Mopar Cleans up with Two Wins in Seattle; Sweeps Pro Stock NHRA Western Swing
· Mopar earns wins in both Funny Car and Pro Stock at 26th annual NHRA Northwest Nationals
· Hagan posts his fourth win of the 2013 season; clinches a playoff spot and maintains lead in championship standings
· Last week’s Sonoma winner Nobile earns his second consecutive win, and the third of the year against Coughlin
· Nobile’s win helps complete the sweep of the western swing by HEMI-powered J&J tuned engines
Kent, Wash. (Sunday, August 4, 2013) – Mopar capped-off the three race NHRA western swing with important wins by Matt Hagan aboard his “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” Funny Car and Vincent Nobile at the wheel of his HEMI®-powered Pro Stock at the 26th annual NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways marking the fifth time this season that national titles were won by Dodge entries in both Mello Yello Drag Racing Series categories.
“On behalf of everyone at Mopar, we offer our congratulations to both Matt (Hagan) and Vincent (Nobile) for their wins at Seattle,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group LLC’s service, parts and customer-care brand. “We’ve celebrated victories in both classes on five different occasions this year and we’re very proud to have the hard work and quality teamwork on display in this way as we approach the playoffs and look to defend our two championships.”
Hagan’s fourth win of the season and sixth final round appearance helped the Don Schumacher Racing driver clinch a spot in the “Countdown to the Championship” and maintain the lead in the tightly contested Funny Car points standings with just two events remaining before the start of the six-race playoff series. After disposing of Todd Lesenko, Paul Lee and beating Courtney Force on a holeshot, Hagan secured his first win at Seattle by defeating Bob Tasca in the final elimination.
“The charisma and the chemistry I have with these guys is unbelievable,” said Hagan who rebounded from two first round losses in the last two events to win his ninth career title. “It’s showing on the racetrack. It trickles down from the top. Dickie [Venables, Crew Chief] is a great leader and it’s phenomenal to be able to strap into a race car that DSR puts underneath me and be able to know that you have an opportunity to win anytime I sit in the Magneti Marelli Rocky Boots machine. Right now we have one goal; pull on the helmet, get focused, get up on the wheel, and turn on four win lights.”
Hagan’s Mopar teammates saw their fair share of upsets in Seattle as last week’s title winner Ron Capps struggled in his two qualifying attempts, shorten by inclement weather on Friday, and was not able to qualify for the elimination rounds. No.1 qualifier, Jack Beckman saw his Mopar Dodge Charger R/T upset on a holeshot win by fellow DSR teammate Johnny Gray in the first round. Gray, who has four wins this season, then fell to Courtney Force in the next round.
The Pro Stock title win by Nobile at the Northwest Nationals was notable as it came on the heels of his trip to the winner’s circle last week at Sonoma, but also because it was the third time he had faced his Mopar teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. in a final elimination showdown this season and emerged the victor. Allen Johnson’s victory at the Mopar Mile-High Nationals in Denver combined with Nobile’s consecutive wins at Sonoma and Seattle gave the HEMI-powered entries tuned by Roy Johnson a clean sweep of the three-race western swing. All three national events featured a Mopar versus Mopar final elimination showdown as Johnson defeated V. Gaines at Denver, and Nobile beat Coughlin in their last two final round match-ups.
“It was a great sweep for Roy and Allen Johnson’s engines and to be able to put Mopar in the winner’s circle means a lot and it’s a real team effort,” said Nobile faced both of his teammates on his way to earning his eighth career win to jump up to fourth place in the points standing. “I think I try a little bit harder when I’m going up against my teammates in Jeg (Coughlin) and Allen (Johnson), and it definitely means a lot beating Jeg again in a final. He’s just unbelievable and to be able to beat a champion, it means a lot to me and my team. It’s a great time to turn it on for the Countdown.”
Coughlin’s fourth runner-up finish of the year came about with round wins against Steve Kent, Shane Gray and points leader Mike Edwards in the semifinals. The JEGS.com Mopar driver sits third in points with two wins so far this season.
Johnson saw his day cut short in the second round against Nobile who beat him by four thousandths of a second on a holeshot after second guessing himself.
“Lane choice played pretty big there as all the cars in front of us shook (their tires) a little bit in the left lane and so we changed lanes when we probably shouldn’t have,” said the driver of the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Avenger who remains second in the points battle. “It was a close race and I lost to a teammate that went on to help us sweep the western swing so I am definitely happy for the team.”
After contesting seven races in eight weeks, Mopar teams and drivers will have two weeks to prepare for the 32nd annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway, the 16th of 24 NHRA Mello Yello Series national events, held from Aug. 15-18 near Brainerd, Minnesota. Only two events remain before the “Countdown to the Championship” playoffs begin.