August 21, 2022,
Carrying the Mopar 85th anniversary livery on his Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car at the 40th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) driver Matt Hagan captured the No. 1 Qualifier position for the fifth time this season then drove to a quarterfinal finish in the penultimate event of the regular season at Brainerd International Raceway.
The defending winner of the event earned his 48th career No. 1 Qualifier honor, the fifth most in the Funny Car category, with his final qualifying pass in the lane next to points leader and provisional pole sitter Robert Hight as the last pairing of the session. Hagan powered his Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat to a 3.843-second elapsed time run at 331.36 mph, one quickest runs of the season, to steal away the pole position, collect a total of six bonus points and a bye-run for the opening round of eliminations. The Q4 run had some added drama when the body of Hagan’s racecar that sported the Mopar 85th Anniversary paint scheme honoring the legendary brand was damaged by a fiery explosion in the final feet of the qualifying run, necessitating a change to the Dodge Power Brokers Charger SRT Hellcat body for Sunday’s elimination rounds.
Hagan launched his race day with the new Dodge body and a solo run that didn’t go quite as planned when a cylinder went out at the hit of the throttle. The TSR team turned the car off to save any further damage and regroup for their next round against No. 8 seed Alexis DeJoria. The quarterfinal saw both competitors hit the throttle, immediately lose traction and find themselves in a pedalfest to the finish. Unfortunately, Hagan wasn’t able to regain control of his nitro machine quickly enough to battle to the finish to extend his raceday.
While disappointed with the result, Hagan remains second in the Funny Car championship standings as his team now prepares for the cornerstone event of the season, the Dodge Power Brokers U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park, and the final regular season event before the NHRA’s ”Countdown to the Championship” playoff series.
A two-time Top Fuel winner (2017 and 2019) at Brainerd International Raceway, Leah Pruett took her Mopar 85th Anniversary dragster for a 3.702 sec./330.47 mph run on her second qualifying lap on Friday to post the third quickest pass of the session and collect a bonus point. The TSR pilot’s lap was good enough to put her sixth on the eliminations ladder and set up a first round pairing with No. 11 seed Shawn Langdon with whom she is jostling for position in the points standings.
Pruett had a decent lap going until just after half-track when her ride began to drop cylinders and put an end to her run and chance to advance. She and her TSR team now turn their attention to the “Big Go” where they will work to capture their first Wally from the storied event. While currently tied for sixth place with Langdon in the Top Fuel standings, Pruett is also among three competitors battling for the fifth place position in the Countdown with just one event remaining ahead of the playoffs.
For a ninth time this season, Funny Car driver Cruz Pedregon qualified his Snap-on Tools Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat in the top-five for eliminations with a 3.888 seconds pass at 326.16 mph. The driver and team owner had a clean first round pass against No. 12 seed Bobby Bode that unfortunately wasn’t enough to turn on the win light and prematurely ended his day dropping the Cruz Pedregon Racing machine to eighth place in the Funny Car standings.
The focus now shifts on preparing for the world’s biggest drag race and the NHRA Camping World Series’ marquis event, the prestigious 68th annual Dodge Power Brokers U.S. Nationals, August 31-September 5, at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park.
ADDITIONAL NOTES and QUOTES:
Leah Pruett, Mopar 85th Anniversary Top Fuel Dragster
(No. 6 Qualifier – 3.702 seconds at 330.47 mph)
(0.099-second reaction time, 3.822 seconds at 279.85 mph) loss to No. 11 Shawn Langdon (0.045/3.760/329.34)
“As we’ve gotten further into the season, we’ve gotten further into our pool of knowledge. First session, we joined the rest of the field in having traction problems. It seemed to be difficult for all the teams. Going into Q2, we had a nice and spicy 3.70, which was something we felt was right inside our target for getting down the track, especially during a night session. The next day, we felt like we could improve upon that and our avenue was new. We tried a new theory of accelerating the car. At the end of the day, it is an acceleration game when we break it into multiple parts down the track. It was either going to throw down or throw up and what did it do? We ran almost the exact same time with a 3.70. That opened up a new Pandora’s box with theories about how we can apply power. We went back to our race day tune-up for the final session to get ready for Sunday. We didn’t quite make it down the track. Going into race day, sometimes you’ve got mountains and sometimes you’ve got valleys. Race day was not our most shining moment. We dropped a cylinder and I did not have my most impressive [reaction time] against somebody [Langdon] we continue to race throughout this entire season, I think more than anyone else. We will peak again and there’s not going to be a better time to do it than at the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals. We’re still in a healthy spot in the championship and now we’ve learned more and we’ll gain more.”
Matt Hagan, Mopar 85th Anniversary Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car
(No. 1 Qualifier – 3.843 seconds at 331.36 mph)
(0.074-second reaction time, 9.940 seconds at 71.63 mph) bye-run
(0.081/5.198/259.81) loss to No. 8 Alexis DeJoria (0.126/4.638/229.31)
“What a tough weekend in Brainerd. We had canceled flights and we were down a couple of crew guys that were sick. Our Mopar 85th Anniversary Funny Car ended up No. 1 Qualifier, but blew up a lot of parts doing it. Things got hot and greasy in the second round and no one seemed to be going down the racetrack. We were one of the cars that couldn’t get down the track, so it ended up being a pedalfest. Alexis (DeJoria) smoked it a little further out there and got it to recover. It was just a tough round. As a veteran driver, you feel like you should win because of pedaling the car, letting it relax and getting it hooked back up. It’s tough when you smoke it at the hit like that and don’t get any momentum to move forward. We’ll pack everything up to head to Indy and get ready for the Countdown after that.”
Cruz Pedregon, Snap-on® Tools Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
(No. 5 Qualifier – 3.888 seconds at 326.16 mph)
(0.119-second reaction time, 3.947 seconds at 322.65 mph) loss to No. 12 Bobby Bode (0.098/3.931/316.08)
“After qualifying the Snap-on Tools Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat in the No. 5 spot with a great 3.88 second run at over 326 miles per hour, we went up against No. 12 qualifier Bobby Bode who qualified with a 4.11-second run. We went up there and the car ran well and it was just a good close drag race. We lost that round by a slim margin, but I've gotta be better than that on the reaction time. I left a little bit on the table there and Bobby took full advantage of it so give those guys credit; they did what they had to and took us out. We'll go back and we'll get better. We just have to keep on working and fine tuning. The team provided me with a great car after we initially struggled a little bit with the new car. We went with our backup car and made runs of 3.93, 3.88, and then first rounds 3.94. Those are really good solid winning runs so we'll work on that and get ready for our biggest race of the year at the Dodge Power Brokers U.S. Nationals in Indy.”
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Instagram channel continues to share content capturing Dodge//SRT Mopar drivers on the track. Fans can see action from the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series and NHRA Sportsman grassroots racers, competing in classes such as Factory Stock Showdown, Stock and Super Stock, as well as additional motorsports series.
For more than 100 years, the Dodge brand has carried on the spirit of brothers John and Horace Dodge. Their influence continues today as Dodge shifts into high gear with a lineup that delivers unrivaled performance in each of the segments where they compete.
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