Hagan’s HEMI® Knocks Them Down at Norwalk
5 years ago Racing
Matt Hagan’s HEMI® Charger R/T Funny Car destroyed the competition this past weekend with a thunderous one-two knockout during the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio. For Hagan and his Mopar® Express Lane machine, he grabbed his second victory of the season.
Hagan’s triumph was also the second consecutive and fourth overall this season that a Mopar Dodge Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) Charger R/T Funny Car has visited the winner’s circle. Hagan also leapfrogged into a tie for second in the Funny Car standings with DSR Dodge teammate and fellow Charger R/T Funny Car jockey Jack Beckman
Hagan was seeking a bit of redemption after first-round exits in the previous two events and was ready to right some wrongs when he lined up next to his opponents. During Sunday’s eliminations at Norwalk, Hagan had to get past Mopar Dodge Funny Car DSR teammates Tommy Johnson Jr. and Jack Beckman.
In the semifinals, Hagan squared off against J.R. Todd’s Toyota and won. This set the stage for Hagan to earn the all-important lane choice against No. 1 qualifier Courtney Force, whom he’d face in the finals. When the Christmas tree blinked green, Hagan’s Charger R/T blasted off the line first and ran a solid 4.094 seconds at 288.21 MPH to Force’s losing 4.220 at 227.54 MPH effort. This victory was Hagan’s second of the season, 28th of his career and first-ever at Norwalk.
“Super proud of my guys,” said Hagan. “These cats have been working hard and we’ve obviously had a track prep change that we needed to adapt to and it took (crew chief) Dickie (Venables) a few runs to get there, but that’s why I love him and I’m glad he’s in my corner. He always figures it out. We had a good, solid car all weekend. Qualified well, went down the race track pretty much every lap. It hazed the tires out there and I was legging it out, but it’s the finals, man, and I didn’t care if it was going to blow the body off of it or what. All I knew was I didn’t see her (opponent Courtney Force) beside me.”
In Top Fuel, Leah Pritchett faced Doug Kalitta in the opening round of eliminations on race day, and after beating him to the stripe, advanced to the quarterfinals with a stellar 3.794-second effort that ended up the second-best of the session. The six-time Top Fuel winner powered to her best run of the weekend in the quarterfinals to claim the upset win over No. 1 qualifier Clay Millican and earn lane choice over semifinal opponent Blake Alexander. Pritchett was first on the throttle but encountered traction woes just past halftrack. The 2018 Atlanta winner pedaled the throttle and harnessed her Dodge//SRT® Mopar FireAde dragster enough to recover before giving way to a fireball, enabling Alexander to claim the win with his clean pass.
“We started race day with all new information,” said Pritchett. “We weren’t able to take a lot from qualifying. We made wholesale changes on Saturday night, and with that confidence coming into Sunday, the FireAde team output exactly what we input. We had two awesome and consistent, clean runs, and tight racing. It’s been a while since we had some real tight racing like that where the car was on point, I was on point, the team was on point, and we had no mechanical malfunctions. Unfortunately, we spun (the tires) in the semis against Blake (Alexander), who’s a great driver. We’re getting to that time, it’s halfway through the season. Everybody’s best is starting to shine and right now this FireAde team is starting to shine really bright. We needed that momentum. It’s good to end this swing on a semifinal finish. Of course, we wanted to finish with a win, but to see the adversity this team has gone through over this weekend – limited runs, runs that didn’t really count for us for anything, and taking a shot at it on Sunday and going some rounds is what we needed.”
Our Dodge//SRT Mopar DSR Top Fuel and Funny Car teams will get next weekend off before heading to New England Dragway in Epping, New Hampshire, for the NHRA New England Nationals July 6-8.