Pritchett earns fifth pole of season with Papa John’s/Mopar dragster; Beckman leads DSR Dodges, Johnson faces Capps for 3rd straight event

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Pritchett earns fifth pole of season with Papa John’s/Mopar dragster; Beckman leads DSR Dodges, Johnson faces Capps for 3rd straight event

Category : DSR Article

SONOMA, Calif. (July 29, 2017) – Leah Pritchett and the Papa John’s Pizza/Mopar team led by crew chief Todd Okuhara and assistant Joe Barlam enjoyed their best overall qualifying performance when they clinched their fifth No. 1 qualifying position of the year during the NHRA Sonoma Nationals near San Francisco.

While her teammate Jack Beckman and Terry Chandler’s Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T is the top-qualifier in a Don Schumacher Racing Funny Car, Tommy Johnson Jr. and Chandler’s Make-A-Wish team with crew chief John Collins and assistant Rip Reynolds made the biggest jump in Saturday’s last qualifying session and their second quickest run in the session enabled Johnson to jump to the No. 5 qualifying spot.

That, however, will pair Johnson against DSR’s reigning world champion and current points leader Ron Capps for the third straight event. The first was in championship round at Chicago where Capps took the title while the second was las week in Denver during the first round where Johnson beat Capps on a holeshot. On Sunday when eliminations begin at 11 a.m. (PDT), they will meet in the first round after Capps and the NAPA AUTO PARTS team stumbled to the No. 12 seed.

“If you have to race a teammate you only want it to be in the final round, never the first round,” said Johnson, whose last run was in 3.848 seconds at 325.85 mph for second best of the final qualifying session. “This is a big chance for us to keep Ron from adding to his lead and we need to go some rounds to start moving up in the standings.”

Capps will start Sunday with a 183-point lead over DSR’s Matt Hagan and the 80th Anniversary Mopar/Express Lane Dodge. Johnson is fifth in the standings and 47 points behind Beckman, who is fourth.

For Pritchett and the Powered by Pennzoil Top Fuel team, they were the quickest in Saturday’s opening session that was their fourth consecutive session-leading performance including the last qualifying run at Denver a week ago when she won the pole and advanced to the final round but lost to DSR’s three-time and reigning world champion Antron Brown (Matco Tools), who is qualified No. 4.

Stig, left, and Antron Brown debut Sunday night in the new ‘Top Gear America’ on BBC America.

“What that says about our team is the attention to detail, going from one extreme to another,” she said. “What that says about this team is that they don’t even get a little bit lax and instead we’re ramping it up. We’re ramping up our details, we’re ramping up our strategy, we’re looking constantly to improve. The true colors of this team are showing.”

The No. 1 position is her fifth of the season in the year’s 14th event and her second straight. Her pole-winning time on Friday gave a fifth track elapsed time record that is most among Top Fuel drivers.

“We’re definitely on a roll,” she said. “It’s probably the highest confidence that we can have going into Sunday, but keep in mind that anything can happen on Sunday no matter who you’re racing. We took this track extremely seriously today, trying to get down it conditions like what we’ll see Sunday.”

The Papa John’s team earned nine bonus qualifying points that cut her gap behind Brown to four and points leader Steve Torrence to 59.

DSR TOP FUEL DRAGSTERS
No. 1 qualifier: Leah Pritchett (Don Schumacher Racing), 3.669 sec.-track record, 304.80 mph

LEAH PRITCHETT, Papa John’s Pizza/Mopar Top Fuel dragster
Crew chief: Todd Okuhara; Assistant: Joe Barlam
SUNDAY’S CHAMPIONSHIP ELIMINATIONS
First round: Terry Haddock
QUALIFYING RESULTS
Qualified: No. 1
FRIDAY: 3.729 sec., 328.38 mph, (Session 1); 3.669-track record, 304.80, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 3.782, 324.51, (Session 3); 3.906, 247.61, (Session 4)
SONOMA BY THE NUMBERS
Career best time, speed: 3.658 sec.-world record (2017, Phoenix); 330.23 mph (2017, Topeka)
Last event (July 23), Denver: Qualified: No. 1, lost in championship round to teammate Antron Brown
A year ago at Sonoma: Qualified No. 9, lost in first round to teammate Tony Schumacher
Career at Sonoma: Wins 0; Runner-up 0; Poles 0

ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools/U.S. Army/Toyota Top Fuel dragster
Crew chiefs: Brian Corradi, Mark Oswald; Assistant: Brad Mason
SUNDAY’S CHAMPIONSHIP ELIMINATIONS
First round: Troy Buff
QUALIFYING RESULTS
Qualified: No. 4
FRIDAY: 5.052, 138.77 mph, (Session 1); 3.705, 329.42, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 6.306, 108.69, (Session 3); 10.595, 67.97, (Session 4)
SONOMA BY THE NUMBERS
Career best time, speed: 3.667 (2017, Phoenix); 333.16 mph (2017, Topeka)
Last event (July 23), Denver: Qualified: No. 7, won in championship round over teammate Leah Pritchett
A year ago at Sonoma: Qualified No. 2, lost in second round to eventual event winner J.R. Todd
Career at Sonoma: Wins 4 (2009, 2011, 2012, 2015); Runner-up 2 (2004, 2006); Poles 2 (2008, 2015)

TONY SCHUMACHER, U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster
Crew chief: Mike Green; Assistant: Phil Shuler
SUNDAY’S CHAMPIONSHIP ELIMINATIONS
First round: Scott Palmer
QUALIFYING RESULTS
Qualified: No. 5
FRIDAY: 3.769 sec., 326.79 mph, (Session 1); 3.709, 328.30, (Session 2)
SATURDAY:10.360, 70.68, (Session 3); 9.893, 70.84, (Session 4)
SONOMA BY THE NUMBERS
Career best time, speed: 3.660 sec. (2017, Topeka); 332.51 mph (2016, Brainerd)
Last event (July 23), Denver: Qualified: No. 4, lost in second round to Terry Haddock
A year ago at Sonoma: Qualified No. 8, lost in second round to Steve Torrence
Career at Sonoma: Wins 2 (2007, 2008); Runner-up 4 (1999, 2006, 2010, 2011); Poles 3 (2005, 2006, 2011)

DSR FUNNY CARS
No. 1 qualifier: Robert Hight (John Force Racing), 3.807 sec., 339.87 mph-world record

JACK BECKMAN, Terry Chandler’s Infinite Hero Foundation 2017 Dodge Charger R/T
Crew chiefs: Dean Antonelli, John Medlen, Neal Strausbaugh
SUNDAY’S CHAMPIONSHIP ELIMINATIONS
First round: Jonnie Lindberg
QUALIFYING RESULTS
Qualified: No. 3
FRIDAY: 8.640 sec., 80.39 mph, (Session 1); 3.854,m 328.70, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 3.983, 320.28, (Session 3); 3.910, 324.83, (Session 4)
SONOMA BY THE NUMBERS
Career best time, speed: 3.825 sec., (2016 Pomona 2); 334.15 mph (Seattle 2016)
Last event (July 23), Denver: Qualified: No. 6, lost in second round to eventual event winner Robert Hight
A year ago at Sonoma: Qualified No.9, lost in second to Del Worsham
Career at Sonoma: Wins 1 (2015); Runner-up 1 (2010); Poles 2 (2010, 2015)

