Matt Hagan rode another record breaking day at Virginia Motorsports Park, posting the fastest Funny Car race in the track’s history on Saturday to qualify No. 1 at the Virginia NHRA Nationals. Brittany Force (Top Fuel) and Angie Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also qualified No. 1 in the seventh of 22 races in the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season.
Track records were set in all three classes, with Hagan’s run of 3.853 seconds at 331.45 mph in his 11,000 horsepower Smithfield-branded Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat leading in Funny Car. It gives the points leader and standout Tony Stewart Racing driver his second No. 1 spot this season and 44th of his career. It is also Hagan’s 300th career start as he seeks to win for the third time in 2022 with the freshman Tony Stewart Racing team.
“What a great job from the guys at the track and from Safety Safari to put a great race track under us so we were able to establish a lot of numbers there,” Hagan said. “I can’t say enough about this race car. It was probably the best start I’ve had in my NHRA career and (crew chief) Dickie Venables, (assistant crew chief) Mike Knudsen and (car chief) Alex Conaway and all the guys that put this stuff together do a great job.
“Everyone asks, ‘How’s Tony? How’s it going for Tony? and I always wanted to win for myself but Tony is the kind of guy you want to win for. You look at everything he’s done and it’s just a matter of respect. You want the guy to be proud of you. You are ready to shake things up. This car from Smithfield drives hard.
Defending world champion Ron Capps moved up to second place with a strong run in the second qualifying session, going from 3.864 to 332.75. Alexis DeJoria finished third with a 3.896 at 326.95.
In Top Fuel, Force broke Friday’s track record twice on Saturday, finishing with a 3.654 at 333.33 in its 11,000 horsepower Flav-R-Pac dragster. It shattered her ET record from a day ago, giving the points leader her second No. 1 qualification this season and 34th of her career. She’ll head into the eliminations looking for her third win this season and with plenty of momentum, setting the track’s ET record three times in qualifying and posting the fastest run in track history with its explosion of 335.82 on Friday.
“It was outstanding for this Monster Energy/Flav-R-Pac team, getting better and better and better with every race,” Force said. “Now the hardest thing is to do that tomorrow (during the eliminations). It’s going to be difficult, but as long as we can do regular races all day tomorrow, I think we should be in good shape. I have confidence in this team and trust in me to go down this path. It’s one of the best tracks we’ve been on. It’s smooth and it was fast, so we were really happy with it.
Austin Prock momentarily had the track record before the Force race, dropping from 3.672 to 326.87 to qualify second behind teammate John Force Racing. Reigning four-time world champion Steve Torrence took third with a 3.683 at 327.51, while Clay Millican had the fastest run of the final session with a 3.698 at 325.45.
After setting track records Friday in Pro Stock Motorcycle, Smith followed that up with an even faster 6.756 at 201.37 on her Denso Auto Parts Buell in the second qualifying session, also setting the speed record she had. originally set a day earlier. The third session of the class was canceled due to the weather.
For Smith, this is her second career No. 1 qualifying as she remains the only driver to go 200 mph at Virginia Motorsports Park. She is after her first victory of the 2022 season.
“I knew the bike had more in it,” Smith said. “Matt (Smith) didn’t think it would go this fast, but the bike started really well. I saw Angelle (Sampey) run this 6.78 and knew this bike had it in it. I couldn’t be more proud of my team and the work they do. It’s all about momentum and continuing to do good races right now. We’re just going to keep trying to do what we’ve been doing. It’s a humbling sport, so we have to keep focused.
Angelle Sampey moved into second place in that same session with her run of 6.786 at 199.52, while points leader Steve Johnson, who has won consecutive races, qualified third with his 6.826 at 198.12 of Friday.
In the FuelTech NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing series presented by D-Wagon, Kris Thorne took first place with his race in his Camaro ProCharger. The weekend race is powered by LAT Racing Oils. Thorne is the points leader on strength of wins in the first two races of the season.
Eliminations for the Virginia NHRA Nationals begin at 12 p.m. ET Sunday at Virginia Motorsports Park.