- Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T driver Matt Hagan wins U.S. Nationals from No. 1 spot
- Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) driver Hagan claims 10th win of season for Team Mopar Funny Cars
- U.S. Nationals victory is Hagan’s third of 2016 Mello Yello Series season and 21st of career
- DSR’s Tony Schumacher makes it a double for Mopar with victory in his HEMI-fueled U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster
- Championship hopeful Allen Johnson takes Mopar power to the Pro Stock final round with his Dodge Dart
- Final points set for 2016 NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs
September 5, 2016 , Indianapolis, Indiana – The 62nd annual U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis brought victory for Team Mopar in the form of a double-up win on Labor Day weekend ahead of the Countdown to the Championship. Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) driver Matt Hagan, in the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T, crushed the competition with his fierce HEMI® to claim the Funny Car title at the most prestigious race on the tour.
“Another victory for Matt Hagan in the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T shows the true capabilities of Mopar performance, and we are eager to see what the remainder of the season holds,” said Pietro Gorlier, Head of Parts and Service (Mopar), FCA – Global. “Each of the Mopar-powered Funny Cars look to be emerging as contenders for the championship title, and that’s something we’re all excited about.”
The victory was the 21st of Hagan’s career and third of the season in five final rounds. It was also the 10th Funny Car trophy of the season for the Mopar Funny Cars, and Mopar will enter the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship with four cars fully capable of winning the biggest trophy of them all after the six-race playoffs.
Hagan qualified his horsepower-heavy Mopar Dodge on the pole in Indianapolis and used the momentum to knock-out his opponents on raceday, beginning with a first-round meeting with John Bojec. His opponent left the starting line with a small advantage, but Hagan soon took the lead with a demolishing 3.894-second pass at 327.59 mph to a traction-troubled 11.32. Next to fall was Robert Hight, 3.942/324.59 to 4.572/183.42.
The semifinals brought a head-to-head battle for DSR teammates Hagan and Tommy Johnson Jr., who was at the helm of the Riley Kid’s Dodge Charger R/T. Johnson was awesome at the starting line, clocking a remarkable .054-second reaction time that wasn’t far off of the .051 he used to complement a strong 3.966 pass in the second round. At the top end, Hagan got the nod, 3.945/323.81 to 3.970/321.65.
Hagan had low elapsed time in each of the first three rounds, but in the final it was a mind-blowing .039-second reaction time that did the trick. Del Worsham’s quicker 3.958/324.20 wasn’t quite enough for Hagan’s 3.964/327.43.
“It’s just incredible,” said Hagan, who is the No. 3 seed in the Countdown to the Championship. “This is something that we’ve been trying to accomplish for a long time. My crew chief Dickie Venables – that guy put a hot rod under me all weekend along. The guys do their job, and I’m just proud to be part of it, proud to be part of Don Schumacher Racing, and proud to have good sponsors in Mopar. The fans got what they paid for today. It’s really something to come out here and know that you have a great car and you have to dig deep to get it done for your team, but that’s why they put you in the seat.
“I’m just tickled to death to be out here right now. This is something I’ve been wanting to check off the list for a long time. We came out here with a brand new race car, we qualified No. 1, and the car was just on kill the whole weekend. Being able to have that confidence and see that in Dickie and this whole Mopar team, it’s been great. That’s what it takes to win races and to win the championship. I really feel like this car is starting to peak at the right time.”
Sweeting the day for Team Mopar was the huge double-up win for DSR as Tony Schumacher won the Top Fuel title in his HEMI-powered U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster with a final-round defeat of Steve Torrence.
Pro Stock’s Allen Johnson Takes Mopar to Indy Final
Mopar Mile-High Nationals winner Allen Johnson again stood out in competition with his first U.S. Nationals final round in his finely-tuned HEMI-powered Marathon Petroleum Dodge Dart.
On Monday at the U.S. Nationals, which take place over Labor Day weekend, Johnson was driving like a beast. In the first round of eliminations, the Greeneville, Tennessee-resident dealt a blow to Drew Skillman by leaving the starting line first and beating him on a holeshot, 6.668/206.83 to 6.666/208.65. Johnson couldn’t help himself and turned it up a notch in the quarterfinals, handing a .009 to Greg Anderson, who was .044, and shutting the door at the top end on a holeshot, 6.683/207.21 to 6.655/207.91. In the semis, he had even more up his sleeve and was out of the gate with a speedy .012 reaction to Shane Gray’s .040 for a 6.701/206.35 victory over a quicker but ineffective 6.673/208.17.
The final round was the 59th of Johnson’s career and third of the season, and the stars appeared to be lining up for the seasoned driver. Unfortunately, No. 28 on his win tally sheet would have to wait. Chris McGaha took the lead at the starting line and held it for a 6.688/207.15 to 6.715/207.08 win.
Pro Stock’s 2012 season winner Johnson, who will enter the Countdown as the No. 4 seed, will be seeking his second world championship over the course of the next six races.
“We just had a ball this weekend, and we really feel like we have momentum on our side. Can’t wait for the Countdown to start,” said Johnson.
Countdown to the Championship Fields Set
The Countdown to the Championship fields are set and richly populated with Team Mopar drivers after down to the wire battles in both Pro Stock and Top Fuel in which the HEMI campaigners came out on top. The six-race playoffs are scheduled to begin in Charlotte in two weeks at the NHRA Carolina Nationals, Sept. 16-18. Only the top 10 drivers in each of the professional categories have earned the right to compete for the series title.
2016 NHRA Championship Point Standings
(season wins in parentheses)
1. Jason Line (7) – 1,843
2. Greg Anderrson (7) – 1,772
3. Bo Butner – 1,269
4. Allen Johnson (1), Mopar Dodge Dart – 1,192
5. Vincent Nobile – 1,121
6. Drew Skillman (1) – 1,000
7. Chris McGaha (1) – 969
8. Shane Gray – 939
9. Erica Enders, Mopar Performance Dodge Dart – 788
10. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Dodge Dart – 775
1. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger R/T (5) – 1,532
2. Del Worsham (1) – 1,330
3. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger R/T (3) – 1,295
4. Courtney Force (1) – 1,282
5. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger R/T (1) – 1,200
6. Robert Hight (1) – 1,118
7. Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger R/T (1) – 1,112
8. John Force (2) – 1,055
9. Tim Wilkerson (2) – 964
10. Alexis DeJoria (1) – 812
1. Antron Brown (4) – 1,504
2. Doug Kalitta (3) – 1,370
3. Steve Torrence (2) – 1,367
4. Tony Schumacher, Mopar HEMI (1) – 1,290
5. Brittany Force (3) – 1,247
6. J.R. Todd (1) – 1,090
7. Shawn Langdon (2) – 1,049
8. Clay Millican – 908
9. Richie Crampton – 889
10. Leah Pritchett, Mopar HEMI (1) – 684