TOMMY JOHNSON JR., Terry Chandler’s Make-A-Wish 2017 Dodge Charger R/T
Crew chief: John Collins; Assistant: Rip Reynolds
QUALIFYING RESULTS
SUNDAY’S CHAMPIONSHIP ELIMINATIONS
First round: Ron Capps
Qualified: No. 5
FRIDAY: no time, (Session 1); 3.908, 327.43, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 25.607, 40.78, (Session 3); 3.896, 325.85, (Session 4)
SONOMA BY THE NUMBERS
Career best time, speed: 3.837 sec. (Phoenix 2017); 330.80 mph (Seattle, 2016)
Last event (July 23), Denver: Qualified: No. 12, lost in championship round to teammate Ron Capps
A year ago at Sonoma: Qualified No. 8, lost in first round to teammate Jack Beckman
Career at Sonoma: 0 Wins; Runners-up 1 (2015); Poles 1 (1994)

MATT HAGAN, 80th Anniversary Mopar/Express Lane 2017 Dodge Charger R/T
Crew chief: Dickie Venables; Assistant: Michael Knudsen
SUNDAY’S CHAMPIONSHIP ELIMINATIONS
First round: Del Worsham
QUALIFYING RESULTS
Qualified: No. 6
FRIDAY: 3.904 sec., 330.39 mph-track record, (Session 1); 10.105, 82.71, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 9.862, 76.78, (Session 3); 6.373, 104.79, (Session 4)
SONOMA BY THE NUMBERS
Career best time, speed: 3.802 sec.-world record, (2017,Topeka); 338.85 mph-world record (2017, Topeka)
Last event (July 23), Denver: Qualified: No. 15, lost in second round to Cruz Pedregon
A year ago at Sonoma: Qualified No. 4, lost in second round to teammate Ron Capps
Career at Sonoma: Wins 0; Runner-up 1 (2012); Poles 2 (2009, 2013)

RON CAPPS, NAPA AUTO PARTS 2017 Dodge Charger R/T
Crew chief: Rahn Tobler; Assistant: Eric Lane
SUNDAY’S CHAMPIONSHIP ELIMINATIONS
First round: Tommy Johnson Jr.
QUALIFYING RESULTS
Qualified: No. 12
FRIDAY: 4.032 sec., 306.12 mph, (Session 1); 7.001, 96.47, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 4.000, 321.96, (Session 3); 5.571, 126.10, (Session 4)
SONOMA BY THE NUMBERS
Career best time, speed: 3.839 sec. (2017, Phoenix); 333.58 mph (2017, Phoenix)
Last event (July 23), Denver: Qualified: No. 5, lost in first round to teammate Tommy Johnson Jr.
A year ago at Sonoma: Qualified No. 5, lost in championship round to John Force
Career at Sonoma: Wins 4 (1997, 2010, 2011, 2013); Runner-up 3 (2002, 2005, 2016); Poles 1 (1998)

2017 NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES TOP FUEL STANDINGS
(Official after Sonoma qualifying: wins in parenthesis; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. Steve Torrence (5) 1,289
2. ANTRON BROWN (3) 1,234
3. LEAH PRITCHETT (3) 1,230
4. TONY SCHUMACHER (1) 1,008
5. Doug Kalitta 913
6. Brittany Force (1) 895
7. Clay Millican (1) 861
8. Scott Palmer 560
9. Terry McMillen 558
10. Troy Coughlin Jr. 528

2017 NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES FUNNY CAR STANDINGS
(Official after Sonoma qualifying: wins in parenthesis; DSR drivers in CAPS)
1. RON CAPPS (6) 1,276
2. MATT HAGAN (3) 1,093
3. Robert Hight (1) 1,015
4. JACK BECKMAN (2) 1,009
5. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. (1) 962
6. Courtney Force 834
7. John Force (1) 801
8. Tim Wilkerson 667
9. J.R. Todd 644
10. Cruz Pedregon 570

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/Mopar 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 the late Terry Chandler.

DSR has won 312 NHRA national event titles and 16 world championships.
Follow Don Schumacher Racing at ShoeRacing.com, on Twitter at @shoeracing and Facebook.com/shoeracing.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Jeff Wolf (wolfj@shoeracing.com), 702.524.1368
Leah Vaughn (vaughnl@shoeracing.com), 618.516.1988