Hagan Quickest Mopar in Provisional Qualifying at Maple Grove Raceway
· Mopar vying for Pro Stock and Funny Car title wins this weekend at the 30th annual National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway near Reading, Pennsylvania
· Matt Hagan paces the Don Schumacher Racing HEMI-powered Mopars with a provisional No.2 spot in qualifying
· Jeg Coughlin Jr. is the best of the Mopar factory hot rods with the fourth quickest pass after two provisional Pro Stock qualifying runs
Reading, Pennsylvania (Oct. 3, 2014) – It was a quick start to the 30th annual National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Nationals for a number of Mopar entries in qualifying on Friday at Maple Grove Raceway near Reading, Pennsylvania, the fourth stop in the six-event playoff series known as the “Countdown to the Championship”.
The first qualifying session saw all four Don Schumacher Racing Dodge Charger R/T Funny Cars in the top-five times with Matt Hagan leading the charge as provisional No.1, while Jeg Coughlin Jr. drove his JEGS.com Dodge Dart to the provisional No.3 spot in Pro Stock. At the end of the day, Hagan’s Rocky Boots Mopar ended up second after flirting with a coveted three second pass by posting a 4.008 second elapsed time run at 321.50 mile per hour in Funny Car, while Coughlin finished up fourth on the Pro Stock timing sheets with a 6.542/211.20.
After two sessions, the foursome of Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) Dodge Charger R/T drivers were all provisionally positioned in the top-eight with Hagan pacing his teammates in second spot, Tommy Johnson Jr. in sixth with a 4.065/316.01, Jack Beckman posted the seventh quickest time at 4.069/313.58, and Ron Capps was eighth on the timing sheets with a 4.070/313.22.
Sitting third in the championship hunt, Hagan earned a total of five bonus points for his qualifying efforts to put him within 39 points of the current leader in the Countdown, John Force.
“It was another great qualifying day for our Rocky Boots Dodge, and we could run even better before the weekend’s over,” said Hagan who, after his title win in the first playoff event of the Countdown in Charlotte, and finishing runner-up last weekend in St. Louis, has high hopes to vie for his second the NHRA Funny Car World Championship.
Two more Mopars attempting to make the Funny Car field include Jeff Arend in his Dodge Charger R/T who was 11th with a 4.093/310.55, and Mike Smith aboard a 2008 Dodge Stratus who sits 18th with a 4.667/197.31. The provisional Funny Car No.1 qualifier position was taken by Cruz Pedregon with a 3.991/319.52 elapsed time run at 319.52 mph.
Defending Pro Stock World Champion, Jeg Coughlin Jr. got to work on trying to make his way back from a current seventh place spot in the Countdown and 133 points behind the leader, Jason Line, with just three eliminations left to determine the 2014 winner. Coughlin, who has won a class-leading four national titles at Reading, drove his pink-schemed Dodge Dart for Breast Cancer Awareness month to the third (6.543 /211.30) and fourth (6.542 /211.20) quickest times in Friday’s qualifying session and knows the importance of a strong showing this weekend
“We’ve got a bit of a climb ahead of us but we’re still pushing hard to achieve our ultimate goal of defending our title,” said Coughlin whose best showing in the Countdown so far has been a semifinal appearance last weekend at the Midwest Nationals. “We ran well in St. Louis after making some pretty big changes to the car, and we’re going to continue to push the envelope this weekend in Reading to try and close the gap. The exciting thing about being in the position we’re in is that we can kind of go for it and try some things that normally we probably wouldn’t try. These aren’t crazy, panicky moves; they’re more like moves we’ve all thought about and discussed in the past that we just didn’t try because the points were so close. They still are close, but being six rounds back, we have the luxury of being able to take bigger chances.”
Johnson & Johnson HEMI-powered teammate, Allen Johnson, had a much more difficult day in the “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” Dodge Dart and had to abandon both of his qualifying runs after battling a loose car putting him in the 18th on the timing sheets. He will make two more attempts on Saturday to improve his seeding for eliminations at Maple Grove Raceway.
Mopar driver V. Gaines posted a first lap of 6.568 / 211.00 mph then improved on his second run to a 6.557/210.77 to sit in the provisional seventh spot in qualifying aboard his Dodge Avenger. The provisional top spot was held by Erica Enders-Stevens with a 6.513/211.76.
An hour and a half of qualifying highlights from the 30th annual NHRA Nationals will be broadcast on ESPN2 on Sunday, Oct. 5, at 3:30 a.m. (ET) and then re-aired later that afternoon at 4:30 pm (ET). Three hours of elimination round coverage from Maple Grove Raceway, the fourth stop in four consecutive weekend NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series national events and the fourth of the six-event playoff series referred to as the “Countdown to the Championship”, will air Sunday evening starting at 8:00 p.m. (ET).