Hagan Races Dodge//SRT Mopar Funny Car to Runner-up Finish at Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals
Baytown, TX – Mopar-powered Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car driver Matt Hagan was shooting for the perfect outcome during this weekend’s 32nd Annual Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals Presented by Pennzoil. The two-time Funny Car world champion raced his Pennzoil/Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat into Sunday’s final at Houston Raceway Park Powered by Pennzoil, but came up just short of scoring the victory.
Hagan was the highest finisher among six Mopar-powered Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Cars in Sunday’s field. Ron Capps reached the semifinal while Jack Beckman, Tommy Johnson, Jr., Cruz Pedregon, and Jim Campbell were unable to advance past round one. Leah Pritchett drove the HEMI-powered Pennzoil/Mopar Dodge Top Fuel dragster into the second round.
Hagan and his Pennzoil team, led by crew chief Dickie Venables, had a solid beginning to the weekend with four consistent qualifying runs Friday and Saturday, earning the No. 6 spot in Sunday’s elimination ladder.
Baytown, TX – MOPAR Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals Presented by Pennzoil
DSR Houston Elimination Highlights:
Antron Brown (Top Fuel) and Matt Hagan (Funny Car) raced to runner-up finishes on Sunday afternoon
Brown’s final round appearance was his first of 2019 and allowed him to advance three spots in the Top Fuel rankings
Hagan advanced to second in the Funny Car point standings by racing to his second final of the year
Ron Capps drove to his first semifinal appearance of the season
Before eliminations got underway, Jack Beckman joined Chandler family representative Judy Pittman on-stage during NHRA’s pre-race ceremony where the duo presented a $100,000 donation check to the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center on behalf of Doug Chandler and his TLC Foundation in honor of the late Terry Chandler
Driver of the Matco Tools Top Fuel Dragster
First round win of young season gives Scott Palmer a boost
HOUSTON – Although no one ended up clutching a trophy Sunday, smiles still came pretty easy for the trio of drivers sponsored by racing legend Tommy Thompson and his Magic Dry Organic Absorbent product. Top Fuel Harley rider Rickey House and Top Alcohol Dragster pilot Shane Conway both reached the semifinals, while Top Fuel favorite Scott Palmer found a little of last year’s mojo by winning his first elimination round of the season.
“We finally got out of the first round and got some of our mojo back,” Palmer said. “I was definitely singing Bee Gee songs in my head when I was staging in Round 1 and it worked because we got the win. I tried it again in the second round but I was a little distracted and had a bad light. I must have been in the wrong part of the song.
“Still, it was nice to get out of the first round and get to the second round for my crew. Half the team is new this year and that was the first time they got to experience a win and what it takes to turn the car around on race day and get ready for another round. They performed flawlessly and I’m super proud.”
BAYTOWN, TX – Antron Brown drove his Matco Tools Toyota dragster to his first final round of the season before falling to Brittany Force in Sunday’s NHRA SpringNationals at Houston Raceway Park. It marked the sixth time that Brown has reached the SpringNationals finals, five coming in Top Fuel and once in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
Brown kicked off the day with a holeshot victory over Mike Salinas on a holeshot and then dispatched Leah Pritchett in the second round. That set up a match-up with Steve Torrence in the semifinals, where Brown had a .007 advantage at the tree and went on to win on a holeshot by just .0056 seconds (approximately three feet).
In the finals, the two were side-by-side at the track, but Brown started to haze the tires just past the midway point, giving Force the victory.
“All in all, It was a good day for the Matco Tools/Toyota/Pennzoil race team today,” said the three-time world champion. “We’ve been going through a lot of adversity and we’ve just been fighting through it as a unit together. Today, people saw what we are capable of. It feels good just to get back to what’s been the norm. We still have a ways to go, but we’re just going to keep on working and keep our heads down and everything’s going to be just fine.
Racing in just his second year in the class, Coughlin beat Rob McKinley, Steve Collier and Shane Conway before getting edged by current national points leader Megan Meyer in a thrilling side-by-side finale.
“We’ve had a very successful weekend,” Coughlin said. “We needed a tick more to beat Megan but just getting a chance to race them in the final round of an NHRA national event is an honor. It’s such a thrill to be up there with the race title on the line. The stands are full and you know all eyes are on you. That was a big race and my hats off to Megan and her team for getting the win.
“That’s a top-notch group that makes a lot of runs. They earn everything they get and you better be perfect to even have a chance.”
Coughlin certainly gave it a go against Meyer, posting his best reaction time of race day, a stout .050-second launch, but his 5.266 at 275.90 mph wasn’t quick enough to hold off Meyer, who caught and passed Coughlin to win with a 5.231 at 279.15 mph.
BAYTOWN, TX — On a Saturday threatened with bad weather, John Force and Brittany Force became the first professional father-daughter No. 1 qualifiers in NHRA history. The duo dominated their respective categories through four qualifying sessions to secure the No. 1 qualifiers Saturday at the Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals at Houston Raceway Park. Robert Hight and the AAA Texas team fought their way into the 16-car field as the No. 5 qualifer and rookie Austin Prock and the Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist team found their stride to qualify No. 6.
At the facility where John Force secured his 100th win and Brittany Force had her first victory after a jarring accident, the pair have secured their first double-up No. 1 qualifiers.
“In my career I’ve done a lot of things, won a lot of specialty races but anytime this sport brings we together with my children, that’s what I really love about NHRA drag racing,” said John Force about qualifying No. 1 with his daughter. “We’re one big family. To have a moment with Brittany, that her and I can share together, we’ve really become a lot closer. There won’t be a party tonight, we have a race to win tomorrow but it’ll give us a moment of just looking at each other and me being mostly proud of her.”
HOUSTON – Top Fuel dragster driver Scott Palmer and Top Fuel Harley rider Rickey House successfully placed their Magic Dry Organic Absorbent-branded race machines in the elimination field of this weekend’s 32nd annual Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals presented by Pennzoil.
Unlike most race weekends, the final professional qualifying session ended up being the best of the four due to a weather system moving through the area that brought cooler temperatures. While House was able to post his best run of the meet in Q4, Palmer couldn’t capitalize due to a mechanical issue, but he chose to accept that turn of fate as a bit of good luck.
“That last run we were trying to run a low 3.70 like everyone else but we had a clutch malfunction,” Palmer explained. “A piece in the clutch broke and that killed the run. Basically, stuff like that is just about unavoidable so there are two ways to look at it. You can look at it as bad luck or you can luck at as good luck because it didn’t happen tomorrow in the first round of eliminations.”