Former FC World Champ Ends Drought!

Matt Hagan, the 2011 NHRA Funny Car World Champion, ended a 17-month winless drought by racing to the Funny Car victory Sunday at the Dollar General NHRA Four-Wide Nationals fueled by Full Throttle at zMAX Dragway….

Spencer Massey (Top Fuel), Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were winners of the only NHRA Mello Yello Series Drag Racing event that features competition in four lanes simultaneously.

The Southwest Virginia cattle rancher powered his Mopar Magneti Marelli/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger to the final round win over fellow Virginian Blake Alexander, veteran driver Tim Wilkerson, and rookie Chad Head to take his sixth career victory.

Hagan covered the distance in 4.071 seconds at 315.34 mph and finished in front of Alexander’s Auto Service Plus Charger, which ran 4.156 at 294.56 in his first ever runner-up finish. Wilkerson and event top qualifier Head both lost traction in their machines early in the four-wide final.

Matt Hagan wheeled the great looking Magneti-Marelli Dodge Charger to a big win in Funny Car

Matt Hagan wheeled the great looking Magneti-Marelli Dodge Charger to a big win in Funny Car

“This was a big win for us,” Hagan said. “It’s been a year since we won, or longer; I don’t know. It’s been too long, and that feeling is just great to have back.

Hagan moved through eliminations as the quickest in each of his first two rounds and it was a great turnaround at this track who has endured several spectacular explosions here in the past.

“We finally put some gremlins to rest here at the racetrack at zMAX,” Hagan said. “I love this track. It’s home for me, three hours away from home. It’s one of those deals where it’s a great track. Bruton Smith does a great job with it, and it’s a fast facility. Our car just ran phenomenal in lane 2 all day long, and that says a lot for [crew chief] Dickie Venables. He’s kind of been passed over and looked over the past couple of years as a crew chief. It’s one of those deals where he’s got two rings on his fingers, and he just hadn’t found a home yet. Don Schumacher gave him an opportunity to go out here and do his own thing. The guy came in and is doing his own thing, and he’s taking notes home and doing what he’s supposed to be doing, and that drives me to do what I’m supposed to do and step up to the plate.”

With the victory, Hagan moved into the series lead, 50 ahead of second place Cruz Pedregon.  It is the first time Hagan has led the points since winning the 2011 world championship title.

“We took over the points lead, but it’s too early to start counting that stuff,” Hagan said. “But anybody who tells you they don’t count it is foolish; everybody’s counting points.”

FC qualifying did produce a truly surreal moment when Robert Hight’s JFR/AAA Auto Club Ford Mustang experienced a body pitching engine explosion during the first of two qualifying sessions on Saturday.   NHRA and everyone in attendance collectively held their breath as the body flew high into the air before landing amongst the spectators on the right side of the track.  In what many consider a miracle development — only two fans suffered minor injuries in the incident — the results of which could have been much worse.

Robert Hight produced a shocking moment when the body of his Ford Mustang FC was pitched into the crowd!

Robert Hight produced a shocking moment when the body of his Ford Mustang FC was pitched into the crowd!

In Top Fuel, Massey earned his first victory in nearly a year and won his second consecutive title at this event by holding off Tony Schumacher at the finish line. Top qualifier Shawn Langdon and Brandon Bernstein finished third and fourth. Massey’s Schumacher Electric dragster led all the way with a 3.771 at 325.45, while Schumacher was just behind in his U.S. Army dragster, finishing in 3.778 at 320.81.

“The last two years we’ve taken home the Wally, but if you think about it, [crew chiefs] Todd [Okuhara] and Phil [Shuler] have had an awesome car and an awesome team for a number of years,” said Massey, also the winner of his first two rounds. “Back when Cory McClenathan drove that FRAM car, Cory owned this racetrack. The first four wide was won by my crew, so it bleeds over from the old team, which is my team now. Whenever there’s a racetrack that you do well at, you just seem to do well at it. It doesn’t seem to make sense, but you just seem to do well. When you have confidence, it really seems to help, and when I roll up here, I know that we can win. We’ve won here before, so we just get out there and do what we know how to do and have fun.”

Spencer Massey won in Top Fuel driving for DSR

Spencer Massey won in Top Fuel driving for DSR

With his 11th career victory, Massey moves up to third in the points standings, trailing leader Schumacher and second place Antron Brown.

