April 18, 2021,
Leaving Las Vegas a winner isn’t always in the cards, but Matt Hagan came close as he drove his Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye Funny Car to a runner-up finish in the four-wide final elimination round of the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Camping World Drag Racing Series nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Hagan came into the Denso Spark Plugs NHRA Four Wide Nationals event looking for a similar outcome to his previous Vegas outing when he drove his Mopar-powered Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye to a big win last November at the Dodge NHRA Finals presented by Pennzoil to earn the 2020 NHRA Funny Car World Championship. This weekend, however, there was the added challenge presented by the unique four lane race format that drivers haven’t seen in almost two years. Hagan’s efforts through three qualifying runs on Friday and Saturday rewarded him with a seventh place on the eliminations ladder.
Hagan’s first elimination run, clocked at 3.932 seconds and 329.42 mph, was his quickest of the weekend and good enough to beat Blake Alexander and Chris Morel and move him on to the next stage along with round winner John Force. The DSR Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye was quickest off the start and gave Hagan the win in the second quad elimination round with a 3.927 second pass (325.06 mph) over Tim Wilkerson, John Force and Alexis DeJoria to advance to the final.
Facing off against his DSR teammate Ron Capps, Bob Tasca III and Wilkerson in the final quad, Hagan once again beat everyone off the start line with his quick reaction time (0.056 seconds), but saw a slightly faster Tasca edge him at the stripe for a runner-up finish to move him up into the fifth spot in the Funny Car standings behind his DSR teammate Capps.
Capps, for his part, had a tough start to his Vegas weekend after finding himself close to the edge of the ladder after two qualifying runs. However, the HEMI-powered Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat driver put it all on the line with a solid 3.919-second final qualifying lap at 329.89 mph to make a big move up to the fourth spot from which to start his race day.
Capps’ first saw (eventual event winner) Tasca in the opening quad along with Bobby Bode and Jim Campbell, where he drove to the round win and advanced to the next stanza. Capps added a holeshot win in the second round over Tasca, to eliminate Robert Hight, and J.R. Todd and move on to the final.
For the third time in a row, Capps found himself in battle against Tasca, as the pair were joined by teammate Hagan and Wilkerson. This time however, a dropped cylinder hampered his run, permitting Tasca and Hagan to battle for the finish line. Capps semifinal result puts him fourth in the point standings as the top Dodge SRT Charger in the Funny Car category after just two events into the 2021 NHRA season.
A third competitive Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, driven by Cruz Pedregon, is in this year’s Funny Car field. Looking to build on his Snap-on Tools team’s semifinal finish at the season-opening Gatornationals, Pedregon qualified his No. 8 for the Four Wide Nationals with a 3.960 seconds pass at 323.50 mph. Unfortunately, his race day ended prematurely with a loss in the first elimination round to J.R. Todd and Robert Hight.
In Top Fuel competition, DSR pilot Leah Pruett qualified her Mopar Dodge//SRT dragster in the top half of the field for a fifth consecutive event (dating back to Oct. 2020 at Dallas) but not without a bit of drama after an issue in qualifying saw the team play it safe by bringing out a backup car. Pruett rose to the occasion by qualifying seventh and then using a quick start in the opening round against her competitors to run a respectable 3.808-second elapsed time pass and advance to the next set against Torrence, Doug Kalitta, and Shawn Langdon. Pruett’s run and day was cut short in the second round by a loss of traction soon after the launch.
The next event on the 2021 schedule for the Mopar Dodge//SRT contingent is the NHRA Southern Nationals, set to take place in Atlanta, Georgia from April 30 to May 2.
