Photos Phil Hutchison
INDIANAPOLIS – Funny Car driver Matt Hagan gave Don Schumacher Racing its 350th career win, 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, while Matt Smith beat Scotty Pollacheck in Saturday’s Mickey Thompson Pro Bike Battle all-star bonus race to earn the $25,000 prize.
Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel), Tommy Johnson Jr. (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Pollacheck (Pro Stock Motorcycle) finished as the No. 1 qualifiers at the U.S. Nationals, the sixth race of the 2020 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.
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 at 325.53. It led to an emotional winner’s circle for Hagan, who helped DSR also claim its eighth straight Funny Car win.
“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 at 267.96 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.
“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 at 175.75, 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.”
Chad Green scored his first career E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series victory on Saturday, beating Jason Scruggs in the final round of the postponed Lucas Oil Summernationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. The final was moved to the DENSO Spark Plugs U.S. Nationals, as both drivers were after their first win in the class.
It was Green who crossed the finish line first, chasing down Scruggs at the top end with a winning run of 5.823-seconds at 250.09 mph in his nitrous-powered Bond Coat Corvette. Scruggs led most of the race, but slowed to a 5.904 at 204.42. Green suffered a major crash in 2019 at the U.S. Nationals, returning a year later to claim his first career win in the class.
“This moment means so much and it makes me emotional,” said Green, who appeared in his fourth final round. “After what happened last year, to be back here and to be able to do this, it’s just awesome. The first win is always the hardest, so hopefully we can get some more of these.”