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King of the Mountain!
Hagan and His Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car Conquer the Mountain at the Dodge//SRT Mile=High NHRA Nationals Presented by Pennzoil
After more than a decade of attempts to conquer the mountain, Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) Funny Car pilot Matt Hagan finally hoisted the Wally trophy at his primary sponsor’s longtime title event, the Dodge//SRT Mile-High NHRA Nationals Presented by Pennzoil, at Bandimere Speedway near Denver. The No. 1 qualifier powered his Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye through eliminations to break through for his first coveted victory at the picturesque dragstrip nestled in the Rocky Mountains. The win was his first of the 2021 National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Camping World Drag Racing Series season and the 37th of his career.
“Congratulations to Matt Hagan for his first event title win at the Dodge// SRT Mile High Nationals presented by Pennzoil,” said Tim Kuniskis, Dodge Brand Chief Executive Officer – Stellantis. “We’re proud of the defending Funny Car world champion and his Don Schumacher Racing team for bringing home the Wally trophy at an event that has meant so much to us for more than three decades.”
Hagan felt the importance and exhilaration of winning for Dodge//SRT and Mopar brands at the Bandimere Speedway event at which they have held title rights for more than 32 years, the longest consecutive and active sponsorship in all of motorsports.
“Man, I tell you, this mountain has chewed me up and spit me out several years in a row and I’m just so glad to pull that win down for Dodge and SRT, and to do it behind the wheel of the Dodge//SRT Hellcat Funny Car in front of so many passionate Dodge and Mopar fans is just something you definitely put extra pressure on yourself to do so when it happens it’s just that much more satisfying,” said Hagan, whose last win also came at another of his sponsor’s title events, the 2020 Dodge NHRA Finals Presented by Pennzoil at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where he secured his third Funny Car NHRA world championship.
“I’m not even thinking about ‘sweeping the Swing’ at this point,” said Hagan. “I just want to take it one race at a time, qualify well and take it round by round. Fuel Funny Cars are so unpredictable and that’s why this sport is so humbling. Every win light and every race win, you’re grateful for and we’re just going to keep moving forward.”
Hagan’s triumph at “thunder mountain” was earned with an opening round win over Chris King, a second round Bye run and an exciting side-by-side semifinal battle won against his fellow DSR HEMI® V8-powered teammate Ron Capps to face No.2 qualifier Alexis DeJoria in the final showdown. Hagan’s quick 0.046-second reaction time gave him the starting line advantage and he never looked back on his 4.105 sec./ 305.70 mph ride to victory.
“We finally got it done and I finally get to put this trophy up on the shelf,” added Hagan. “I’ve got to call out my guys and give them so much love. To watch them up here in the altitude wrenching and sweating. Those guys love doing what they do and they bust their @!#$ for me. My heart was beating out of my chest up there during the finals and it felt like I was running for a championship. I had to remind myself to calm down, take a deep breath and just do what I do. It’s so cool when you do a burnout and see all of these fans in the stands; it genuinely gives me chill bumps. It feels amazing being back in the winner’s circle like we’re used to.”
With this win, Hagan will have his first career opportunity to attempt to sweep the “western swing” and now focuses his efforts to turning win lights on at the next two events in consecutive weeks at Sonoma and Pomona dragstrips in California.
No. 4 qualifier Capps, who has personified consistency by qualifying his Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat in the top-five at every national event so far this season, began his day against Terry Haddock for a third consecutive event. Capps defeated Haddock in the opening round for a second time in as many races to advance to a quarterfinals meeting with No. 5 seed John Force. In that match-up, Capps turned on the win lights with a 4.039-second run at 312.42 mph over his opponent, who lost traction early.
That set up the mountainside showdown between the two DSR HEMI V8-powered teammates who had a stellar side-by-side run with the slight advantage going to Hagan, who had an early lead that he maintained to the finish to narrowly beat Capps’ straight-down-the-groove pass.