COMMERCE, Ga. – Matt Hagan ended a 29-race drought from the top of Funny Car’s qualifying order by racing to the No. 1 position Friday at the rain-delayed Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway.
Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel) and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) also will lead their categories into Saturday’s 11 a.m. eliminations as the No. 1 qualifiers in their categories at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event.
The 2011 Funny Car world champ powered his Magneti Marelli/Rocky Footwear Dodge Charger to a track record time of 4.067 seconds at 312.86 mph to claim his first No. 1 qualifying position since November 2011 and the 11th of his career. Hagan will open eliminations against No. 16 qualifier Tony Pedregon, a two-time world champ.
“I guess this is my first pole since my championship year, but I just look at (last year) as just a wash,” said Hagan, who finished 11th in points last season, missing the Countdown to the Championship playoffs. “I don’t even think about it anymore; it’s behind me. We’re looking ahead to bigger and brighter things with (crew chief) Dickie Venables and this car and this crew. My lights (reaction times) are great, and the car’s running great, and that’s a hard combination to beat when you put two and two together. The confidence just keeps building, but, like I said, without my guys busting their butts, it’s not happening. It’s a great feeling to be back up at the top, No. 1.”
Ron Capps qualified second with a 4.073 at 313.15 in his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger and will race second year driver and recent Charlotte runner-up Blake Alexander in the first round. Meanwhile, series points leader Cruz Pedregon qualified third in his Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry with a 4.086 at 303.37 and will begin his quest to earn his third win of the season by facing Jeff Arend in the first round.
In Top Fuel, Langdon took his second No. 1 qualifying position of the season and eighth of his career, powering his Al-Anabi Racing dragster to both ends of the track record with a performance of 3.791 at 324.36. Langdon will race GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster driver Morgan Lucas in the first round.
“With only having two runs today, we were a little conservative on the first run to try to get down the racetrack,” Langdon said. “We accomplished that and found a lot of areas that we could improve on, and I think that showed a little bit on the second run.”