NHRA: Quickest Funny Car field in history set for Sunday at Joliet: Hagan 3.882 seconds, Beckman 333.25 mph

(Photo courtesy NHRA)

No. 1 qualifiers Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Brittany Force (Top Fuel), Shane Gray (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) will pace the field heading into Sunday’s final eliminations of the K&N Filters Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois.

Five Route 66 Raceway track records were set during Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying.

Hagan set another track mark (3.882 seconds at 331.12 mph) in his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T in Saturday’s final two rounds of qualifying, leading what ultimately became the quickest Funny Car field in NHRA history. It marks the second No. 1 qualifier for Hagan this season.




“Dickie [Venables, crew chief] is very consistent and methodical and I am glad he’s my crew chief and that’s why we are number one,” said Hagan of his 23rd career No. 1 and first ever at Chicago. Hagan is also going for his fourth career Funny Car win at Route 66 and his third win of 2016 on Sunday.

Hagan’s Don Schumacher Racing teammate “Fast Jack” Beckman briefly held the ET track record (3.885 seconds) before Hagan made his run. But Beckman held on to the track MPH record at an eye-popping 333.25 mph runin his Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger.

“It’s all about momentum out here,” said Hagan, a two-time world champ. “If being No. 1 qualifier doesn’t give you confidence then nothing will. That is a huge run for us, for me personally and for our team. You will sleep better tonight and feel like you have a really good race car going into tomorrow.”

In Top Fuel, Brittany Force’s track record from Friday (3.692 seconds at 325.69 mph) held up Saturday to give her second No. 1 qualifying position of the season and sixth of her career.

“The main focus today was getting two consistent runs down the track today and we were able to do that, and we had four good runs all weekend, so that’s exactly where we want to be,” said Force, who turned 30 Friday. “Being No. 1, that just tops everything. I think we are comfortable and confident going in and I am looking forward to seeing what we can do tomorrow.”

In Pro Stock, Gray’s Friday effort (6.578 seconds at 209.43 mph) held up as he became the first driver of the season from outside the KB Racing team to earn a No. 1 qualifying position. It’s his sixth No. 1 of his career and first at Chicago. He’s looking for his first win of the season on Sunday.

“I am real pleased with the progress we made today and I am really stoked about race day tomorrow and I think we have a good shot,” Gray said. “I don’t try to get too far ahead of myself but I would say we have caught up to [the Summit Racing team] at this race. We’ll see how we are doing a few more races down the road. We’ve got a core group of guys that have been with me for seven years and we are like family. We are having fun out here, so look out.”

Lastly, in Pro Stock Motorcycle, Smith earned his first No. 1 of the season (and in over a year), 24th of his career and second at Chicago with a Saturday mark of 6.842 seconds at 195.51 mph.

“It feels good to be back up top,” Smith said. “We know we have a top four or five bike. Luckily we got in the running and got the top spot yesterday. We almost were quickest today. The bike is running good and is consistent. Hopefully we can turn on some win lights tomorrow. We need to get Victory their first win.

“I like this place, this track has a lot of teeth to it. The facility is just awesome. We’ve always done good here and hopefully we can parlay that into a final round tomorrow.”

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Sunday’s first-round pairings for eliminations:

Top Fuel — 1. Brittany Force, 3.692 seconds, 326.87 mph  vs. 16. Chris Karamesines, 4.680, 176.77; 2. Steve Torrence, 3.731, 327.03  vs. 15. Luigi Novelli, 4.430, 195.79; 3. Doug Kalitta, 3.732, 330.55  vs. 14. Kyle Wurtzel, 3.995, 286.80; 4. Antron Brown, 3.733, 323.50  vs. 13. Clay Millican, 3.978, 254.76; 5. Shawn Langdon, 3.737, 327.19  vs. 12. Terry McMillen, 3.940, 309.56; 6. Tony Schumacher, 3.744, 326.63  vs. 11. Pat Dakin, 3.823, 317.79; 7. J.R. Todd, 3.748, 323.97  vs. 10. T.J. Zizzo, 3.805, 321.88; 8. Richie Crampton, 3.753, 319.52  vs. 9. Leah Pritchett, 3.769, 323.12.

