Hagan wins Funny Car, Johnson 2nd in Pro Stock at Englishtown

Hagan wins Funny Car, Johnson 2nd in Pro Stock at Englishtown (Image 1)

Englishtown, New Jersey (Sunday, June 7, 2015) – It was a hard fought third national title win of the year and a return to championship form for Don Schumacher Racing’s (DSR) Matt Hagan and the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T at the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Summernationals in Englishtown, New Jersey. The victory was a seventh for the new 2015 Mopar Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car since being introduced to competition at the Winternationals season opening event, also won by Hagan, and returned the reigning NHRA world champion to the top of the Funny Car points standings with a 39-point lead.
“Congratulations to Matt (Hagan) for his third win of the year in the new 2015 Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO — Mopar Brand Service, Parts and Customer Care, FCA. “We’re very pleased to see the success the DSR team is having with the new body. A lot of time, investment and hard work went into designing and building a fantastic new 2015 Mopar Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car, and to see it win its seventh national title in just nine events this season is a great reward.”
Seeded fourth for eliminations, Hagan took the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T down the track for a monster first round lap to defeat his rival John Force with an elapsed time run of 4.035 seconds at 308.43 mph to his opponent’s 4.131/ 306.12 effort. Hagan then had the challenge of facing his DSR teammates, Tommy Johnson Jr. and Ron Capps to advance to a final round elimination against Alexis DeJoria.
Hagan ran a 4.132/299.53 against DeJoria’s 4.138/298.40 to earn his second win in three years at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park and the 17th of his career.
“It’s nice to be able to go out here and run so strong and be able to defend the (world championship) title that we won last year,” Hagan said. “Everything just started clicking here this weekend. We’ve been getting better at every race. With everything there is a learning curve and (Crew Chief) Dickie (Venables) just put a great car underneath me this weekend. We were able to beat a lot of really tough race cars out here. Funny Car is the most competitive class out here and it just gets tougher and tougher every weekend.”
Capps’ loss to his DSR teammate in the semi-finals meant losing the top spot in the points, but he stays close in second place. Despite Johnson Jr.’s quarterfinal loss, he moves up a spot into sixth place. Seventh seed Jack Beckman saw the Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T endure a first round upset against DeJoria dropping him from third to fourth in the standings.
While Pro Stock driver Allen Johnson was disappointed by his 11th place qualifying performance leading into eliminations at Englishtown this year, the 2012 world champ was bolstered by the improvement and results posted by his “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” Dodge Dart on race day. After being plagued with issues stemming from a change in fuel and tire suppliers for the Pro Stock class to start the year, a much needed breakthrough was made by the Mopar team in the opening round by posting their quickest pass of the weekend, a 6.519 second elapsed time run at 213.87 mph against Larry Morgan.
Subsequent solid runs against Alan Prusiensky and Shane Gray lead to Johnson’s first final round appearance of the year. Johnson’s final pass of 6.537/213.87 wasn’t quite enough to beat Greg Anderson’s 6.504/214.31, but the disappointment was short lived.
“I feel like we won the damn race today even though we didn’t,” said a relieved Johnson. “We really showed that we made some huge gains in figuring out the issues that have haunted us from the start of the year. Having a day like this helps everything. It helps pick everyone’s chin up off the floor and hopefully we can start consistently running even better.”
“The strength of that first run and that win did a lot for morale,” Johnson added. “It was like pumping air into a deflated balloon. This team is used to winning and running up front. It hasn’t sat well with anybody getting the kind of results we’ve had this year to date. Hopefully we’re past that. We just need to start qualifying better and get up there where we should be.”
Dodge Dart driver V. Gaines started his race day as the 12th seeded driver on the Pro Stock eliminations ladder and then scored a first round holeshot win over Jason Line thanks to a quick .025-second reaction time over his opponent’s .064, and then ran a 6.538/212.36 lap to beat a 6.510/215.17. That set up a match-up against Kenny Delco in which both drivers contended with severe tire-shake on the start, but Gaines pedaled it to get the round win and advance to his first semi-final round of the season.
Gaines ran a stout elapsed time pass at 6.531/213.43 against Greg Anderson, but it wasn’t quite enough to beat the new Pro Stock points leader’s 6.499/214.14.
Local favorite Alan Prusiensky (6.643/209.95), in only his third Pro Stock class start (Gainesville and Atlanta), earned his very first round win when his 14th seed Dodge Avenger was first to the finish against No. 3 qualifier Erica Enders Stevens who clicked off early with an engine problem. Prusiensky’s success, however, was cut short by a loss to fellow Mopar driver Johnson in the quarterfinals.
In Sportsman racing, a trio of Mopar vehicles also had a good race weekend. Larry Miller Jr. of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, drove his ’70 Plymouth Barracuda in the Super Stock F Automatic class and made it through five rounds of eliminations to face Lincoln Morehead in the Super Stock Eliminator final. Miller used a .006-second reaction time to beat his competitor down the quarter-mile track and earn his third career national event victory in three final round appearances.     
Michelle Martel of Reedville, Virginia, earned a class win for her 2010 Challenger Drag Pak in the Factory Stock/ D class, while David Barton of Robesonia, Pennsylvania, drove his A Stock Automatic vintage HEMI® coronet to a class win of his own.  
Mopar teams and drivers in the Funny Car, Pro Stock and Sportsman categories now get set for the second event in a stretch of three consecutive race weekends. They will head north for the 3rd Annual NHRA New England Nationals, the tenth of 24 events on the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule, at New England Dragway in Epping, New Hampshire on June 12-14.
2015 NHRA Championship Points Standings
(following the NHRA Summernationals final eliminations)

PRO STOCK (season wins in parentheses)
1.         Greg Anderson – 781 (2)
2.         Erica Enders-Stevens – 759 (3)

3.         Jason Line – 698 (2)
4.         Chris McGaha – 578
5.         Rodger Brodgon – 493 (1)
6.         Drew Skillman– 488 (1)
7.         Larry Morgan – 486
8.         Shane Gray – 474
9.         Allen Johnson – Dodge Dart – 461

10.       Vincent Nobile – 453
12.       V. Gaines – Dodge Dart – 366

FUNNY CAR (season wins in parentheses)
1.         Matt Hagan – (2015 Dodge Charger R/T) – 692 (3)

2.         Ron Capps – (2015 Dodge Charger R/T) – 653 (2)
3.         Del Worsham – 587
4.         Jack Beckman – (2015 Dodge Charger R/T) – 567 (2)

5.         John Force – 533 (1)
6.         Tommy Johnson Jr. – (2015 Dodge Charger R/T) – 513
7.         Robert Hight – 492

8.         Alexis DeJoria – 487
9.         Tim Wilkerson – 480 (1)
10.        Cruz Pedregon – 458

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