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Hagan Tops Hight In Lastest Funny Car Bout

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, June 8 2022

Matt Hagan collected another Funny Car ‘Wally’ on Sunday. (File photo courtesy of the NHRA)

NHRA Funny Car competition in 2022 doesn’t get any better than Matt Hagan vs. Robert Hight. The three-time world champions met in the final of Sunday’s ninth annual NHRA New England Nationals, with point-leader Hagan emerging victorious before a sellout crowd in Epping, N.H.

Hagan powered to his third win of the season and 42nd of his career with a 1,000-foot pass of 3.922-seconds at 327.98 mph at New England Dragway. The victory was Hagan’s first in the four, head-to-head, final-round matchups against Hight this season. In their 40 career head-to-head meetings, Hagan and Hight now have won 20 times apiece, with Hight holding an 8-4 advantage in final-round pairings.

“I think it’s going to be a dogfight all year between Robert Hight and us,” said Hagan, driver of the Dodge Power Brokers Charger SRT Hellcat fielded by Tony Stewart Racing. “It’s a dogfight out there and I love it. I was so up on the wheel there and was like, ‘Come on, come on!’

“Hight is a bad dude out there and he’s hard to get around and he’s had our number three times already this year. I have a lot of respect for Robert Hight and what he does. He drives the same type of style I do and that’s no BS _ just drive your race car. That’s what we did today. This Dodge Power Brokers team _ I love you to death and trust you with my life. I wouldn’t trade you for anyone.”

Mike Salinas (Top Fuel) and Erica Enders (Pro Stock) also recorded wins at the eighth of 22 races during the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season. For the second straight day, NHRA and New England Dragway officials announced a sellout crowd. 

Hagan earned his fourth win at New England Dragway in the past five events over a 14-car field by knocking off Dale Creasy Jr. and J.R. Todd to reach the final. It was Hagan’s sixth championship round in eight races and capped by an impressive win against Hight.

“It was just a great weekend, and I can’t say enough about (crew chief) Dickie Venables,” Hagan said. “Nothing really needs to be said because the race car speaks for itself. All the boys wrenching on the car just do a great job, and when I crawl in that car, I don’t have to think about anything other than leaving the starting line. I’m nothing without those guys, and I’m so proud of them. They truly deserve all the credit, and I should be giving all my trophies to these guys.

We’re in a great rhythm, and Dickie is in a great mind space. I think we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing. There will be some lows, but that’s drag racing. You just try to ride this wave as long as you can. I give a lot of respect to Robert Hight and Jimmy Prock for showing up and showing out, and I love that. It creates a great rivalry for the fans.”

Hight, of John Force Racing, stayed second in points by advancing to the final for the fifth time this year and 89th overall with wins against Cory Lee, Alexis DeJoria and two-time/reigning world champion Ron Capps.

Hight’s win streak ended in the final as the AAA New England Chevrolet Camaro smoked its rear tires near the 300-foot mark. Hight attempted to pedal the Camaro to the line but couldn’t regain traction en route to posting numbers of 6.232-seconds at 110.15 mph.

“Tough way to end the day,” Hight said. “You know this AAA Chevy got a little lucky in the first round; had to pedal it and was able to pull it off but then we really stepped it up and were running well. We just couldn’t get the job done in the final. It’s another final round though, and it’s points on the board. We just have to keep it up. Keep running well, pick ourselves up if we stumble and that’s what this team does, they don’t give up. We’ll just head to the next one and look to get the job done in Bristol.”

In Top Fuel, Mike Salinas drove to his third win in what has been a stellar 2022 campaign, powering past Justin Ashley in the final with a 1,000-foot pass in 3.729-seconds at 330.80 mph.

One year after falling in the final round at New England Dragway, Salinas made amends Sunday _ climbing into second in points with his sixth career victory. The Californian reached the final via victories against Joe Morrison, Leah Pruett and Austin Prock before trailering Ashley to pick up his first win at the historic Northeast facility.

