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Hagan Claims Pole in Brainerd

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, August 21 2016
Matt Hagan will start Sunday's Funny Car eliminations from the pole position.

Matt Hagan will start Sunday’s Funny Car eliminations from the pole position.


Two-time Funny Car world champion Matt Hagan rocketed to pole position Saturday with a record performance at the 35th annual NHRA Nationals at Brainerd (Minn.) International Raceway.

Hagan blistered the track in his Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T with a 1,000-foot pass in 3.822-seconds at 333.82 mph to set the elapsed time world record, claim his third pole of the season and 24th of his career. Hagan, winner of back-to-back events earlier this year at Atlanta Dragway and Heartland Park Topeka, already has clinched a spot in the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoffs.

Hagan, who never has won at Brainerd, will open Sunday’s 11 a.m. eliminations against John Bojec. Full television coverage will be carried on FOX Sports 1 from 2 to 5 p.m. (EDT).

“I have (crew chief) Dickie Venables in my corner and that guy is so bright and so brilliant,” said Hagan, who also qualified No. 1 at Brainerd in 2011. “He said, ‘Hey kid, it’s going to go really fast or nowhere at all.’ It’s cool to know that you can hang on to a race car that does that and has the capability to do that. Dickie is smart enough to make it all work. It really comes down to my guys, so when I get to crawl into a race car, it’s a blessing. We have potential to be out here in a championship hunt again this year. One step at a time.”

Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Vincent Nobile (Pro Stock) and Angelle Sampey (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at the 17th event of 24 on the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule. This is the penultimate event of the regular season.

Reigning Funny Car world champion Del Worsham qualified second at 3.856-seconds at 326.71 mph in his DHL Toyota Camry. Worsham, of Kalitta Motorsports, lost to Ron Capps in the postponed Funny Car final from Pacific Raceways in Kent, Wash., that took place during the third qualifying session. Capps, a teammate of Hagan’s at Don Schumacher Racing, recorded the 50th win of his career when he defeated Worsham with a pass of 4.014-seconds at 322.42 mph.

DSR’s Tommy Johnson Jr. is third with a 3.859-second pass at 327.98 mph in his Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger R/T. He will go up against Dale Creasy Jr. Sunday morning. DSR’s Jack Beckman, the 2012 world champion, is fourth and will race two-time world champ Cruz Pedregon while Capps is fifth and will battle John Hale.

Brown notched a 1,000-foot pass in 3.679-seconds at 328.30 mph in his Matco Tools dragster to take the Top Fuel lead in the fourth and final qualifying session. Brown tallied his 46th career No. 1 qualifier and second of the season. This is Brown’s second Top Fuel pole at Brainerd. Brown, of DSR, has sprinted to four victories this season and won this event in 2011. He will face legendary privateer Chris “The Greek” Karamesines in the first round.

“My car went right down Broadway and it was ripping,” said Brown, the two-time/reigning world champion. “I felt the car up on the (rear) tire and it stayed on the tire and went right down the track nice, silky and smooth. I’m so proud and stoked for my boys. We have our work cut out for us.”

Earlier in the day, Brown defeated Steve Torrence in the delayed Pacific Raceways final with a run of 3.747-seconds at 320.13 mph. The victory was Brown’s fourth of the season in seven final-round appearances. The victory also extended his series points lead.

Brittany Force, another two-time 2016 event winner, is third in her Monster Energy Dragster fielded by John Force Racing and is paired with Terry Haddock in the first round. Eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher is fourth in his U.S. Army dragster. “The Sarge” will battle Scott Palmer Sunday morning while Torrence is fifth and Doug Kalitta is sixth.

In Pro Stock, Vincent Nobile powered his Mountain View Tire Chevrolet Camaro to his second consecutive No. 1 qualifier with a quarter-mile pass in 6.597-seconds at 209.17 mph. This marked the first time in his career that Nobile has qualified No. 1 at back-to-back national events. Nobile earned the sixth pole of his career, second of the season and second at Brainerd.

“We made a pretty good run and took the No. 1 spot,” said Nobile, who clinched his berth in the Countdown with his category-best performance. “I’m really proud of my guys. Two weekends (as No. 1) in a row _ it’s incredible. I’ve never had such a good racecar. We’ve won races before but we have never been No. 1 like this. This is a pretty incredible feeling.”

Nobile raced to the final round as No. 1 qualifier two weekends ago at Pacific Raceways before the event was postponed by rain. The Seattle Pro Stock final between Nobile and Aaron Strong will be decided during the 62nd annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis Aug. 31-Sept. 5.

Point-leader Jason Line drove his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro to the No. 2 spot with a 6.606-second pass at 208.68 mph. Line, a two-time world champion, won this event in 2014 and has seven victories this year. He will face Alan Prusiensky in the opening round.

In third is Bandimere Speedway winner Allen Johnson, the 2012 world champion who pushed his Marathon Petroleum/J&J Racing Dodge Dart to a 6.613-second pass at 208.59 mph. Johnson will battle Mark Hogan Sunday morning. Drew Skillman sits fourth with Bo Butner sixth.

