Hagan, Venables, crew deliver Magneti Marelli, Mopar pole position in rain-delayed, shortened Southern Nationals

  Hagan, Venables, crew deliver Magneti Marelli, Mopar pole position in rain-delayed, shortened Southern Nationals

COMMERCE, Ga. (RIS) - Matt Hagan doesn't want to be reminded about the 2012 season when he was not one of the 10 drivers to qualify for the NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoff.

Or that he was the only member of Don Schumacher Racing who did not win a pole last year.

But that was then.

The 2011 NHRA Funny Car world champion, who won a Mello Yello series title three weeks ago at Charlotte after going winless last season, broke another streak Friday when he won the pole for Saturday's championship eliminations in the NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway.

It is the 11th pole of his career and first since the last event of his 2011 championship season, a span of 29 races.

"I don't even want to talk about last year anymore. It's over and in the past. I'm done with it," Hagan said. "I just want to talk about the great year we're having so far with Dickie Venables as my crew chief and my great bunch of guys on the crew."

Hagan was quick to note what his crew endured before his last run that also set a track elapsed-time record.

"They really thrashed to get us up there," Hagan said. "We weren't sure we'd make it in time. They had to change the engine and then we had some gasket issues. But these guys are unbelievable. They were so focused and worked so hard.

"Dickie is a great leader. He doesn't yell; he just directs."

After rain wiped out the Southern Nationals last weekend, the Mello Yello Series returned to the track north of Atlanta for abbreviated qualifying with only two sessions on Friday to determine the top-16 for Saturday's championship eliminations that begin at 11 a.m. (ET).

Hagan knew how challenging Friday would be and how it affected all teams by losing six qualifying runs over the past three weeks.

"It's really tough. Every lap counts out here and the more data you gain the better and it's more practice for our guys. Every run we can get under our belt is beneficial. When you lose that many runs it's a huge hit."

The only hit for Hagan on Friday was a big No. 1 as he looks to bookend the first three-race swing of events in 2013 with trips to the winner's circle.

The following are qualifying results and other notes from the NHRA Southern Nationals:

No. 1 qualifier: Matt Hagan (DSR) 4.067 sec. (track record), 312.86 mph

Matt Hagan, Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T
Qualifying position: No. 1
Saturday's first-round opponent: Tony Pedregon
Session 1: 4.138 sec., 305.29 mph
Session 2: 4.067, 305.29

THIS WEEKEND AT COMMERCE, GA. (postponed from May 3-5)
Saturday: 11 a.m., championship eliminations

Saturday: 10 a.m. (ET, delayed), qualifying
Saturday: 8-11 p.m. (ET, delayed), eliminations

SATURDAY: High 79; 30 percent chance of scattered thunderstorms     About Magneti Marelli  Based in Italy (Corbetta, Milan), Magneti Marelli was established in 1919. The company is a subsidiary of Fiat Group and has a presence and reputation in racing, including Formula 1, World Rally Championship (WRC) and NHRA Drag Racing.

With 2012 revenue of $7.5 billion and approximately 36,900 employees, Magneti Marelli designs and produces advanced automotive systems and components. The company has 83 production facilities, 12 research and development centers and 26 application centers in 19 countries. The group supplies leading automakers in Europe, North America, South America and the Far East. Its business areas include: Electronic Systems, Lighting, Powertrain, Suspension Systems and Shock Absorbers, Exhaust Systems, Aftermarket Parts and Services, Plastic Components and Modules, and Motorsport.

Magneti Marelli USA coordinates the activities of all Magneti Marelli divisions in the NAFTA region from its North American headquarters, located in Auburn Hills, Mich.

Magneti Marelli can rely on a longstanding presence in North America with Powertrain, Lighting, Electronic Systems, Suspension Systems (shock absorbers) and Motorsports businesses. Magneti Marelli has established a significant presence in the world of aftermarket and service networks in the United States, thanks to the partnership with MOPAR.

About Magneti Marelli After Market Parts and Services 

Magneti Marelli After Market Parts and Services is the division of Magneti Marelli devoted to all the activities related to the automotive aftermarket and service networks.

Magneti Marelli AMPS has business activities in over 80 countries where it distributes spare parts, automotive components and information to the Independent Aftermarket, through a network of spare parts dealers; and provides the drivers with assistance, services, products and know-how through a network of authorized workshops. Magneti Marelli After Market Parts and Services also provides workshops with professional training courses. The division operates on the repair market under the trademark of Magneti Marelli Checkstar Service Network in Europe, while in Latin America, in addition to the Checkstar name, Magneti Marelli also operates under the Cofap name. Putting together all the various trademarks, the network has almost 4,800 workshops worldwide.

About the Mopar Brand
Mopar is Chrysler Group LLC's service, parts and customer-care brand. With the creation of the Chrysler Group and Fiat S.p.A. partnership, Mopar is extending its global reach, integrating service, parts and customer-care operations in order to enhance dealer and customer support worldwide. Combined with Fiat S.p.A., Mopar's global portfolio includes more than 500,000 parts and accessories that are distributed in more than 130 countries. Mopar is the source for all genuine parts and accessories for Chrysler Group and Fiat S.p.A. brands.
Mopar parts are unique in that they are engineered with the same teams that create factory-authorized vehicle specifications for Chrysler Group and Fiat S.p.A. vehicles - a direct connection that no other aftermarket parts company can provide. A complete list of Mopar accessories and performance parts is available at www.mopar.com.

About Don Schumacher Racing
Don Schumacher Racing, headquartered in Brownsburg, Ind., starts 2013 with seven professional NHRA teams. In Top Fuel, the 2012 NHRA Top Fuel world champion Matco Tools dragster driven by Antron Brown and the U.S. Army dragster driven by seven-time world champion Tony Schumacher and the Battery Extender Powered by Schumacher dragster driven by Spencer Massey; and in Funny Car, 2012 NHRA world champion Jack Beckman in the Valvoline/MTS Mail for Wounded Warriors Dodge Charger R/T, 2011 world champion Matt Hagan in the Mopar/Rocky Dodge, the NAPA Filters of Ron Capps and the Pitch Energy Dodge of Johnny Gray.

DSR has won 203 NHRA national event titles and 11 world championships.

Follow Don Schumacher Racing at ShoeRacing.com, on Twitter at @shoeracing and Facebook.com/shoeracing.  

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Dusty Brandel

President of the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association, Inc. Worked with Mike Hollander since Tapsis, Compuserve, etc. and has posted to the website since the beginning. First Female photo-journalist to be given a garage and pit pass for the NASCAR garage, 1972 at Ontario Motor Speedway. One of first seven female writers, photographers given access to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway garage and pits in 1971. Past President of Greater Los Angeles Press Club, 1992-96, and first female editor of the 8-Ball publication for the Press Club

Read More on Drag Racing press releases
Volume 2012, Issue 10, Posted 12:40 AM, 05.11.2013