This past weekend, the Team Mopar NHRA Dodge Charger funny car racers headed to Las Vegas for the Denso Spark Plugs Four Wide Nationals, looking for their first win of the young 2021 season. As the name of the event suggests, this stop in Vegas includes four-wide drag racing, with four cars competing side-by-side-by-side-by-side, creating a unique format for the elimination rounds. This effective removes the final round of two cars, with the run for the Wally being held between all four semifinalists.
In this case, that group of four cars included both of the Don Schumacher Racing funny cars and a pair of Ford Mustang funny cars, with Bob Tasca III taking a narrow win over Matt Hagan.
“We roll in here every weekend with the expectation of winning every race. We got some momentum going this weekend and we’ve got a great team lead by Dickie (Venables). We’ve got some new guys and I’m really proud of them this weekend. Dickie made some personnel moves on our car, swapping positions, and it seems like a great fit for everyone right now. That gives me confidence as a driver seeing these guys being confident in bolting the car together,” said Hagan.
“I’m really happy with my crew and we’re moving back up in the points. We’ve got a weekend off and then Atlanta, which we’ve won before, and then we finish May at Houston (for the Mopar Express Lane Spring Nationals) where I won my first race a long time ago. Overall, I’m just really happy leaving Vegas. The car is responding. It was a crazy four-wide event. I’m glad I didn’t red light or screw up. I’m really excited. We have a good team, we’re meshing and going rounds.”
Chargers Run to the Finals
Things didn’t begin particularly well for the two DSR funny cars, with Ron Capps qualifying 4th and Matt Hagan qualifying 7th while their rivals at John Force Racing qualified in the top two positions.
In the first round of eliminations, Hagan took on John Force, Chris Morel and Blake Alexander, with Force’s Camaro getting to the line first, followed by Hagan’s Charger in second. Ron Capps took on Bob Bode, Jim Campbell and Bob Tacsa III in the first round, with Tasca’s Mustang taking the win while Capps finished 2nd to advance to the next round.
Also, Dodge Charger driver Cruz Pedregon took on Joanie Lindberg, Robert Hight and JR Todd in the first round, but when Todd and Hight advanced, Cruz was on the trailer early.
In the second round, Hagan took on Force, Alexis DeJoria and Tim Wilkerson. Hagan got the win and Wilkerson was runner-up, both advancing to the finals. Meanwhile Capps took on Tasca, Hight and Todd in the second round, with Capps and Tasca advancing to the finals.
In the final round, the Team Mopar drivers Capps and Hagan took on the Team Ford drivers of Tasca and Wilkerson. Hagan had the best reaction time of the four, narrowly holding an early lead over Tasca, but the Mustang drove around the Charger, giving Bob Tasca III his first win of the season. Hagan finished a close second, Wilkerson was third and Capps was fourth with engine issues.
As for Team Mopar Top Fuel driver Leah Pruett, she qualified 7th and won in the first round, but she lost in the second round to Steve Torrence, who went on to win the class.
The next NHRA event is on the weekend of April 30th through May 2nd, as the Lucas Oil Southern Nationals are held in Atlanta.