Matt Hagan and his Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat funny car lost in the second round of the final event of the NHRA season, but when Robert Hight and Bob Tasca III also lost in the second round, no other drivers remaining in the field could catch him – securing Hagan’s fourth NHRA Funny Car Championship.
Coming into the In-N-Out Burger NHRA Finals at Pomona Dragstrip, Matt Hagan and his Tony Stewart Racing Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat funny car were in the top spot in the championship race. Only Robert Hight (Chevrolet Camaro) and Bob Tasca III (Ford Mustang) were mathematically close enough to catch Hagan in the final race of the season. To win the title, Hagan didn’t have to win the last event, he just had to finish no worse than those two other drivers. That being said, the further he went into eliminations, the better his chances of winning the championship.
Chevy racing fans had high hopes after qualifying when Robert Hight grabbed the top spot, with Hagan qualifying 4th and Tasca qualifying 6th. After turning in the quickest pass in qualifying, Hight and his Camaro made the quickest run in the first round of eliminations (and the quickest run of the event for the class), running a 3.87 a 333.41 miles per hour while beating Jeff Diehl. Meanwhile, Hagan ran a solid 3.945 at 327 to beat Alex Laughlin and Tasca ran a 4.002 at 317 to beat Steven Densham, so the three title contenders were still all in the hunt after round one.
In the second round, Matt Hagan had an early lead on Blake Alexander, but he ran into issues just past half-track, allowing Alexander to narrowly win the race. Fortunately, also in the first round, Dodge Charger driver Cruz Pedregon took out Bob Tasca III when Tasca’s Mustang ran into problems early in the pass while Hight also ran into issues on the top end, giving the win to Chad Green.
Green would end up winning a rare all-Mustang final round, but that didn’t really matter. By losing in the same round as Robert Hight and Bob Tasca III, Matt Hagan had secured the 2023 NHRA Championship. Hagan finished 12 points ahead of Hight’s Hemi-powered Mustang and 17 points ahead of Tasca’s Hemi-powered Mustang. Fourth place finisher Ron Capps and his Hemi-powered Toyota Supra, 175 points out of first.
This is Matt Hagan’s 4th NHRA Funny Car Championship, having previous won the title in 2011, 2014 and 2020 – all in a Dodge Charger funny car. Of course, this is also the first NHRA Championship for the young Tony Stewart Racing drag racing program, having entered the sport just last year.