Teammate Beckman ready to move into Countdown.
Don Schumacher Racing's Matt Hagan blasted to the first Funny Car sub-four-second run in the NHRA U.S. Nationals history near Indianapolis Sunday to earn the No. 1 qualifying position heading to Monday's championship eliminations where his teammate Tony Schumacher will carry the top seed into his quest for a 10th title Top Fuel title in the NHRA's most prestigious event.
Hagan's Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T team completed its run in 3.998 seconds at 316.01 mph in the fourth qualifying session. Hagan became the first Funny Car to run in the 3-second range in Sept. 2011 and his run Sunday is the 30th time a driver has cracked into the range. Hagan owns four of the 30 three-second passes.
Schumacher captured his 75th career No. 1 qualifying award in dramatic fashion on Saturday evening by blistering the Lucas Oil Raceway track in 3.748 at 328.58 to earn the $100,000 Traxxas Top Fuel Shootout payday. The Sarge earned his fourth career U.S. Nationals pole and eyes a record-setting 10th Wally trophy from 'the Big Go' en route to his 75th career NHRA win.
Antron Brown, ranked second in points, and his Matco Tools provided drama by waiting until the last of his fifth qualifying attempts to make Sunday's show. Brown, who has won a category-best five titles this year with crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald, slipped into the field by one-thousandth of-a-second to earn the No. 16 spot and will face Schumacher in the first round.
While DSR owner Don Schumacher certainly wants one of his drivers leave Indy with trophy in the 60th anniversary of the event in which he won the Funny Car title in 1970, his greatest desire will be for Jack Beckman and the Valvoline SynPower team led by Todd Okuhara to jump from 11th to 10th in the final regular season finale to earn a spot in the Countdown to the Championship that begins in two weeks near Charlotte.
Beckman, the 2012 NHRA Funny Car world champion, needs to advance one round farther than Tim Wilkerson, who starts eliminations ranked 10th. Each round win Monday is worth 20 points.
Beckman's teammate Tommy Johnson Jr., who qualified 11th, can be a big help as he faces the higher seeded Wilkerson in the opening round. Beckman trails Wilkerson by 10 points entering Monday's final eliminations.
Beckman is the last of DSR's seven drivers to earn a chance to win a series championship.