News Ticker

Matt Hagan Claims Top Spot at NHRA Gatornationals

Share

DSR 18DSR NHRA Gatornationals Qualifying Report

NHRA Gatornationals
Event No. 7
Gainesville Raceway
September 26-27, 2020

DSR Qualifying Highlights:

  • Matt Hagan captured the Funny Car pole for the third time in 2020, and 39th time in his career, when he rocketed the Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye to the only sub-four second Funny Car run of the day
  • Hagan powered his machine to the second-quickest pass of Q1 before running low E.T. of Q2 to earn five bonus points overall
  • DSR will be looking to achieve its 10th straight Funny Car victory on Sunday
  • Antron Brown leads the DSR Top Fuel dragster trio and will start race day from the No. 3 spot
  • Ron Capps earned a qualifying position in the quick-half of the Funny Car field and will start race day from fourth
Matt Hagan

Matt Hagan

Matt Hagan Claims Top Spot at NHRA Gatornationals

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (September 27, 2020) – Matt Hagan and the Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye Funny Car team continue to be red-hot. Qualifying at the rescheduled NHRA Gatornationals featured soupy, swampy conditions, and proved to be challenging for most crew chiefs, but Dickie Venables had the combination to take on the hot Florida weather as he tuned Hagan’s machine to low E.T. of qualifying to capture the pole heading into race day.

Hagan, who recently earned milestone victory No. 350 for Don Schumacher Racing, continued to build on his momentum during the Gatornationals. Right out of the gate, he clocked the second-quickest E.T. of Q1, crossing the beams in 4.006 seconds. During Q2, he blasted the Mopar Hellcat Redeye to the only three-second Funny Car run of the day, posting a 3.975 E.T. at 321.35-mph to catapult him to his third No. 1 qualifier of 2020.

The two-time world champion’s strong qualifying performance earned him five bonus points and helps to put him one step closer to taking over the No. 1 spot in the Funny Car championship standings, currently occupied by his teammate, Jack Beckman. Hagan, who entered the weekend second in points, is seeking his third victory of the year and his first at Gainesville Raceway.

Matt Hagan

Matt Hagan

“Our race car is running great,” said the Christiansburg, Va. native who runnered-up in Gainesville in 2018. “This Dodge Hellcat Redeye Funny Car is running strong. It runs like a Hellcat but drives like a 300C. Dickie is doing such a great job putting a tune-up in this car. What a great race car I have underneath me. This is one of the more fun seasons I’ve had. The car is just so smooth. It shows the caliber of guys we have, to take so much time off and all the adversity with COVID, and to come back out here and put together a great race car. We’ve been No. 1 qualifier several times in 2020 and won a few times also.”

Hagan will start race day from the No. 1 spot for the 39th time in his career and will have a head start on achieving a first Gatornationals victory when he has the advantage of a bye run in the opening session. A Gainesville victory would also give DSR its 10th straight Funny Car win dating back to October 2019.

“We have a real car that can compete for the next five races and do big things,” added Hagan. “I’m extremely excited. I think this might be the first time I’ve ever had a bye run and I just can’t say enough about this team who makes it all happen.”
Qualified: No. 1 (lane choice)

The Competition: Bye

The Results:
Q1: 4.006 E.T. at 315.64 MPH (Two bonus points for second-quickest run of the session)
Q2: 3.975 E.T. at 321.35 MPH (Three bonus points for quickest run of the session)

Bonus Points: Five

Driver Information:

Top Fuel:

ANTRON BROWNANTRON BROWN
Driver of the Matco Tools/Global Electronic Technology/Toyota Top Fuel Dragster

Qualified: No. 3 (lane choice)

The Competition: No. 14 Cameron Ferre

The Results:
Q1: 4.163 E.T. at 221.52 MPH
Q2: 3.831 E.T. at 320.36 MPH (One bonus point for third-quickest run of the session)

Bonus Points: One

Quotable:
“The first lap it just dropped a hole at the step and we just shut it off. The second lap was just what we were looking for with that .83. It puts us in the thick of things right where we want to be. We always come out and want to qualify in the top three. Tomorrow we’re going to tune off of what we did in qualifying and make a good first-round lap and take it one round at a time.

