Hagan Claims Pole for Mopar at U.S. Nationals

Hagan Claims Pole for Mopar at U.S. Nationals

· Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T driver Matt Hagan No. 1 qualifier at U.S. Nationals
· Team Mopar Funny Cars claim of top four of the top five positions in U.S. Nationals qualifying
· DSR Dodge Charger R/T pilot Jack Beckman looking to defend U.S. Nationals title as new track record holder
· Tony Schumacher takes DSR’s HEMI®-powered U.S. Army dragster to Nitro Top Fuel Shootout winner’s circle
· DSR driver Ron Capps rebounds from top end topple to claim No. 3 qualifying position
· Team Mopar driver Erica Enders sees win lights in Dodge Challenger Drag Pak, ramping up to defend Pro Stock title on Monday in Indy

Indianapolis, Indiana (September 4, 2016) – For the fourth time this season and for the second race in a row, Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T pilot Matt Hagan took his Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) Funny Car to the pole. This time, he accomplished the feat at the most anticipated race of the season and one of the most important in the quest for the championship, the 62nd annual U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.

Team Mopar rallied during qualifying to situate all four of the DSR Mopar Dodge Charger R/T Funny Cars towards the top. The first three starting positions are occupied by Hagan, No. 2 qualifier Jack Beckman and the Infinite Hero Dodge, and points leader Ron Capps in his HEMI®-powered machine. Tommy Johnson Jr. and his Dodge Charger with special branding to raise awareness for Riley Children’s Hospital landed in the No. 5 position. So far this season, the Mopar-fueled Funny Cars have dominated qualifying, claiming 11 of the first 18 poles up for grabs.

Hagan, who was also the low qualifier two weeks ago at the last race on tour, the NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, clocked a powerful 3.858-second pass in Friday qualifying that sent him to the top of the U.S. Nationals sheets and held through four more sessions before the field was set. Hagan will race John Bojec in the first round of eliminations.

“I didn’t think it was going to stick,” admitted Hagan. “But it’s time to get focused for tomorrow. We have to focus on winning Indy, which I’ve never done in my career. I think it’s very possible for us right now, and you want to win this one. There’s a lot of preparation for this race – it’s the biggest race of the year, and you treat it that way. We are very, very confident. My crew chief, Dickie Venables, has a good handle on this Mopar.

“With the way the competition in Funny Car is right now, I think you have a final round opponent in the next lane every round. Everybody says race your lane, race the racetrack, and don’t worry about who’s in the other lane – but that’s a lot easier said than done. But I give Dickie a lot of credit. He’s one of the best when it comes to really being a racer on Sunday.”

Beckman, the defending event champion, clocked a best time of 3.859-second at a big speed of 333.08 mph that blasted the Lucas Oil Raceway track record for speed.

First-round pairings (lane choice first):
Hagan vs. John Bojec
Johnson Jr. vs. John Hale
Jack Beckman vs. Dave Richards
Ron Capps vs. Bob Bode

Mopar Takes Top Honors in Top Fuel Shootout
The Traxxas Nitro Shootout pits the best of the best against one another in the fuel categories each season at the U.S. Nationals, and this year, Mopar came out on top in Top Fuel with Tony Schumacher and his Mopar-powered U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster. Schumacher, of Don Schumacher Racing, beat fellow HEMI® campaigner and teammate Leah Pritchett in the final round of the special competition. Schumacher knocked out Brittany Force and DSR teammate Antron Brown before besting Pritchett in the final for the $10,000 payout.

Pritchett is currently locked in a heated battle for the No. 10 position in the Top Fuel points for a chance to chase her first championship. She is one point ahead of No. 11 Terry McMillen following qualifying.

First round pairings:
No. 4 Schumacher vs. Tripp Tatum
No. 10 Pritchett vs. Shawn Langdon

Capps Rebounds from Top End Mishap
DSR driver and Mello Yello Drag Racing Series points leader Ron Capps won the first round of the Funny Car Nitro Shootout with a quick 3.90-second pass in his Mopar Dodge Charger R/T, but he didn’t have much time to celebrate his victory as he ended up in the sand when his parachutes did not deploy. Capps was uninjured, but his race car was caught in the catch net at the end of the track and damaged enough that it was unable to be repaired before the second round of the shootout. He had to forfeit the next round to Robert Hight but came back in the final round of qualifying with a 3.985-second pass. Capps qualified in the No. 3 position and will race Bob Bode in the first round of eliminations on Monday.

“We keep our spare race car ready, so we brought it out [for the final qualifying pass], ran it down there, and shut it down early,” explained crew chief Rahn Tobler. “We just wanted to make sure everything would be okay, and it looks like we’ll be good for tomorrow.”

Capps was less than thrilled that he could not race for the shootout trophy, but he was grateful to have the opportunity to race for the event win on Monday.

“I’m glad we had a car ready to go and that I didn’t have to wait another two weeks or something to get in the car again; that would have been pretty brutal,” said Capps. “I’m bummed we couldn’t run the shootout second round, but in the last round of qualifying we were able to get data from the run, and we’re ready for tomorrow. A heck of a job by our guys. We have the best in the business.”

Mopar Pro Stock Racer Enders Goes Rounds in Dodge Challenger Drag Pak
Erica Enders came to the U.S. Nationals with a full agenda. The Team Mopar driver, the reigning and two-time NHRA Pro Stock champion, took on additional duties as she piloted a Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak in Stock Eliminator for the first time in her career. Enders qualified No. 31 in a field of 128 and saw two win lights in competition before her quest for the trophy was halted.

“It was a fun opportunity to drive the Dodge Challenger Drag Pak in Stock Eliminator at the U.S. Nationals,” said Enders. “Every run it got progressively better. I’m excited about it. I think I found my comfort level in the car, and I was able to have some good reaction times in eliminations. That last run, a couple of my Pro Stock tuners came over and helped, and that really changed the attitude of the car. It left better and didn’t ‘blow the tires off.’ It was definitely fun and a team effort. I’m proud to drive for Joe Welch and have gotten to know him and his wife better. It’s been a fun weekend so far, and now I’m looking forward to getting in my Mopar Performance Dodge Dart and racing for the Pro Stock trophy tomorrow.”

Enders is qualified in the No. 14 position and will race Shane Gray in the first round of Pro Stock eliminations. Her Mopar teammate, Jeg Coughlin Jr., qualified the Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar Dodge Dart No. 15 and will square off with Greg Anderson in round one, while longtime Mopar campaigner Allen Johnson is No. 7 and set up for a first-round match with Drew Skillman.

For Enders, the first round of eliminations begins a new battle as she works to secure her position in the Pro Stock top 10 ahead of the first race in NHRA’s 2016 Countdown to the Championship in two weeks. Enders is currently No. 9, Coughlin is No. 10, and rival Pro Stock competitor Alex Laughlin is currently 11th in the standings. Enders was 49 marks ahead of Laughlin heading into the event and tenth-place Coughlin was leading the No. 11 spot by 36. To sweeten the deal on race day, an extra half-point is awarded at the U.S. Nationals for every point earned.