April 14, 2019 , Baytown, Texas - Mopar-powered Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car driver Matt Hagan was shooting for the perfect outcome during this weekend’s 32nd Annual Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals Presented by Pennzoil. The two-time Funny Car world champion raced his Pennzoil/Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat into Sunday’s final at Houston Raceway Park Powered by Pennzoil, but came up just short of scoring the victory.

Hagan was the highest finisher among six Mopar-powered Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Cars in Sunday’s field. Ron Capps reached the semifinal while Jack Beckman, Tommy Johnson, Jr., Cruz Pedregon, and Jim Campbell were unable to advance past round one. Leah Pritchett drove the HEMI-powered Pennzoil/Mopar Dodge Top Fuel dragster into the second round.

Hagan and his Pennzoil team, led by crew chief Dickie Venables, had a solid beginning to the weekend with four consistent qualifying runs Friday and Saturday, earning the No. 6 spot in Sunday’s elimination ladder. 

Up first on Sunday was a matchup with fellow Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat driver Tommy Johnson, Jr. Hagan’s lap of 3.946 seconds knocked out Johnson and advanced the 2010 SpringNationals winner into the second round. Hagan dismissed Blake Alexander with another consistent run of 3.948 to setup a semifinal showdown with another DSR teammate, Ron Capps. Hagan legged his way to a victory over Capps after losing traction near halftrack, ultimately crossing the finish line with a run of 4.613 to reach his 56th career final and first in Houston since 2010, when he won his first career Funny Car Wally.

In the final, Hagan lost the starting line advantage to Robert Hight, a .076 reaction time to a .056, and was never able to catch up. His run of 3.966 trailed Hight’s winning pass of 3.941. The run to the final moved Hagan from fifth to second in the championship standings through five of 24 events. 

Capps, a four-time Houston winner, qualified second and defeated a tire-smoking Jeff Diehl in the first round with a pass of 3.950 seconds and then navigated his way into his first semifinal of the season by defeating Shawn Langdon with a 3.939-second lap. His quest for a fifth Houston triumph ended when his machine gave way to tire smoke at the hit of the throttle and he was unable to catch Hagan. Capps leaves Houston tied for seventh in the Funny Car rankings.

Despite Sunday’s first-round loss to Bob Tasca III, the weekend was a huge success for Beckman thanks to Doug Chandler, husband of the late Terry Chandler, who elected to banner MD Anderson Cancer Center on the side of Beckman’s Hellcat in honor of his wife. Before Sunday’s elimination rounds got underway, Beckman joined Chandler family representative Judy Pittman on-stage during NHRA’s pre-race ceremony where the duo presented a $100,000 donation check to Bobby Dean, Executive Director of Philanthropic Resources for MD Anderson, on behalf of Doug Chandler and his TLC Foundation.

Following a runner-up finish in Las Vegas last Sunday, Tommy Johnson, Jr. felt like his Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car was on the verge of breaking through this weekend in Houston. After qualifying 11th, he faced his DSR teammate Hagan in the round one. Johnson had a slight starting line advantage, but he lost traction shortly thereafter, allowing Hagan to drive away for the victory. Johnson’s run of 4.807 seconds at 166.87 resulted in his first opening-round loss of 2019. Johnson leaves Houston sixth in the point standings.

In other first-round action with Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Cars competing, Cruz Pedregon lost to Shawn Langdon and Jim Campbell wasn’t able to make a clean run versus J.R. Todd.

In Top Fuel, Pritchett returned to Houston eyeing a second triumph in the last three years. She positioned herself for a big day by qualifying the DSR Pennzoil/Mopar Dodge Top Fuel dragster third in the field. She was machine-like in her victory over Shawn Reed to open eliminations with a run of 3.736 seconds at 322.73 mph to extend her all-time record versus Reed to 6-0. The win advanced her to a matchup with three-time Top Fuel world champion Antron Brown. Unfortunately, an early throttle stomp by Pritchett activated the red light and earned her DSR teammate the automatic round win.
 
Mopar Dodge//SRT NHRA Sportsman Spotlight
Mopar-powered NHRA Sportsman racer Jacob Pitt drove to the overall event win in Stock Eliminator at the Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals in Houston, on his way to sweeping Dodge Top Finisher honors in both Stock and Super Stock for the second consecutive year.