“We’re here at the Gatornationals, and we want to have some fun. This is where it all started for me way back in ’98 (in Pro Stock Motorcycle). I remember it like yesterday, the start of my career. And tomorrow, we want to get our year started and go some rounds and maybe end up in the winner’s circle. I’m really pumped up and excited.“

LEAH PRUETTLEAH PRUETT
Driver of the Mopar Dodge SRT Hellcat Redeye Top Fuel Dragster

Qualified: No. 8 (lane choice)

The Competition: No. 9 Joe Morrisson

The Results:
Q1: 4.347 E.T. at 187.63 MPH
Q2: 3.922 E.T. at 315.64 MPH

Quotable:
“It was very tricky to maneuver from the tuning calls; you’re expecting the thing to maybe wash out a little bit so we had to reposition the car for things we didn’t have to do at the Indy races given how hot it was here today. We smoked the tires Q1, but we were really far out there. I was thinking it was going to make it. For us to go second-to-last pair in Q2 put us in a good spot to be able to see where the track was at during that time, which could be similar to the final round tomorrow. I’m feeling good about eliminations for Sunday. We’re carrying momentum from the U.S. Nationals picking up where we left off, and we’re itching for a solid race day with an early 10 a.m. start. We’ll get some good sleep and be ready to tame some nitro dragons tomorrow.”

TONY SCHUMACHERTONY SCHUMACHER
Driver of the Okuma/Sandvik Coromant
Toyota Top Fuel Dragster

Qualified: No. 13

The Competition: No. 4 Steve Torrence

The Results:
Q1: 5.391 E.T. at 127.68 MPH
Q2: Did not make the run

Quotable:
“We have a lot of new parts on this Sandvik/Okuma dragster. This is a unique car in every way, shape, or form. The advantage I have is working with (crew chief) Mike Green. We completely understand each other. We’ll make the right corrections. We tried to make a pulley change right before running Q2 which is incredibly difficult. It didn’t work out. We’ll go tomorrow and try to take out one of the top guys and help Leah (Pruett) a little bit.”

Funny Car:

JACK BECKMANJACK BECKMAN
Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

Qualified: No. 9

The Competition: No. 8 Paul Lee

The Results:
Q1: 4.123 E.T. at 254.18 MPH
Q2: 4.340 E.T. at 211.53 MPH

Quotable:
“I think that the Infinite Hero team is living proof that you do not have to qualify in the top half to win the race on Sunday. We’ve kinda been living out of the bottom half this year, and a lot of that has to do with just getting two qualifying runs. I thought we had backed it up enough on the second run, and we were still too aggressive. I had mentioned that we had changed two discs in our clutch package two races ago, and this is the hottest track we’ve been on, and it’s still throwing us a bit of a curveball. We’ll have an early start tomorrow. It’ll be different conditions that will give us one more run. We’ll pick away at it, and hopefully, we make three more after that.”

RON CAPPSRON CAPPS
Driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

Qualified: No. 4 (lane choice)

The Competition: No. 13 John Smith

The Results:
Q1: 4.025 E.T. at 309.27 MPH
Q2: 7.827 E.T. at 85.89 MPH

Quotable:
“Man, what a difficult day. Hot weather, humidity, all the things that make you dig down deep. The NAPA guys did great in Q1 and put us No. 4. I actually shut the car off around 900-feet, so it was possible that we could have gotten a few more spots in that session. We had a couple of issues in Q2, and Tobler and the guys are looking at it right now. There was something with the air system, and it didn’t function properly and caused us to smoke the tires. We went up there to go low E.T. knowing there weren’t 16 cars here. That bye run is pretty important. Fortunately, we’re in the show. It’s going to be a tough day tomorrow, and we need to make some ground up and get back in the top four.”

