Tony Schumacher will reach the ‘500 events’ milestone this weekend at the NHRA Midwest Nationals
Ron Capps returns as the defending Funny Car event champion
Antron Brown leads the professional classes as the most victorious driver in Gateway Motorsports Park NHRA history, having won five events
Brown has won four of the last six St. Louis events
Capps leads the Funny Car category in most wins (four) at Gateway
DSR has been victorious, picking up a win in at least one category every year since the reintroduction of the St. Louis race in 2012
Capps’ first Funny Car event win occurred at the 1997 event
Tommy Johnson Jr. secured his first Funny Car No. 1 qualifier at the 1999 event
Leah Pritchett and Mark Pawuk return to Factory Stock Showdown Series competition since racing to an event win and runner-up finish, respectively, at the previous FSXX race
DSR-Owned Track Records:
Top Fuel, speed: 332.75-mph, Leah Pritchett (2017)
DSR Driver Information:
ST. LOUIS — While John Force had a second-round exit at last week’s opening event in the NHRA playoffs, there were indications in the PEAK Coolant and Motor Oil team’s performance that the sport’s winningest driver may yet have a say in who hoists this year’s Mello Yello Champion’s trophy.
In a season that surely will rank as one of the most frustrating of his career, the 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion has been battered, bruised and berated. While a young crew anchored by Jon Schaffer and Ronnie Thompson has battled through myriad mechanical issues, Force himself has had to change his driving style to address early season car control issues.
And yet, entering this week’s AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park, Force is definitely back on the radar.
Madison, Ill – Todd eyes third straight win…Funny Car points lead J.R. Toddwill be looking to drive his Camry Funny Car to his third consecutive victory at Gateway Motorsports Park this weekend. The Kalitta Motorsports driver opened the Countdown to the Championship last weekend with a victory at Maple Grove Raceway. He also won the regular season finale at the U.S. Nationals. His four victories on the season tie him for the series lead.
Gateway To The Winner’s Circle…No driver has won more at Gateway Motorsports Park than Antron Brown, who will be eying a sixth trip to Winner’s Circle at the track. Brown won in 2009 and then reeled off four consecutive wins from 2012-2015. Fellow Toyota Top Fuel pilot Doug Kalittahas won three times at the St. Louis area track, while Shawn Langdonhas one Midwest Nationals victory to his credit.
ST. LOUIS — Last weekend at Maple Grove Raceway Robert Hight and the AAA Missouri Chevrolet Camaro raced to a semifinal finish and proved that Hight is ready to defend his 2017 Mello Yello NHRA Funny Car title. The Funny Car, which is bannered with Auto Club’s End Distracted Driving initiative and messaging posted the three quickest runs in each round of eliminations on Sunday running 3.941, 3.946 and 3.982 seconds, respectively. Hight was ousted in the semifinals by a rare red-light start but the veteran driver will only use that misstep as motivation.
“I had been cutting good lights all day and was just too aggressive. Obviously, that was not the way we wanted to end the weekend,” Hight said after the race in Reading, Pennsylvania. “This AAA Camaro was running great, and we would have had that round win and probably won the race. Jimmy Prock and Chris Cunningham figured this car out from qualifying. Turning it around like that gives me all the more confidence in this AAA team. I believe we have the car to beat. We’re ready to head to St. Louis, we moved up in the points and we’re going to keep it going.”
The confidence in Prock and Cunningham is not a new revelation for Hight. Throughout the season the Auto Club Camaro has been one of the most feared Funny Cars on the NHRA tour. They opened the season with a runner-up finish at the season opening Winternationals and never looked back. Over a five race stretch in April and May Hight raced to two more runner-ups and capped the stretch with his first win of the season in Chicago.
ST. LOUIS – Five-time Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. appears to be peaking at the right time as the NHRA tour prepares for this weekend’s seventh annual AAA NHRA Midwest Nationals. Just one race into the Countdown to the Championship, Coughlin’s JEGS.com Elite Performance Chevrolet Camaro is running at the top of the charts, as witnessed last weekend in Reading, Pa., where he qualified second overall.
“It’s a very exciting time,” Coughlin said. “We are heading to Round 2 of 6 in this year’s playoffs and we have a great hot rod on our hands. We were very quick every single round in Reading, qualified second by just a fraction to my teammate Erica Enders, and definitely had a car that could have won the race.
“Pro Stock is a zero-tolerance world. The preparation during the week, the calls you make during the day, driving down the track — it all has to be perfect. There’s no room for error because any one of the 10 cars in the Countdown are capable of winning, and even a few outside the top 10 have a chance to strike.”
ST. LOUIS – Sight-seeing around St. Louis is going to have to wait for Scott Palmer and crew after the championship hopeful’s race day in Reading, Pa., ended with several shredded body panels flying off his CatSpot Organic Cat Litter Top Fuel dragster. So instead of touring the famous Arch, the team will be parked in Indianapolis awaiting a brand-new set of body pieces.
“We run a MLR chassis so we’re already at their shop in Indy getting a new body fitted,” Palmer said. “Richie Crampton (MLR fabricator and fellow Top Fuel driver) and his guys are working overtime to help us and we can’t thank them enough. That’s the drag racing way; we all help each other out.
“When you lose as many panels as we did you really just have to replace them all because if you try to patch an older body with a new body, you’re going to have problems. This is all custom-made stuff so you can’t really go to the store and get body panels. Either way, we’ll be ready for St. Louis, even if we don’t get much sleep.”
YORBA LINDA, CA — Funny Car standout and championship frontrunner Courtney Force will be featured on the Lifetime television series, ‘Live Life Forward’, a show dedicated to spreading awareness about how deeply lives can be changed through community involvement. Force will be on the season two premiere episode, ‘A Home Built for a Hero’ on Tuesday, Sept. 18th at 7:30 a.m.
Force had the opportunity, through Advance Auto Parts and their partnership with Building Homes for Heroes, to travel to Navarre, Florida to participate in gifting a home to the family of Mark De Alencar, a Gold Star U.S. Army Staff Sergeant who last year gave everything in the line of duty. The episode will focus on honoring Mark De Alencar and recognizing his service in the U.S. Army by helping to create a fresh start for the family he left behind.
“It was an honor for me to be there with Advance Auto Parts supporting Building Home for Heroes. It was incredible to be part of that event, for the De Alencar family. I was so honored to be a part of that moment,” Force said. “It was really great to see the team aspect with the entire community coming together. Everyone that had a hand in this, it shows how we can come together and really pull something amazing off for the ones who really deserve it and for the ones who are really sacrificing for our country and allow us to be here in the land of the free because of the brave.”