Matt Hagan gets out of his racing car after spearheading the Funny Car portion of the Dodge // SRT Mile-High NHRA Nationals. (Auto Imagery Photo)
MORRISON, Colorado – After years of trying, reigning World Champion Matt Hagan finally took his first win at Bandimere Speedway and drove to the Funny Car victory on Sunday at Pennzoil’s Dodge // SRT Mile-High NHRA Nationals.
Steve Torrence (Top Fuel) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also won their respective categories at the eighth race of the season of the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series, when all three defending champions started the famous NHRA Western Swing with three races with wins.
Victory in the demanding, mile-high conditions at Bandimere Speedway is something Hagan has always missed, but the standout came through on Sunday when he drove 4.105 seconds at 305.70 mph in his Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye and Alexis Defeated DeJoria in the final round. It crowned an incredibly fulfilling weekend for Hagan at his sponsor’s race when he won for the first time and 37th in his career in 2021.
After qualifying # 1, Hagan beat Chris King and Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps to reach the final lap. He never lagged behind DeJoria and also gave DSR its first Funny win in 2021 after the team won every race a year ago.
“This mountain chewed and spat me out for several years in a row. I’m very happy about this win, ”said Hagan, who jumped to third place on points. “I’ve been trying to get this trophy for so long. It’s an important race and it’s one of those things that we finally did it. I just can’t say enough about my team. I’m so proud of each and every one of them and these guys love to do what they do. There my heart beat out of my chest in the final.
“It felt like I was running for a championship. When you see all these fans in the stands, I get chills. We love Denver and we love the fans that are here. I’m glad we did it before them. You are grateful for every victory you can achieve and I am simply blessed here today. “
DeJoria reached her second round of the finals this season after she had won rounds against Jack Wyatt, leaders Bob Tasca III and Tim Wilkerson.
Top Fuel’s torrence in Denver was unstoppable when three-time defending champion Joey Haas ended ‘angry offer by doing 3,860 seconds at 320.36 mph on the final lap in his 11,000-horsepower Capco Contractors dragster. Haas made his first appearance in the finale of his career, but Torrence’s consistency dominated the day as he took his fourth win in the last five races, the fifth this season and the 45th of his career.
Torrence, who had lap wins against Rob Passey and Mike Salinas, increased his massive points lead to the strength of four runs on Sunday in the middle of the 3.80s, not an easy task in the tough conditions at Thunder Mountain.
“This is one of the toughest places to race because everything is so different from anywhere else,” said Torrence. “Having the consistency is just a testament to the experience and the way (crew chiefs) Richard Hogan and Bobby Lagana race. You run really smart. Hats off to Joey Haas and this team, they did an incredible job today. Having the success we’ve had is just a blessing. This car goes from A to B and it gives you confidence in the world and it goes back to all the work these guys did in the shop. “
Haas reached the finals for the first time thanks to victories against Alex Laughlin, who made his Top Fuel debut, Leah Pruett and Clay Millican.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Smith crowned a totally dominant weekend on Thunder Mountain by riding his Denso Auto Parts / Stockseth / Matt Smith Racing EBR 7.118 seconds at 189.04 mph to beat Eddie Krawiec on the final lap. Smith qualified as No. 1 and made one stellar run after another, rolling to his second straight win, the third in 2021 and the 29th of his career. The reigning world champion beat Cory Reed and Andrew Hines on the way to the finals and drove past Krawiec in the final to extend his points lead.
“This place is difficult to drive, but I love this circuit and I was successful here early in my career,” said Smith, who ran the fastest run in all three qualifying sessions and three of the four elimination laps this weekend. “What a great facility and I am so happy to come here. My bike was fast all weekend and it was just super impressive. We have a tough field, so it’s always tough, but this bike is dead right now. “
To reach his first round of finals of the year and 86th of his career, Krawiec defeated Jerry Savoie, Steve Johnson and Angie Smith.