Matt Hagan and his “demon-possessed” Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye have earned the 2020 National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Drag Racing Series Funny Car World Championship title and the national event win at the season-ending Dodge NHRA Finals Presented by Pennzoil in Las Vegas. It is Hagan’s third championship crown after title wins in 2011 and 2014 and the sixth Funny Car class victory for the Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) team in 18 years.
From the No. 2 position on the eliminations ladder, Hagan earned his third Wally trophy of the year in a season dominated by the DSR stable of HEMI®-powered Funny Cars. The DSR foursome of Hagan, Tommy Johnson Jr., Jack Beckman and Ron Capps finished 1-2-3-4 atop the Funny Car standings and combined for a NHRA season “sweep” in which a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat won every national event to extend the team’s undefeated streak to a record 14 consecutive victories since October 2019.
“It’s been just an unbelievable season,” said Hagan. “My guys have put an unbelievable car behind me with Pennzoil, Dodge SRT and Mopar. Everybody who supports us. It’s great to win for Camping World and their first championship. My guys have worked so hard all season long. I can’t say enough about them and thank them. Three wins, a championship, it’s just special. I can’t wait for next season.”
“To have Matt Hagan win the championship at the Dodge NHRA Finals and
cap off it off with an undefeated season and record 14th straight victory is a
testament to the team’s hard work and the pure performance of the Charger SRT
Hellcat,” said Tim Kuniskis, Head of Global Head of Alfa Romeo and Head of
Passenger Cars – Dodge, SRT, Chrysler and FIAT, FCA – North America. “It is
really satisfying to watch our quickest, fastest and most powerful production
vehicles represented so well on the race track.”
“On behalf of all of us at Mopar, congratulations to Matt Hagan on a well-deserved third NHRA World Championship and a dominating performance in Funny Car competition this season,” said Mark Bosanac, Head of Mopar Service, Parts and Customer Care for FCA – North America. “Reflecting on Mopar’s long-standing involvement in the NHRA, including 18 successful years in partnership with Don Schumacher, we take great pride in this title win.”
With a two-round lead over his closest championship challengers, teammates Johnson and Beckman, Hagan clinched the crown after wins over Cruz Pedregon and Paul Lee in the first two rounds and just prior to staging his Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye for his semifinal match-up against Alexis DeJoria. The deal was sealed after Beckman was upset in the opening round against Paul Lee and No. 1 qualifier Capps defeated Johnson as the first semifinal pair to take the track.
With the 2020 Funny Car championship secured, all that was left to determine was who would take home the Dodge NHRA Finals Wally trophy as Hagan and Capps lined up for the seventh head-to-head Hellcat final round battle of the year.
While Capps had the early lead his efforts went up in smoke at half-track as Hagan took his Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat for a solid 3.914-second final lap to earn his 36th career victory and defend his 2019 win at The Strip at Las Vegas Speedway and tie the NHRA reco
“Dodge and the DSR fab shop, they’ve put a great race car underneath us,” said Hagan. “My crew chief Dickie Venables, I can’t say enough about the guy. He’s won me two world championships (2014, 2020) and we’ve runnered-up a few times. There’s a handful of guys on this team who haven’t won a championship before. I’m just so proud to give them that opportunity and I know how bad everybody wanted it.
“For us to have won three world championships now in this sport, it’s incredible,” added Hagan. “It all comes back down to my guys and the car they put under me. It’s not just me. I try not to mess it up. This is one of the most humbling sports I’ve been involved in and it always seems to come down to the last race and that certainly doesn’t make me look any younger. Thank you to everyone who supports what we do and we hope we made you proud to be a part of this.”
The Top Fuel season wrapped up with Leah Pruett racing her Mopar Dodge//SRT dragster to semifinal finishes in three of the first five races, a runner-up finish at the U.S. Nationals, and another semifinal finish at the Gatornationals, making her a top-three championship contender for most of the year. Pruett remained in the hunt until the penultimate race of the year when eventual title winner Steve Torrence’s points lead was insurmountable. Pruett turned her focus to finishing strong by taking her fierce-looking Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye dragster to the quarterfinals in the season finale to match her career-best fourth place finish in the Top Fuel standings for the third consecutive year.
Pruett also spent time behind the wheel of her Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak alongside teammate Mark Pawuk in Factory Stock Showdown (FSS) competition in 2020. Winner of the 2018 class title in her rookie year, Pruett took on the challenge of battling against a competitive field of 30 entries by scoring two round wins, but is now looking forward to making a return to competition next season aboard a new 2021 Dodge Challenger Drag Pak.