TOMMY JOHNSON JR.TOMMY JOHNSON JR.
Driver of the MD Anderson Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

Qualified: No. 10

The Competition: No. 7 J.R. Todd

The Results:
Q1: 4.129 E.T. at 249.44 MPH
Q2: 4.969 E.T. at 152.35 MPH

Quotable:
“That is not our normal qualifying position; our average took a hit here this weekend. Come race day I think we can overcome that. It’s just a tricky track for everybody. It’s hotter than what we’ve seen most of the year and a surface we haven’t raced on in over a year. With two shots at qualifying, it’s been hard to hit it quickly. Hopefully, we have enough data for tomorrow and we can make the right changes and maybe the weather will be cooler, but we have to wait and see. It should be an interesting race and may fall in the driver’s hands and it may be a pedalfest, but we’ll be ready. They’re all big rounds now. We control our own destiny and have to fend them all off.”

Factory Stock Showdown Series:

MARK PAWUKMARK PAWUK
Driver of the Empaco Equipment Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak

Qualified: No. 10

The Competition: No. 7 David Kramer

The Results:
Q1: 8.583 E.T. at 168.51 MPH
Q2: 8.105 E.T. at 171.99 MPH

Quotable:
“It looks like the Florida heat really got to our Dodge Drag Paks this weekend. We didn’t have the same performance that we had at Indy, but tomorrow is a new day and we’d love to go some rounds and stay up in the points. Our competition is looking awfully fast, but we’re never down until it’s over. (Crew chief) Kevin Helms and the crew, Terry (Snyder) and Kyle Pawuk), are going to get it done to make these cars quicker tomorrow for race day.”

LEAH PRUETTLEAH PRUETT
Driver of the Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak

Qualified: No. 12

The Competition: No. 5 Arthur Kohn

The Results:
Q1: 8.297 E.T. at 168.01 MPH
Q2: 8.160 E.T. at 169.25 MPH

Quotable:
“Things are a little different this weekend with one run on Friday, one on Saturday and all four rounds of racing on Sunday. We go into race day from the No. 12 position and had two good runs down the track. The strategy is to get down the track and creep up on it instead of overpowering the track and then trying to back it down. I’m very confident that we can keep finding more power with this Mopar horsepower we create and we’re going to need that tomorrow morning for the first round. We look forward to a long day of racing and carrying the Mopar banner for the Dodge fans. We’re excited to be back in Gainesville and hope to go some rounds deep into Sunday for these fans.”

ABOUT DON SCHUMACHER RACING
Established in 1998 as a single-car Top Fuel team, Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) has grown to become the winningest organization in NHRA Drag Racing history. Including team owner Don Schumacher’s five NHRA Funny Car titles from the 1970s, DSR’s current win count stands at 351, and DSR is one of a very small handful of teams in the motorsports industry to surpass the 350 milestone. DSR owns 17 world championships in three different NHRA categories.

Headquartered in Brownsburg, Indiana, DSR currently fields eight professional teams competing in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. In Top Fuel, the Matco Tools/Global Electronic Technology/Toyota dragster driven by three-time world champion Antron Brown, the Nordic Boats/Revchem Composites/Hawkeye Industries dragster driven by Cory McClenathan, the Mopar/Pennzoil dragster driven by Leah Pruett, and the Okuma/Sandvik Coromant machine driven by eight-time world champion, Tony Schumacher. In Funny Car, the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat driven by 2016 world champion Ron Capps, the Mopar Express Lane/Pennzoil/Sandvik Coromant Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat piloted by two-time series title-holder Matt Hagan, and in Doug Chandler’s ‘giving cars,’ 2012 NHRA world champion Jack Beckman in the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge, and Tommy Johnson Jr. behind the wheel of the MD Anderson Dodge.

DSR also campaigns two Factory Stock Showdown entries. The duo is piloted by Pruett, the 2018 Factory Stock Showdown Series champion, and former Pro Stock racer Mark Pawuk.

Follow Don Schumacher Don Schumacher Racing at ShoeRacing.com, on Twitter and Instagram at@shoeracing and Facebook.com/shoeracing.

Photo Credit: Auto Imagery via Don Schumacher Racing, Driver photos: NHRA

Share