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Hagan’s Charger falls to Hight’s Camaro in Sonoma

by Patrick Rall on

Although Robert Hight and his John Force Racing Camaro funny car was the top qualifier at the Sonoma Nationals in California, Matt Hagan’s Dodge Charger Hellcat funny car was the quickest car through the majority of the elimination rounds. Unfortunately, Hight was the quicker car in the finals, beating Hagan at the starting line and the finish line to grab his class-leading 5th win on the 2019 season.

Qualifying

Don Schumacher Racing came into the NHRA Sonoma Nationals on a two-race winning streak, with Matt Hagan and Tommy Johnson Jr. taking home the Wally from the Funny Car class in the New England Nationals and the Dodge Mile High Nationals. With just four races left until the Countdown to the Championship portion of the schedule begins, the quartet of Dodge Charger racers were all looking to turn in solid efforts to maintain their spots in the title run and that all started with qualifying.

Fortunately, the DSR Charger funny cars were fast off of the trailer, with Jack Beckman and Ron Capps sitting in the top two spots after the first round of qualifying while Tommy Johnson Jr sat third – all with elapsed times in the 3-second range while Matt Hagan wasn’t able to turn in a solid run on his first pass.

In the second round of qualifying, Beckman, Johnson and Hagan all turned quicker times than their first run, but the same was true for many of the other drivers in the field. As a result, Beckman dropped to third and Johnson dropped to fifth while Hagan jumped up to sixth and Capps, still relying on his first run, fell to ninth.

Those positions would remain unchanged through the third and fourth rounds of qualifying, so going into eliminations, the short funny car field of 15 drivers looked like this:

Eliminations

The first round of the NHRA Sonoma Nationals was a pretty good one for the Don Schumacher Racing Dodge Charger Hellcat funny car drivers, with Hagan beating JR Todd, Beckman beating Jeff Diehl, and Johnson beating Cruz Pedregon in his Dodge Charger Hellcat. Unfortunately, Ron Capps lost his first round battle with Blake Alexander, while the drivers of John Force Racing – John Force and Robert Hight – both advanced to the second round, as did Shawn Langdon and red-hot Bob Tasca.

In the second round, Tommy Johnson Jr. knocked off Bob Tasca and in a battle of DSR Chargers, Matt Hagan beat teammate Jack Beckman. Once again, both JFR Camaros advanced as well, with Hight beating Blake Alexander and Force beating Shawn Langdon, setting up a semifinal round that saw a pair of DSR Chargers going head-to-head with a pair of JFR Camaros. Hagan was the quickest car of the second round with a 3.924.

In the semis, John Force had technical issues that prevented him from running, giving Matt Hagan a free pass to the finals, but Hagan made the most of that run, turning in the quickest pass of the semifinals with a 3.962. Meanwhile, Robert Hight won a great drag race with Tommy Johnson Jr, narrowly winning on the big end after the two had nearly identical reaction times (.048 for Hight, .047 for Johnson).

In the finals, Robert Hight and his Camaro grabbed an early holeshot lead (.052 to .061) and he just kept on pulling away, running a 3.972 at 325 miles per hour to Hagan’s 4.030 at 316 miles per hour.

Season Standings

With just three races left before the Countdown to the Championship, Robert Hight is in the top spot, Tommy Johnson Jr. is second (-199), John Force is third (-248), Jack Beckman is fourth (-319), Ron Capps is fifth (-321), Bob Tasca III is sixth (-359) JR Todd is seventh (-394), Matt Hagan is eighth (-395), Shawn Langdon is ninth (-786) and Tim Wilkerson is tenth (-526).

 

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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