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The 2019 NHRA Season to Date
In Top Fuel, Leah Pritchett, in her #777 Mopar Dodge Top Fuel car, has followed early season challenges in Pomona and Phoenix by finding the right combination to run well in qualifying. Pritchett and crew chief Todd Okuhara really started to find their qualifying setup groove in Las Vegas. They have subsequently (beginning in Gainesville) performed as a top 5 qualifier. This improved performance in qualifying has resulted in race day results that have propelled the team to a top 10 position in the points standings at press time.
The Dodge//SRT® Mopar® lineup in Funny Car includes the familiar Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat cars piloted by Matt Hagan, Jack Beckman, Ron Capps and Tommy Johnson Jr. In addition to the DSR cars, Mopar added Jim Dunn Racing, with driver Jim Campbell, in the middle of 2018, as well as Cruz Pedregon Racing, with driver/owner Cruz Pedregon, for the 2019 season.
At the beginning of 2019, driver Matt Hagan and his crew chief, Dickie Venables, were able to find a workable setup for race day that led to a history-making performance. Hagan raced to victory in the second event of the season at Phoenix, becoming the first driver to win in the new Mopar ® Dodge Charger SRT® Hellcat Funny Car body, introduced late last year. The two-time Funny Car Series World Champion held the seventh spot in the standings after Bristol.
Tommy Johnson Jr. returned to DSR after a very positive third-place finish in the 2018 Funny Car points, looking to build on those results. The season started with TJ and his crew chief, John Collins, finding mixed results early in the season. However, the driver and team have locked into a setup that has allowed them to qualify and compete on race day with a very consistent setup that has built confidence for the Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat team. A recent win at the Route 66 event in Illinois has propelled the team into third place in the 2019 overall standings following Bristol..
Ron Capps and his crew chief, Rahn Tobler, started the season with conservative early season results. For the duo, now paired together for six years, it seemed only a matter of time before they were able to find their way to Sunday afternoon Wally trophies. Recent back-to-back Funny Car victories at the Southern Nationals in Atlanta and the Virginia NHRA Nationals in Richmond vaulted Capps to fourth in the standings as of Bristol.
Jack Beckman’s 2019 season has been solid, with recent strong performances giving “Fast Jack” much optimism. A recent final-round appearance in Topeka followed by a semifinal at Bristol has allowed the team to build momentum. Beckman sits fifth in the standings following Bristol.
Finally, Jim Dunn Racing driver Jim Campbell and Cruz Pedregon Racing driver Cruz Pedregon are also working to sharpen their understanding of the Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat body while trying to tune-up for better results as 2019 continues. As a two-time NHRA series champion, Pedregon and his team know how to not only win races, but overall series’ titles. Look forward to better results for Pedregon as the team’s knowledge base grows.