“I was glad to come back and redeem myself,” said Salinas, owner/driver of the Valley Services/Scrappers Racing dragster. “I will honestly say I got lucky. This has been an off-week for me. I’ve been all over the place and a mess. I would call this a lucky week for me. I was doing a couple of silly things in the car, but we know we have a good car and we were still able to get the win.

“I love the people here and everyone here is so awesome. The fans and the people are amazing. They’re good people and 90 percent of them thanked us for coming. It’s a timeless place.”

Ashley reached the final for the third time this year after round wins against Dan Mercier and Shawn Langdon. Brittany Force, who set the track speed record Sunday with a run of 334.90 mph, maintained the point lead. Brit, the 2016 world champion and driver of the Monster Energy dragster fielded by John Force Racing, now leads Salinas by 50 points.

More than a month between Pro Stock races failed to slow down Erica Enders, as the point leader remained red-hot in Epping. Enders capped her weekend with a winning quarter-mile run of 6.547-seconds at 211.00 mph in the final in her Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro SS. Enders defeated defending event winner Aaron Stanfield in the final, claiming her third straight victory and fourth in what is shaping up as a dominant 2022 season.

Enders reached the final with victories against veteran Kenny Delco, five-time/reigning world champion Greg Anderson and Mason McGaha. Erica then led wire-to-wire against Stanfield to post her 37th career win. It’s only the second time during the four-time world champ’s career that she has put together a three-race winning streak. That’s how motivated Enders is to claim a fifth world title.

“We’re off to a tremendous start, and we’re going to enjoy the ride while it lasts and try to capitalize on it,” Enders said. “Any weekend we can stick two Elite Motorsports cars in the final round is awesome and winning here in 2017 kind of turned the tides for us. This is a unique place to run, and the cars usually run really well here.

“I love racing in this part of the country. It’s exciting to see the fan reception for our class when nitro kind of takes the lead because they explode and crash and run into things. But Pro Stock is so intricate and precise, and the fans here love it. This is Pro Stock country.”

Stanfield advanced to the final round for the third time this year, trailering Troy Coughlin Jr., Deric Kramer and Fernando Cuadra Jr. Stanfield stayed second in the standings, although Enders’ lead grew to 92 points with the victory.

“This is our effort for our fifth title, and the fashion that we lost in last year was pretty gut-wrenching,” Enders said. “But that gave us the motivation to go to work. We’ve started the season on the right foot, and I’m blessed to be the girl that gets to drive that race car.” 

The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series returns to action June 17-19 with the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.

Editor’s Note: John Sturbin is a Texas-based journalist specializing in motorsports. During a near 30-year career with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, he won the Bloys Britt Award for top motorsports story of the year (1991) as judged by The Associated Press; received the National Hot Rod Association’s Media Award (1997) and several in-house Star-Telegram honors. He also was inaugural recipient of the Texas Motor Speedway Excellence in Journalism Award (2009). His list of freelance clients includes Texas Motor Speedway, the Dallas Morning News, New York Newsday, Rome (N.Y) Daily Sentinel, Corpus Christi (Texas) Caller Times, NASCAR Wire Service and Ford Racing).

Final finishing order (1-16) at the ninth annual NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway in Epping, N.H. The race was the eighth of 22 events in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series.

Top Fuel _ 1. Mike Salinas; 2. Justin Ashley; 3. Shawn Langdon; 4. Austin Prock; 5. Brittany Force; 6. Leah Pruett; 7. Doug Kalitta; 8. Scott Farley; 9. Antron Brown; 10. Tony Schumacher; 11. Joe Morrison; 12. Steve Torrence; 13. Dan Mercier; 14. Clay Millican; 15. Cameron Ferre; 16. Josh Hart.

