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Hellcat Charger gets first NHRA funny car win in Arizona

by Patrick Rall on

This past weekend, the NHRA big leagues traveled to Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park for the Magic Dry Organic Absorbent NHRA Arizona Nationals and in the second event of the 2019 season, Matt Hagan grabbed his first event win and the first-ever win for the new Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat funny car body.

Matt Hagan was the first of the Don Schumacher drivers to get into the new Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat funny car body late last season, so it is fitting that he was at the wheel for the first win of the Hellcat-inspired race car. Hagan’s teammates – Ron Capps, Tommy Johnson Jr. and Jack Beckman – are also running the Hellcat body this year, but the stop in Arizona was nowhere near as successful for the rest of the team as it was for Hagan.

Matt Hagan was quick out of the trailer, with his Hellcat Charger making the only 3-second run in the first round of qualifying. In the second round of qualifying, Robert Hight in a Camaro and Tim Wilkerson in a new Mustang body jumped ahead of Hagan, but the Charger would storm back in the third round of qualifying to grab the second spot heading into eliminations. Tommy Johnson Jr. qualified fourth, Capps qualified ninth and Beckman started in the 14th spot, while Robert Hight and his Camaro were quite a bit faster than the rest of the field, qualifying in the top spot.

In the first round of eliminations, Ron Capps lost to John Force, but the other three DSR Hellcat Charger funny cars won with Hagan beating Phil Burkhart Jr., Beckman beating Tim Wilkerson and Johnson beating James Campbell.

In the second round, Beckman lost to the Mustang of Bob Tasca III and Tommy Johnson Jr lost to the Toyota of JR Todd while Hagan beat Shawn Langdon’s Toyota to advance to the semifinals. Tasca, Todd and Hagan were joined by fast-qualifier Robert Hight, who beat teammate and team owner John Force.

In the semis, Matt Hagan gave up the starting line advantage to Bob Tasca III, but the Hellcat drove around the Mustang on the top end to take the win. On the other side of the ladder, Robert Hight pulled a horrible reaction time and couldn’t catch up to JR Todd, setting up a Mopar-versus-Toyota battle in the finals.

In the finals, Matt Hagan ran his quickest pass of the elimination rounds, laying down a 3.890 at 325.06 miles per hour, but he could have a run a 10.50 at 125, as the Toyota ran into a mechanical issue at the start and the parachutes immediately deployed, allowing Hagan a clear run to the finals. However, his time of 3.890 was quicker than any pass that JR Todd made in qualifying or eliminations, so it would have been a tough race for the Toyota even without the mechanical issues. You can watch the winning run below.

This was the second event of the 2019 season and with Robert Hight winning the opener, this is obviously the first win of the season for Hagan and DSR, but we can be sure to see plenty more as the season continues. Right now, Hight leads in the early points race, followed by Hagan, Beckman and Johnson in second, third and fourth.

Patrick Rall was raised a Mopar boy, spending years racing a Dodge Mirada while working his way through college. After spending a few years post-college in the tax accounting field, Patrick made the jump to the world of journalism and his work has been published in magazines and websites around the world.

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