Daniels Wins Mopar HEMI® Challenge, Hagan and Pritchett are Provisional No. 1 Qualifiers at NHRA U.S. Nationals

  • Jimmy Daniels wins Mopar HEMI® Challenge at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis for second consecutive year
  • Wendell Howes finishes as runner-up
  • Matt Hagan is provisional No. 1 qualifier for NHRA U.S. Nationals in Mopar HEMI-powered Funny Car, Mopar driver Leah Pritchett is current No. 1 in Top Fuel
September 1, 2017 , Brownsburg, Ind. - Jimmy Daniels is two-for-two in the Mopar HEMI® Challenge. The 21-year-old driver from Yardley, Pennsylvania, made his second start in the prestigious annual event on Friday during the NHRA U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, and drove his 1968 Dodge Dart to the winner’s circle for the second consecutive year.

With the win, Daniels further added to the family legacy in the event started by his father, Jim, who claimed victory in 2010.   

“Sportsman racing has been a part of Mopar’s DNA for decades, and we’re so happy to see the success these passionate Mopar-powered racers are achieving as we celebrate our 80th anniversary,” said Pietro Gorlier, Head of Parts and Service (Mopar) FCA. “Congratulations to Jimmy Daniels on wining the Mopar HEMI Challenge in his ’68 Dart.”

The $15,000-to-win Sportsman event showcases 1968 Dodge Darts and Plymouth Barracudas—the original Mopar package cars—competing in the SS/AH category. This year’s 17th annual event drew competitors from around North America.

Daniels matched up with Wendell Howes’ ’68 Barracuda in the final round. After a staging battle, Daniels bested Howes with a pass of 8.404 seconds at 155.96 mph. The lap was his quickest of the weekend. Howes meanwhile turned in a 9.923 at 103.21. Daniels got off the line with a.013-second reaction time while Howes left after .099.

“There were some tough cars out here and we weren’t the fastest by a lot,” Daniels said. “I had to be on my game. You couldn’t take anybody lightly here; it was a tough field this year.”

Daniels qualified No. 2 and defeated Bucky Hess’ Barracuda in round one after Hess, the winner of the first-ever Mopar HEMI Challenge in 2001, turned on the red light. Daniels next took down the Barracuda of Gus Mantas, and then bested Steve Comella’s Barracuda with an electrifying holeshot victory to reach the final round.

Daniels was driving the same car his father used to win in 2010, which features HEMI power from Ray Barton Racing Engines. The young driver is enrolled at Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, and leaves for school next Wednesday.

“It’s an unbelievable experience,” Daniels said of winning the Mopar HEMI Challenge for the second consecutive year. “I can’t describe it.”

Although Wendell Howes didn’t claim the top prize at the end of the day, he was still was pleased with a runner-up finish in the premier Sportsman race for the Mopar brand.

“The event was great, I think everybody had a good time,” said Howes, who hails from Rothesbay, New Brunswick. “He (Daniels) went down, I didn’t. As far as the staging goes, it was just a matter of who wanted to blink first.”

Along with his $15,000 payday, Daniels also received a unique trophy weighing 42.6 pounds. The top sixteen finishers in the event received a cash payout, while all competitors were provided with special decals, hats and limited-edition posters.

Bucky Hess’ Kandy Kuda received the Best Appearing Award.

Hagan and Pritchett Each Sit No. 1 after First Round of U.S. Nationals Qualifying
The first of five qualifying sessions for the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series portion of the U.S. Nationals kicked off on Friday evening as well, with Mopar HEMI power from Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) taking the provisional top spots in both the Funny Car and Top Fuel categories in unseasonably cool conditions.

Matt Hagan drove to the No. 1 spot in Funny Car in his Mopar 80th/Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T with a 3.799-second blast at 338.77 mph. Both the elapsed time (E.T.) and speed were new track records at Lucas Oil Raceway. Leah Pritchett meanwhile put her Papa John’s Pizza/Mopar Pennzoil Top Fuel dragster No. 1 with a pass of 3.667 at 329.50. Her E.T. was also good enough for a Top Fuel track record.

Mopar/Dodge Notes & Quotes

Matt Hagan, Mopar 80th/Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
“It’s fun to just be able to do something like that. We missed the .70s just barely to Robert (Hight). We were first in the .90s, first in the .80s, and second in the .70s. But that’s just how it goes, I’m just glad to be there and be able to do something like that. These cars are just awesome to drive.”

Leah Pritchett, Papa John’s Pizza/Mopar Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster
“That was not a cruise down the highway. I’ve been on the track for two days and knew it tends to pull to the left in both lanes. When you get past the grandstands there was a side wind that started to push me and I fought to keep it square to the lane. I was out of breath at the end but when you have a race car as good as this one you do whatever it takes to get to the finish line.”

For more information on Mopar and Dodge in NHRA, check out the Mopar brand’s official blog, http://blog.mopar.com.

About Mopar Motorsports
The Mopar brand’s commitment to professional motorsports competition was established in the 1950s when a partnership ignited with drag racing pioneer Don Garlits, resulting in the breaking of numerous speed and performance barriers in HEMI-powered vehicles over the next several decades. In 2016, thanks to Don Schumacher Racing driver Ron Capps, Mopar captured its fourth NHRA Funny Car World Championship in the last six years. As Mopar celebrates 80 years as a brand in 2017, it will focus its NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series efforts on NHRA Funny Car and, with rising star Leah Pritchett, NHRA Top Fuel Dragster. Mopar will also bolster its commitment to NHRA Sportsman racing with new contingency rewards, factory support and at-track technical advice and guidance.

Mopar-First Features
During the brand’s 80 years, Mopar has introduced numerous industry-first features including:
  • Vehicle-information apps: first to introduce smartphone vehicle-information applications, a new channel of communication with consumers
  • wiADVISOR: first to incorporate a tablet-based service lane tool
  • Electronic Vehicle Tracking System (EVTS): first to market with a new interactive vehicle tracking device that sends owner a text when vehicle is driven too fast or too far based on pre-set parameters
  • Wi-Fi: first to offer customers the ability to make their vehicle a wireless hot spot
  • Electronic owner manuals: first to introduce traditional owner manuals on a smartphone app 

About Mopar
Mopar (a simple contraction of the words MOtor and PARts) is the service, parts and customer-care brand for FCA vehicles around the globe. Born in 1937 as the name of a line of antifreeze products, the Mopar brand has evolved over more than 80 years to represent both complete care and authentic performance for owners and enthusiasts worldwide.

Mopar made its mark in the 1960s during the muscle-car era, with Mopar Performance Parts to enhance speed and handling for both road and racing use, and expanded to include technical service and customer support. Today, the Mopar brand’s global reach distributes more than 500,000 parts and accessories in over 150 markets around the world. With more than 50 parts distribution centers and 25 customer contact centers globally, Mopar integrates service, parts and customer-care operations in order to enhance customer and dealer support worldwide.

Mopar is the source for genuine parts and accessories for all FCA US LLC vehicle brands. Mopar parts are engineered together with the same teams that create factory-authorized specifications for FCA vehicles, offering a direct connection that no other aftermarket parts company can provide. Complete information on the Mopar brand is available at www.mopar.com.

Contact Information

Welcome to the FCA US media site.

Search Keywords:
Keywords to exclude:
Please Select Media Type:
Executive Bios
Executive Speeches
Fact Sheets
Media Advisories
Plant Fact Sheets
Press Kits
Press Releases
Product Pricing
Special Reports
Statement In Response
Search All News
Production Period:
Results per page:
Sort by: