. at 332.51 MPH)

Results:
E1: 4.333 E.T. at 183.22 MPH defeated Mike Salinas 9.881 E.T. at 82.53 MPH
E2: 3.758 E.T. at 330.07 MPH defeated Steve Torrence, Red Light
E3: 3.737 E.T. at 330.72 MPH defeated by Tony Schumacher 3.711 E.T. at 331.45 MPH

Race Recap:
Antron Brown’s first opponent of 2018 was No. 9 qualifier Mike Salinas. Brown was quick off the line with a 0.054 reaction time. His Matco Tools/U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster was initially on a good pass before smoking the tires. Brown pedaled it, and the engine backfired. Luckily for Brown, Salinas encountered issues early in the run and the three-time Top Fuel champion was able to claim the round win.

Brown came back to make a clean 3.758-second pass in round two. In the opposite lane, his opponent Steve Torrence stood on the gas early and activated the red light, immediately fouling out.

The semifinals found Brown lined up against DSR teammate and fellow U.S. Army ambassador Tony Schumacher. Brown, who has two Top Fuel and one Pro Stock Motorcycle NHRA Finals/Pomona II victories, was looking for his first Winternationals Wally. Brown moved first and both drivers made clean, solid passes, but Schumacher caught up and edged past Brown, narrowly defeating his 3.737-sec run with a 3.711.

Quotable:
“It was a great race. I’m proud of all of our Matco Tools/U.S. Army/Toyota boys. We kept our heads down and we adapted to the situation. We made it up for that semifinal round. Hats off to Tony and all of his guys. They waited for us and we barely got up to the start line. They threw another great lap out there with a 71. We tried to step it up, but we just couldn’t get all the necessary changes that (crew chiefs) Brad Mason and Mark Oswald wanted to do. We got enough done that we were able to put up a solid lap and lost by 10 thou, but that’s drag racing. We’ll lick our wounds and go to the next race. With this being our first race out with our team and our new guys coming on board, we had a great performance this weekend and I couldn’t be more proud of what our guys did. Heading into the semifinals, it was a tight situation because they were trying to make up time after running long in the first round and then we were the last pair to go in the second round, but everyone kept their cool and the car ran flawlessly. Now we’ll go to Phoenix and hit it hard.”

NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Points Standing:
78 points, ranked No. 4
Leads fifth ranked Steve Torrence by 18 points
Trails third ranked Clay Millican by six points

LEAH PRITCHETT
Driver of the Mopar Dodge Top Fuel Dragster


Qualified:
No. 4 (3.687 E.T. at 330.32 MPH)

Results:
E1: parachute deployed on burnout; Scott Palmer automatically advanced to E2 (6.489 E.T. at 117.35 MPH)

Race Recap:
The defending Top Fuel event champion and Southern California native was looking for her second consecutive Winternationals win. As the No. 4 qualifier she was setup with lane choice versus Scott Palmer. Unfortunately for Pritchett, she never had the opportunity to race for the win when a mechanical malfunction caused her parachutes to deploy on the burnout. Pritchett drove down the track to the top end and watched as Palmer’s early tire-smoking effort advanced to round two.

Quotable:
“We were definitely struggling this morning. We thought we had it figured out last night but it looks like there were more major issues. We started it up four times and barely made it to the starting line, to be honest. I want to give big thanks to my guys working their tails off. They did everything they could to find the issue but it obviously reared its ugly head again, so we have some work to do. Ultimately, I have all the confidence in the world in Todd (Okuhara, crew chief), Scott (Okuhara, assistant crew chief) and the entire DSR/Mopar/U.S. Army team.”

NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Points Standing:
32 points, ranked eighth (three-way tie)
Trails seventh ranked Brittany Force by three points

Funny Car:

JACK BECKMAN
Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T


Qualified:
No. 3 (3.860 E.T. at 332.84 MPH)

Results:
E1: 3.907 E.T. at 333.00 MPH defeated Bob Tasca III 4.016 E.T. at 324.12 MPH
E2: 3.901 E.T. at 330.23 MPH defeated Tim Wilkerson 4.253 E.T. at 220.51 MPH
E3: Broke - No Time defeated by Robert Hight 3.899 E.T. at 329.10 MPH

Race Recap:
As the No. 3 qualifier, Beckman faced No. 14 seed Bob Tasca III in the first round of eliminations. The Norco, Calif. resident was first off of the starting line and retained the lead through the finish line. He powered the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Funny Car across the stripe in 3.907-seconds at 333-mph, posting top speed of the session.

Beckman and Tim Wilkerson kicked off the Funny Car quarterfinal round, and the 2012 Funny Car world champion once again had the advantage of lane choice. He lit up the scoreboard with a session-best E.T. and speed of 3.901 at 330.23-mph, easily defeating Wilkerson’s 4.253.

