Tobler sends NAPA to final round then Capps reaction gets fifth title, while DSR teammate Pritchett, Papa John’s Pizza gets to another final

BRISTOL, TN – The first eight races of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season featured track- or world-record conditions and Don Schumacher Racing took advantage of those weather conditions.

But trend began going up in smoke as mid-summer temperatures rose last weekend in Englishtown, N.J., and continued the past three days during the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway in Tennessee.

The only records set Sunday during championship eliminations were for tire smoke, dropped engine cylinders.


The crew chiefs were challenged by mid-80s and high humidity but DSR tuners were able to get their race cars down the Bristol tricky track

Four DSR Dodge Charger R/T Funny Cars Powered by Pennzoil advanced to the semifinals round with reigning world champion and points leader Ron Capps and the NAPA AUTO PARTS team led by Rahn Tobler needing a holeshot to keep teammate Jack Beckman and Terry Chandler’s Infinite Hero Dodge from winning a title for the second consecutive weekend.

In Top Fuel, DSR’s Papa John’s Pizza dragster with driver Leah Pritchett and crew chief Todd Okuhara advanced to a final round for the fourth time but was denied her fourth title when Tennessee’s popular driver, Clay Millican, slipped past Pritchett for the first win of his NHRA career.

“I want to say congratulations to Clay. That was a hard fought win,” she said. “He’s been racing for many years and the first one is always sweet. So, congrats to that entire team. It was a very deserving win.

“We’re in this fight to keep it tight all season long. It was a pretty decent weekend for this Papa John’s team with Mopar and Pennzoil.”

The Papa John’s team rebounded from its only first-round loss of the season a week ago to compete in their fourth final round of the year. They’re time of 3.881 (307.09) was edged by Millican’s 3.825 (316.38).

Pritchett was able to move up to second in the points and will trail Steve Torrence by 11 points heading to Norwalk, Ohio, on Friday for the last of four stops in four weeks on the Eastern Swing

Capps seemed as excited about Millican’s win as his own.

“We couldn’t have picked a worse weekend to win,” Capps joked about the spotlight shining mostly on Millican. “But I’m OK with that this time.”

Although the midway point of Mello Yello season isn’t for another week, Capps’ fifth win of the season matches his total for 24 events in 2016 when he won his first world championship.

Tobler’s bold decision after two disappointing qualifying runs Friday night to switch to a chassis that previously had not been raced on competition paid off. And then in the final round, Capps outstanding reaction at the starting line overcame Beckman’s quicker car.

Capps stellar reaction time of 0.024 seconds was not that much better than Beckman’s (0.044) but it allowed his elapsed time of 4.054 to catch his teammate’s 4.040 and win by 2 feet.

“We didn’t get trounced. We lost a fantastic drag race,” said Beckman, who was trying for his first Bristol title. “We both had good lights. They out performed us by five-thousandths of a second. That’s the way drag races should look.”

Overall for DSR, the NAPA Funny Car title is its 10th in 11 races this year and 16th out of a possible 22 in the nitro categories.

It raises DSR’s total since 1998 to 309.

DSR TOP FUEL DRAGSTERS
Event winner: Clay Millican (Stringer Motorsports)
No. 1 qualifier: Steve Torrence (CAPCO Contractors) 3.770 sec., 319.29 mph

LEAH PRITCHETT, Papa John’s Pizza Top Fuel dragster
Crew chief: Todd Okuhara; Assistant: Joe Barlam
Qualified: No. 3
SUNDAY ELIMINATIONS
First round: PRITCHETT (4.378 sec., 186.51 mph) def. Troy Coughlin Jr. (4.497, 189.26)
Second round: PRITCHETT 7.094, 84.32) def. Scott Palmer (redlight, disqualification)
Semifinals: PRITCHETT (3.798, 319.90) def. Shawn Langdon (3.901, 308.0)
Final: Clay Millican (3.825, 316.38) def. PRITCHETT (3.881, 307.09))
QUALIFYING RESULTS
FRIDAY: 3.842 sec., 309.34 mph, (Session 1); 3.817, 274.33, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 7.835, 66.80, (Session 3); 3.795, 288.03, (Session 4)
BY THE NUMBERS
Best Time, Speed: 3.658 sec.-world record (2017, Phoenix); 330.23 mph (2017, Topeka)
Last event (June 11), Englishtown, N.J.: Qualified No. 9, lost in first round to Tony Schumacher
A year ago at Bristol: Qualified No. 5, lost in first round to Richie Crampton
Career at Bristol: Wins 0, Runner-ups 1 (2017), Poles 0

ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools/U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster
Crew chiefs: Brian Corradi, Mark Oswald; Assistant: Brad Mason
Qualified: No. 7
SUNDAY ELIMINATIONS
First round: BROWN (3.952 sec., 286.62 mph) def. Pat Dakin (12.230, 56.62)
Second round: Shawn Langdon (4.251, 258.37) def. BROWN (4.310, 263.26)
QUALIFYING RESULTS
FRIDAY: 4.910 sec., 151.34 mph, (Session 1); 5.595, 122.42, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 3.834, 318.62, (Session 3); 6.842, 100.15, (Session 4)
BY THE NUMBERS
Best time, speed: 3.667 (2017, Phoenix); 333.16 mph (2017, Topeka)
Last event (June 11), Englishtown, N.J.: Qualified No. 1, lost in championship round to Steve Torrence
A year ago at Bristol: Qualified No. 2, lost in second round to Tony Schumacher
Career at Bristol: Wins 0; Runner-ups 1 (2011); Poles 1 (2010)

TONY SCHUMACHER, U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster
Crew chief: Mike Green; Assistant: Phil Shuler
Qualified: No. 6
SUNDAY ELIMINATIONS
First round: Scott Palmer (3.969 sec., 307.16 mph) def. SCHUMACHER (4.076, 275.96)
QUALIFYING RESULTS
FRIDAY: 3.869 sec., 310.98 mph, (Session 1); 5.004, 145.34, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 5.780, 118.20, (Session 3); 3.825, 322.27, (Session 4)
BY THE NUMBERS
Best Time, Speed: 3.660 sec. (2017, Topeka); 332.51 mph (2016, Brainerd)
Last event (June 11), Englishtown, N.J.: Qualified No. 6, lost in second round to Doug Kalitta
A year ago at Bristol: Qualified No. 8, lost in championship round to Shawn Langdon
Career at Bristol: Wins 5 (2004, 2008-10, 2012); Runner-ups 2 (2001, 2016); Poles 4 (2004, 2007-08, 2015)

DSR FUNNY CARS
Event winner: Ron Capps (Don Schumacher Racing)
No. 1 qualifier: Tim Wilkerson (Tim Wilkerson Motorsports) 3.895 sec., 328.22 mph

RON CAPPS, NAPA AUTO PARTS 2017 Dodge Charger R/T
Crew chief: Rahn Tobler; Assistant: Eric Lane
Qualified: No. 10
SUNDAY ELIMINATIONS
First round: CAPPS (4.104 sec., 315.34 mph) def. Alexis DeJoria (4.246, 278.75)
Second round: CAPPS (4.202, 306.95) def. John Force (4.892, 170.60)
Semifinals: CAPPS (4.045, 314.61) def. Matt Hagan (5.264, 168.43)
Final: CAPPS (4.054, 317.05) def. Jack Beckman (4.040, 319.29)
QUALIFYING RESULTS
FRIDAY: 5.300 sec., 138.41 mph, (Session 1); 5.738, 124.97, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 4.187, 305.84, (Session 3); 4.032, 316.15, (Session 4)
BY THE NUMBERS
Best Time, Speed: 3.839 sec. (2017, Phoenix); 333.58 mph (2017, Phoenix)
Last event (June 11), Englishtown, N.J.: Qualified No. 3, lost in championship round to Jack Beckman
A year ago at Bristol: Qualified No. 1, lost in semifinals to Matt Hagan
Career at Bristol: Wins 4 (2001, 2006, 2012, 2017); Runner-ups 1 (2015); Poles 1 (2016)