Pitt, hailing from Fort Worth, Texas, steered his 1969 Plymouth ‘Cuda 440 to his third overall NHRA Wally trophy by defeating Brett Candies in a close final-round matchup. Pitt left the starting line first to edge out his opponent by less than two feet at the finish stripe, and took Dodge Top Finisher honors in the class with his victory.

The Texan also raced to the Dodge Top Finisher Award in the Super Stock class as well, advancing to the third round in his FGT/H 2003 Dodge Stratus, powered by a Mopar 360 small block engine
 
The Dodge Top Finisher award, now in its third year, awards $500 to Stock Eliminator and Super Stock drivers who advance the furthest behind the wheel of a Mopar-powered Dodge, Chrysler, or Plymouth race car at all 24 NHRA national events.
 
Dodge//SRT Mopar NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series: Notes & Quotes

Matt Hagan, Pennzoil/Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car
(No. 6 Qualifier – 3.916 ET)
Rd.1: (.066-second reaction time, 3.946 seconds at 318.62 mph) beat No. 11 Tommy Johnson, Jr. (.061/4.807/166.87)
Rd.2: (.069/3.948/312.93) beat No. 14 Blake Alexander (.065/4.011/306.40)
Rd.3: (.066/4.613/225.79) beat No. 2 Ron Capps (.061/7.818/98.67)
Rd. 4: (.076/3.966/311.70) lost to No. 5 Robert Hight (.056/3.941/310.84)

“I had a great weekend here in Houston. I’ve got a great race car. Dickie Venables is doing an amazing job with this car. The result today falls on me. I was putting down some numbers that were unacceptable and I didn’t leave the way I needed to. We ran just as good as they did, maybe a little better. I put that weight on me. I should have been better (on the starting line). I should have been in the 40s (reaction time) and we would have won this race today.
 
“Sometimes you need things like this to make you dig deeper. I felt really good about my lights all weekend. In qualifying, I was where I needed to be and today the first three rounds I was there. In the final, I had a really long tree. I went inside my head and almost double-stepped the car, but I pulled it back. As soon as I’m pulling back the light is dropping. You just know to yourself that you are dead late. I would have loved to have won it for Pennzoil this weekend. Driving the chrome Pennzoil car right here in Houston with so many Pennzoil and Mopar people out here to root us on was amazing. I couldn’t be happier with the car and team I have surrounding me. We’re ready to keep things going in Charlotte.”
 
Ron Capps, NAPA Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car
(No. 2 Qualifier – 3.893 ET)
Rd.1: (.084-second reaction time, 3.950 seconds at 318.54 mph) beat No. 15 Jeff Diehl (.059/6.980/126.98)
Rd.2: (.068/3.983/315/78) beat No. 10 Shawn Langdon (.061/3.983/318.17)
Rd. 3: (.061/7.818/98.67) lost to No. 6 Matt Hagan (.066/4.613/225/79)

“This was definitely a ‘get-healthy’ weekend for the NAPA guys. To come in and run like we did in qualifying, progressively getting better and end up No. 2 and then to go out there and get to the semifinals. We’ve got a racecar. I’ve been telling our fans to hang with us. After a slow start, we’re back in fighting shape. It’s going to be fun now. It was so much fun going up there with the juices flowing and trying to cut your best light knowing you have a good Thoroughbred underneath you. The confidence just grows and grows. We’ll build off this semifinals finish and moving up in the points.”
 
Jack Beckman, MD Anderson Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car
(No. 8 Qualifier – 3.932  ET)
Rd.1: (.073-second reaction time, 5.321 seconds at 137.23 mph) lost to No. 9 Bob Tasca III (.060/3.949/316.60)

“This (first round loss) is a little bit of a gut check. It hurts for a couple of reasons. One is for MD Anderson, that’s a one-race-only deal and despite the fact that we didn’t achieve what we wanted to on the track, we did some real positive things for cancer research and I’m proud of that. But once the helmet goes on, your goal is to win the race and we’ve got a great car right now. We don’t know what happened. We had a breakage in the bottom end there and we’re going to have to find out what caused it. When you’re running well, you have to strike while the iron’s hot. To lose when we know we have this good of a race car, it’s tough. That being said, that’s why we get 24 shots at this a year. We’ll regroup, we’ll figure out what went wrong, see if we can prevent that from happening again and we’ll go back to four-wide and take that trophy.”
 