In the semifinals, the Infinite Hero team chose their lane versus Robert Hight. Beckman, who was looking for his first Pomona Funny Car event win, stood on the gas and immediately went up in smoke, ending his opportunity to race for the first Funny Car Wally of 2018.

Quotable:
“I’m frustrated right now and everybody on the team is as well because we can’t find a smoking gun. The moment we started the car up, it was shredding the blower belt. That’s okay, we’ll just go through everything with a fine-toothed comb. I only live 30 miles away and I don’t want to have two weeks off. I want to pack my bags and fly to Phoenix tomorrow because I think we have one of the best cars there is out here. Once we dive in and eliminate these little bugs, we’re going to start reeling off race wins.”

NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Points Standing:
81 points, ranked No. 3
Leads fourth ranked Ron Capps by three points
Trails second ranked Robert Hight by 20 points

RON CAPPS
Driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T


Qualified:
No. 5 (3.882 E.T. at 331.12 MPH)

Results:
E1: 4.833 E.T. at 167.53 MPH defeated Shawn Langdon 10.060 E.T. at 79.68 MPH
E2: 4.001 E.T. at 324.75 MPH defeated Jonnie Lindberg, Red Light
E3: 3.968 E.T. at 320.81 MPH defeated by Matt Hagan 3.938 E.T. at 330.07 MPH

Race Recap:
As the No. 5 seed, Capps started race day with lane choice versus his first round opponent, Shawn Langdon. The three-time Winternationals champion powered his NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Funny Car solidly down the Pomona dragstrip until the engine exploded just past half-track. Lucky for the Napa team, Funny Car newbie Langdon hazed the tires right at the hit of the throttle and Capps was able to coast to the win and into the second round.

In the quarterfinals, Capps lined up against Jonnie Lindberg. Lindberg stood on the gas early, fouling out with -0.310-sec red light. Upon hearing Lindberg hit the throttle, Capps reacted and launched his Dodge Funny Car off the starting line. Despite also activating the red light, the ‘first or worst’ rule came into play and Capps’ 4.001-sec pass was recorded as the round winning E.T.

In a battle of Dodge versus Dodge, Capps duked it out with DSR teammate Matt Hagan in the semifinals.

The Carlsbad, Calif. speedster put up a good fight versus Hagan, but ultimately his teammate was able to power to the win with a 3.938 versus Capps’ 3.968-sec pass.

Quotable:
“It was an eventful day on Sunday. We unloaded at qualifying, coming from testing with a new clutch and Tobler not having a lot of data, it was a pretty darn good way to start. Then that big explosion first round. The guys, man, I can’t even believe we got it back together. There was as much work putting that car back together after that big explosion as they had during the offseason. We almost had to put a new car together so to get back up there and win that first round, and get into the semis. We knew we were up against a good car being my teammate in Hagan with Dickie. But it was a great comeback for Tobler to go back up there and not beat ourselves and go down the track like we did. I’m very happy about the car already and wish we could have gone farther but good job by the NAPA Auto Care guys.”

NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Points Standing:
78 points, ranked No. 4
Leads fifth ranked Jonnie Lindberg by 27 points
Trails third ranked by Jack Beckman by three points

TOMMY JOHNSON JR.
Driver of the Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger R/T


Qualified:
No. 9 (3.932 E.T. at 320.36 MPH)

Results:
E1: 4.504 E.T. at 267.69 MPH defeated by Cruz Pedregon 4.363 E.T. at 246.17 MPH

Race Recap:
The Make-A-Wish Funny Car pilot entered the NHRA Winternationals as the most recent Pomona Funny Car winner, having won the 2017 NHRA Finals. He was hoping to pick up his fourth Auto Club Raceway at Pomona event win on Sunday.

Johnson encountered troubles, going up in smoke early in the first round. His opponent Cruz Pedregon also hazed the tires. The veteran Funny Car drivers both pedaled, but Pedregon was already too far down track and is able to get the round win, ending Johnson and the Make-A-Wish team’s chances at starting the 2018 season with a Wally.

Quotable:
“It wasn’t what we expected coming into the first race of the season. We tested well. We’re still kind of in a test mode, because of the (new) six-disc (clutch). We’re trying stuff to make us better later in the season, and just never quite got it together this weekend. We’ll learn from it and go into Phoenix a lot stronger. We ran good there in testing, and have a lot more data there. The more data we can get, the better we’ll run.”

NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Points Standing:
32 points, ranked 10th (three-way tie)
Trails ninth ranked Courtney Force by four points
 

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