Mopar Racing–Hagan Wins All-Mopar Final at NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals

Hagan Wins All-Mopar Final at NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals

Matt Hagan defeats Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) teammate Ron Capps in All-Mopar Dodge Charger R/T final at the 15th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals
New 2015 Mopar Dodge Charger R/T earns eighth win of the year and makes a 10th final round appearance in 11 national events this season
Hagan posts first win at Bristol Dragway, a fourth win of the season and his 18th of his career and extends lead in championship points
Capps earns third runner-up finish in five final round appearances this year and sits second in the standings
Allen Johnson and “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” Dodge Dart sustain a loss on a hole shot in the opening round at home event but encouraged with recent performance improvements

Bristol, Tennessee (Sunday, June 21, 2015) – In a terrific all-Mopar final round showdown, Matt Hagan defeated his Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) teammate Ron Capps at the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Thunder Valley Nationals, giving the reigning Funny Car world champion his fourth victory of the season in the Mopar Express Lane/ Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T and his first national title at Bristol Dragway. It was also an eighth victory for the New 2015 Mopar Dodge Charger R/T this year and its tenth final round appearance in 11 national events.

“On behalf of everyone at Mopar, congratulations to Matt Hagan on this title win at Bristol,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO — Mopar Brand Service, Parts and Customer Care, FCA. “To have another all-Mopar final with new 2015 Mopar Dodge Charger R/T, see it in the winner’s circle for an eighth time this season and watch Matt and the team vie for another championship is fantastic and testament to the amount of time, investment and hard work that both Mopar and DSR have put in to building this fantastic and competitive new vehicle.”

The No.2 qualifier, Hagan, advanced through the ladder to his fourth final round appearance of the year and posted an elapsed time run of 4.164 seconds at 303.23 miles per hour (mph) to defeat Capps’ 4.186/307.02 pass.

“The competition in Funny Car is phenomenal right now,” Hagan said. “I pinch myself knowing we’ve won four races out here already this year and there’s still so much racing left. It’s so tough. We have a great team and a great group and I just can’t say enough about (crew chief) Dickie Venables. The guy has taken it to another level. I’m very, very proud to have him as a crew chief. Our guys get along great and we have a great chemistry and we look like we’ve got another shot at hunting this championship this year.”

The victory was the 18th of Hagan’s seven year Funny Car career and puts him on the all-time win list in a tie for tenth with NHRA legend Ed “Ace” McCulloch, Mark Oswald and Tim Wilkerson. It also extended the Mopar driver’s lead in the championship points by 87 points over teammate Capps in second place.

The win also held special significance for the Hagan, not only because he considers this a home event, but also because he was able to do it on Father’s Day and share it with those closest to him.

“This is just such a special race for me, I’m two hours down the road and I have so many friends, so many family members out there,” said Hagan who lives in nearby Christianburg, West Virginia. “My mom and dad came out, my wife brought my two kids Colby and Penny so it is so, so special. Honestly this is up there like winning Indy for me. I care that much about it. I wanted to win it that bad. It gives me chill bumps talking about it. This is a huge race for me and to have my family out here on Father’s Day, it piles on top of each other. It’s something I’ll remember the rest of my life.”

For Capps, who posted wins in Gainesville and Houston, this was his third runner-up finish and fifth final round appearance so far this year.

DSR teammate Jack Beckman, who was seeded third for eliminations, drove his Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T past John Hale and Tim Wilkerson before losing to Hagan in the semifinals and jumps into fifth place in the points.

Defending event winner, Tommy Johnson Jr. qualified his Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T 11th but saw his day shortened in the first round against Tim Wilkerson and falls to sixth in the standings.

Hometown favorite and Mopar Pro Stock driver Allen Johnson will have to wait until next year for another attempt at a much coveted win at Bristol Dragway as a Father’s Day gift for his dad and engine tuner Roy after the disappointment of a first round holeshot loss in the opening round of eliminations.

“We had a great weekend and yes, I wanted a win for my dad on Father’s Day at home, but we’ll keep working on it and we’ll get it someday,” said Johnson who hails from nearby Greeneville, Tennessee. “I told dad (Roy) that I’m sorry but he’ll have to settle for a case of wine again this year. We had fun racing at home no matter what and we had a good weekend with our Magneti Marelli Mopar Dodge Dart. We had our best qualifying weekend of the year. We had a great run but it just wasn’t our day.”

That disappointment, however, was tempered by the fact that the fifth seeded “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” Dodge Dart posted the second quickest run of the first round with a 6.692 elapsed time run at 206.42 mph and a 0.034-second reaction time to Larry Morgan’s 0.006-second reaction time and slower E.T. of 6.708/206.92.

“I had a good light. He had a great light. I was good. He was great,” Johnson added. “He stepped up and had a psychic light, and you can’t take anything away from him. I had a good light, a 30 light, and I’ll take it 80 percent of the time and win the race. He was just better and it wasn’t our day.”

Johnson was further bolstered by the significant performance improvements made by his Mopar team in this latest stretch of three consecutive national events in which his Dodge Dart finished runner-up twice at nationals event in Englishtown, New Jersey, and Epping, New Hampshire after battle fuel issues to start the season. He was especially optimistic after posting the fourth quickest pass in every qualifying session at his home track this weekend.

“I feel like the team is back on top, Johnson said. “We just lost a close race today. I feel like at the next race we can battle to get no.1 qualifier and win the race. We had a great weekend can’t find fault with it. We had fun racing at home. I love being with my dad on Father’s Day. I loved everything about the weekend. It was great to have Richie (Stevens) here with us with a second car. He was also quick so we really have the combinations and the engine program coming together and I think we’ll be something to deal with the rest of the year.”

Seeded 11th, Johnson’s teammate Richie Stevens had an unfortunate red-light foul to spoil a quick 6.708/ 206.16 pass against Vincent Nobile’s 6.702/206.95 run in the first round.

The HEMI-powered Dodge Dart driven by V. Gaines used a .007 reaction time for a holeshot win in the opening round match-up against Greg Anderson, but fell in the quarterfinals against Jonathon Gray.

Mopar teams and drivers will have a one week break before heading to Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park for the 9th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, the 12th of 24 events in the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season, held near Norwalk, Ohio, for the Independence Day weekend on July 2-5.