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Record Setting Qualifying Run Puts Hagan No.1 at Sonoma NHRA Nationals

Mopar is competing at 26th annual NHRA Sonoma Nationals this weekend, the 13th of 24 national events

Hagan is No.1 qualifier by posting second quickest run in NHRA Funny Car history and tying national elapsed time record on Friday night

Hagan, Beckman and Capps top Funny Car qualifying

Johnson is top Mopar qualifier in Pro Stock with a third place effort

Pro Stock driver Johnson and Johnny Gray are defending winners at Sonoma

Hagan leads Funny Car Championship points; Johnson and Coughlin are 2nd and 3rd in Pro Stock

July 27, 2013 , Sonoma. Calif. -
Following four rounds of qualifying at the 26th annual NHRA Sonoma Nationals, Matt Hagan earned the No.1 qualifier position in the “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” Dodge Charger R/T based on his best effort during cool Friday evening conditions at Sonoma Raceway to set the second quickest run in NHRA Funny Car history and tie a national elapsed time record.

Hagan’s track record run of 3.986 seconds at 320.51 mph tied his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Jack Beckman’s NHRA national e.t. record set at Reading, Penn., in 2012 and was second to his other Mopar teammate Ron Capps’ 3.964-sec pass set at Englishtown in last year. Beckman and Capps also rounded out the top three spots at Sonoma Raceway in anticipation of Sunday’s Funny Car elimination rounds.

“Awesome," said Hagan to describe his career best run. "We have such a great crew, such a great group of guys working on this car. [Crew Chief Dickie Venables] said 'Hey kid, hold on.' Dickie was swinging for the fence and it stuck. It was just a phenomenal run. I wish everyone could feel how it feels to go that fast. It's one of the coolest things on Earth.”

While Hagan’s provisional pole time and speed withstood warmer track conditions on Saturday to earn his third No.1 qualifier position of the year and the 13th of his career, he also posted the second quickest time of the fourth qualifying session to add a little more confidence.

“We were pressing pretty hard in the first session today, and it felt good to back it up and lay down a 4.07 for the second-quickest run of the last session,” said Hagan who leads the championship points with four events remaining before the playoffs. “Those bonus points all add up, so we’ll take every one of them that we can get. It’s great to be up here in Sonoma and get a No. 1 qualifier under our belt. This team has a lot of confidence after starting the year being thrown together at the last-minute. I knew Dickie was good, but I had no idea that he was this good.”

Hagan finished runner-up last year at Sonoma and heads into Sunday’s first round against Alexis DeJoria.

While Hagan was the first to run below the four second threshold in the ideal conditions Friday evening presented, Beckman soon followed suit posting a 3.994-second pass (319 mph). It was the fourth time the 2012 NHRA Funny Car World Champion has be able to secure a run in the three second zone in his career. Beckman will line up against Todd Lesenko for his first round match-up.

Capps drove his Dodge Charger R/T to a third place spot on the eliminations ladder with his Friday night 4.012-second (312.50 mph) run to match up against Del Worsham.

Mopar teammate and defending winner at Sonoma, Johnny Gray, made the 16-car field on his final qualifying session with a time of 4.112 (306-46) for put him in 12th place on the ladder to match-up against Tim Wilkerson.

In his 399th career NHRA event, Pro Stock driver Allen Johnson qualified his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Avenger in third spot by posting his best run on Friday night with an elapsed time of 6.536-Seconds (210.21 mph). Johnson was quickest in the third qualifying session on Saturday afternoon and is hoping to defend his 2012 win on Sunday. After earning his fifth career win at Mopar Mile-High Nationals last weekend, Johnson is hoping to repeat at Sonoma in order to put himself in a position to sweep the three race western swing with Seattle next on the schedule, something he fell just short of doing last year. Johnson will face Chris McGaha in the first round of eliminations.

His teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. had his best qualifying run in the third session with a 6.557 second e.t. (211.30 mph) to move his / Mopar Dodge Avenger into seventh spot where he’ll face Rodger Brogdon in the first round of eliminations. HEMI-powered teammates V. Gaines and Vincent Nobile both qualified fifth and eighth respectively.

