Mopar Funny Car Driver Hagan Remains No. 1 in NHRA U.S. Nationals Qualifying
Tony Schumacher Finishes in Final Round of Traxxas Top Fuel Nitro Shootout
Mopar HEMI®-powered Matt Hagan maintains No. 1 qualifying position in Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
Leah Pritchett is currently qualified No. 2 in Mopar Top Fuel dragster
Tony Schumacher puts Mopar in final round of Traxxas Top Fuel Nitro Shootout
Factory Stock Showdown eliminations begin Sunday morning; two Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Paks are qualified in top five
September 2, 2017 , Brownsburg, Ind. -
Everything is bigger during the U.S. Nationals, hence the nickname “The Big Go.” That includes qualifying for the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, as the unique qualifying format is spread across three days and five sessions each year at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. With two sessions remaining before elimination rounds for the 63rd edition of the annual event kick off on Monday, all teams in the Funny Car category are chasing Mopar HEMI® power from Don Schumacher Racing (DSR).
DSR driver Matt Hagan re-set both ends of the Funny Car track record during the first qualifying session on Friday evening, and then held onto the time throughout both Saturday sessions. The defending U.S. Nationals No. 1 qualifier and event winner is currently in the top spot on the strength of a 3.799-second pass at 338.77 mph in his Mopar 80th/Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T. The team made two more solid pulls on Saturday.
Leah Pritchett also entered Saturday in the No. 1 position, thanks to a lap of 3.667 at 329.50 in her Papa John’s Pizza/Mopar Pennzoil Top Fuel dragster from DSR. However, she was relegated to the No. 2 spot on Saturday evening when Clay Millican posted a 3.663-second pass.
There also was some significant movement by Mopar HEMI-powered teams from DSR farther down the preliminary elimination ladder.
Jack Beckman sits in the No. 5 position in his Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T, while Ron Capps improved from the 16th and final qualifying position at the end of Friday up to ninth in his Mopar Dodge on Saturday evening. Tommy Johnson Jr.'s Riley Hospital for Children Dodge Charger R/T is not yet qualified with 18 cars on-site this weekend.
Mopar-powered Tony Schumacher is still sixth in the Top Fuel category in the U.S. Army dragster on the strength of his lap from Friday.
Schumacher Drives to Traxxas Top Fuel Nitro Shootout Final
An additional highlight of each year’s U.S. Nationals is the Traxxas Nitro Shootout, an eight-car, $100,000-to-win all-star event for both Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars. The Top Fuel portion took place on Saturday afternoon and evening, where Tony Schumacher advanced to the final round. He first defeated Brittany Force on a holeshot, then bested Terry McMillen to set up a showdown with Steve Torrence in the final. Schumacher, a two-time winner of the event, came home as runner-up this year after being defeated by Torrence on a clean, side-by-side pass.
Leah Pritchett was defeated by Doug Kalitta in round one of the special race after Pritchett suffered an explosion near the finish line.
The Funny Car edition is scheduled for Sunday afternoon.
Factory Stock Showdown Eliminations Begin Sunday Morning
The fourth Factory Stock Showdown of 2017 is also being contested this weekend at Lucas Oil Raceway. Geoff Turk is qualified No. 3 in his “Blackbird” Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak, while Mopar Top Fuel driver Leah Pritchett turned in a No. 5 qualifying effort in a Challenger Drag Pak in her Factory Stock Showdown debut. The first round of eliminations is scheduled for 11:15 a.m. ET on Sunday, with a total of two rounds slated for the day. The popular five-race series spotlights modern factory muscle.
Mopar/Dodge Notes & Quotes
Matt Hagan, Mopar 80th/Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
“We’ve got a great race car right now, it’s running, it’s digging, you count Brainerd and we’ve made ten amazing runs. I’m looking forward to tomorrow and trying to win boss man (Don Schumacher) $100,000 (in the Traxxas Nitro Shootout) We were really trying to press up there. Last night was really killer and tonight was pretty killer. We’ve got us a hot rod.”
Leah Pritchett, Papa John’s Pizza/Mopar Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster
“Today was a practice session so to speak for Monday, and I mean that from an elimination standpoint as a driver, for the team, for the tuners, pretty much straight out of the box going into elimination mode (in the Traxxas Nitro Shootout) trying to get that 100 grand. We’re having to fine tune our baseline, we’ve got our cold weather tune-up down. Earlier today was similar to what we’re going to have Monday. We didn’t catch it and that Kalitta team’s strong, they beat us fair and square in every way.”
Tony Schumacher, U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
“That (the Traxxas Nitro Shootout final) was a great run, a great race. (It was) just a good race and we are trying to figure out how to win. I could’ve rolled it in a little bit, it helps your light and hurts your E.T., but I chose to go shallow. We made a great run; (Steve Torrence) just made a little better run. He did what it took to win $100,000. We have a great car. Honestly it’s going to be hotter on Monday and we are hard to beat when it’s hot out.”
Coverage of the 63rd annual NHRA U.S. Nationals continues on Sunday, September 3, with two LIVE shows on FOX Sports 1. The first is slated for 12 – 2 p.m. ET, with the second airing from 5 – 7 p.m. ET.