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Mopar Dodge//SRT Drivers Pritchett, Beckman and Schumacher Advance to Semifinals at Houston 

Jacob Pitt of Mansfield, Texas earns Dodge Top Finisher award in both Stock Eliminator and Super Stock

Defending SpringNationals event winner Pritchett turned heads on Saturday afternoon when the Mopar Dodge dragster rocketed to the top with an impressive 3.680-second pass. The team earned their first No. 1 qualifier of the season and was set up for success on race day. Led by crew chief duo Todd Okuhara and Joe Barlam, the team dismissed of Top Fuel newbie Terry Brian in the opening round on Sunday with another sub 3.7-second pass, the lowest elapsed time of the opening round.

In the second round, Pritchett defeated rival Steve Torrence in one of the best side-by-side races of the day. Pritchett got the edge on the starting line and posted a 3.740, 320-mph lap over Torrence’s 3.778-second effort.

For the first time all weekend at the track near Houston, teams faced sunny skies for the semifinal round and Prichett’s dragster hazed the tires in the semifinal race against Terry McMillen. McMillen also struggled down the tricky 1,000-ft course but was able to take the win light.

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BRITTANY FORCE WINS NHRA SPRINGNATIONALS

BAYTOWN, TX — Just four races after being involved in a serious crash, Top Fuel world champion Brittany Force piloted her Monster Energy dragster to the winner’s circle at the NHRA SpringNationals on Sunday. Robert Hight powered to the Funny Car finals and Courtney Force had a first round finish at Royal Purple Raceway just outside of Houston.

Brittany Force picked up her eighth career win, first of the season and first at Royal Purple Raceway when she raced to a 3.762-second pass at 299.46 mph to defeat Terry McMillen’s 3.818 at 311.56. The result comes after months of recovery for Force. As a result of her devastating crash at the season opening NHRA Winternationals, Force had an overnight hospital stay and has continued to go to physical therapy.

“This is a big win for us because our season has been so up and down. Our wreck in Pomona was a tough start,” Force said. “Leaving Pomona last season we were on a huge high. We won the championship and that is something every driver dreams about. We were able to do that and then coming out to the opening race of the season at the same track in Pomona it was the ultimate low. It was really tough in Phoenix getting back in that car. My guys knew it and for me I didn’t care about winning the race. All I cared about was getting back in the car and making runs. Gainesville was when I really felt like it was game on. This win is big for us. It puts Pomona behind us and it pushes us towards another championship. It’s because of the support system I have around me – sponsors and my team – that got us here today. I feel great now. I am back in the gym but not a 100% back.”

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DSR Houston Post Race Recap NHRA SpringNationals

Jack Beckman retains the Funny Car points lead
Tony Schumacher tied for the Top Fuel points lead (with Steve Torrence)
Leah Pritchett leaves with the Royal Purple Raceway Top Fuel E.T. record (3.680-seconds)

Top Fuel:

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

Qualified: No. 5 (3.740 E.T. at 324.98 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 4.771 E.T. at 163.79 MPH defeated by Terry McMillen 3.777 E.T. at 317.79 MPH

Race Recap:
Antron Brown’s first Top Fuel victory was at the Baytown, Texas track in 2008. 10 years and 48 wins later, the 49-time Top Fuel event champion entered the race on the verge of his 50th.

After qualifying fifth for the NHRA SpringNationals, Brown faced Terry McMillen in the opening session. Brown had a slight starting line advantage but his 11,000-horsepower Matco Tools/U.S. Army machine began to shake the tires. He pedaled it but clicked it off when it started dropping cylinders. McMillen was able to take the win with a clean 3.777-second pass.

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Semi-Sweet Results for Schumacher, Pritchett

Brown Drops First-Round Matchup at Houston’s NHRA Spring Nationals

Tire-smoking semifinal-round runs thwarted a promising bid by Tony “The Sarge” Schumacher and Leah Pritchett’s to make it an all-U.S. Army final Sunday at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Spring Nationals at Royal Purple Raceway in the Houston suburb of Baytown, Texas.

It was a disappointing end to the weekend for both U.S. Army Top Fuel competitors – particularly for Pritchett, who was looking to win this event for the second year in a row and was this weekend’s No. 1 qualifier with a head-turning, track-record run late Saturday.