The no.1 qualifier position went to Mike Edwards, current Pro Stock points leader, for an 11th time this season.

Qualifying highlights of the 26th annual NHRA Sonoma Nationals, the 13th of 24 Mello Yello Series national events, will be broadcast on ESPN and ESPNHD at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday, July 27, while three hours of elimination rounds coverage will move to ESPN2 and ESPN2HD on Sunday, July 28, starting at 8 p.m. (ET).

2013 NHRA Championship Points Standings (following qualifying at Sonoma Nationals):

PRO STOCK (season wins in parentheses)
1. Mike Edwards (4) – 1319
2. Allen Johnson (4) - Dodge Avenger – 1233
3. Jeg Coughlin Jr. (2) - Dodge Avenger – 1087

4. Shane Gray – 928
5. Jason Line (1) – 902
6. Vincent Nobile (1) - Dodge Avenger – 838
7. Greg Anderson – 781
8. Erica Enders-Stevens (1) – 743
9. V. Gaines - Dodge Avenger – 722
10. Rodger Brogden (1) – 660

FUNNY CAR (season wins in parentheses)
1. Matt Hagan (3) - Dodge Charger R/T – 1034
2. Cruz Pedregon (3) – 983
3. Ron Capps (1) - Dodge Charger R/T – 927
4. Johnny Gray (4) - Dodge Charger R/T – 925

5. John Force (1) – 901
6. Jack Beckman - Dodge Charger R/T – 890
7. Courtney Force (2) – 870
8. Tim Wilkerson – 804
9. Del Worsham – 799
10. Bob Tasca III – 779

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Discussion Starter #2
Mopar Doubles-Up With Wins by Nobile and Capps at Sonoma Nationals

Mopar earns two national titles with wins by Nobile and Capps at 26th annual NHRA Sonoma Nationals

Nobile wins second national title of the season and moves to fifth in the Pro Stock championship standings

Capps scores his second win of the year on a hole shot to earn his 40th career Funny Car national title

Coughlin runs his 90th career final round appearance to finish runner-up

Hagan remains in the Funny Car championship points lead with Capps jumping into second spot

Johnson and Coughlin are second and third in Pro Stock standings

July 29, 2013 , Sonoma. Calif. -
Mopar added two more trophies to its mantle at the 26th annual NHRA Sonoma Nationals with title wins by HEMI-powered Dodge Avenger driver Vincent Nobile and Ron Capps in his Don Schumacher Racing Dodge Charger R/T, marking the fifth national event this season in which Mopar has won titles in both Pro Stock and Funny Car categories.

“It was great to see Vincent Nobile and Ron Capps add another pair of wins for Mopar at Sonoma Raceway,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group LLC’s service, parts and customer-care brand. “This is the fifth time Mopar has earned victories in both classes this year and that is a true testament to the hard work and quality teamwork that the Mopar HEMI-powered teams and drivers are putting in at every national event in pursuit of championships.”

In a repeat of a final elimination battle at the season opening event in Pomona, Calif., Nobile faced off against Jeg Coughlin Jr. for the fourth all-Mopar Pro Stock final of the year. Nobile emerged the victor for the second time this season, despite the knowledge that his engine was nearing the end of its ability to function.

“It was a great day and a long overdue win,” said Nobile who now has seven career victories to his credit. “I saw that Jeg [Coughlin] had a .005 reaction time in both his runs so I knew I had to be on my game in the final. Unfortunately our motor was broken in the water box and I really thought I was a sitting duck. It actually held off and blew right at the stripe but until then I was pushing my foot through the radiator until I saw the win light turned on.”

Nobile defeated Jason Line, No.1 qualifier and Pro Stock points leader Mike Edwards, and Greg Anderson to reach the final against his Mopar teammate and jump to fifth place in the points battle with the title win.

Coughlin, for his part, made his way to an admirable 90th career final elimination round appearance by posting two holeshot wins against Shane Gray and his Mopar teammate Allen Johnson. With the runner-up finish, the driver of the Mopar Dodge Avenger remains third in the points.

