Hagan Takes Mopar Dodge Charger Funny Car from Pole to Second Consecutive Win at NHRA New England Nationals

  • Win by Mopar Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car driver Matt Hagan is his second consecutive at New England Dragway and second consecutive of season
  • Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) driver Hagan’s victory is fifth of season for a Mopar//Dodge SRT Funny Car driver and seventh overall in the NHRA Nitro classes
  • Mopar Dodge//SRT drivers now own 2-3-4 spots in the NHRA Funny Car standings
  • Mopar Dodge Top Fuel driver Leah Pritchett advances to semifinals, moves to fourth in points
  • DSR Mopar drivers Capps, Schumacher also advance to semifinals and move up in standings
  • Picillo, Gove Claim Dodge Top Finisher honors at Epping

July 8, 2018,  Epping, New Hampshire – Mopar Dodge//SRT driver Matt Hagan completed a wire-to-wire weekend at New England Dragway, racing from the pole in dominant fashion to claim his second consecutive win at the NHRA New England Nationals, and his second win in a row of the season.

Hagan’s triumphant ride in Epping, New Hampshire, was the third consecutive and fifth of 2018 for a Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) Mopar Dodge//SRT Funny Car driver, and the seventh of the season for a Mopar Dodge in the NHRA Nitro classes. The win was Hagan’s third of the season and 29th of his career. He is currently second in the standings after making up nearly 100 points on the leader.

Sandvik Coromant Mopar Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car driver Hagan, winner at the most recent NHRA stop in Norwalk, Ohio, qualified No. 1 and began his march to the event win by taking out Terry Haddock with a 4.066-second elapsed time at 316.15 mph that was the quickest of all competitors in round one. Next, in a fight with DSR Dodge teammate Tommy Johnson Jr., Hagan’s 4.237/245.90 was more than good enough for the win after Johnson encountered problems early.

The defending 2017 Epping winner drew a second teammate, Ron Capps, in another all-Mopar Dodge matchup in the semifinals. Hagan was first off the starting line and first to the finish with a .062 reaction time paired with a 4.114/311.05 pass to advance to his 52nd final round and fifth of the season. The two-time NHRA Funny Car World Champion remained on point in the final against Tim Wilkerson, recording a superb .042 reaction time in the money round and passing the finish line with a winning 4.156/292.01.

After earning her ninth career No. 1 qualifier spot, Mopar Dodge Top Fuel driver Leah Pritchett never trailed against No. 16 qualifier Audrey Worm on her way to the round win. Pritchett faced veteran Doug Kalitta in the quarterfinals and motored down the groove to the tune of 3.88/316.30, second quickest of the round, to advance to the semis with lane choice over Antron Brown.

Pritchett trailed slightly out of the gate but briefly nudged the nose of her Mopar Dodge into the lead before Brown was able to chase down her 3.945/304.80 pass for a holeshot win. With her run to the semifinals, Pritchett moved up one spot to fourth in the Top Fuel point standings.

Ron Capps may not have triumphed at Epping, but the Mopar-powered NAPA Intrepid Fallen Heroes Dodge Charger R/T driver’s strong weekend jumped him from sixth to fourth in the point standings. Capps also helped himself and the entire Funny Car field by taking down points leader Courtney Force in the first round with a straight-down-the-track 4.083/306.19.

Despite seeing the parachutes of his Funny Car pop out early, Capps was still able to send home another John Force Racing driver, Robert Hight, in the quarterfinals. The two-time Epping winner recorded a solid 4.122/311.20 in the semifinals but could not stop red-hot teammate and event winner Hagan.

U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster driver Tony Schumacher used a little help from Mopar HEMI power to put down the second-quickest run of the opening round in taking out newcomer Jim Maroney. In round two, “The Sarge,” left first with a .070 reaction and led from start to finish against Richie Crampton. Schumacher moved first again in the semifinals with a quicker .056 reaction time to Steve Torrence’s slower .068, but Torrence soon surged ahead for the round win. Schumacher climbed up one spot in the standings after his weekend at Epping, and now sits second.

