CONCORD, N.C. (April 24, 2016) – As full-time cattle farmer, Matt Hagan understands the process of growing crops to nurture his calves and patiently awaits progress.
That is a major challenge for someone whose part-time job is driving a 320-mph racecar.
But that’s how Hagan feels about his Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T and this weekend in the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals near Charlotte Motor Speedway gave the two-time Funny Car world champion more reasons to believe that patients is a virtue.
After narrowly missing his fourth NHRA track elapsed time record and first No. 1 qualifying position this year, Hagan’s first indication his Dodge was getting back in a groove came with that 3.941-second run at 323.50 mph on Friday evening.
Progress was reinforced during eliminations on Sunday when the team led by crew chief Dickie Venables recorded times of 3.938 and 3.997 to advance to the championship round before faltering in the final-round foursome.
“Dickie and our team worked really hard these last two weeks,” Hagan said. “He changed some things around and we came here and ran a 3.94 out of the box so that really got everybody’s confidence up. We were able to come back out first round and run a 3.93.
“I know we’re going to stay over and test tomorrow and make some more runs and hopefully fine tune it a little bit more.”
The series moves to Houston this week for the NHRA SpringNationals at Baytown, Texas, where Hagan will drive a special edition Pennzoil Dodge Funny Car.
Pennzoil became a DSR partner one year ago and NHRA fans are invited to join Don Schumacher Racing and Pennzoil representatives on Thursday beginning at 11 a.m. at Hermann Square Park at City Hall in downtown Houston for NHRA Day.
Hagan and DSR’s six other drivers will attend the event that will include a marching band, NHRA press conference open to the public and a display of several racecars including the Pennzoil Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car.
CONCORD, N.C. (April 23, 2016) – Don Schumacher Racing is saving their best for Sunday’s championship eliminations in the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals near Charlotte Motor Speedway but one driver already dipped into the drama zone before a capacity crowd estimated at 30,000.
Matt Hagan’s Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T was knocked off the provisional pole that he earned with crew chief Dick Venables in Friday’s only qualifying session but will be the No. 2 seed in Funny Car when racing begins at noon Sunday.
The Four-Wide is the sport’s only race contested on a four-lane dragstrip when the two best in each of the first two heats advance to the next foursome. The first of four in the last quad to the finish line gets the NHRA Wally trophy.
“You just have to race your race,” said Hagan, the event’s 2013 winner. “There are so many ways to get distracted and lose focus. I just have to do my job and my focus will be on that.”
It is the first time through the five events this year in the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series when a DSR Dodge was not the No. 1 qualifier.
Hagan’s teammate and fellow world champion, Jack Beckman, got close to the top spot with a 3.964 (319.45) on his first run Saturday then followed with a 3.971 on his last lap for the Infinite Hero team funded by Terry Chandler and led by crew chief Jimmy Prock. Beckman qualified sixth and will be in a first-round heat that includes teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. (Make-A-Wish).
Hagan is matched with teammate Ron Capps (NAPA AUTO PARTS) along with Dan Wilkerson and Chad Head.
“We’re happy to get more data to work off with two more solid runs,” said Hagan, who has won three trophies from zMAX.
“Dickie has changed some things over the last two weeks in the fuel system and clutch so we’re hoping for a solid run in the first round. It’s only three rounds tomorrow to win it all so we’re one step closer to the winner’s circle when we get to the track.”
Johnson provided the most dramatic moment in qualifying. He started the last session in the 16th spot for the 16-car elimination field but briefly was bumped out of the field until his last run of 3.992 (315.86) moved into up to the 11th spot.
Antron Brown and the Matco Tools/U.S. Army team led by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald led the trio of DSR’s dragsters with a No. 6 qualifying position and will go for his third consecutive Four-Wide title.
“We had a very consistent day,” Brown said of his runs. “We were shooting for something a little better that last round (3.766), that’s what we were going for – because the track is just so good out there. We thought for sure we were going to go faster than the run before because we tuned it up.”
The Matco Tools team with crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald along with assistant Brad Mason picked up bonus points for being the third best of each qualifying session on Saturday.
“It was still a great day for our Matco Tools/U.S. Army team. We’re just going into tomorrow knowing we can race. We can definitely race. We’re going to go out there, we’re going to race hard, we’re going to keep our heads down and see what we can pull off tomorrow.
Former world championship teammates, Shawn Langdon (Red Fuel Powered by Schumacher/Sandvik Coromant) and Tony Schumacher (U.S. Army) qualified eighth and ninth, respectively, and are in the same heat in the opening round.