Funny Car — 1. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 3.882, 331.12  vs. 16. Bob Bode, Toyota Solara, 4.100, 310.55; 2. Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.885, 333.25  vs. 15. John Hale, Charger, 4.077, 315.42; 3. Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Camry, 3.887, 327.11  vs. 14. Brian Stewart, Ford Mustang, 4.057, 309.70; 4. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.888, 328.78  vs. 13. John Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.979, 320.97; 5. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.894, 330.23  vs. 12. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 3.970, 320.58; 6. Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.894, 327.98  vs. 11. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 3.965, 310.63; 7. Courtney Force, Camaro, 3.895, 328.06  vs. 10. Del Worsham, Camry, 3.930, 324.20; 8. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.918, 325.45  vs. 9. Chad Head, Camry, 3.929, 325.77.  Did Not Qualify: 17. Justin Schriefer, 4.449, 297.29; 18. Brandon Welch, 4.760, 176.05.

Pro Stock — 1. Shane Gray, Chevy Camaro, 6.578, 209.46  vs. 16. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 8.879, 147.31; 2. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.596, 210.21  vs. 15. Kevin Lawrence, Chevy Cobalt, 6.798, 204.01; 3. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.598, 210.01  vs. 14. Mark Hogan, Pontiac GXP, 6.753, 203.19; 4. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.610, 209.30  vs. 13. Dave River, Cobalt, 6.738, 204.73; 5. Allen Johnson, Dart, 6.612, 209.20  vs. 12. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.659, 207.85; 6. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.616, 209.07  vs. 11. Jeg Coughlin, Dart, 6.637, 207.82; 7. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.621, 208.65  vs. 10. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.627, 208.97; 8. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.621, 208.94  vs. 9. Erica Enders, Dart, 6.623, 208.46.  Did Not Qualify: 17. Charlie Westcott Jr., broke.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — 1. Matt Smith, Victory, 6.842, 195.51  vs. 16. Michael Ray, Buell, 6.968, 194.27; 2. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.845, 193.93  vs. 15. Michael Phillips, Suzuki, 6.942, 195.22; 3. Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.853, 195.59  vs. 14. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.940, 195.25; 4. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.854, 195.76  vs. 13. Melissa Surber, Buell, 6.932, 191.05; 5. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.859, 194.10  vs. 12. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.924, 194.02; 6. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.865, 195.82  vs. 11. Cory Reed, Buell, 6.908, 195.08; 7. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.877, 196.36  vs. 10. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.896, 196.24; 8. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.881, 193.90  vs. 9. Chip Ellis, Buell, 6.885, 196.39.  Did Not Qualify: 17. Scotty Pollacheck, 6.973, 194.16; 18. Tyler Fisher, 6.979, 191.51; 19. Shawn Gann, 6.987, 190.30; 20. Angie Smith, 7.016, 191.87; 21. Lance Bonham, 7.248, 183.22.

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Ken Roczen signs with HEP Progressive Ecstar Suzuki for 2023

Roczen Progressive Ecstar Suzuki
Align Media

ANAHEIM, California – Ken Roczen will make the move from HRC Honda to H.E.P. Motorsports with the Progressive Ecstar Suzuki team, ending a long and eventful offseason that saw his split from his longstanding team after he committed to running World Supercross (WSX).

“H.E.P. Motorsports is thrilled to announce that the team has signed Ken Roczen as its premier rider for the 2023 season,” the team announced on Instagram. “Former AMA Motocross champion Roczen will be aboard a Suzuki RM-Z450. Roczen, who won his most recent championship on a Suzuki, will be reunited with the brand and bring his exciting style, determination, and grit back to the RM Army.

“Ken Roczen will compete in the upcoming 2023 Supercross and Motocross Championship series which is set to start on January 7 at Anaheim Stadium in Southern California.”

For Roczen, it is a return to the bike of his youth and on which he had some of his greatest professional success.

“This thing has been going on for weeks and weeks and weeks in the making, but there was so much uncertainty,” Roczen told NBC Sports during Monster Energy Supercross Media Sessions. “It was a very unique situation. I just finally signed two nights ago, so it’s really only legit once the ink hits the paper. It’s been in the works for a long time, but there were just a lot of questions and a lot of input from a lot of other teams too.

“Good things take time, and I’m okay with that. I grew up riding Suzuki. Ot’s like a homecoming. It’s a special feeling”

Roczen won the 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship on a Suzuki before making the move to Honda. That year he won nine of 12 Nationals and finished no worse than second as he easily outpaced Eli Tomac by 86 points. He finished third in his next Pro Motocross outing in 2018 after sitting out the outdoor season in 2017.

“I am beyond excited to reconnect with Suzuki for the 3rd time in my career. We’ve had a lot of success in the past and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish together in our future.” Roczen said in the Instagram post.