Mopar Dodge//SRT driver Matt Hagan completed a wire-to-wire weekend at New England Dragway, racing from the pole in dominant fashion to claim his second consecutive win at the NHRA New England Nationals, and his second win in a row of the season.
Hagan’s triumphant ride in Epping, New Hampshire, was the third consecutive and fifth of 2018 for a Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) Mopar Dodge//SRT Funny Car driver, and the seventh of the season for a Mopar Dodge in the NHRA Nitro classes. The win was Hagan’s third of the season and 29th of his career. He is currently second in the standings after making up nearly 100 points on the leader.
Sandvik Coromant Mopar Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car driver Hagan, winner at the most recent NHRA stop in Norwalk, Ohio, qualified No. 1 and began his march to the event win by taking out Terry Haddock with a 4.066-second elapsed time at 316.15 mph that was the quickest of all competitors in round one. Next, in a fight with DSR Dodge teammate Tommy Johnson Jr., Hagan’s 4.237/245.90 was more than good enough for the win after Johnson encountered problems early.
The defending 2017 Epping winner drew a second teammate, Ron Capps, in another all-Mopar Dodge matchup in the semifinals. Hagan was first off the starting line and first to the finish with a .062 reaction time paired with a 4.114/311.05 pass to advance to his 52nd final round and fifth of the season. The two-time NHRA Funny Car World Champion remained on point in the final against Tim Wilkerson, recording a superb .042 reaction time in the money round and passing the finish line with a winning 4.156/292.01.
After earning her ninth career No. 1 qualifier spot, Mopar Dodge Top Fuel driver Leah Pritchett never trailed against No. 16 qualifier Audrey Worm on her way to the round win. Pritchett faced veteran Doug Kalitta in the quarterfinals and motored down the groove to the tune of 3.88/316.30, second quickest of the round, to advance to the semis with lane choice over Antron Brown.
Pritchett trailed slightly out of the gate but briefly nudged the nose of her Mopar Dodge into the lead before Brown was able to chase down her 3.945/304.80 pass for a holeshot win. With her run to the semifinals, Pritchett moved up one spot to fourth in the Top Fuel point standings.
Ron Capps may not have triumphed at Epping, but the Mopar-powered NAPA Intrepid Fallen Heroes Dodge Charger R/T driver’s strong weekend jumped him from sixth to fourth in the point standings. Capps also helped himself and the entire Funny Car field by taking down points leader Courtney Force in the first round with a straight-down-the-track 4.083/306.19.
Despite seeing the parachutes of his Funny Car pop out early, Capps was still able to send home another John Force Racing driver, Robert Hight, in the quarterfinals. The two-time Epping winner recorded a solid 4.122/311.20 in the semifinals but could not stop red-hot teammate and event winner Hagan.
U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster driver Tony Schumacher used a little help from Mopar HEMI power to put down the second-quickest run of the opening round in taking out newcomer Jim Maroney. In round two, “The Sarge,” left first with a .070 reaction and led from start to finish against Richie Crampton. Schumacher moved first again in the semifinals with a quicker .056 reaction time to Steve Torrence’s slower .068, but Torrence soon surged ahead for the round win. Schumacher climbed up one spot in the standings after his weekend at Epping, and now sits second.
Jack Beckman’s strongest qualifying performance since the NHRA Gainesville event in March placed his Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car in the No. 2 position heading into eliminations. The 2012 Funny Car World Champion posted the second-quickest run of the opening round to send home Jeff Diehl and join his three DSR Mopar teammates in advancing out of round one.
In the quarterfinals, Beckman was within striking distance of Tim Wilkerson but was unable to beat his foe to the finish, falling short by about four feet. He leaves Epping third in the Funny Car standings.
Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T driver Tommy Johnson Jr., a Funny Car runner-up twice at Epping, qualified in the top half of the field and defeated Cruz Pedregon in round one. Johnson trailed slightly at the start but closed the gap and pulled away for the round win with a 4.131/297.94 mark. Johnson’s hopes to advance ended quickly in the quarterfinals against teammate Hagan after he smoked the tires early.