This past weekend, the NHRA Camping World Championship Drag Racing Series headed to Houston Raceway Park for what could be the final SpringNationals held at the Texas venue. It appears as though the track will close after the 2022 season, making the SpringNationals the final national event held in Houston. The last NHRA Funny Car driver to win a national event at Houston was Matt Hagan driving a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat race car, giving Tony Stewart Racing its second big win early in its first season.
Dodge is Quick in Qualifying
As is often the case, the Dodge Charger funny cars hit the track with big numbers early, as Ron Capps drove his self-owned car to the top spot in the first round of qualifying, running a 3.864 while Cruz Pedregon grabbed third with a 3.881. Hagan ran a 3.926 to start qualifying in the seventh spot. Both Capps and Pedregon would hold onto their round 1 qualifying position, but Hagan slipped to eighth in the final round of qualifying. However, the three best-known Dodge racers were in the upper half of the 15-car field.
Meanwhile, 20-year-old Bobby Bode – a driver who has only won one round of NHRA racing in his short career – qualified 14th with a 4.447. Had there been a field of 18 cars, the odds are good that he wouldn’t have made the field,but he did and he would end up racing Matt Hagan in the event finals.
In the first round of eliminations for the final SpringNationals at Houston Raceway Park, Ron Capps had the bye run due to the short field while Hagan beat John Force and Pedregon beat Paul Lee. Cruz ran a 3.925 in his first round pass, making him the quickest in the class for that round and for every round.
In the second round, Capps and Hagan went head to head and when Capps ran into issues, Hagan got the win with a 3.933. Meanwhile, Pedregon lost to Bobby Bode, In the third round, Bode beat Chad Green and Hagan beat JR Todd, setting up a Dodge-Ford battle in the final round.
In the finals, Bode went all out to try to beat the NHRA champion and in doing so, he had a big engine failure. While he tried to get a ball of fire stopped, Matt Hagan drove his Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat funny car to the win with a 3.982 at 326 miles per hour. Once Bode got his car stopped, he climbed from the wreckage and frustratedly threw his helmet, spurring Tony Stewart to compliment the young racers passion, going on to say that he (Stewart) plans to buy Bode a new helmet.
With his second win of the year, Matt Hagan now sits in the top spot in the NHRA championship battle, 60 points ahead of Camaro driver Robert Hight. Capps is third with 420 points – 87 back of Hagan – and Crux Pedregon sits fourth, 225 points out of first.