ADDITIONAL NOTES and QUOTES
Matt Hagan, DSR Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye
(No. 7 Qualifier – 3.946 seconds at 325.22 mph)
(0.070-second reaction time, 3.932 seconds at 329.42 mph) finished second to No. 3 John Force (0.054/3.925/332.02) and defeated No.10 Blake Alexander (0.090/3.958/320.97) and No. 15 Chris Morel (0.109/4.200/294.24)
(0.06/3.927/325.06) won round over No. 11 Tim Wilkerson (0.097/3.947/325.14) and defeated No. 2 John Force (0.075/4.049/304.60) and No. 3 Alexis DeJoria (0.136/4.257/ 220.30)
(0.056/3.955/324.98) finished second to No. 5 Bob Tasca III (0.057/3.938/328.46) and defeated Tim Wilkerson (0.095/3.922/320.43) and No. 4 Ron Capps (0.071/3.978/316.75)
“We roll in here every weekend with the expectation of winning every race. We got some momentum going this weekend and we’ve got a great team lead by Dickie (Venables). We’ve got some new guys and I’m really proud of them this weekend. Dickie made some personnel moves on our car, swapping positions, and it seems like a great fit for everyone right now. That gives me confidence as a driver seeing these guys being confident in bolting the car together. I’m really happy with my crew and we’re moving back up in the points. We’ve got a weekend off and then Atlanta, which we’ve won before, and then we finish May at Houston (for the Mopar Express Lane Spring Nationals) where I won my first race a long time ago. Overall, I’m just really happy leaving Vegas. The car is responding. It was a crazy four-wide event. I’m glad I didn’t red light or screw up. I’m really excited. We have a good team, we’re meshing and going rounds.”
Ron Capps, DSR NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car
(No. 4 Qualifier – 3.919 seconds at 329.89 mph)
(0.075-second reaction time, 3.932 seconds at 316.38 mph) finished second to No. 5 Bob Tasca III ( 0.089 / 3.917/329.18) defeated No. 13 Bobby Bode (0.091/3.993/313.66) and No. 12 Jim Campbell (0.123/5.899/114.18)
(0.081/3.935/321.50) won round ahead of No. 5 Bob Tasca III (0.089/3.934/331.77) and defeated No. 1 Robert Hight (0.083/3.951/318.24) and No. 9 J.R. Todd (0.123/3.983/319.29)
(0.071/3.978/316.75) lost to No. 5 Bob Tasca III (0.057/3.938/328.46), Matt Hagan (0.056/3.955/324.98) and Tim Wilkerson (0.095/3.922/320.43)
“It’s so nice to be back racing again after that month break, but it wasn’t a smooth weekend for the NAPA team. We had a dropped cylinder the first run, but we fought back to get qualified and we were on the bump spot going into the last session. Guido (Dean Antonelli) and John Medlen made great decisions to get us into the No. 4 qualifying position on the last qualifying run. Today was clockwork. We ended up in the same lane all three rounds today and that final was a stout group of cars, (Matt) Hagan, (Tim) Wilkerson, and (Bob) Tasca (III). I felt confident that we’d go up and repeat with a low 3.90, but we had a hiccup with a cylinder at 300-feet and that dropped us back and I saw Tasca pop out there. It was a good weekend overall, and good with the points. The schedule is heating up and we’ll be at Atlanta in two weeks. Just a great job all around for our NAPA AutoCare team.”
Cruz Pedregon, Pedregon Racing Snap-On Tools Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car
(No. 8 Qualifier – 3.960 seconds at 323.50 mph)
(0.051-second reaction time, 4.285 seconds at 283.85 mph) lost to No. 9 J.R. Todd (0.045/3.955/319.37) and Robert Hight (0.082/3.980/311.34) but finished ahead of No.16 Jonnie Lindberg (0.081/7.263/91.03)
“Our qualifying was strong and we were in top half the field, again, two races in a row. We're a little off and there's a little gap there between us and the top cars, but you know, (Crew Chief) John (Collins) and I and the team talk about where we're making changes and try to get the car to close the gap. We're still not exactly where we want to be. We'll look back at the beginning of the year thinking our expectations are really high, but at the same time, we're still jelling and getting everything fine-tuned. We want to go out there and be knocking them dead in all these rounds but it's a long season and no one is really running away with it yet.”
