Hagan breaks world record, field set for Sunday’s finals

Two-time Funny Car world champion Matt Hagan rocketed to the No. 1 qualifier Saturday with a world-record performance at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway.

Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Vincent Nobile (Pro Stock) and Angelle Sampey (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories.

Antron Brown
Antron Brown

Hagan blistered the track in his Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T with a 3.822-second pass at 333.82 mph to set the elapsed time world record and claim his third No. 1 spot of the season and 24th of his career. He has never won at Brainerd but will put forth his best effort as he opens Sunday’s 11 a.m. eliminations against John Bojec.

“I have (crew chief) Dickie Venables in my corner and that guy is so bright and so brilliant,” said Hagan, who qualified No. 1 at Brainerd once before in 2011. “He said, ‘Hey kid, it’s going to go really fast or nowhere at all.’ It’s cool to know that you can hang on to a race car that does that and has the capability to do that. Dickie is smart enough to make it all work. It really comes down to my guys, so when I get to crawl into a race car, it’s a blessing. We have potential to be out here in a championship hunt again this year. One step at a time.”

Reigning Funny Car world champion Del Worsham qualified second with 3.856 seconds at 326.71 mph in his DHL Toyota Camry. Worsham lost to the Ron Capps in the postponed Seattle Funny Car final that took place during the third qualifying session earlier in the day. Capps recorded the 50th win of his career when he defeated Worsham with a pass of 4.014 seconds at 322.42 mph.

Tommy Johnson Jr. is in third. Jack Beckman is fourth and Capps is fifth.

The scoreboard showing Matt Hagan's world-record time.
The scoreboard showing Matt Hagan’s world-record time.

Brown notched a 3.679-second pass at 328.30 mph in his Matco Tools dragster to take the Top Fuel lead in the fourth and final qualifying session. He tallied his 46th career No. 1 qualifier and second of his season. This is his second Top Fuel No. 1 qualifier at BIR. Brown has sprinted to four victories so far this season and won this event in 2011.

“My car went right down Broadway and it was ripping,” said reigning world champ Brown. “I felt the car up on the tire and it stayed on the tire and went right down the track nice, silk, streak and smooth. I’m so proud and stoked for my boys. Tomorrow is going to bring a whole new race day and we’re going in with a good foot forward but it is a brand new day. We have our work cut out for us.”

Earlier in the day, Brown defeated Steve Torrence in the delayed Seattle final round that took place in the third qualifying session. He won with a run of 3.747 seconds at 320.13 mph. The victory was Brown’s fourth of the season in seven final round appearances. The victory extended his series points lead.

In second is two-time 2016 winner Shawn Langdon, who posted 3.690 seconds at 328.38 mph run in his Red Fuel/Sandvik Coromant dragster. Langdon, who clinched his spot in the Countdown to the Championship after his pass in the third qualifying session, will look to win the Brainerd event for the first time when he opens eliminations against Luigi Novelli.

Brittany Force, another two-time 2016 event winner, is third, with eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher in fourth. Torrence is fifth and Doug Kalitta is sixth.

In Pro Stock, Nobile powered his Mountain View Tire Chevy Camaro to his second consecutive No. 1 qualifier with 6.597 seconds at 209.17 mph. This is the first time in his career he has gone No. 1 at back-to-back events. Nobile earned his sixth No. 1 of his career, second of the season and second at BIR.

“We made a pretty good run and as you can see, we took the No. 1 spot,” said Nobile, who clinched his spot in the Countdown with his category best performance. “I’m really proud of my guys. Two weekends (as No. 1) in a row – it’s incredible. I’ve never had such a good race car. We’ve won races before but we have never been No. 1 like this. This is a pretty incredible feeling.”

Nobile raced to the final round as the No. 1 qualifier two weekends ago in Seattle before the event was postponed due to rain. The Seattle Pro Stock final round between Nobile and Aaron Strong will be decided at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis.

Points leader Jason Line drove his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro to the No. 2 spot with 6.606 seconds at 208.68 mph. Line won this event in 2014 and has seven victories this year.

In third is Allen Johnson, while 2015 top rookie Drew Skillman is fifth and Bo Butner is in sixth.

Angelle Sampey rode her Star Racing/Precision Service Equipment Buell to the No. 1 qualifier in Pro Stock Motorcycle in 6.830 seconds at 196.64 mph to claim the 47th No. 1 qualifier in her career, second No. 1 of the season and her second at BIR. Sampey, the winningest female driver in NHRA history with 42, won earlier this season in Englishtown, N.J., to claim her first win since 2007. She hopes to ride to her first victory at BIR tomorrow.