Jack Beckman’s strongest qualifying performance since the NHRA Gainesville event in March placed his Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car in the No. 2 position heading into eliminations. The 2012 Funny Car World Champion posted the second-quickest run of the opening round to send home Jeff Diehl and join his three DSR Mopar teammates in advancing out of round one.

In the quarterfinals, Beckman was within striking distance of Tim Wilkerson but was unable to beat his foe to the finish, falling short by about four feet. He leaves Epping third in the Funny Car standings.

Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T driver Tommy Johnson Jr., a Funny Car runner-up twice at Epping, qualified in the top half of the field and defeated Cruz Pedregon in round one. Johnson trailed slightly at the start but closed the gap and pulled away for the round win with a 4.131/297.94 mark. Johnson’s hopes to advance ended quickly in the quarterfinals against teammate Hagan after he smoked the tires early.

Mopar Dodge//SRT NHRA Sportsman Spotlight
Justin Picillo earned the Dodge Top Finisher Award in the NHRA Stock Eliminator class at the NHRA New England Nationals, driving his FS/D 2010 Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak to the fourth round of eliminations. The Warwick, Rhode Island, native clocked a 9.799/129.62 run in round three to beat No. 1 qualifier Jim Marshall, who broke out, before losing to Randi Lyn Shipp.

Super Stock Dodge Top Finisher honors at Epping were claimed by Scott Gove, from Dennysville, Maine. Gove seized the No. 1 starting spot with a 7.922 ET that was 1.078 under index in his 1993 Dodge Daytona, but his day ended in the second round against Anthony Bongiovanni, despite a strong 7.864/173.29 run.

The Dodge Top Finisher award, now in its second year, awards $500 to the Stock Eliminator and Super Stock drivers who advance the furthest behind the wheel of a Mopar-powered Dodge, Chrysler, or Plymouth race car. The honor is awarded in both Sportsman categories at all 24 NHRA national events.

Mopar Dodge//SRT NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series: Notes & Quotes

Pietro Gorlier, Head of Parts and Service (Mopar), FCA
“Congratulations to Matt Hagan and his Mopar Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car team on capturing their second consecutive win of the season and at Epping, and bringing another Wally trophy home for Mopar, Dodge and Don Schumacher Racing.”

Steve Beahm, Head of Passenger Cars, Dodge//SRT, Chrysler and FIAT, FCA North America
“It’s great to see the success this weekend of Matt Hagan at Epping. With the Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals Powered by Mopar right around the corner, we’re confident Matt and his Mopar Dodge Charger Funny Car crew can carry their momentum from this victory right on into Denver.”

Matt Hagan, Sandvik Coromant Mopar Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 1 Qualifier – 3.932 ET)

Rd.1: (.085-second reaction time, 4.066 seconds at 316.15 mph) beat No. 16 Terry Haddock (.154/6.490/113.11)
Rd.2: (.084/4.237/245.90) beat No. 8 Tommy Johnson Jr. (.076/4.741/179.23)
Rd.3: (.062/4.114/311.05) beat No. 4 Ron Capps (.082/4.122/311.20)
Rd.4: (.042/4.156/292.01) beat No. 10 Tim Wilkerson (.077/4.181/287.35)

“We just got a good race car. I think the biggest thing is (crew chief) Dickie Venables. The guy is smart. If you give him enough runs and enough opportunities at whatever it is, he’s going to figure it out. I think that’s why he’s been in the sport for over 50-some years. He’s been doing it since he was hanging on his dad’s leg. He’s somebody that I want to keep myself around as long as possible. He works hard, this is his life and it goes to show on the race car. There’s also luck and stuff, that last lap it was like a dirt track. My rear-end was sideways and coming back around and I could hear Timmy (Wilkerson) over there and you’re looking around to see where they’re at. That’s what makes it exciting in a fuel Funny Car, man. You never know what you’re going to get. I’ve never had the same lap back-to-back.

