Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) pilot Jack Beckman drove his Infinite Hero Dodge Charger SRT® Hellcat Funny Car to his first No. 1 qualifier position of the 2020 National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Drag Racing Series season at the Mopar® Express Lane SpringNationals Presented by Pennzoil held at Houston Raceway Park.
Beckman dislodged teammate Matt Hagan and his Pennzoil Synthetics Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat from the provisional top spot on the Funny Car timing sheets with a 3.884-second elapsed time run at 328.14 mph to earn his 28th career No.1 qualifier position. It also provided Beckman with bonus points to keep him within three markers of the championship lead in second place as they head into the penultimate national event elimination battle of the season.
With just eight rounds of eliminations left in the 2020 NHRA season, the DSR Funny Car drivers are 1-2-3-4 in the standings with Hagan, Beckman, Tommy Johnson Jr. and Ron Capps respectively locked in a savage battle for the championship title. Beckman and Hagan have been trading places atop the standings multiple times over the last two months with Johnson and Capps close behind. The DSR stable is also chasing a win to extend their record streak of 12 consecutive victories that began in October of last year.
The first round of Sunday’s Mopar Express Lane SpringNationals will have important championship implications for Beckman and Capps. The two will meet in the opening round after Capps had two unsuccessful attempts to put in a clean qualifying pass that left him 16th on the ladder. With Capps sitting fourth in the standings, upsetting the No. 1 qualifier could provide the driver of the Pennzoil/NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat the chance to advance and fight for his fifth win at the venue and remain in championship contention. A round win by Beckman would eliminate Capps and set him on course to add to his category-leading three wins in nine events.
Hagan, for his part, also added three bonus points to his championship total with the quickest run of the first session posting a 3.907 sec./327.74 mph pass and heads into Sunday as No. 2 qualifier and points leader with two wins. He’ll line up his yellow and black Pennzoil and Mopar Express Lane paint-schemed Hellcat against Dave Richards in the first round.
Third in the Funny Car standings, Tommy Johnson Jr. earned a bonus point aboard his MD Anderson Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat for setting the third quickest lap of Q2 with a 3.973 sec./ 317.94 mph pass. He’ll be matched with Jim Campbell for the opening round.
From her third place spot in the Top Fuel standings, Leah Pruett is looking to keep her black and yellow Pennzoil dragster in championship contention after qualifying in the top half of the eliminations ladder. She posted the sixth quickest elapsed time run with a solid second lap of 3.767 seconds at 324.20 mph to give her lane choice over 11th seed Lee Callaway to start the day.
Earlier this month at the Mopar Express Lane NHRA Midwest Nationals near St. Louis, weather conditions delayed and shortened Factory Stock Showdown (FSS) qualifying, then ultimately forced the cancelation of elimination rounds. The NHRA opted to carry-over the showdown to this weekend with the addition of two qualifying session at Houston Raceway Park. While Mark Pawuk and his Empaco Equipment Mopar Drag Pak came into this event as the provisional No.1 qualifier, he just missed holding onto it but still put in two solid laps with 7.840 sec. and 7.865 sec.
Pawuk, who currently sits second in the FSS championship behind Aaron Stanfield, will start from the No. 2 position on the eliminations ladder with the 7.814 se. /175.48 mph run posted in Q1 (St. Louis) and will face-off against Lindsay Wheelock.
Pawuk’s DSR Mopar Drag Pak teammate Pruett, will also take her place on the eliminations ladder based on the 7.955 sec./172.32 mph qualifying time set at St. Louis which put her No.11 with a first round match-up with John Cerbone. NHRA elimination rounds at the Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals Presented by Pennzoil will begin at 10 a.m. local time on Sunday, Oct. 25, with the television broadcast on FS1 beginning at 2 p.m. Eastern featuring live coverage of the final rounds.