Hagan Drives Mopar and Dodge//SRT to No. 1 Spot in Funny Car Qualifying
at NHRA Winternationals
Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car driver Matt Hagan kicks off season by claiming pole on final qualifying pass at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California
Hagan sets track speed record in earning 31st career No. 1 position
Hagan’s Don Schumacher Racing teammates Beckman and Capps also place their Mopar-powered Dodge Charger Funny Car machines in top five
Leah Pritchett will start season No. 4 in her Mopar Dodge NHRA Top Fuel Dragster
February 10, 2018, Pomona, California – Matt Hagan raced the Mopar and Dodge//SRT brands to a hot start in 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series competition, taking the No. 1 qualifying position in his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car at the season-opening 58th annual NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, California.
Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) driver Hagan recorded a 3.822-second elapsed time (ET) at a track-record speed of 336.32 mph in the final qualifying pair on Saturday at Auto Club Raceway to earn the top spot heading into Sunday eliminations. The pole was the 31st of Hagan’s career, and the ten-year Mopar and Dodge//SRT Funny Car veteran will look to defend his 2017 event win here tomorrow.
Sunny skies and warmer track temperatures for the first two qualifying sessions on Friday gave way to cloud cover and a cooler racing surface for Saturday’s two final qualifying rounds, which Hagan used to move up the charts. On Saturday morning, he used a 3.859-second ET to claim the No. 1 spot and earn three bonus points. Knocked off the pole while awaiting his final qualifying turn, Hagan reclaimed the spot on his final attempt, banking another three markers for a total of nine qualifying bonus points.
Two-time NHRA Funny Car champion Hagan will lead a group of five Mopar-powered Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car racers into Sunday eliminations. His DSR teammate Jack Beckman earned the provisional pole on Friday with a 3.860 ET, not enough to hold the position but good enough to start from third on race day in his Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T.
Mopar-powered DSR Dodge Charger R/T driver Ron Capps, the 2016 Funny Car series champion and runner-up in 2017, briefly held the top spot after the first qualifying session on Friday and will start fifth, giving Mopar and Dodge three of the top five spots. Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T pilot Tommy Johnson Jr. will start ninth, while Jim Campbell posted his Charger No. 16 in the field.
In Top Fuel, Leah Pritchett used a strong run in the morning session on Saturday to open her racing season in the No. 4 spot. Ranked seventh after Friday qualifying, Pritchett clocked a 3.687 ET in her Mopar Dodge Top Fuel dragster and moved up three spots. She’ll attempt to defend her 2017 NHRA Winternationals event crown on Sunday and claim another victory for Mopar and Dodge//SRT. Pritchett will be joined in eliminations by DSR teammate Tony Schumacher, who will start eighth in his U.S. Army dragster.
Mopar Dodge//SRT Notes & Quotes
(best elapsed time in bold)
Matt Hagan, Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
Qualified No. 1, will face No. 16 Jim Campbell
Friday: (3.917 seconds at 328.94 mph – Q1); (3.877/329.99 – Q2)
Saturday: (3.859/331.20 – Q3); (3.822/336.32 – Q4)
“I can’t say enough about (crew chief) Dickie Venables. We’re so blessed and lucky to have him in our corner. He’s worth his weight in gold. I get to crawl in that hot rod he tunes, put my mouthpiece in and hang on. It’s always a fun ride. Dickie has a gut instinct for how the track is, and what decisions are going to be made. He’s been doing that since he was my age so he has a lot of experience and that’s just stuff you can’t get overnight.
“The weather was awesome today. That’s why we saw those low numbers. The conditions are supposed to be more similar to what we saw on Friday. When the sun comes out and stuff slows down, it changes everything. Push hard first round and then peel it back, but you’ve got to get out of first round. One pass at a time.”
Leah Pritchett, Mopar Dodge Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified No. 4, will face No. 11 Scott Palmer
Friday: (3.783 seconds at 328.62 mph – Q1); (5.293/130.38 – Q2)
Saturday: (3.687/330.23 – Q3); (3.810/300.93 – Q4)
On mechanical issues on her last qualifying attempt:
“It’s a pretty interesting start to the season. We set our goals pretty high — we have a lot to back up from last year. Ultimately, what happened today happened today, and not tomorrow. But the shining light of it is we feel we now understand, due to math, why it did what it did on that run, and why the 3.68 we ran in the first run today wasn’t the 3.66 or 3.65 we were trying to run. Now, everything we experienced all throughout qualifying makes sense and, again, it happened today and not tomorrow.”
Jack Beckman, Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
Qualified No. 3, will face No. 14 Bob Tasca
Friday: (3.964 seconds at 324.90mph – Q1); (3.860/332.84– Q2)
Saturday: (3.863/332.43 – Q3); (8.038/76.76 – Q4)
“I’m totally satisfied. We went three for four and when you’ve ran as good as we’ve ran, you can afford to take a shot on the hero runs. We probably just put in a little bit too much on that run and that’s fine. We know where the limit is. Each day has gotten cooler and better out here, so bring it on. There’s a whole lot of bad Funny Cars ready to run tomorrow.”
Ron Capps, NAPA Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
Qualified No. 5, will face No. 12 Shawn Langdon
Friday: (3.882 seconds at 331.12 mph – Q1); (3.884/328.62 – Q2)
Saturday: (4.248/216.27 – Q3); (3.914/323.89 – Q4)
“I’ve said it time and time again, I don’t care where we qualify, going into a race day with Rahn Tobler, I always feel like a step up on top of whoever we’re going to race. And I still feel that way. We’re going to go into race day and him and I are going to do what we do. That’s come together and race, race hard. I’m so pumped up to be back at Pomona. It was such a fun season last year with all the wins, all the final rounds, but this is a renewed vengeance to come back out here and prove that we need to be back at number one.”
Tommy Johnson Jr., Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
Qualified No. 9, will face No. 8 Cruz Pedregon
Friday: (5.401 seconds at 132.97 mph – Q1); (3.932/320.36 – Q2)
Saturday: (7.752/82.70 – Q3); (8.765/40.24 – Q4)
“We want to come back out here like we did at the NHRA Finals, where we went right down the track. We ran really well and got the win. There’s no reason we can’t work hard tonight and find out what’s causing our problems and do the same thing tomorrow.”
Tony Schumacher, U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified No. 8, will face No. 7 Terry McMillen
Friday: (3.792 seconds at 328.46 mph – Q1); (3.732/331.20 – Q2)
Saturday: (3.767/316.15 – Q3); (8.131/82.42 – Q4)
“Mike Neff and Phil Shuler are doing a great job. We didn’t qualify as well as we wanted to but, you know what, the car is excellent. I trust in them and I look forward to the race tomorrow and getting this run for the championship started.”