“This car has just been going down the race track. We turned four win lights on in Norwalk and we turned four win lights on here and we went down every lap in Norwalk and we went down every lap in qualifying here. We just pretty much have what you would call a bracket car in a fuel Funny Car. It’s just responding well to what they’re asking it to do. It makes my confidence grow. As a driver, it makes my lights come back around. I’m more focused on that and I’m not thinking about whether the car might come lose or what it’s going to do if I have to slap the tires. I’m proud of my guys. They just haven’t had any mistakes. This whole year my crew has really not faltered. They’ve been doing a great job wrenching.”

Leah Pritchett, Mopar Dodge Top Fuel Dragster
(No. 1 Qualifier – 3.742 ET)

Rd.1: (.069-second reaction time, 3.945 seconds at 305.70 mph) beat No. 16 Audrey Worm (.311/9.559/82.04)
Rd.2: (.077/3.888/316.30) beat No. 9 Doug Kalitta (.064/4.900/212.46)
Rd.3: (.071/3.945/304.80) lost to No. 12 Antron Brown (.055/3.955/315.42)

“Incredible race car underneath me and an incredible team, no doubt. We were adapting every round to the situation, the competition just got more stout, tougher and tougher. I’m proud that we had our three DSR Top Fuel cars in the semifinals. I was feeling it today; the car was doing well. We kept backing the car up. I take the hit – you know, two hundredths late on the (starting) tree and a couple thousandths quicker off a car (against Antron Brown). When it’s that close, that’s when you look for those win lights, and the moment that you see it in the other lane, it’s devastation. But when you do get the first two win lights like we got today, I’m very proud of that and proud for the Mopar team and putting that Mopar power on the ground.

“There are always different situations. We haven’t run this combination before, we’re playing with our starting line setup. I’m down on myself, not in a negative way, but (to) keep trying something different, just like my team does with the race car. I went back and talked to (crew chief) Todd (Okuhara), and he actually apologized for a change we made to the car that we hadn’t done before, and I said, ‘It doesn’t matter, it is what it is.’ In order to win a championship, we’re all going to have to continue getting better at the same time. We’re going to do it. We win and lose as a team. Onward and upward to Denver.”

Ron Capps, NAPA Intrepid Fallen Heroes Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 4 Qualifier – 3.978 ET)

Rd.1: (.083-second reaction time, 4.083 seconds at 306.19 mph) beat No. 13 Courtney Force (.069/4.489/200.11)
Rd.2: (.093/4.134/276.41) beat No. 5 Robert Hight (.070/7.226/98.83)
Rd.3: (.082/4.122/311.20) lost to No. 1 Matt Hagan (.062/4.114/311.05)

“We got the chance to put the NAPA Intrepid Fallen Heroes Dodge in the winner’s circle before, and it felt like we were going to get there this weekend. We certainly had our work cut out for us when we looked at the ladder after Saturday Q4 was over, because our side of the ladder was stacked. We had to go through some of the best cars we’ve seen all season. We got lucky a few of those rounds. These rounds in the summer are important, and we’re making progress in the NAPA Car. We’re going to head to Denver now, and we ran great there last year. We made up some ground on the points leader, and we leave her with everything in one piece, so all is good in our camp. Looking forward to the West Coast swing, with a lot of races on the FOX network.”

Tony Schumacher, U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
(No. 2 Qualifier – 3.744 ET)

Rd.1: (.100-second reaction time, 3.878 seconds at 319.75 mph) beat No. 15 Jim Maroney (.059/4.841/154.72)
Rd.2: (.070/3.906/318.54) beat No. 10 Richie Crampton (.085/5.316/138.33)
Rd.3: (.056/3.963/314.97) lost to No. 3 Steve Torrence (.068/3.942/309.77)

“Great run. The car didn’t do what it was supposed to do. Something happened there. That’s a hard one to chew, but it is what is. We moved back into second. We have a good car. We’re going down the racetrack, we’re hard to beat. It takes a lot of luck and some small miracles to do this right now, and we haven’t had the luck. We’re saving it for the end when we need it.”