Pawuk made positive gains aboard his Empaco Equipment Mopar Drag Pak throughout the six-race season as he battled atop the Factory Stock Showdown standings with a runner-up finish at U.S. Nationals and back-to-back semifinal results at the Dallas FallNationals and Houston’s Mopar Express Lane SpringNationals (rescheduled to the Fall). Pawuk’s solid performances garnered him a third place finish in the Factory Stock Showdown championship won by Aaron Stanfield.
The Mopar Dodge//SRT contingent will return to competition in the spring for the NHRA’s 70th anniversary season. The 2021 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season with feature a 22-race schedule that will kick-off on March 12-14 at the 52nd annual Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway.
ADDITIONAL NOTES and QUOTES:
Jack Beckman, Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car
(No. 10 Qualifier – 3.996 seconds at 309.70 mph)
Round 1: (0.072-second reaction time, 3.975 seconds at 317.05 mph) lost to No. 7 Paul Lee (0.079/3.933/327.82)
“We lost the war, but I’m going to have to be comforted by the fact that we won a lot of battles this year. We won the Winternationals, we won the U.S. Nationals, we won at Dallas, those are all huge races. We had a fantastic year. We had a car that contended up to the last day. I can’t put a positive spin on losing the championship. I truly thought we were going to do this. I thought it would be the most fitting way as a tribute to the Chandler family going out and perhaps the end of my career. I’m just going to have to step back and get my perspective and remain an adult about this. As disappointing as it is, it’s been a fantastic year. It’s been a fantastic ride with the Infinite Hero Foundation and the Chandler’s and if its ended it’s been a fantastic career.”
Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye Funny Car
(No. 2 Qualifier – 3.911 seconds at 327.82 mph)
Round 1: (0.067-second reaction time, 3.901 seconds at 328.38 mph) defeated No. 15 Cruz Pedregon (0.066/4.034/312.35)
Round 2: (0.092/3.934/321.81) defeated No. 7 Paul Lee (0.081/4.181/258.57)
Round 3: (0.064/3.915/326.48) defeated No. 3 Alexis DeJoria (0.105/4.053/261.02)
Round 4: (0.110/3.914/326.40) defeated No. 1 Ron Capps (0.067/4.463/173.70)
“It’s been a fight all year long. With Covid, not know when we’ll start racing again, where the season will end, it’s just been very challenging mentally, for my guys, our sponsors, but thank you to everyone at Dodge SRT, Mopar and Pennzoil and everyone for sticking by us. Dodge and the DSR fab shop, they’ve put a great race car underneath us. Dickie Venables, I can’t say enough about the guy. He’s won me two world championships and we’ve runnered-up a few times. There’s a handful of guys on this team who haven’t won a championship before. I’m just so proud to give them that opportunity and I know how bad somebody wants it, especially the first time.
“For us to have won three world championships now in this sport, it’s incredible. It all comes back down to my guys and the car they put under me. It’s not just me. I try not to mess it up. This is one of the most humbling sports I’ve been involved in and it always seems to come down to the last race and that certainly doesn’t make me look any younger. Thank you to everyone who supports what we do and we hope we made you proud to be a part of this.”
Tommy Johnson Jr., MD Anderson Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car
(No. 4 Qualifier – 3.915 seconds at 319.14 mph)
Round 1: (0.090-second reaction time, 3.942 seconds at 323.74 mph) defeated No. 13 Jim Campbell (0.096/5.047/153.56)
Round 2: (0.074/3.939/323.81) defeated No. 5 Bob Tasca III (0.066/3.960/324.12)
Round 3: (0.090/3.943/324.20) lost to No. 1 Ron Capps (0.068/3.906/329.8)
“It was a great season, we came close. Matt (Hagan) and his team did a great job this season. I’m just so proud of my guys on this MD Anderson team. It was a very difficult 2020 year and to come down to the last few rounds of the year and to have a shot of winning the championship is nothing to hang our heads about being second. It’s disappointing to get so close and not get it, but at the same time it was a great season to finish second. Hopefully something comes around and we can have a shot again next year. All-and-all a great season. Very happy for the Chandlers and to have their cars finish second and third is pretty outstanding.”
