Record Setting Qualifying Run Puts Hagan No.1 at Sonoma NHRA Nationals
· Mopar is competing at 26th annual NHRA Sonoma Nationals this weekend, the 13th of 24 national events
· Hagan is No.1 qualifier by posting second quickest run in NHRA Funny Car history and tying national elapsed time record on Friday night
· Hagan, Beckman and Capps top Funny Car qualifying
· Johnson is top Mopar qualifier in Pro Stock with a third place effort
· Pro Stock driver Johnson and Johnny Gray are defending winners at Sonoma
· Hagan leads Funny Car Championship points; Johnson and Coughlin are 2nd and 3rd in Pro Stock
Sonoma, Calif. (Saturday, July 27, 2013) – Following four rounds of qualifying at the 26th annual NHRA Sonoma Nationals, Matt Hagan earned the No.1 qualifier position in the “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” Dodge Charger R/T based on his best effort during cool Friday evening conditions at Sonoma Raceway to set the second quickest run in NHRA Funny Car history and tie a national elapsed time record. Hagan’s track record run of 3.986 seconds at 320.51 mph tied his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Jack Beckman’s NHRA national e.t. record set at Reading, Penn., in 2012 and was second to his other Mopar teammate Ron Capps’ 3.964-sec pass set at Englishtown in last year. Beckman and Capps also rounded out the top three spots at Sonoma Raceway in anticipation of Sunday’s Funny Car elimination rounds.
“Awesome,” said Hagan to describe his career best run. “We have such a great crew, such a great group of guys working on this car. [Crew Chief Dickie Venables] said ‘Hey kid, hold on.’ Dickie was swinging for the fence and it stuck. It was just a phenomenal run. I wish everyone could feel how it feels to go that fast. It’s one of the coolest things on Earth.”
While Hagan’s provisional pole time and speed withstood warmer track conditions on Saturday to earn his third No.1 qualifier position of the year and the 13th of his career, he also posted the second quickest time of the fourth qualifying session to add a little more confidence.
“We were pressing pretty hard in the first session today, and it felt good to back it up and lay down a 4.07 for the second-quickest run of the last session,” said Hagan who leads the championship points with four events remaining before the playoffs. “Those bonus points all add up, so we’ll take every one of them that we can get. It’s great to be up here in Sonoma and get a No. 1 qualifier under our belt. This team has a lot of confidence after starting the year being thrown together at the last-minute. I knew Dickie was good, but I had no idea that he was this good.”
Hagan finished runner-up last year at Sonoma and heads into Sunday’s first round against Alexis DeJoria.
While Hagan was the first to run below the four second threshold in the ideal conditions Friday evening presented, Beckman soon followed suit posting a 3.994-second pass (319 mph). It was the fourth time the 2012 NHRA Funny Car World Champion has be able to secure a run in the three second zone in his career. Beckman will line up against Todd Lesenko for his first round match-up.
Capps drove his Dodge Charger R/T to a third place spot on the eliminations ladder with his Friday night 4.012-second (312.50 mph) run to match up against Del Worsham.
Mopar teammate and defending winner at Sonoma, Johnny Gray, made the 16-car field on his final qualifying session with a time of 4.112 (306-46) for put him in 12th place on the ladder to match-up against Tim Wilkerson.
In his 399th career NHRA event, Pro Stock driver Allen Johnson qualified his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Avenger in third spot by posting his best run on Friday night with an elapsed time of 6.536-Seconds (210.21 mph). Johnson was quickest in the third qualifying session on Saturday afternoon and is hoping to defend his 2012 win on Sunday. After earning his fifth career win at Mopar Mile-High Nationals last weekend, Johnson is hoping to repeat at Sonoma in order to put himself in a position to sweep the three race western swing with Seattle next on the schedule, something he fell just short of doing last year. Johnson will face Chris McGaha in the first round of eliminations.
His teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. had his best qualifying run in the third session with a 6.557 second e.t. (211.30 mph) to move his Jegs.com / Mopar Dodge Avenger into seventh spot where he’ll face Rodger Brogdon in the first round of eliminations. HEMI-powered teammates V. Gaines and Vincent Nobile both qualified fifth and eighth respectively.
The no.1 qualifier position went to Mike Edwards, current Pro Stock points leader, for an 11th time this season.