Defending NHRA World Champion Matt Hagan roared to a very convincing and dominating victory during the 2nd season event for the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series….
Hagan raced to his second consecutive Funny Car victory of the season and extended his early season points lead last weekend at the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park. Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel) and Rodger Brogdon (Pro Stock) also were winners of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event near Phoenix.
Event top qualifier Hagan was consistently quick all day in his Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T and posted the quickest run of the weekend in his final-round win over Del Worsham. Hagan posted a track record performance of 3.975 seconds at 324.83 mph to defeat Worsham’s DHL Toyota Camry, which finished in 4.010 at 318.17 mph.
“We’ve got a killer race car and race team, so I am hoping to keep turning on those win lights,” said Hagan, the reigning Funny Car world champ, of his 16th career victory and first ever at the popular Arizona dragstrip.
“It keeps getting tougher each year and every car is so competitive,” Hagan continued. “That’s what’s so cool about this sport, it’s tough, but when you win you feel like you really did something. I am just glad to keep this [streak] going.”
Hagan’s teammate Schumacher turned around his sluggish start to the season by racing to his 78th career victory in Top Fuel. Schumacher used his quickest run of the weekend in his U.S. Army dragster, a final-round performance of 3.720 at 326.56, to finish in front of Doug Kalitta’s dragster, which trailed with a 3.758 at 325.14.
It was Schumacher’s fifth victory at Phoenix and the eight-time world champ moves to third in the points standings behind leader Shawn Langdon and second-place Antron Brown.
Schumacher won the race from the No. 1 qualifying position and defeated Jenna Haddock, Spencer Massey and Brown in earlier rounds to advance to the final.
“I have to give the trophy, the credit, every bit of it to the team this week,” Schumacher said. “I was off. My lights were slower than they’ve been, and everything I tried to do really couldn’t fix it. [Crew chief] Mike Green and Neal [Strausbaugh, assistant crew chief] said, ‘We’ll fight through this. Just do your best.’ They give you confidence with a fast race car.
“I’m not going to go home and put the trophy on my shelf and feel fulfilled. It should go to Mike’s house, and he should feel fulfilled.”
Brogdon claimed his third career Pro Stock victory and first of the season by outrunning Erica Enders-Stevens in the final round. In a battle between Chevrolets, Brodgon pulled away with a 6.560 at 211.49 in his RoofTec Camaro while event No. 1 qualifier and reigning world champ Enders-Stevens trailed with a 6.640 at 205.51 in her Elite Motorsports Camaro.
To get to the final, first-time points leader Brogdon raced past Deric Kramer, Shane Gray and rookie sensation Drew Skillman.
“We started off with Elite Motorsports this year and that makes everything a lot easier,” Brogdon said. “This is the earliest I’ve ever won a race. It’s great to win one early and I am the points leader for the first time in my career. I think we’ve got a great opportunity this season. Everybody who follows this sport knows how hard it is to win a race. This is fantastic. My crew is telling me this car is going to be faster at Gainesville, so I think we are going to have some fun this year.”
Event Essentials: Carquest Auto Parts Nationals (Feb. 20-22) Phoenix AZ
|Low ET:||Tony Schumacher||3.720|
|Top Speed:||Doug Kalitta||329.02|
|Low ET:||Matt Hagan||3.975|
|Top Speed:||Matt Hagan||324.83|
|Low ET:||Roger Brogdon||6.545|
|Top Speed:||Larry Morgan||211.89|
The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues March 12-15 with the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Florida’s Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville.
The Lucas Oil Lowdown!
Justin Lamb scored his 13th NHRA national event win while Bernie Polvadore and Trevor Ritchie each grabbed their first this past weekend at the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park and the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.
Lamb, Henderson, Nev., had a .013 second reaction time in his ’10 Cobalt to take the early lead and stayed out front posting a 7.972 second run at 172.43 mph. The win was Lambs second in Comp Eliminator as he knocked out Doug Lambeck, Mike DePalma and Dan Fletcher on his way to the final with Alan Ellis who was coming off a season opening win at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. Ellis went 6.529, 207.08 mph in his ’23 Ford for his runner up finish.
Sun City, Ariz., racer Polvadore turned his starting line advantage in to a win as did Ritchie of Sherwood Park, Alb. Polvadore was .004 on the tree and held off the hard charging Brad Pierce, Riverside, Calif., for the win in Super Gas. Ritchie clocked in at 6.815, 191.81 mph in defeating John Taylor II, all the way from Oley, Pa., in Top Dragster.
Ed Olpin defended his event championship from a year ago in Top Sportsman but had to earn it over Jimmy Lewis who was the runner up in Super Comp two weeks ago in Pomona, Calif. Olpin, Pleasant Grove, Utah, and Lewis, Forney, Texas, were .001 and .002 seconds off the start with Olpin taking the win and his fourth at the national level in 7.272 seconds at 189.63 mph.
Glenn Kern won for just the second time in his career having won for the first time over 25 years ago in Seattle. The Modesto, Calif., resident faced off with Steve Williams, Beaumont, Calif., as Kern was better at both ends of the track for the Super Comp win in 8.912 seconds, 168.96 mph. Williams, who took the Super Gas title in Pomona, crossed the line in 8.949, 166.42 for his runner up finish.
Phil Unruh and Kyle Seipel rounded out the winners with Unruh, McPherson, Kan., earning his third and Seipel, Pleasanton, Calif., his tenth. Unruh took the hole shot over Don Thomas, who was looking for his first national event win, and won on a double breakout in 8.525 seconds at 155.22 in his ’10 Cobalt to take home the hardware in Super Stock. Thomas, Spruce Grove, Alb., covered the quarter mile in 10.078, 131.56. Seipel met up with Kyle Rizzoli and his ’69 Camaro out of San Luis Obispo, as the two were close at the start of the Stock Eliminator final but Rizzoli ran too quick at 10.386 on his 10.41 dial. Seipel was 11.020 on his 10.99 dial for the win and the NHRA Wally trophy in his ’70 Camaro.
Posted with files from NHRA Communications, Eric Lotz and Bruce Biegler
Photos courtesy of NHRA and Bob Johnson