JACK BECKMAN, Terry Chandler’s Infinite Hero Foundation 2017 Dodge Charger R/T
Crew chiefs: Dean Antonelli, John Medlen, Neal Strausbaugh
Qualified: No. 5
SUNDAY ELIMINATIONS
First round: BECKMAN 4,172 sec., 303.43) def. Cruz Pedregon (4.302275.28
Second round: BECKMAN (4.321, 276.75) def. Courtney Force (4.343, 221.42)
Semifinals: BECKMAN (4.009, 318.79) def. Tommy Johnson Jr. (4.043, 313.29)
Final: Ron Capps (4.054, 317.05) def. BECKMAN (4.040, 319.29)
QUALIFYING RESULTS
FRIDAY: 4.162 sec., 251.49 mph, (Session 1); 4.000, 322.96, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 6.635, 97.05, (Session 3); 3.959, 318.62, (Session 4)
BY THE NUMBERS
Best Time, Speed: 3.825 sec., (2016 Pomona 2); 334.15 mph (Seattle 2016)
Last event (June 11), Englishtown, N.J.: Qualified No. 4, won in championship round over Ron Capps
A year ago at Bristol: Qualified No. 9, lost in second round to Ron Capps
Career at Bristol: Wins 0; Runner-ups 2 (2011, 2017); Poles 0

MATT HAGAN, Sandvik Coromant 2017 Dodge Charger R/T
Crew chief: Dickie Venables; Assistant: Michael Knudsen
Qualified: No. 3
SUNDAY ELIMINATIONS
First round: HAGAN (4.387 sec., 233.48) def. Jim Campbell (6.307, 105.26)
Second round: HAGAN (4.202, 306.95) def. John Force (DQ)
Semifinals: HAGAN ) Ron Capps
Final: HAGAN )

QUALIFYING RESULTS
FRIDAY: 6.060 sec., 119.59 mph, (Session 1); 3.984, 323.81, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 6.134, 111.87, (Session 3); 3.925, 326.00, (Session 4)
BY THE NUMBERS
Best Time, Speed: 3.802 sec. (world record, (2017,Topeka); 338.85 mph (world record, 2017, Topeka)
Last event (June 11), Englishtown, N.J.: Qualified No. 9, lost in second round to Courtney Force
A year ago at Bristol: Qualified No. 4, lost in championship round to Tommy Johnson Jr.
Career at Bristol: Wins 1 (2015); Runner-ups 1 (2016); Poles 0

TOMMY JOHNSON JR., Terry Chandler’s Make-A-Wish 2017 Dodge Charger R/T
Crew chief: John Collins; Assistant: Rip Reynolds
Qualified: No. 8
SUNDAY ELIMINATIONS
First round: JOHNSON (4.105 sec., 314.17) def. Jonnie Lindberg (5.901, 122.44)
Second round: JOHNSON (4.083, 314.53) def. Tim Wilkerson (4.220, 262.18)
Semifinals: Jack Beckman (4.009, 318.99) def. JOHNSON (4.043, 313.29)
QUALIFYING RESULTS
FRIDAY: 4.050 sec., 309.49 mph, (Session 1); 4.092, 277.26, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 4.420, 205.60, (Session 3); 4.000, 315.93, (Session 4)
BY THE NUMBERS
Best Time, Speed: 3.837 sec. (Phoenix 2017); 330.80 mph (Seattle, 2016)
Last event (June 11), Englishtown, N.J.: Qualified No. 7, lost in second round to Robert Hight
A year ago at Bristol: Qualified No. 6, won in championship round over Matt Hagan
Career at Bristol: Wins 2 (2014, 2016); Runner-ups 0; Poles 0

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