Mopar® Dodge//SRT® Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) drivers Leah Pritchett and Tony Schumacher were the DSR drivers to reach the quarterfinals on Sunday, June 10, at the sold-out inaugural Virginia NHRA Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park in Dinwiddie, Virginia. In the NHRA Sportsman ranks, Randy Parker raced his Mopar-powered Dodge Mirada to the Stock Eliminator victory.
Leah Pritchett was the No. 5 Top Fuel qualifier in her FireAde/Mopar Dodge dragster and faced off against Clay Millican in round one. Pritchett advanced easily and gained revenge on her recent final-round loss to Millican in Chicago when he red-lighted and fouled out early, handing the win to the Mopar Dodge driver.
In the quarterfinals, the Southern Nationals winner gave up lane choice to Doug Kalitta, the No. 4 qualifier. Kalitta got the holeshot with a .067 against Pritchett’s .074 and never trailed for the win with his quickest pass of the weekend at 3.817 E.T. versus Pritchett’s 4.023. The FireAde car hazed the tires and dropped a cylinder just past halftrack, ending Pritchett’s chances for a fourth semifinal appearance this season.
No. 1 Top Fuel qualifier Schumacher received a bye in the first round and came up against Richie Crampton in the quarterfinals. They had identical reaction times, but Crampton took the lead with his quickest pass of the weekend at 3.805 to Schumacher’s 3.823 E.T. and advanced to the semifinals.
First up in round one of the Funny Car eliminations was No. 3 qualifier, a multiple bonus points earner, and driver of the NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T, Ron Capps, facing No. 14 qualifier Tim Wilkerson. The veteran duo has faced each other, including today, a total of 59 times. Capps has won 39 of those meetings. However, the two-time Virginia runner-up (2000, 2007) from San Luis Obispo, California, couldn’t capture his 40th win against Wilkerson this time out.
Wilkerson got off the starting line first and led to the 60-foot mark before Capps got by him and led to the 660-foot cone before losing traction about the 1/8-mile, as Wilkerson got by for the win.
Last week’s Chicago No. 1 qualifier and two-time Funny Car World Champ Matt Hagan qualified 11th in his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T machine and faced No. 6 qualifier Jonnie Lindberg. Hagan entered the match with a record of three wins in five outings against Lindberg, and the Christiansburg, Virginia, native was excited to return to his “home” track for the first time since 2009 in a 10,000-plus horsepower Dodge Charger R/T machine.
The two took part in a good side-by-side race, with Hagan off the line first with a slightly quicker .102 reaction time against Lindberg’s .109. However, Hagan dropped a cylinder and Lindberg picked up the win with a 4.095 against Hagan’s 4.251.
Mopar-powered Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T driver Jack Beckman, the No. 5 qualifier, had lane choice as he faced No. 12 Del Worsham. Beckman previously was a No. 1 qualifier in 2009 and 2008 runner-up at the now newly paved Dinwiddie track.
Both cars launched with close times and both cars smoked the rear tires. It was a pedalfest between the veteran drivers, as both were on and off the throttle. Worsham was able to pedal his car across the finish line first and collected the win with a 4.828 E.T. versus Beckman’s 4.972. Beckman will remain second in Funny Car point standings despite this weekend’s first-round loss.
The always popular Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car driver and No. 10 qualifier Tommy Johnson Jr. faced four-time Richmond winner John Force. Quick out of the gate with a .059 mark to Force’s .070, Johnson was .050 seconds ahead at the 330-foot line, but Force started to close the gap and got by Johnson after the 660-foot marker to take the victory with a 4.141 E.T. to Johnson’s 4.233.