The shining light for Schumacher, a two-time Houston winner who was looking to reach his third final round in the season’s first five events, was leaving town with a share of the Top Fuel points lead after Pritchett disposed of Steve Torrence, the outright points leader entering the weekend, in today’s second round.

From his No. 3 spot on the elimination ladder after laying down the best four Top Fuel qualifying runs Friday and Saturday, “The Sarge” and his U.S. Army Dragster for Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) matched his best qualifying run of 3.703 seconds at 325.85 mph in beating No. 14 qualifier Bill Litton in today’s first round in unseasonably cool conditions. He then beat a tire-smoking Clay Millican in the second round with another stout run of 3.737 seconds at 317.64 mph in slightly warmer conditions. In the semifinal round, Schumacher jumped to an early advantage over Brittany Force but then began hazing the tires and had to pedal it to the finish line, reach there in 5.074 seconds at 148.97 mph while Force had a clean run of 3.766 seconds at 299.80 mph and then went on to win the event.

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Why it’s good Pro Stock champ Jeg Coughlin Jr. is mad about his best race of the year

HOUSTON – Only time will tell but it could very well come to pass that five-time pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. eventually points to this weekend’s 31st annual NHRA SpringNationals as the place where his 2018 campaign was truly launched.

After struggling through the first four races of the year, winning just one round and failing to qualify in the top half of any elimination ladder, Coughlin came to life Sunday in the Lone Star State, qualifying a lofty second overall and speeding through to the semifinals before shaking his tires and losing to part-timer racer Matt Hartford, who uses Elite Performance motors.

Coughlin’s JEGS.com/Elite Performance Chevrolet Camaro was running so well, in fact, he was actually pretty steamed about not performing better.

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TODD, CAMRY GO BACK-TO-BACK WITH HOUSTON NHRA SPRING NATIONALS WIN

BAYTOWN, TX –J.R. Todd drove his DHL Toyota Camry to victory over Robert Hight in the Funny Car finals, 3.955-3.993, to win Sunday’s NHRA Spring Nationals in suburban Houston. The win is the second in a row for Todd and his fourth in the last 15 races. It also marks Kalitta Motorsports’ fourth in the season’s first five events.

Todd, who began the day from the tenth starting position, defeated Tommy Johnson, Jeff Diehl and Tim Wilkerson to set up the final round match-up with defending series champion Hight. The two left the line together, but Todd’s Camry surged ahead by the 330-foot mark and led the rest of the way.  With the win, he climbed up to third in the Funny Car championship race.

“I just want to keep riding the wave,” said Todd of the first back-to-back victories in his career. “I don’t think I’ve even been in back-to-back Funny Car final rounds before this. To come here and win, that just shows that winning the Four-Wide wasn’t a fluke and that we’re capable of winning races. I knew coming here that the track was going to be a factor and that could play into our hands. Our competitors got their stuff running well early, while we were struggling a bit, but I wasn’t doubting our DHL Toyota in the final by any means. I thought if I could leave on him, or even with him, that we could run with him and that if we just ran like we have been that we had a pretty good shot of winning.”

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ROBERT HIGHT TAKES AAA TEXAS CHEVY TO NO. 1 QUALIFIER AT NHRA SPRINGNATIONALS

BAYTOWN, TX — Reigning Funny Car world champion Robert Hight powered his AAA Texas Chevrolet Camaro Funny Car to the No. 1 qualifier Saturday at the 21st annual NHRA SpringNationals at Royal Purple Raceway outside of Houston. Hight took the top spot from teammate Courtney Force who is No. 2, Top Fuel world champion Brittany Force also claimed the No. 2 spot and John Force, for the first time since 2008, failed to qualify for eliminations.

Hight laid down a 3.894-second pass at 317.27 mph in the final qualifying session to earn the 58th No. 1 of his career, first of the season and second at Royal Purple Raceway. Hight’s first No. 1 at the facility came in 2005 which led to his first pro victory in only his fourth professional race.

“It has been tricky. We did come right off the trailer on Friday with a 3.92 which was low of Q1. After that we were a little too aggressive,” explained Hight. “Jimmy (Prock) changed some things with the car over the past week that had to do with the NHRA mandated header angle rule. We adjusted the balance of the car and it definitely has more traction. Every run, I knew, if it hooked up and went, we would be low ET. You have to get it down there, though. I think the right lane is a little better and that was the lane where we made our two good runs. Right lane will definitely be lane choice tomorrow.”

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