Matt Hagan powered his DieHard Dodge Charger to the qualifying lead in Funny Car Friday at the Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway. Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were also qualifying leaders at the third of six races in the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship, NHRA's playoffs.
Flying a special DieHard Gold Batteries paint scheme this weekend, Hagan ran a 4.012 second pass at 316.67mph, the fourth quickest Funny Car run in NHRA history, during the team's second qualifying efforts on Friday to secure the provisional No. 1 spot.
"This is phenomenal," Hagan said. “We have a long ways to go to catch up to 'Superman' [Mike Neff] with Cruz [Pedregon] and all the other guys knocking on the door, so we're going to keep our fingers and toes crossed and stay at it."
The DieHard pilot has had a lot of success at Maple Grove Raceway throughout his Funny Car career. Hagan made his professional debut at this race in 2008, earned a runner-up finish and set the national E.T. record at this event last season.
"This is a great racetrack,” Hagan said. “When I'm sitting in the racecar in cool, dark conditions, it runs good most of the time. Tommy [DeLago] has a good handle on the tune-up. We're having fun. You probably can't tell while the car's running, but I have a big ol' smile underneath my helmet.”
With Hagan's performance on Friday, he moved up one spot in the championship point standings tying Mike Neff for the lead. Neff has led the 7,000 horsepower class for most of the season and sits fifth in the qualifying standings with a 4.085 at 312.25 heading in Saturday.
Hagan's teammates Johnny Gray and Ron Capps are currently qualified behind him in second and third, while 2010 world champion John Force is currently fourth.
Matco Tools pilot Brown led the way in Top Fuel qualifying action Friday with his pass of 3.797 at 324.44 under the lights at Maple Grove Raceway.
"The conditions were really good tonight," said Brown. "We saw our Funny Car teammates go 4.02 and 4.01, and I thought, 'We'll be all right.' Our car actually didn't run that strong early.”
The always animated Brown, who grew up just two hours outside of Reading, truly enjoyed setting the track speed record at what he considers to be one of his home tracks and he knows that if the conditions are right for the rest of the weekend, there is potential for national record setting runs.
“If you combine our best front-half where we went 3.00 to 660 feet with the back-half we're running right now, we're talking about a 3.74,” Brown said. “If conditions are going to be like we think they are tomorrow, we're going for it. Why not?"
Reigning Top Fuel champ Larry Dixon missed his chance to take the provisional No. 1 from Brown by just one one-thousandth of a second in his Al-Anabi dragster with his pass of 3.798 at 320.43. Current point leader Spencer Massey and his Fram dragster sit third with 3.817 at 322.27.
In Pro Stock, 2009 world champion Edwards led the way in his Penhall/K&N Filters/Interstate Batteries Pontiac GXP with a 6.541 at 211.66, setting both ends of the track record on his way to the provisional top spot.
“Actually hats off to my guys, the first run was really good. We went the wrong way on second one but the first was good,” Edwards said. “We had a good first day, we'll see what happens tomorrow. I'm not racing the Summit guys, I'm racing whole field. The fact that we all ran the same just means there's a lot of hard work going on. Teams are doing all they can do to go fast."
The Summit Racing duo of Greg Anderson and Jason Line follow Edwards in the qualifying standings after Friday's action at Maple Grove. Anderson sits second with his pass of 6.541 at 211.43 and Line is right behind him in third with his 6.541 at 211.06.
Pro Stock Motorcycle point leader Krawiec also set the track speed and E.T. record en route to the provisional lead in the two-wheel class with a 6.826 at 197.97 on his Vance & Hines/Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson V-Rod.
“I'm excited, all I have to do here is make good clean laps down the track and we'll be good,” Krawiec said. “We left a little on the plate tonight, but it's about making clean, good, consistent runs and showing the competitors what we're all about.”
Krawiec is followed by 2009 Full Throttle champion Hector Arana who ran a 6.863 at 194.74 on his Lucas Oil Buell, while teammate Andrew Hines is third on his Harley Davidson with a 6.871 at 193.88.