Hagan and Capps Dominate Funny Car Qualifying at NHRA Midwest Nationals
The defending champ and current point leader are qualified No. 1 and 2 heading into race day
MADISON, Ill. (September 25, 2021) – Three-time and defending Funny Car world champion Matt Hagan will begin his campaign for a first NHRA Midwest Nationals trophy from the pole position on Sunday morning at World Wide Technology Raceway in suburban St. Louis. It is Hagan’s third No. 1 qualifier award of the season, and 43rd overall.
Hagan earned the No. 1 spot by driving the New Holland Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye to a stout 3.868 E.T. at 333.25 mph during the third qualifying session to move from the No. 2 qualifying position up to the top of the ladder, surpassing teammate Ron Capps who had previously held the provisional pole through the first two sessions.
Saturday’s final qualifying session was reminiscent of Funny Car Q1 with Hagan and Capps closing out the round by lining up in the final pairing. Just like on Friday night, Hagan and Capps unloaded with monster runs, rocketing to the two best passes of the session, and putting on a spectacular show for the fans by clocking side-by-side 333-mph runs with Capps posting a 3.876 E.T.
“I’m humbled and blessed to be here driving this amazing New Holland Dodge. Capps and those boys across the way with ‘Guido’ (Dean Antonelli) and John Medlen are throwing down, and so are our guys with Dickie Venables. He and Mike Knudsen and Alex Conaway and this entire New Holland/Mopar team just have this car on a string,” said Hagan, speaking of his team’s stellar performance which includes two wins in the last four races, with Hagan racing to victory in Brainerd, Minn. and stand-in driver Tommy Johnson Jr. winning in Reading, Penn. when Hagan was sidelined due to COVID-19.
“Our confidence as a team is so high,” added Hagan. “It makes me feel confident seeing what Dickie is doing and that builds my confidence as a driver. We have a car that can win this championship, without a doubt in my mind. I’ve been fortunate to win three of them and I know what it’s like to be there and when things start clicking and coming together and this team is doing that. It’s pretty darn exciting to be a part of.”
Hagan entered the race weekend ranked second in the Countdown to the Championship standings and trailing No. 1 ranked Capps by a scant five points. After posting the quickest pass of both Saturday sessions, and the second-quickest pass on Friday night, Hagan collected eight out of nine available bonus points, helping to narrow the margin between him and his teammate, who amassed five bonus points during qualifying. While Capps holds a one-point lead on Hagan heading into round one of eliminations on Sunday, Hagan knows he is virtually guaranteed to be awarded the 20 round-win points during E1 since his pole position set him up with a first-round Bye. Regardless, he knows that if he wants to continue to be a top title contender, he will have to be able to continue to go toe-to-toe with Capps who is seeking his second series title.
“Don Schumacher has put together a great team with Dickie and my group, and Ron and Guido over there. It’s absolutely throw-down each time we run each other, whether in qualifying or on race day. That NAPA team is going to be tough to go through to win a championship. Teammates are even tougher because we’re working with the same resources and data and parts and pieces. You don’t want for anything at DSR. To see (the NAPA team) run as good as they are, we know we have to face them at some point. I’ve seen Dickie coming into qualifying and race day, and we’ve been low E.T. of most rounds, and that gives me a lot of confidence in what the car can do and what we can do on the race track. I know Dickie can throw down when he needs to and hopefully I can do my job as a driver and give us a few hundredths (of-a-second) at the tree.”
Qualified: No. 1
The Competition: BYE
Q1: 3.889 E.T. at 332.75 MPH (Two bonus points for second-quickest run of the session)
Q2: 3.911 E.T. at 329.10 MPH (Three bonus points for quickest run of the session)
Q3: 3.868 E.T. at 333.25 MPH (Three bonus points for quickest run of the session)
Bonus Points: Eight