Funny Car _ 1. Matt Hagan; 2. Robert Hight; 3. J.R. Todd; 4. Ron Capps; 5. Alexis DeJoria; 6. John Force; 7. Cruz Pedregon; 8. Tim Wilkerson; 9. Cory Lee; 10. Blake Alexander; 11. Bob Tasca III; 12. Terry Haddock; 13. Dale Creasy Jr.; 14. Jim Campbell. 

Pro Stock _ 1. Erica Enders; 2. Aaron Stanfield; 3. Fernando Cuadra Jr.; 4. Mason McGaha; 5. Greg Anderson; 6. Kyle Koretsky; 7. Deric Kramer; 8. Dallas Glenn; 9. Camrie Caruso; 10. Matt Hartford; 11. Bo Butner; 12. Kenny Delco; 13. Chris McGaha; 14. Fernando Cuadra; 15. Troy Coughlin Jr.; 16. Alan Prusiensky. 

Final Pro and Sportsman results from the NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway:

Top Fuel _ Mike Salinas, 3.729-seconds, 330.80 mph def. Justin Ashley, 3.782-seconds, 315.78 mph. 

Funny Car _ Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 3.922, 327.98 def. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 6.232, 110.15.

Pro Stock _ Erica Enders, Chevy Camaro, 6.547, 211.00 def. Aaron Stanfield, Camaro, 6.553, 212.13. 

Super Stock _ Eric Merryfield, Dodge Dakota, 10.802, 101.47 def. Joe Santangelo, Chevy Camaro, 11.801, 88.93. 

Stock Eliminator _ Timothy Stickles, Chevy Malibu, 11.913, 106.35 def. Jean Philipp Tremblay, Ford Mustang, Foul/Red Light. 

Super Comp _ Rob Hyatt, Dragster, 8.879, 167.88 def. Brad Coryell, Dragster, Foul/Red Light. 

Super Gas _ Ted Leahy, Oldsmobile Cutlass, 9.899, 162.29 def. Mike Sawyer, Chevy Corvette, 9.895, 170.51. 

Super Street _ John Olson, Chevy Chevelle, 10.867, 140.88 def. Keith Mayers, Porsche, Foul/Red Light. 

Top Sportsman presented by Vortech Superchargers _ Freddy Perkins, Chevy Nova, 7.594, 179.16 def. Dennis Gaboriault, Ford Mustang, 6.125, 229.66. 

Pro Stock Snowmobile _ Brandon Beauregard, Polaris, 5.607, 119.75 def. Keith Culley, Ski-Doo, 5.649, 120.14.

Final round-by-round results from the NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway:

TOP FUEL

ROUND ONE _ Austin Prock, no time, no speed def. Antron Brown, 3.875, 312.42; Shawn Langdon, 3.762, 327.74 def. Josh Hart, Broke; Doug Kalitta, 3.742, 330.23 def. Cameron Ferre, 10.412, 76.22; Mike Salinas, 3.888, 323.12 def. Joe Morrison, 4.092, 228.89; Scott Farley, 4.062, 244.87 def. Steve Torrence, 5.816, 148.35; Brittany Force, 3.702, 334.90 def. Clay Millican, 10.057, 80.52; Leah Pruett, 3.796, 322.11 def. Tony Schumacher, 3.980, 266.32; Justin Ashley, 3.743, 332.10 def. Dan Mercier, 6.139, 102.04; 

QUARTERFINALS _ Salinas, 3.746, 328.62 def. Pruett, 3.807, 321.27; Prock, 3.734, 330.96 def. Force, 3.704, 334.82; Langdon, 3.787, 324.20 def. Kalitta, 5.270, 170.97; Ashley, 3.786, 328.06 def. Farley, Broke/No Show;

SEMIFINALS _ Ashley, 3.750, 327.59 def. Langdon, 3.776, 300.13; Salinas, 3.865, 289.63 def. Prock, 5.530, 126.01;

FINAL _ Salinas, 3.729, 330.80 def. Ashley, 3.782, 315.78. 