Three-time world champion Sampey rode her Star Racing/Precision Service Equipment Buell to the No. 1 spot in Pro Stock Motorcycle with a quarter-mile pass of 6.830-seconds at 196.64 mph to claim the 47th pole in her career, second of the season and second at Brainerd. Sampey, winningest female driver in NHRA history with 42 Wally Trophies, won earlier this season in Englishtown, N.J., to claim her first victory since 2007. Sampey will open eliminations against Angie Smith. 

“We actually weren’t able to make a tune-up call on the last run,” Sampey said. “In the third round of qualifying, the bike took off and went to the right and I had to hang off the left side of it all the entire way down the racetrack. The wire that goes from the computer to the motorcycle broke and we weren’t able to do it, so we went with the exact tuneup from the third session, but fortunately we went faster because I went straight this time and shifted on time.

“I’m so proud of my guys; they provide me with a really fast motorcycle and I’m the lucky one who gets to sit on the bike and have some fun.”

Five-time/reigning world champion Andrew Hines qualified second at 6.852-seconds and 194.24 mph aboard his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson. Hines, a two-time Brainerd winner, has notched three victories in five final round appearances this season. He is paired with veteran Steve Johnson in the first round.

 Hector Arana Jr. is in the No. 3 spot at 6.855-seconds and 193.82 mph aboard his Lucas Oil Buell. He will race Jim Underdahl in the first round. Recent Sonoma winner LE Tonglet, the 2010 world champion, is fourth and will go up against Karen Stoffer. Two-time world champ Matt Smith is sixth and will battle Hector Arana Sr., the2009 world champ, in the opener.


Sunday’s first-round elimination pairings for the NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway, the 17th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.  Pairings based on results in qualifying, which ended Saturday. DNQs listed below pairings.

Top Fuel _ 1. Antron Brown, 3.679-seconds, 328.30 mph  vs. 16. Chris Karamesines, 6.373, 226.32; 2. Shawn Langdon, 3.690, 330.15  vs. 15. Luigi Novelli, 4.347, 211.73; 3. Brittany Force, 3.693, 323.97  vs. 14. Terry Haddock, 3.906, 306.26; 4. Tony Schumacher, 3.694, 332.51  vs. 13. Scott Palmer, 3.855, 320.89; 5. Steve Torrence, 3.699, 329.83  vs. 12. Terry McMillen, 3.800, 302.01; 6. Doug Kalitta, 3.704, 331.20  vs. 11. Morgan Lucas, 3.739, 325.77; 7. Richie Crampton, 3.717, 319.14 vs. 10. J.R. Todd, 3.734, 326.24; 8. Leah Pritchett, 3.727, 320.28  vs. 9. Clay Millican, 3.730, 323.12.

Did Not Qualify_ 17. Rob Passey, broke.

Funny Car _ 1. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 3.822, 333.82  vs. 16. John Bojec, Toyota Solara, 4.735, 167.18; 2. Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 3.856, 329.34  vs. 15. Bob Bode, Solara, 4.283, 232.13; 3. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.859, 327.98  vs. 14. Dale Creasy Jr., Chevy Impala, 4.160, 278.06; 4. Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.859, 326.24  vs. 13. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.110, 248.48; 5. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.866, 327.27  vs. 12. John Hale, Charger, 4.000, 319.75; 6. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.892, 317.34  vs. 11. Brian Stewart, Ford Mustang, 3.962, 309.56; 7. John Force, Camaro, 3.915, 328.06  vs. 10. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.935, 323.50; 8. Chad Head, Camry, 3.921, 326.79  vs. 9. Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.933, 318.99.

Pro Stock _ 1. Vincent Nobile, Chevy Camaro, 6.597, 209.17  vs. Bye; 2. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.606, 208.75  vs. 15. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.804, 203.55; 3. Allen Johnson, Dart, 6.613, 208.59 vs. 14. Mark Hogan, Pontiac GXP, 6.796, 202.27; 4. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.615, 208.68  vs. 13. Dave River, Chevy Cobalt, 6.763, 203.74; 5. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.620, 207.88  vs. 12. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Dart, 6.661, 206.83; 6. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.622, 208.49  vs. 11. Erica Enders, Dart, 6.660, 207.08; 7. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.636, 208.71  vs. 10. Deric Kramer, Dart, 6.654, 207.46; 8. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.636, 207.66  vs. 9. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.652, 208.49.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 1. Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.830, 196.64  vs. 16. Angie Smith, Victory, 7.007, 191.02; 2. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.852, 194.24  vs. 15. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.998, 191.08; 3. Hector Arana Jr., Buell, 6.855, 193.82  vs. 14. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.964, 193.43; 4. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.865, 195.08  vs. 13. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.950, 192.11; 5. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.874, 195.19  vs. 12. Chip Ellis, Buell, 6.943, 193.52; 6. Matt Smith, Victory, 6.879, 194.66  vs. 11. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.917, 194.94; 7. Cory Reed, Buell, 6.884, 192.22  vs. 10. Michael Ray, Buell, 6.915, 194.46; 8. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.895, 195.31 vs. 9. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 6.896, 194.02.

Did Not Qualify _ 17. Joe DeSantis, 7.033, 189.82; 18. Kristen Ashby, 7.236, 183.67; 19. Melissa Surber, 7.277, 190.59.


| , RacinToday.com Sunday, August 21 2016
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