The stout 3.890 that Matt Hagan used to take the provisional pole on Friday during Funny Car qualifying for the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals was not bettered during either of Saturday’s runs so the two-time Mello Yello champion has earned a green low qualifier hat for the first time this season and 35th time in his career. Hagan’s previous best qualifying effort this season had been second in Phoenix but he was also third-quickest at the most recent event in Seattle.
“Honestly, I didn’t’ know if that run from yesterday would hold,” said Hagan. “We ran a little later this evening, and everyone was pushing. We were pushing hard that last lap. We let it all hang out. It didn’t stick but it was one of those things where you can try to make a hero run when you are sitting in position we were in. We really feel good about the car and the race day set-up. Everything is kind of coming together right now. As long as we turn four win lights on tomorrow that’s all that really matters.
“We sure hope tomorrow is our day,” said Hagan. “It will be a challenge trying to keep lane choice all day. That will be big but we’ll get up and see what we can do.”
Hagan wasn’t able to better his own run on Saturday, but he was solid in Q3 with a 4.000 that undoubtably helped his Mopar team refine their combination heading into tomorrow’s final eliminations. With the top spot all but secure, the Mopar team, led by Dickie Venables, went for the jugular in the final session but overpowered the track. John Force claimed the three bonus points in the final session with a 3.923 in his Peak Camaro while Hagan’s teammates, Ron Capps, and Jack Beckman also secured bonus points.
The Q1 bonus points went to Tommy Johnson Jr., Force, and Paul Lee, who were the only drivers to record three-second runs. Lee has been particularly impressive with runs of 4.021, 3.969, and 3.982 in his Dodge Charger, which is carrying Lucas Oil Products signage in addition to his usual McLeod Clutches logos this weekend.
One other driver who was able to breathe a big sigh of relief following Q4 was Cruz Pedregon. The two-time champion was not in the field until he guided his Snap-on Charger to a 4.031 to move into the No. 13 spot and knock Jim Campbell from the field. Pedregon will face current points leader Robert Hight in round one.