Driver of the Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye
Qualified: No. 1 (3.975 E.T. at 321.35 MPH)
E1: 3.915 E.T. at 327.90 MPH on a bye
E2: 3.954 E.T. at 325.37 MPH defeated Jack Beckman 4.134 E.T. at 242.67 MPH
E3: 4.016 E.T. at 312.64 MPH defeated by Ron Capps 3.898 E.T. at 329.99 MPH
Matt Hagan, a two-time winner and three-time No. 1 qualifier in 2020, arrived in Gainesville, Fla. occupying the No. 2 spot on the Funny Car leaderboard, and was laser-focused on achieving his first Gatornationals victory. Behind the wheel of the Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye, Hagan clocked the only sub-four second run of qualifying to earn the No. 1 spot which came with an added bonus of a first-round bye. He may not have had anyone lined up opposite him in the first round of eliminations, but that didn’t stop the Dickie Venables-led team from turning up the wick and making a ‘throw down’ lap. Hagan powered the Dodge Redeye to low E.T. and top speed of the round to ensure lane choice over teammate and point leader, Jack Beckman, in the quarterfinals. Hagan had no trouble trailering his teammate, running a 3.954 E.T. over Beckman who encountered traction issues.
In the semifinals, Hagan squared off with another heavy-hitter, his teammate Ron Capps. Hagan was machine-like on the throttle, ripping off a .020 reaction time, but his 4.016-second pass couldn’t outrun Capps’ event-best 3.898 E.T. Hagan remains second in the point standings, sitting only four points behind Beckman.
“We have a great race car. Dickie Venables is doing a great job and has been all year. He put us on the pole this weekend. (Assistant crew chief) Mike Knudsen is doing a great job in the clutch department and overseeing things. (Car chief) Alex Conaway has been doing so well with the guys as a team leader. We have a real shot at winning the championship. This Dodge SRT Hellcat Funny Car is running really strong and we need to keep that momentum going. You’re going to have races that you go out early and others that you win, and if we can keep pace with the semifinals or better, you can win. We made up a lot of ground on (Jack) Beckman today and I’m really excited about that and we have four more races to go. I don’t know what’s ahead, but I’m excited to be here and run fast and I’m going to drive my ass off for these guys and have some fun doing it. The weatherman, the only thing he knows is that there’s increasing darkness by nightfall. I’ve never won St. Louis or here in Gainesville. We didn’t get the win at the Gators today so I’d like to check off St. Louis next weekend and bring that trophy home.”