Jack Beckman, Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 2 Qualifier – 3.956 ET)

Rd.1: (.083-second reaction time, 4.075 seconds at 312.42 mph) beat No. 15 Jeff Diehl (.130/6.633/98.87)
Rd.2: (.074/4.252/294.05) lost to No. 10 Tim Wilkerson (.071/4.245/264.39)

“We are going rounds everywhere we go. We are holding tight in the points right now but we want the trophy. It’s frustrating and disappointing to know that you have a car good enough to win the race and not get at least into the final round. But what I said earlier is the key thing. We are back having a car that’s good enough to win the race. We wore a little too much clutch, took load off the engine, dropped a cylinder and we lost by ten-thousandths of a second. Right place at the right time — hopefully we’ll be there in Denver.”

Tommy Johnson Jr., Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 8 Qualifier – 4.023 ET)

Rd.1: (.058-second reaction time, 4.131 seconds at 297.94 mph) beat No. 9 Cruz Pedregon (.032/4.408/215.20)
Rd.2: (.076/4.741/179.23) lost to No. 1 Matt Hagan (.084/4.237/245.90)

“It’s showing promise, going a couple rounds here in Epping. I really thought maybe we had a car for today. It’s frustrating. The track changes so much between first and second and the conditions are so variable. We have to guess better and figure out what it’s going to take to get down these tracks. It’s frustrating right at this moment trying to figure out the tune-up to get down there without spinning the tires.”

Up Next: Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals Powered by Mopar  
The DSR drivers and teams will get a week off before heading west to the Rocky Mountains for the Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals Powered by Mopar, scheduled for July 20-22 at Bandimere Speedway. The busy weekend of activities will kick-off on Thursday, July 19, with the annual Mopar Big Block Party Presented by Pennzoil in downtown, Golden, Colorado.

Hagan and Pritchett are both seeking their first NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series victories on “Thunder Mountain,” while Beckman hopes to add to his trio of wins (2007, 2012, 2015) at Bandimere Speedway. Tony Schumacher is also a three-time visitor to the Bandimere Speedway winner’s circle (2005, 2008, 2016), while Capps (2009) owns one career win at the home-away-from-home for the Dodge and Mopar brands.

Qualifying coverage will air live on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, July 21. Three hours of eliminations coverage will air live on the national FOX Network starting at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 22.

Dodge Garage: New Digital Hub for Drag Racing News
Fans now have a new one-stop destination for Mopar and Dodge drag racing news. Dodge Garage (http://www.dodgegarage.com) is a digital content hub and premier destination for drag racing and muscle car enthusiasts.

Fans can view daily updates and get access to an online racing HQ, news, events, galleries, available downloads and merchandise. Dodge Garage features include exclusive content, such as a three-part video series “Chasing the Title,” that offers fans a unique, behind-the-scenes glimpse at Pritchett and her DSR team in action.

For information on Mopar on and off the track, check out the Mopar brand’s official blog, http://blog.mopar.com.

2018 NHRA Championship — Point Standings After Round 13 of 24
(Season Wins in Parentheses)

NHRA Funny Car
1.  Courtney Force — 1069
2. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger R/T (3) — 914
3. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger R/T (1) — 847
4. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger R/T (1) — 834

5.  Robert Hight — 829
6.  J.R. Todd — 800
7.  Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger R/T — 692
8.  John Force — 632
9.  Shawn Langdon — 614
10. Bob Tasca III — 564

NHRA Top Fuel
1.   Steve Torrence – 1086
2.   Tony Schumacher, Mopar Dodge HEMI (1) — 896
3.   Clay Millican — 881
4.   Leah Pritchett, Mopar Dodge HEMI (1) — 820
5.   Doug Kalitta — 801
6.   Antron Brown — 717
7.   Terry McMillen — 679
8.   Brittany Force — 634
9.   Richie Crampton — 522
10. Mike Salinas — 506