Hagan Gives DSR 350th Win, Ashley Claims His First

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Matt Hagan gave Don Schumacher Racing it's 350th victory on Saturday at Lucas Oil Raceway. (Shawn Crose Photo)
Matt Hagan gave Don Schumacher Racing it's 350th victory on Saturday at Lucas Oil Raceway. (Shawn Crose Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS – Funny Car driver Matt Hagan gave Don Schumacher Racing its 350th victory, beating teammate Jack Beckman in the final round of the rain-delayed Lucas Oil NHRA Summernationals, which was completed during final qualifying of Saturday’s DENSO Spark Plugs U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.

In other racing, rookie Justin Ashley earned his first career Top Fuel win by beating T.J. Zizzo in the final round of the previously postponed Summernationals. Matt Smith beat Scotty Pollacheck in Saturday’s Mickey Thompson Pro Bike Battle all-star bonus race to earn the $25,000 prize.

Hagan picked up his second win this season — both coming since the NHRA’s restart in July – and 35th overall, going 3.919 seconds at 328.54 mph in his 11,000-horsepower Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye in the final round to beat Beckman’s 3.940 seconds at 325.53 mph. It led to an emotional winner’s circle for Hagan, who helped DSR also claim its eighth straight Funny Car win.

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“This is amazing and what a huge milestone to get for Don,” Hagan said. “I was probably as nervous as I am running for a championship because you want to get it done for Mopar. This car is running so well and (crew chief) Dickie Venables has put a great car underneath me. I’m just trying to do my job on the starting line. Don has been a big part of my career and to get a Wally on a Saturday, it doesn’t get much better than that.”

In a battle of first-time Top Fuel finalists, Ashley went 3.958 seconds at 267.96 mph in his 11,000-horsepower Strutmasters.com/MANSCAPED Top Fuel dragster, knocking off Zizzo to become the NHRA’s 109th different Top Fuel winner. The matchup was also the first time since 1997 that two first-time finalists met in the championship round, and Ashley led from start to finish to secure the win.

Justin Ashley gets an ice bath after winning his first NHRA Top Fuel event Saturday at Lucas Oil Raceway. (Shawn Crose Photo)
Justin Ashley gets an ice bath after winning his first NHRA Top Fuel event Saturday at Lucas Oil Raceway. (Shawn Crose Photo)

“I’m going to have to hold back tears because this is a dream come true for me,” Ashley said. “To be here means the world to me. Truthfully, it’s not about me, but all the guys on this team and all the partners that have supported us to help get us to this point. Make no mistake, this trophy is for my dad (Mike Ashley) and we’re coming home with the win.”

Smith earned his second career victory in the Mickey Thompson Pro Bike Battle, winning immediately on his DENSO EBR when Pollacheck went red. Smith suffered problems on the bike, going 7.244 seconds at 175.75 mph, but the victory was already in hand as he outlasted seven other riders during Saturday’s special all-star race. He knocked off Angelle Sampey and Jerry Savoie to reach the final round.

“This race is a big deal for us and it means a lot,” Smith said. “I’m not sure exactly what went wrong, but somehow we got the win. For all the people that help me, thank you. And thank you to Mickey Thompson for putting this on for us in the class. We appreciate it a lot.”