Pro Stock top qualifier Edwards led wire-to-wire to also put an end to a mini-slump, powering his Interstate Batteries/I Am Second Chevy Camaro to a 6.495 at 213.67. Erica Enders-Stevens finished second in her GK Motorsports Camaro with a 6.521 at 211.76, while Greg Anderson and Shane Gray were third and fourth in their respective Camaros.

It is the 35th career victory for Edwards, who opened up an 84-point lead on defending world champ Allen Johnson in the series standings. The Oklahoma native picked up an additional 20 points during the weekend for setting the national elapsed time record at 6.471 seconds during qualifying.

“It does feel satisfying to close the deal,” said Edwards, who finished first in each of the first two rounds of eliminations. “We’ve had numerous opportunities, and anytime you can run really good and win, it’s a phenomenal day. We ran good but we were really conservative. I’ve been shooting myself in the foot, but today, I thought if we get beat it’s not going to be because we squared the tires up and not because of the lame-brained driver we have. I’m off to a better start than my championship season. Our team is coming together, and it’s a long season, but another [title] would be great.”

Mike Edwards reset the NHRA national ET record while dominating Pro Stock

Mike Edwards reset the NHRA national ET record while dominating Pro Stock

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Arana Jr. claimed his second straight victory of the season and fifth of his career with a final round performance of 6.896 at 190.73 to defeat defending world champ Eddie Krawiec, who rode his Harley-Davidson to a 6.924 at 190.65. The semifinalists in the four-wide final were Scotty Pollacheck and Jim Underdahl.

“This feels excellent,” said Arana Jr., who finished second in the opening round and was first in the second round. “This just goes to show that we really wanted to get wins, and after last year, we’re making up for lost time. To win the four wide my first time, I love this race. My bike was fast. Since last year it has been super-fast and very consistent. We do our routine maintenance, and we stay on top of our parts a little better this year.”

Arana Jr. increased his series lead to 93 over second place Scotty Pollacheck in points standings.

Hector Arana Jr won in PSM for the 2nd event in a row.

Hector Arana Jr won in PSM for the 2nd event in a row.


NHRA's only 4-Wide event of the season played out well for 2013

NHRA’s only 4-Wide event of the season played out well for 2013

Event Essentials:  NHRA Dollar General 4-Wide Nationals (April 19-21st, 2013) – Concord NC

TOP FUEL Name ET MPH Career Win
Winner: Spencer Massey 3.771 325.45 11th
R/UP: Tony Pedregon 3.778 320.81  
Low ET: Shawn Langdon 3.751    
Top Speed: Shawn Langdon   327.90  
Bump Spot:   3.884    
FUNNY CAR Name ET MPH Career Win
Winner: Matt Hagan 4.071 315.34 6th
R/UP: Blake Alexander 4.156 316.08  
Low ET: Chad Head 4.014    
Top Speed: Chad Head   316.08  
Bump Spot:   4.879    
PRO STOCK Name ET MPH Career Win
Winner: Mike Edwards 6.495 213.67 35th
R/UP: Erica Enders-Stevens 6.521 211.76  
Low ET: Mike Edwards 6.471*    *Record
Top Speed: Mike Edwards   213.91  
Bump Spot:   6.569    
Winner: Hector Arana Jr 6.896 190.73  
R/UP: Eddie Krawiec 6.924 190.65  5th
Low ET: Scotty Pollacheck 6.818    
Top Speed: Jim Underdahl   195.44  
Bump Spot:   6.910    
Winner: Troy Coughlin 5.893 242.19  
R/UP: Kenny Lang 5.898 246.98  
Low ET: Danny Rowe 5.867    
Top Speed: Steve Matusek   250.55  
Bump Spot:   6.550    
LUCAS OIL        
Sportsman Winners: Name ET MPH  
TA Dragster Bill Reichert 5.301 262.90  
TA Funny Car Dan Pomponio 5.563 260.36  
Top Dragster Kenneth Moses 6.845 188.49  
Super Stock Chuck Gallagher 8.128 166.11  
Stock Brian Rowe 11.40 115.06  
Super Comp Al Kenny 8.864 186.72  
Super Gas Mike Sawyer 9.897 160.69  

Coughlin Conquers Pro Mods

Defending NHRA Pro Mod champion Troy Coughlin rebounded from a disappointing opening to the 2013 season with a dominating performance Sunday in the Dollar General 4-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway.

After first qualifying his turbocharged Jeg-sponsored 2013 Corvette well  he and rode a hot tune-up all the way to victory lane, beating Canada’s Kenny Lang driver of Al Billes’ Summit Racing backed Corvette  in the final round.

