- Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car driver Matt Hagan kicks off season by claiming pole on final qualifying pass at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California
- Hagan sets track speed record in earning 31st career No. 1 position
- Hagan’s Don Schumacher Racing teammates Beckman and Capps also place their Mopar-powered Dodge Charger Funny Car machines in top five
- Leah Pritchett will start season No. 4 in her Mopar Dodge NHRA Top Fuel Dragster
Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) driver Hagan recorded a 3.822-second elapsed time (ET) at a track-record speed of 336.32 mph in the final qualifying pair on Saturday at Auto Club Raceway to earn the top spot heading into Sunday eliminations. The pole was the 31st of Hagan’s career, and the ten-year Mopar and Dodge//SRT Funny Car veteran will look to defend his 2017 event win here tomorrow.
Sunny skies and warmer track temperatures for the first two qualifying sessions on Friday gave way to cloud cover and a cooler racing surface for Saturday’s two final qualifying rounds, which Hagan used to move up the charts. On Saturday morning, he used a 3.859-second ET to claim the No. 1 spot and earn three bonus points. Knocked off the pole while awaiting his final qualifying turn, Hagan reclaimed the spot on his final attempt, banking another three markers for a total of nine qualifying bonus points.
Two-time NHRA Funny Car champion Hagan will lead a group of five Mopar-powered Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car racers into Sunday eliminations. His DSR teammate Jack Beckman earned the provisional pole on Friday with a 3.860 ET, not enough to hold the position but good enough to start from third on race day in his Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T.
Mopar-powered DSR Dodge Charger R/T driver Ron Capps, the 2016 Funny Car series champion and runner-up in 2017, briefly held the top spot after the first qualifying session on Friday and will start fifth, giving Mopar and Dodge three of the top five spots. Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T pilot Tommy Johnson Jr. will start ninth, while Jim Campbell posted his Charger No. 16 in the field.
In Top Fuel, Leah Pritchett used a strong run in the morning session on Saturday to open her racing season in the No. 4 spot. Ranked seventh after Friday qualifying, Pritchett clocked a 3.687 ET in her Mopar Dodge Top Fuel dragster and moved up three spots. She’ll attempt to defend her 2017 NHRA Winternationals event crown on Sunday and claim another victory for Mopar and Dodge//SRT. Pritchett will be joined in eliminations by DSR teammate Tony Schumacher, who will start eighth in his U.S. Army dragster.