Hagan, Pritchett Post Runner-Up Finishes at Vegas:

Close But No Cigar In Las Vegas...

Mopar Dodge//SRT drivers Matt Hagan and Leah Pritchett raced to runner-up finishes in Funny Car and Top Fuel, respectively, in elimination rounds at the NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on October 28, 2018.

Defending event champ Hagan opened race day with a first-round win over Tim Wilkerson. He clocked a 3.908-second elapsed time (ET) in his Pennzoil Mopar Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT Funny Car, the quickest of the round. Next up for the No. 9 qualifier was Mopar Dodge Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) teammate Tommy Johnson Jr., and Hagan once again paced the field with a winning 3.919 ET.

In the semifinals, Hagan trailed early but was able to reel in Bob Tasca III with a 3.928/323.89 run, edging out his foe at the stripe in a close race to advance to his seventh final round of the year and 54th of his career. The two-time Funny Car World Champion left first in the final round with a .037 reaction time to J.R. Todd’s slower .058 mark and briefly maintained the lead before a dropped cylinder slowed Hagan’s momentum and ended his drive for a fourth win on the season.

Leah Pritchett coming back after a run in her chrome Pennzoil/Mopar Dragster. (Mopar).

Pritchett qualified No. 4 in her chromed-out Pennzoil Mopar Dodge Top Fuel machine and started her Sunday by outrunning part-time racer Troy Buff. Next up against Blake Alexander, Pritchett laid down a winning 3.740 ET to Alexander’s 3.968 pass. She drew teammate Tony Schumacher in the semifinals and had no trouble getting past him as she powered to her best run of the weekend (3.730 ET) versus Schumacher’s instant tire smoker.

Pritchett lined up against newly crowned series champion Steve Torrence in the final. Eager to stop Torrence’s streak of round wins, Pritchett was slightly overzealous on the line and double-stepped the throttle, immediately giving way to tire smoke as her opponent sped down the track for the round win.

Tony Schumacher piloting his U.S. Army Mopar Top Fuel Dragster. (Mopar).

Tony Schumacher qualified No. 9 and drove his Mopar HEMI-powered U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster to a round-one victory over Scott Palmer. In the quarterfinals, “The Sarge” led from start to finish against Countdown contender Clay Millican, setting up an all-Mopar DSR battle against Pritchett. Schumacher was quicker in reaction time but smoked the tires shortly after launch and it was all Leah after that, ending the four-time Vegas winner’s day.

Infinite Hero Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT Funny Car veteran Jack Beckman qualified strong in the third position and began race day with a 3.935 ET to outrun the Dodge Charger of Jim Campbell. In round two Beckman trailed early against Courtney Force but rebounded to take the victory by about four feet with a 3.951/320.51 pass. Beckman moved on to a semifinals battle with major playoff implications against new points leader J.R. Todd. “Fast Jack’s” 3.937/327.90 effort was solid but not strong enough to best Todd’s quicker 3.906 ET.

“Fast Jack” Beckman piloting his Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT. (NHRA).

Ron Capps qualified No. 12 in his Mopar-fueled NAPA Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car and was able to overcome lack of lane choice and a slight starting line deficit to take down John Force in a fight between the most successful Funny Car drivers in NHRA history. In round two, Capps was foiled by Countdown spoiler Tasca III. Both drivers had identical reaction times, but Tasca eventually pulled ahead for the lead and Capps was unable to chase down his opponent.

After securing his third Funny Car No. 1 qualifier in a row, Tommy Johnson Jr. kicked off race day by driving to his career 400th round win with a defeat of Jeff Arend. Johnson faced stout competition in round two against teammate Hagan. Johnson was a bit too quick on the throttle in his Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T, turning on the red light and giving Hagan the round win.

Current Top Fuel Points Standings:

01 Steve Torrence 2718 0 Capco Racing/Torrence Motorsports
02 Clay Millican 2487 -231 Parts Plus/ Great Clips/ UNOH dragster
03 Tony Schumacher 2454 -264 U.S. Army Dragster
04 Leah Pritchett 2394 -324 Papa John’s Dragster
05 Brittany Force 2302 -416 Monster Energy Top Fuel Dragster
06 Antron Brown 2291 -427 Matco Tools Dragster
07 Doug Kalitta 2259 -459 Mac Tools Dragster
08 Mike Salinas 2259 -459 Scrappers Racing
09 Terry McMillen 2253 -465 Amalie Motor Oil Dragster
10 Scott Palmer 2182 -536 CatSpot/Tommy Thompson Motorsports

Current Funny Car Points Standings:

01 J.R. Todd 2553 0 DHL Toyota Camry
02 Robert Hight 2479 -74 Auto Club Chevy Camaro SS
03 Ron Capps 2388 -165 NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T
04 Tim Wilkerson 2367 -186 Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Shelby Mustang
05 Tommy Johnson Jr 2362 -191 Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T
06 Courtney Force 2324 -229 Advance Auto Parts Chevy Camaro SS
07 Matt Hagan 2321 -232 Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT
08 Jack Beckman 2283 -270 Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT HELLCAT
09 John Force 2277 -276 PEAK Chevrolet Camaro SS
10 Shawn Langdon 2204 -349 Global Electronic Technology Toyota

The final race of the season will be in two weeks. The Auto Club NHRA Nationals will be the sixth and final race of the Countdown to the Championship and will be held at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona on Nov. 8th to the 11th.


Robert S. Miller

Robert S. Miller is a diehard Mopar enthusiast who lives and breathes all that is Mopar. The Michigander is not only the Editor for MoparInsiders.com, 5thGenRams.com, and HDRams.com but an automotive photographer. He is an avid fan of offshore powerboat racing, which he travels the country to take part in.

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