Johnson, Pritchett lead DSR on opening day of qualifying near Charlotte to start NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoff in Mello Yello Series

Category : DSR news

CONCORD, N.C. (Sept. 15, 2017) – Leah Pritchett and the Papa John’s Pizza/FireAde Top Fuel dragster and Tommy Johnson Jr. in Terry and Doug Chandler’s Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car were third quickest in their respective categories for Don Schumacher Racing Powered by Pennzoil on Friday in the 10th annual NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway near Charlotte.

Pritchett with crew chief Todd Okuhara and assistant Joe Barlam were third quickest in both sessions on opening day with her second run being their best at 3.725 seconds and 327.98 seconds.

“The way the Countdown has started is the way the whole season has been with competition being so close,” Pritchett said of five-thousandths of a second separating current No. 1 Doug Kalitta and DSR’s Antron Brown in fourth.

“We were pushing, and we followed our strategy of making good runs in Q1 and Q2. Batting practice if over and from here on out we will have nothing but home runs in sight.”

Johnson powered to a 3.901 (325.06) with crew chief John Collins and assistant Rip Reynolds and the day’s temperatures in the low 80s under mostly sunny skies made it a challenge to get the necessary traction.

“We were really good early in the first run (4.345) but lost a little in the middle of the track where it was pretty slick from the sun,” Johnson said. “We came back after the Make-A-Wish team made some adjustments and the right calls.”

Brown, the three-time and reigning world champion, holds the No. 4 spot in Top Fuel with a time of 3.728 at the day’s top speed of 331.85 mph. Teammate Jack Beckman is No. 4 in Funny Car at 3.906 with the fastest run in Funny Car at 330.47.

The Carolina Nationals is the first of six events in the Countdown to the Championship playoff that will determine NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world champions.

Qualifying resumes Saturday with sessions at 1:30 and 4 p.m. (EDT) heading to Sunday’s noon eliminations.

The following are Friday’s qualifying results for DSR from Brainerd:

Provisional No. 1 qualifier: Doug Kalitta (Kalitta Motorsports) 3.723 sec., 329.50 mph

LEAH PRITCHETT, Papa John’s Pizza/FireAde
Crew chief: Todd Okuhara; Assistant: Joe Barlam
Provisional qualifying position: No. 3
FRIDAY: 3.791 sec., 323.37 mph, (Session 1); 3.725, 327.98, (Session 2)

ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools/U.S. Army
Crew chiefs: Brian Corradi, Mark Oswald; Assistant: Brad Mason
Provisional qualifying position: No. 4
FRIDAY: 10.493 sec., 69.86 mph, (Session 1); 3.728, 331.85, (Session 2)

Crew chief: Mike Green; Assistant: Phil Shuler
Provisional qualifying position: No. 14
FRIDAY: 4.481 sec., 175.30 mph, (Session 1); 5.391, 127.57, (Session 2)

Provisional No. 1 qualifier: Courtney Force (John Force Racing), 3.891 sec., 330.07 mph

TOMMY JOHNSON JR., Doug & Terry Chandler’s Make-A-Wish 2017 Dodge Charger R/T
Crew chief: John Collins; Assistant: Rip Reynolds
Provisional qualifying position: No. 3
FRIDAY: 4.345 sec., 206.35 mph, (Session 1); 3.901, 325.06, (Session 2)

JACK BECKMAN, Doug & Terry Chandler’s Infinite Hero Foundation 2017 Dodge Charger R/T
Crew chiefs: Dean Antonelli, John Medlen, Neal Strausbaugh
Provisional qualifying position: No. 4
FRIDAY: 5.820 sec., 117.11 mph, (Session 1); 3.906, 330.47, (Session 2)

MATT HAGAN, Freightliner 2017 Dodge Charger R/T
Crew chief: Dick Venables; Assistant: Michael Knudsen
Provisional qualifying position: No. 10
FRIDAY: 3.981 sec., 324.12 mph, (Session 1); 4.784, 163.49, (Session 2)

Crew chief: Rahn Tobler; Assistant: Eric Lane
Provisional qualifying position: No. 11
FRIDAY: 4.996 sec., 152.07 mph, (Session 1); 4.012, 257.87, (Session 2)

(Reset to start six-race playoff; wins in parenthesis; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. Steve Torrence (7) 2,100 —-
2. ANTRON BROWN (4) 2,080 -20
3. LEAH PRITCHETT (4) 2,070 -30
4. TONY SCHUMACHER (1) 2,060 -40
5. Doug Kalitta 2,050 -50
6. Brittany Force (1) 2,040 -60
7. Clay Millican (1) 2,030 -70
8. Terry McMillan 2,020 -80
9. Scott Palmer 2,010 -90
10. Shawn Langdon 2,000 -100
1. RON CAPPS (6) 2,100 —–
2. Robert Hight (2) 2,080 -20
3. MATT HAGAN (3) 2,070 -30
4. JACK BECKMAN (2) 2,060 -40
5. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. 2,050 -50
6. Courtney Force 2,040 -60
7. John Force (1) 2,030 -70
8. J.R. Todd (2) 2,020 -80
9. Tim Wilkerson 2,010 -90
10. Cruz Pedregon 2,000 -100

About Don Schumacher Racing
Don Schumacher Racing, headquartered in Brownsburg, Ind., fields seven professional NHRA teams. In Top Fuel, the U.S. Army dragster driven by eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher, the Matco Tools dragster driven by three-time world champion Antron Brown and the Papa John’s Pizza Top Fuel dragster driven by Leah Pritchett; and in Funny Car, 2016 world champion Ron Capps in the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T; 2011 and 2014 world champion Matt Hagan in the 80th anniversary Mopar/ Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T, and 2012 NHRA world champion Jack Beckman in the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge and the Make-A-Wish Dodge driven by Tommy Johnson Jr., both of which are funded by Doug and Terry Chandler.

DSR has won 314 NHRA national event titles and 16 world championships.
Follow Don Schumacher Racing at, on Twitter at @shoeracing and