FUNNY CAR 

ROUND ONE _ J.R. Todd, Toyota Supra, 4.118, 282.72 def. Blake Alexander, Ford Mustang, 4.626, 184.02; Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 4.328, 280.49 def. Cory Lee, Mustang, 4.523, 250.32; John Force, Camaro, 3.910, 332.10 def. Terry Haddock, Mustang, 5.821, 124.64; Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 4.097, 261.83 def. Dale Creasy Jr., Charger, 10.284, 88.72; Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 3.948, 323.74 def. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.839, 161.56; Alexis DeJoria, Supra, 3.973, 324.28 def. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.128, 269.83; Ron Capps, Supra, 3.974, 323.04 def. Jim Campbell, Charger, 12.153, 41.16; 

QUARTERFINALS _ Todd, 4.019, 318.24 def. Pedregon, 4.670, 182.03; Capps, 3.946, 328.94 def. Force, 4.012, 323.35; Hight, 3.933, 326.79 def. DeJoria, 3.988, 321.65; Hagan, 3.948, 323.27 was unopposed; 

SEMIFINALS _ Hagan, 3.963, 325.69 def. Todd, 3.981, 321.58; Hight, 3.927, 327.19 def. Capps, 4.092, 281.66; 

FINAL _ Hagan, 3.922, 327.98 def. Hight, 6.232, 110.15. 

PRO STOCK 

ROUND ONE _ Fernando Cuadra Jr., Ford Mustang, 6.594, 208.62 def. Fernando Cuadra, Mustang, 6.681, 202.79; Mason McGaha, Chevy Camaro, 6.544, 209.82 def. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.569, 209.59; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.535, 210.37 def. Camrie Caruso, Camaro, 6.537, 211.06; Aaron Stanfield, Camaro, 6.535, 210.90 def. Troy Coughlin Jr., Camaro, 13.849, 61.75; Kyle Koretsky, Camaro, 6.531, 210.70 def. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.589, 209.43; Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.554, 209.95 def. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.566, 210.01; Dallas Glenn, Camaro, 6.559, 209.49 def. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 15.949, 66.59; Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.517, 211.56 def. Kenny Delco, Camaro, Foul/Red Light; 

QUARTERFINALS — Cuadra Jr., 6.579, 209.79 def. Glenn, 6.584, 209.49; Stanfield, 6.535, 211.79 def. Kramer, 6.552, 206.04; M. McGaha, 6.556, 210.64 def. Koretsky, 6.536, no speed; Enders, 6.536, 211.53 def. Anderson, 6.515, no speed; 

SEMIFINALS _ Enders, 9.260, 107.33 def. M. McGaha, Foul/Red Light; Stanfield, 6.570, 210.05 def. Cuadra Jr., 11.912, 70.78; 

FINAL _ Enders, 6.547, 211.00 def. Stanfield, 6.553, 212.13. 

Point standings (top-10) following the NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway:

Top Fuel _1. Brittany Force, 668; 2. Mike Salinas, 638; 3. Steve Torrence, 569; 4. Justin Ashley, 561; 5. Austin Prock, 425; 6. Clay Millican, 396; 7. Josh Hart, 376; 8. Doug Kalitta, 373; 9. Shawn Langdon, 341; 10. Tony Schumacher, 329.

Funny Car _1. Matt Hagan, 797; 2. Robert Hight, 756; 3. Ron Capps, 634; 4. John Force, 507; 5. Cruz Pedregon, 452; 6. J.R. Todd, 403; 7. Bob Tasca III, 386; 8. Alexis DeJoria, 362; 9. Chad Green, 321; 10. Tim Wilkerson, 311.

Pro Stock _1. Erica Enders, 592; 2. Aaron Stanfield, 484; 3. Kyle Koretsky, 405; 4. Dallas Glenn, 366; 5. Mason McGaha, 352; 6. Greg Anderson, 343; 7. Camrie Caruso, 307; 8. Bo Butner, 274; 9. Deric Kramer, 270; 10. Troy Coughlin Jr., 255.

 

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, June 8 2022
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