NHRA Funny Car points leader Matt Hagan increased his lead on Cruz Pedregon with his qualifying efforts for this weekend’s AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park near St. Louis. Hagan earned his fifth No. 1 of the season, increasing his lead from 51 to 63 points over second-place Pedregon. Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also earned No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories.
Hagan’s fast pass of 4.001 seconds (320.20 mph) on Friday was a new track record; he’ll meet Daniel Wilkerson in the first round on Sunday. Robert Hight was the No. 2 qualifier (4.022 seconds/315.64 mph), while his car owner John Force qualified third (4.023 seconds/313.66 mph).
“Every lap counts,” said Hagan. “I mean, you’re looking at small points. You’re trying to pick up three points every time you go down the racetrack. My mentality is to just come out here and drive my race car and do what we know how to do and go down the racetrack and make it into a phenomenal weekend.”
Langdon’s Friday pass of 3.761 seconds (326.40 mph) also held up through Saturday’s qualifying rounds, giving the Al-Anabi Racing driver his sixth No. 1 of the season in Top Fuel; he faces Troy Buff in Sunday’s first round of eliminations. Tony Schumacher took the No. 2 spot (3.782 seconds/327.74 mph – track record speed), followed by Clay Millican (3.786 seconds/322.27 mph).
“Every point counts, so it’s just little by little, one round at a time, and they’ll add up in the end,” said Langdon. “It’s just don’t beat ourselves, that’s the biggest thing. We just have to race smart. You can’t go up there and try to do something that you’re really not accustomed to or go up there and try new things. It’s just keep doing what you’re doing and just make the best decision possible and just race smart for the conditions.”
Johnson took his third No. 1 of the season with his Friday run of 6.512 seconds (212.29 mph) and faces Larry Morgan in the first round of eliminations. V. Gaines (6.526 seconds/211.96 mph) and Jeg Coughlin Jr. (6.527 seconds/211.49 mph).
“The conditions were great today and they did a really good job with the track,” said Johnson. “We gained 10 points on the frontrunners during qualifying and I hope we can take our Express Lube Dodge to the final and make up some more ground. I was not surprised to see our time from last night hold up because the conditions just weren't there. We have a really good combination so we just decided to work on our race-day set up. We treated today as a chance to test and tune for tomorrow.”
Arana set a new track record with his 6.796-second (198.58 mph) run and starts in the No. 1 position; he’s up against Mike Berry in Round One. Michael Ray qualified second (6.830 seconds/196.99 mph), followed by Matt Smith (6.850 seconds/196.30 mph).
"This is just what our team needed," said Arana. "We still haven’t found the sweet spot, but we’re getting better.”
Eliminations for the NHRA Midwest Nationals get underway Sunday at 11 a.m. CT. Keep up with NHRA action at www.nhra.com.
Quotes and information in this piece provided by the NHRA.
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