Hagan's Dodge Charger makes it 6-Straight for Don Schumacher Racing
Matt Hagan and his Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) Dodge Charger funny car started the year off with a back to back wins and a little controversy. Some off-season crewmember changes led to a bit of animosity between Don Schumacher Racing and John Force Racing, and when John Force won the 3rd race of the 2017 NHRA season – there appeared to be a heated rivalry growing between the team of 4 DSR Dodge Chargers and the team of 3 JFR Chevrolet Camaros.
That rivalry continues to smolder, as the Don Schumacher and John Force team drivers continue to go head to head, but with the DSR Dodge Chargers winning the past 6 funny car events – often beating a JFR Camaro or two along the way – this is hardly a proper rivalry. A rivalry generally has two competitors or two teams which routinely battle for a common prize with the wins going back and forth. With JFR failing to really compete with the DSR Chargers, this isn’t a rivalry…this is class domination by Team Mopar.
The first round of qualifying for the New England Nationals was a great one, with 8 of the 15 funny cars running 3.99 or quicker. Don Schumacher drivers Jack Beckman and Tommy Johnson Jr were among those 8 with their Dodge Charger funny cars, but JFR Camaro drivers Courtney Force and Robert Hight set the pace with times of 3.842 and 3.849.
In the second round of qualifying, the only driver in either the DSR or JFR team to move up with the legend himself, John Force. After a rough first attempt, he joined the 3-second group and moved into the top 10, leaving just Ron Capps and Matt Hagan out of the 3-second group (within the two key teams).
That would change in the third round of qualifying, when Hagan ripped off a 3.877 run, moving him into the 3rd position, but during that same round, Robert Hight ran a 3.822 to jump over teammate Courtney Force and take the top spot.
Finally, in the fourth round of qualifying, Ron Capps ran a 3.863, launching him into the 3rd position on the funny car ladder, while all of the other DSR and JFR drivers continued through with runs from earlier rounds.
This meant that heading into eliminations, Robert Hight (JFR Camaro) was in the top spot, followed by Courtney Force (JFR Camaro), Ron Capps (DSR Dodge Charger), Matt Hagan (DSR Charger) and Jack Beckman (DSR Charger) rounding out the top 5.
Once again, the John Force Racing Camaro funny cars had been the leaders in qualifying, but they would need to continue to be just as fast in eliminations.
The first round of eliminations at the New England Nationals was not a good one for John Force Racing. Top qualifier Robert Hight and his Camaro lost to Mike Smith, the 16th qualifier, while John Force lost to Matt Hagan in one of the DSR Dodge Charger funny cars. Courtney Force turned the quickest run of the round though, so it wasn’t all bad for Team Camaro.
The first round was a little better for Don Schumacher Racing, with Tommy Johnson Jr beating JR Todd, Ron Capps beating Jeff Diehl and, as mentioned above, Matt Hagan beat John Force. Jack Beckman, however, lost to Del Worsham in the Toyota Camry.
In round 2, Tommy Johnson Jr beat Mike Smith, Ron Capps beat Bob Tasca and Matt Hagan (quickest of the round) beat Del Worsham, meaning that 3 of the 4 Don Schumacher Dodge Charger funny cars would be in the final 4 of the funny car class. The 4th car in that group was the Chevrolet Camaro of Courtney Force, who beat Cruz Pedregon to advance to the semis.
In the semifinals, Tommy Johnson Jr grabbed a starting line advantage over Matt Hagan, but ran into troubles on the top end, giving the win to Hagan’s Dodge Charger. On the other side of the ladder, Capps and Force had a great race, with Capps’ Charger taking the early, but Force’s Camaro ran him down to grab the win with the quickest time of this round – and the quickest elimination run of the class overall.
This set up another final round between a John Force Racing Chevrolet Camaro and a Don Schumacher Racing Dodge Charger.
While Matt Hagan and Courtney Force had taken their turns throughout the event as being the quickest of the funny car class at the New England Nationals, the final round was all Hagan. His Dodge Charger jumped out to an early lead (shown in the image above) with solid starting line advantage and Hagan never looked back – laying down a 3.897 at 332.59mph to Force’s 3.927 at 332.34mph.
It was another great battle between the feuding teams, but once again, a Don Schumacher Dodge Charger took home the big win.
This was Hagan’s 3rd win on the season, the 6th win in a row for a Don Schumacher Racing Dodge Charger and the 8th win in 9 races this year for Don Schumacher Racing. Tommy Johnson Jr won the 4th race of the season while Ron Capps won the previous 4 races leading up to this past weekend’s New England Nationals.