“We actually weren’t able to make a tune-up call on the last run,” she said. “In the third round of qualifying, the bike took off and went to the right and I had to hang off the left side of it all the entire way down the racetrack. The wire that goes from the computer to the motorcycle broke and we weren’t able to do it, so we went with the exact tune up from the third session, but fortunately we went faster because I went straight this time and shifted on time. I’m so proud of my guys and they provide me with a really fast motorcycle and I’m the lucky one who gets to sit on the bike and have some fun.”

Reigning world champion Andrew Hines qualified second with 6.852 seconds at 194.24 mph on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson. Hines is a two-time BIR winner and has notched three victories in five final-round appearances so far this season.

Hector Arana Jr. is in the No. 3 spot, and LE Tonglet is fourth.

BRAINERD, Minn. — Sunday’s first-round pairings for eliminations for the 35th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway, the 17th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.  Pairings based on results in qualifying, which ended Saturday. DNQs listed below pairings.

Top Fuel — 1. Antron Brown, 3.679 seconds, 328.30 mph  vs. 16. Chris Karamesines, 6.373, 226.32; 2. Shawn Langdon, 3.690, 330.15  vs. 15. Luigi Novelli, 4.347, 211.73; 3. Brittany Force, 3.693, 323.97  vs. 14. Terry Haddock, 3.906, 306.26; 4. Tony Schumacher, 3.694, 332.51  vs. 13. Scott Palmer, 3.855, 320.89; 5. Steve Torrence, 3.699, 329.83  vs. 12. Terry McMillen, 3.800, 302.01; 6. Doug Kalitta, 3.704, 331.20  vs. 11. Morgan Lucas, 3.739, 325.77; 7. Richie Crampton, 3.717, 319.14 vs. 10. J.R. Todd, 3.734, 326.24; 8. Leah Pritchett, 3.727, 320.28  vs. 9. Clay Millican, 3.730, 323.12.  Did Not Qualify: 17. Rob Passey, broke.

Funny Car — 1. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 3.822, 333.82  vs. 16. John Bojec, Toyota Solara, 4.735, 167.18; 2. Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 3.856, 329.34  vs. 15. Bob Bode, Solara, 4.283, 232.13; 3. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.859, 327.98  vs. 14. Dale Creasy Jr., Chevy Impala, 4.160, 278.06; 4. Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.859, 326.24  vs. 13. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.110, 248.48; 5. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.866, 327.27  vs. 12. John Hale, Charger, 4.000, 319.75; 6. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.892, 317.34  vs. 11. Brian Stewart, Ford Mustang, 3.962, 309.56; 7. John Force, Camaro, 3.915, 328.06  vs. 10. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.935, 323.50; 8. Chad Head, Camry, 3.921, 326.79  vs. 9. Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.933, 318.99.

Pro Stock — 1. Vincent Nobile, Chevy Camaro, 6.597, 209.17  vs. Bye; 2. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.606, 208.75  vs. 15. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.804, 203.55; 3. Allen Johnson, Dart, 6.613, 208.59 vs. 14. Mark Hogan, Pontiac GXP, 6.796, 202.27; 4. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.615, 208.68  vs. 13. Dave River, Chevy Cobalt, 6.763, 203.74; 5. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.620, 207.88  vs. 12. Jeg Coughlin, Dart, 6.661, 206.83; 6. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.622, 208.49  vs. 11. Erica Enders, Dart, 6.660, 207.08; 7. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.636, 208.71  vs. 10. Deric Kramer, Dart, 6.654, 207.46; 8. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.636, 207.66  vs. 9. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.652, 208.49.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — 1. Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.830, 196.64  vs. 16. Angie Smith, Victory, 7.007, 191.02; 2. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.852, 194.24  vs. 15. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.998, 191.08; 3. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.855, 193.82  vs. 14. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.964, 193.43; 4. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.865, 195.08  vs. 13. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.950, 192.11; 5. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.874, 195.19  vs. 12. Chip Ellis, Buell, 6.943, 193.52; 6. Matt Smith, Victory, 6.879, 194.66  vs. 11. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.917, 194.94; 7. Cory Reed, Buell, 6.884, 192.22  vs. 10. Michael Ray, Buell, 6.915, 194.46; 8. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.895, 195.31 vs. 9. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 6.896, 194.02.  Did Not Qualify: 17. Joe DeSantis, 7.033, 189.82; 18. Kristen Ashby, 7.236, 183.67; 19. Melissa Surber, 7.277, 190.59.