Leah Pruett, DSR Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye Top Fuel Dragster
(No. 7 Qualifier – 3.800 seconds at 312.13 mph)
(0093-second reaction time, 3.808 seconds at 315.27 mph) finishes second to No. 2 Steve Torrence (0.117/3.756/325.14) and defeated No. 10 Greg Carillo (0.106/4.107/223.21) and No.15 Cameron Ferre (0.183/4.143/225.97)
(0.111/10.921/55.03) loss to No. 2 Steve Torrence (0.051/3.773/322.04), No. 3 Doug Kalitta (0.058/3.768/325.22) and No. 6 Shawn Langdon (0.056/8.558/88.61)
“This was a ‘when it rains, it pours’ weekend for our Mopar Dodge//SRT team this weekend at the Four-Wide Nationals. We had a mix of problems that grew and it put us behind after qualifying. Not being able to make full pulls in the 3.70s during qualifying really put us behind the competition, and we were trying to work on the tune-up on race day and we just didn’t quite have the Mopar hot rod that we thought we had coming in here this weekend. We have a plan for the chassis moving forward and we found we were down on power and we’ll work on that and figure it out the next few weeks before Atlanta. When you’re down on power, it affects all of the other parts of the car, and when you have limited runs with just three qualifying laps, all the small details make a difference. We’ll do a 180 and when the team is on, I’m on, and we’re looking forward to regaining our momentum at the very last Atlanta race.”
NHRA Championship Points Standings:
Following the Denso Spark Plugs NHRA Four Wide Nationals
FUNNY CAR (season wins in parentheses)
1. Bob Tasca III – 187 (1)
2. J.R. Todd – 166 (1)
3. Robert Hight – 152
4. Ron Capps (Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat) – 139
5. Matt Hagan (Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat) – 129
5. Tim Wilkerson – 129
7.John Force – 118
8. Alexis DeJoria – 117
9. Cruz Pedregon (Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat) – 106
10. Chad Green – 66
TOP FUEL (season wins in parentheses)
1. Steve Torrance – 184 (1)
2. Shawn Langdon – 149
3. Antron Brown – 145
4. Doug Kalitta – 128
5. Billy Torrence – 118
6. Josh Hart – 113 (1)
7. Leah Pruett (Mopar Dodge//SRT) – 105
7. Clay Millican – 105
9. Justin Ashley – 104
10. Brittany Force – 99
Mopar (a simple contraction of the words MOtor and PARts) offers exceptional service, parts and customer-care. Born in 1937 as the name of a line of antifreeze products, the Mopar brand has evolved over more than 80 years to represent both complete vehicle care and authentic performance for owners and enthusiasts worldwide.
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For more than 100 years, the Dodge brand has carried on the spirit of brothers John and Horace Dodge. Their influence continues today as Dodge shifts into high gear with muscle cars and SUVs that deliver unrivaled performance in each of the segments where they compete.
2021 marks the year that Dodge is distilled into a pure performance brand, offering Hellcat-powered, 700-plus-horsepower SRT versions of every model across the lineup. For the 2021 model year, Dodge delivers the drag-strip dominating 807-horsepower Dodge Challenger SRT Super Stock, the new 797-horsepower Dodge Charger SRT Redeye, the most powerful and fastest mass-produced sedan in the world, and the new 710-horsepower Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat, the most powerful SUV ever. Combined, these three muscle cars make Dodge the industry’s most powerful brand, offering more horsepower than any other American brand across its entire lineup.
In 2020, Dodge was named the "#1 Brand in Initial Quality," making it the first domestic brand ever to rank No. 1 in the J.D. Power Initial Quality Study (IQS). The Dodge brand also ranked No. 1 in the J.D. Power APEAL Study (mass market). These results are historic because it marks the first time a domestic brand has earned top spots in both J.D. Power studies in the same year.
Dodge is part of the portfolio of brands offered by leading global automaker and mobility provider Stellantis. For more information regarding Stellantis (NYSE: STLA), please visit www.stellantis.com
DodgeGarage: Digital Hub for Drag Racing News
Fans can follow all the NHRA’s action this season at DodgeGarage, the one-stop portal for Dodge//SRT and Mopar drag-racing news. The site includes daily updates and access to an online racing HQ, news, events, galleries, available downloads, and merchandise. For more information, visit www.dodgegarage.com
@DodgeMoparMotorsports on Instagram
The @DodgeMoparMotorsports Instagram channel continues to share content capturing Dodge//SRT Mopar drivers on the track. Fans can see action from the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series and NHRA Sportsman grassroots racers competing in classes such as Factory Stock Showdown, Stock and Super Stock, as well as additional motorsports series.