Ron Capps, Pennzoil NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car
(No. 1 Qualifier – 3.902 seconds at 327.98 mph)
Round 1: (0.097-second reaction time, 6.031 seconds at 109.69mph) defeated No. 16 Chris Morel (No Time)
Round 2: (0.082/3.953/325.45) defeated No. 9 J.R. Todd (0.078/4.075/297.94)
Round 3: (0.068/3.906/329.83) defeated No. 4 Tommy Johnson Jr. (0.090/3.943/324.20)
Round 4: (0.067/4.463/173.70) lost to No. 2 Matt Hagan (0.110/3.914/326.40)
“What a weekend. It all came to plan. Especially getting the No. 1 qualifying spot and that Camping World hat. We did get a lucky break first round, but Rahn Tobler and the NAPA/Pennzoil guys, what a job they did. It went almost to plan until the final round. It was running great and I’m not sure what happened, but another one of those pretty big explosions. Thanks to Impact for great safety gear and everyone at the DSR fab shop for mounting a great Dodge body. Two wins this year, some finals, a pole, not a bad ’20 season for this NAPA team.”
Leah Pruett, Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye Top Fuel Dragster
(No. 6 Qualifier – 3.791 seconds at 322.04 mph)
Round 1: (0.116-second reaction time, 3.753 seconds at 317.64mph) defeated No. 9 Chris Karamesines (0.447 /4.260/203.00)
Round 2: (0.091/3.810/321.65) lost to No. 12 Justin Ashley (0.061/3.777/320.36)
“Our fourth place finish on the season is a direct reflection of our overall performance. It’s very respectable of course not the best on the track and we truly feel like we were completely in stride and making progress as a championship contender and once our St. Louis incident happened we lost our consistency. It’s like we had a broken link in our system that we’re working to get back. A scuffed piston on our round two lap put us behind and we’re trying to find the confidence we once had to get back our complete performance package and we know that’s possible. I think overall the beauty of the 2020 season for us is that we had shown glimpses of a championship caliber performance and we’ll be working to get it back. We made it the entire season and didn’t lose first round and next year we have to make it to at least the semis at every race.”
Mark Pawuk, Empaco Equipment Mopar Drag Pak– Factory Stock Shootout
(No. 15 Qualifier – 9.346 seconds at 168.22 mph)
Round 1: (0.048-second reaction time, 8.003 seconds at 170.90 mph) lost to No. 2 Aaron Stanfield (0.027/7.929/172.50)
“It ended up a great season for this Empaco Equipment Dodge Drag Pak. We struggled in (Las) Vegas at the last race unfortunately not being able to get down the track in qualifying which had us running the series champ in the first round and going out. We had a shot to finish second in points which would have been my best ever finish in NHRA competition, but just got bumped down to third today. Still a great season. We were down on power early, but Kevin Helms, Terry Snyder, Kyle Pawuk did a tremendous job to get us competitive. The driver did ok and finishing third ain’t bad. We’re really looking forward to bringing out the 2021 Drag Pak next year and hopefully Leah and I can go out and do some damage.”
Leah Pruett, Mopar Dodge Challenger Mopar Drag Pak – Factory Stock Shootout
(No. 3 Qualifier – 7.976 seconds at 170 mph)
Round 1: (0.046-second reaction time, 7.940 seconds at 171.27 mph) defeated No. 14 Kevin Skinner (0.054/8.104/168.03)
Round 2: (0.036/8.056/168.05) lost to No. 6 John Cerbone (0.004/8.064/169.21)
“What a table-turn of events this weekend. We had a very competitive car all weekend at Vegas with very tight racing. Of course, if we would have raced anyone else that second round we probably would have won. When your competitor has a .004 light against you, sometimes it makes it difficult to put on your win light. It was a proper finish for El Bandito. He finished off strong and the new Drag Pak is very exciting and we’re ready to show off some new Mopar-muscle.”
2020 NHRA FINAL CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS:
FUNNY CAR (season wins in parentheses)
1. Matt Hagan (Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat) – 1020 (3)
2. Tommy Johnson Jr. (Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat) – 915 (3)
3. Jack Beckman (Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat) – 848 (3)
4. Ron Capps (Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat) – 828 (2)
5. Bob Tasca III – 679
6. J.R. Todd – 663
7. Tim Wilkerson – 615
8. Alexis DeJoria – 605
9. Paul Lee – 464
10. Cruz Pedregon – 436
TOP FUEL (season wins in parentheses)
1. Steve Torrance – 1015 (4)
2. Doug Kalitta – 822 (1)
3. Billy Torrence – 793 (1)
4. Leah Pruett (Mopar Dodge//SRT) – 754
5. Antron Brown – 709 (1)
6. Shawn Langdon – 595 (1)
7. Justin Ashley – 594 (1)
8. Clay Millican – 493
9. Tony Schumacher – 464 (1)
10. Terry McMillen – 436