The Dodge teams in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series funny car class have enjoyed a tremendous amount of success in the past few years, but with the introduction of the 2015 Dodge Charger R/T funny car body – that success has turned to sheer domination.
Through the first 8 races of the 2015 season, a Don Schumacher 2015 Dodge Charger R/T has claimed the trophy 6 times so when the teams rolled into Englishtown this past weekend, Ron Capps, Matt Hagan and Jack Beckman were the drivers to watch – although the field was packed with the familiar faces ready to knock the Charger drivers down a notch.
In the first round of qualifying, the 2015 Charger teams had a few highlights and a few lowlights, with Tommy Johnson Jr turning in the quickest time of the first round, Ron Capps turning in the 3rd quickest time and Matt Hagan turning in the 6th quickest time – while Jack Beckman and John Hale in the other Charger funny cars struggled early.
In the second round, all of the Dodge Charger funny car drivers turned in very solid qualifying runs, but they Toyota Camry race cars of Cruz Pedregon, Chad Head and Del Worsham nabbed the top 3 spots. After 2, Hagan sat 4th, Johnson was 5th, Beckman was 7th, Capps was 9th and Hale was 13th. Those numbers would remain the same through the 3rd and 4th rounds with the exception of John Hale, who dropped to 16th, but still made the race-day field.
In round one, John Hale broke at the line and handed an easy win to fast qualifier Cruz Pedregon and Alexis DeJoria knocked off Jack Beckman, but the other three Dodge Charger funny cars had a good first round. Ron Capps beat Tim Wilkerson’s Mustang, Matt Hagan knocked out the Camaro of John Force and Tommy Johnson Jr beat Robert Hight’s Camaro. Courtney Force also lost, meaning that none of the John Force Racing Camaros made it out of the first round.
In round two, Ron Capps took on fast qualifier Cruz Pedregon and when Cruz red lit in his Camry, Capps got the free pass to round three. Matt Hagan took on Tommy Johnson Jr and Hagan won the Mopar on Mopar battle while the other half of the bracket saw the Toyotas of Alexis DeJoria and Del Worsham advance.
In the third round, we saw two 2015 Dodge Chargers going head to head and two 2015 Toyota Camrys going head to head. Matt Hagan took a small starting line advantage and turned it into a big win in a close race while Alexis DeJoria came from behind, overcoming a starting line lead for Worsham to advance to the finals.
Although Matt Hagan qualified much better than Alexis DeJoria, her Toyota Camry had turned in similar times to Hagan’s Charger all day in Englishtown – so coming into the final, there was no sure bet.
Hagan pulled a slightly better reaction time, getting an early lead, but DeJoria’s Toyota quickly caught and passed the Charger. However, once the 10,000 horsepower Hemi got to pulling the Dodge down the track, Hagan drove around DeJoria and drove to the class victory.
With the win, Matt Hagan has pulled back into first place in the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Championship standings, 39 points ahead of teammate Ron Capps. Toyota driver Del Worsham now sits 3rd (105 points back) while Jack Beckman is 4th (-125) and John Force is 5th (-159).