“Charlotte’s such a great place to race, no doubt,” Coughlin said. “The car was rocking and rolling all weekend. I’ve got my family with me, and I couldn’t be more excited, no doubt.”

Troy Coughlin's spectacular R2B2-built Corvette scored in Pro Modified eliminator

Troy Coughlin’s spectacular R2B2-built Corvette scored in Pro Modified eliminator

Coughlin lost in the first round of the first race of 2013, at Gainesville, Fla., as he began his title defense. But led by crew chief Steve Petty, the team bounced back in the most impressive fashion.

And it wasn’t all tune-up as Coughlin was solid behind the wheel, with reaction times of .053 seconds or better throughout eliminations. In the final, Coughlin made a pass of 5.893 seconds at 242.19 mph to beat Lang’s run of 5.898 seconds at 246.98 mph. Coughlin got the jump on Lang on the Christmas Tree, .053 to .087, and never looked back.

“I’m not sure what the reaction times were there in the final, but it was a tight race,” Coughlin said. “I could sense that he was there. I could hear that thing humming. But we got him. Thank God. What a day!”

Coughlin’s Chevrolet was stellar in every round of eliminations, which used the traditional two-wide racing. He opened with a pass of 5.909 seconds at 248.52 mph to take out Chip King on Saturday, and then ran 5.902 seconds at 247.84 mph in the second round on Sunday to erase Mike Castellana.  In the semifinals, Coughlin made his best pass of the event — 5.882 seconds at 248.25 mph — to trailer Mike Knowles, who ran 5.944 at 246.17 mph.

Pomponio’s 2nd National Win Highlights Sportsman Competition

Dan Pomponio continues to dominate the Top Alcohol Funny Car class and is four for four in 2013 while Bill Reichert grabbed the win in Top Alcohol Dragster at the Dollar General NHRA Four Wide Nationals fueled by Full Throttle at zMax Dragway.

Pomponio led the list of NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series winners picking up his second national event win to go along with a pair of divisional wins.  The Berlin, N.J., racer ran 5.50’s throughout eliminations including a 5.563 second pass at 260.36 mph to beat Dale Brand in the final.  Brand went 5.816, 259.96.  The win extends Pompoino’s 2013 round record to 14-0.

Reichert, who is a 5-time national champion in the alcohol dragster class, beat Matthew Cummings in round 1, No. 1 qualifier Randy Meyer in the second round and recent event winner Rich McPhillips in round three to advance to the final.  Rishi Kanick, in his first ever national event, took out John Finke, Marty Thacker, and Chris Demke for a chance at the title but the dream ended when Kanick left before the starting tree was activated giving Reichert the win and the trophy.  Reichert ran it out to a 5.301 at 262.90.

5X NHRA World Champion Bill Reichert won again in TAD

5X NHRA World Champion Bill Reichert won again in TAD

A pair of North Carolina racers took home trophies as Chuck Gallagher, Lexington, N.C., and Brian Rowe, New Bern, N.C., won in Super Stock and Stock respectively.  Gallagher took his sixth NHRA national event win beating former national champion Peter Biondo with a 0.006 second reaction time and a 0.014 package at 166 mph.  Rowe faced off with Michael Kubiak as both racers were looking for their first national win.  Rowe was off the line first and held on for the win in his ’90 Camaro.  Kubiak drove his ’13 Mustang to a 9.023, 147.04 in his losing effort.

Ken Moses and Mike Sawyer each bagged their second national event wins this weekend.  Moses went 6.845 seconds at 188.49 mph in Top Dragster to Tom Joseph and his 6.891, 180.81 while Sawyer, Leominster, Mass., won on a double breakout in Super Gas over Greg Slack, Albemarle, N.C.

Ken Moses won in the event's added attraction Top Dragster eliminator.

Ken Moses won in the event’s added attraction Top Dragster eliminator.

The reigning Super Comp NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series National champion Canadian Al Kenny — added a win to his resume beating Jason Lynch.  Lynch was red with a foul start handing the win to Kenny who clocked in at 8.864 seconds, 186.72 mph.

Canada's Al Kenny showed his winning ways again in Super Comp 8.90 class racing

Canada’s Al Kenny showed his winning ways again in Super Comp 8.90 class racing

Posted with files from :  NHRA Communications, Bruce Biegler, Scott Woodruff & Eric Lotz

Photos by:  Bruce Biegler & Steve Embling

To view DragRaceCanada’s 4-Wide Nationals event photo gallery click :  HERE