"For J&J Racing, Allen [Johnson], Roy [Johnson] and the entire team did one heck of a job," Coughlin said. "We had three cars in the final four, and that's pretty stout. We wanted to get the win for Team JEGS, but it just wasn't meant to be. Now we'll move to Seattle. Maybe it'll be Allen at Denver, Vincent in Sonoma and Jeg in Seattle.”

Johnson echoed Coughlin’s sentiments about the team’s performance heading into the third and final race on the NHRA’s western swing.

“Anytime we can have three out of the four Mopar cars in the semis, it’s a good weekend,” Johnson said. “I’m a little disappointed I won’t get a shot at the [three race] western sweep but we’re going for a different kind of sweep. This year our team is going for the HEMI sweep.”

On his way to earning his fourth Funny Car national title at Sonoma Raceway, Capps defeated Del Worsham, Jeff Arend, and Courtney Force to face 15-time world champion John Force. The driver of the DSR Dodge Charger R/T won his final elimination battle on a holeshot against Force by taking the lead and posting a 4.085-second run (307.79 mph) to beat his opponent’s quicker run of 4.072-second (311.13 mph).

"A holeshot-win only comes with a great car," Capps said. "That 4.04 we ran to beat Courtney [Force in the semifinals] was stout. I wanted to dedicate a win to John Cardinale [Sonoma Raceway PR director who lost his battle against cancer], his kids and his wife. He was just a great guy who was instrumental in a lot of things that happen around here at Sonoma Raceway. We’re just so used to seeing his smiling face around here so being able to do that for them was probably the best part of that win.”

The drive to the winner’s circle by Capps was his second of the season and the fortieth of his career, moving him up two spots in the championship standings into second place behind his Mopar teammate Matt Hagan.

The upset of the day came in the first round of Funny Car action as No.1 qualifier Hagan, who set the second quickest run in NHRA history on Friday night with a 3.986-second pass, saw his race day end prematurely against no.16 qualifier Alexis DeJoria. While the driver of the “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” Dodge Charger R/T had a clean start, a loss of grip resulted in the hazing of the tires and loss of momentum against his competitor. The good news is that despite first round losses in the last two events, Hagan still maintains the lead in the Funny Car championship standings.

Also upset in the elimination rounds was Jack Beckman who, after also running a sub-four second run in his DSR Dodge Charger R/T to qualify second, was beaten on a holeshot by Courtney Force who posted an elapsed time of 4.089 seconds (315.34 mph) to Beckman's quicker 4.067 second (313.51 mph) pass.

Johnny Gray, who has a category-leading four wins this season in his DSR Mopar machine, saw his day come to an unfortunate end in the second round when the car’s blower exploded. He emerged unscathed and of his own accord after a few tense moments when the energy of the blast was contained within the body that remained attached to the chassis with the new tethering system mandated by the sanctioning body in Denver last week. Gray drops to fifth in the closely contested points battle in the Funny Car standings.

After stops in Denver and Sonoma, Mopar teams now prepare for the third event on the western swing of the NHRA Mello Yello Series schedule next weekend in Seattle, Wash., for the 26th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries at the scenic Pacific Raceways track.

2013 NHRA Championship Points Standings (following the Sonoma Nationals):

PRO STOCK (season wins in parentheses)
1. Mike Edwards (4) – 1339*
2. Allen Johnson (4) - Dodge Avenger – 1273*
3. Jeg Coughlin Jr. (2) - Dodge Avenger – 1147*

4. Shane Gray – 948
5. Vincent Nobile (2) - Dodge Avenger – 918
6. Jason Line (1) – 902
7. Greg Anderson – 821
8. Erica Enders-Stevens (1) – 743
9. V. Gaines - Dodge Avenger – 742
10. Rodger Brogden (1) – 660
*clinched berth in Countdown to the Championship

FUNNY CAR (season wins in parentheses)
1. Matt Hagan (3) - Dodge Charger R/T – 1034
2. Ron Capps (2) - Dodge Charger R/T – 1007

3. Cruz Pedregon (3) – 983
4. John Force (1) – 961
5. Johnny Gray (4) - Dodge Charger R/T – 945
6. Jack Beckman - Dodge Charger R/T – 910

6. Courtney Force (2) – 910
8. Tim Wilkerson – 804
9. Del Worsham – 799
10. Robert Hight – 782
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