Tommy Johnson Jr., Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car
(No. 11 Qualifier – 3.959 ET)
Rd.1: (.061-second reaction time, 4.807 seconds at 166.87 mph) lost No. 6 Matt Hagan (.059/3.946/318.62)

“We were just off a little bit this weekend. We never could quite find our mojo with our tune up. It wasn’t a horrible weekend, but we are better than that. We’ll rebound and come back at Charlotte and try to regroup. Throughout the season there are going to be weekends where you just don’t do as good as you should. Hopefully this is ours and it’s out of the way.”
 
Leah Pritchett, Pennzoil/Mopar Dodge Top Fuel Dragster
(No. 3 Qualifier – 3.743 ET)
Rd.1: (.062-second reaction time, 3.736 seconds at 322.73 mph) beat No. 14 Shawn Reed  (.043/3.755/326.16)
Rd.2: (-.065 red/3.763/320.74) lost to No. 11 Antron Brown (.066/3.750/320.89)

“We came in with a stout hot rod. Got that first-round win and matched up with our teammate Antron Brown. I consider him to be one of the best leavers in the industry and I got a little bit too ‘up’ apparently. I take 100-percent credit for the lack of being able to put a win light on in the second round. I wanted it really bad.
 
“This was a super important race to all of us and I just can’t thank Pennzoil and Mopar enough for backing us. When the failure falls solely on you, you have two ways to handle it – one is to let it eat at you or the other is to know where and how to improve and just think positively about the next one. We have a second go-round in the Pennzoil chrome car coming up at our next race in Charlotte and I can’t wait for that to be my redemption.”
 
Up Next: NGK Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals
Mopar and Dodge//SRT competitors will head next to the 10th annual NGK Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, April 26-28 at zMAX Dragway in Concord, North Carolina. Two-time Charlotte Four-Wide Funny Car winner Jack Beckman will look to win for the first time in 2019 and become the second driver to win driving a Mopar-powered Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car.
 
2019 NHRA Championship — Point Standings After Round 5 of 24
(Season Wins in Parentheses)

NHRA Funny Car
1.  Robert Hight (3) – 476
2.  Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat (1) – 366
3.  J.R. Todd (1) –341
4.  John Force – 339
5.  Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat – 332
6.  Tommy Johnson, Jr., Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat –315
7t.  Ron Capps, Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat – 286

7t.  Tim Wilkerson -  286
9.  Bob Tasca III - 250
10.  Shawn Langdon - 223
 
NHRA Top Fuel
1.  Doug Kalitta (1) -  367
2. Brittany Force (1) –349
3.  Steve Torrence – 343
4.  Mike Salinas (1) – 320
5.  Leah Pritchett, Mopar HEMI – 303
6.  Clay Millican – 302
7.  Antron Brown – 278
8.  Billy Torrence (1) - 265
9.  Richie Crampton (1) – 264
10.  Terry McMillen – 231


About Dodge
Dodge//SRT offers a complete lineup of performance vehicles that stand out in their own segments. Dodge is America’s mainstream performance brand and SRT is positioned as the ultimate performance halo of the Dodge brand, together creating a complete and balanced performance brand with one vision and one voice.
 
For more than 100 years, the Dodge brand has carried on the spirit of brothers John and Horace Dodge, who founded the brand in 1914. Their influence continues today. New for 2019, the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye is possessed by the Demon. Its 797-horsepower supercharged HEMI® high-output engine makes it the most powerful, quickest and fastest muscle car reaching 0-60 miles per hour (mph) in 3.4 seconds and the fastest GT production car with a ¼-mile elapsed time (ET) of 10.8 seconds at 131 mph. It also reaches a new top speed of 203 mph. Joining the Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye is the 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat with its more powerful 717-horsepower engine, the Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebody, which features fender flares from the SRT Hellcat Widebody and adds 3.5 inches of width to Scat Pack’s footprint, as well as and the new Challenger R/T Scat Pack 1320. Infused with exclusive drag strip technology from the iconic Dodge Challenger SRT Demon, the Challenger R/T Scat Pack 1320 is a drag-oriented, street-legal muscle car and a blank canvas for the serious grassroots drag racer.  The 2019 Dodge Durango SRT, America’s fastest, most powerful and most capable three-row SUV with a best-in-class tow rating of 8,700 lbs. fills out the brands’ performance lineup. These visceral performance models join a 2019 brand lineup that includes the Durango, Grand Caravan, Journey, Charger and Challenger — a showroom that offers performance at every price point.
 
 
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.