Hagan, Ashley, Anderson, And Herrera Win At zMax 4-Wide Nationals

The NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series 4-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway was a monstrous event. From Bob Tasca III overcoming the intake manifold controversy to win the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge, to Matt Hagan picking up his 50th NHRA victory, this race had it all.

Photos courtesy NHRA/National Dragster


Hagan went 3.946-seconds at 332.34 mph in his 11,000-horsepower Tony Stewart Racing Direct Connection Dodge//SRT Hellcat in the final quad to power to his first win this season, defeating Wilkerson on a holeshot to pick up his milestone victory. Hagan was .029 on the starting line, holding off Wilkerson’s 3.923 at 327.50 at the finish line for the win.

Hagan won his opening-round quad with a 3.918 at 331.61 and then made the second-quickest run of eliminations with a 3.879 at 334.24 to advance to the final round. That led to his fourth victory at zMAX Dragway, which is less than two hours from home for Hagan.

“This is obviously a massive achievement to win 50 races and to have Dodge sponsoring us for so many years,” Hagan said. “To see so many people come and go out here, you just don’t realize that it’s you, you know, you’re like ‘Wow, I’ve been out here little bit over 15 years now and it’s just a huge accomplishment in my book to be able to be around a group of guys that have been nothing but the best out here, and I think that’s why we won four championships.

“To put us in a elite group of drivers with John Force and [Don] Prudhomme and Kenny Bernstein is pretty crazy. I’m very blessed to still be out here, surrounded by a great group of guys. They gave me a great race car and now we’re going to celebrate.”

It was the first career runner-up for Wilkerson, while Todd took third, going 3.978 at 320.36. Austin Prock retained the points lead in the category.

Top Fuel points leader Justin Ashley capped off his stellar weekend with his first career four-wide win, holding off Clay Millican, Doug Kalitta and Antron Brown with a run of 3.710 at 328.06 in his 11,000-horsepower Scag Power Equipment/Toyota dragster. It’s the second victory this season for Ashley, who swept the weekend by also winning the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge on Saturday. He’s been dynamic with double-up wins – Sunday marked his third in the last two seasons – and Ashley did it again on Sunday, winning the first two quads to get to the final round, going 3.711 at 333.58 in the second round.

In the finals, Ashley left first with another great .046 reaction time, holding off the hard-charging Millican, who went 3.722 at a strong 337.92, to claim his 15th career victory. Charlotte is where Ashley debuted, so racing at zMAX Dragway will always be special to him and he was thrilled to claim his first four-wide win on Sunday.

“For whatever reason, we’ve struggled a little bit before in four-wide races. We’d go to the traditional format and have a lot of success, but we struggled when we go four-ride racing,” Ashley said. “When you come out here and you race four-wide, the quads are so good. It really doesn’t matter who you’re racing, especially with depth of the Top Fuel field now. The quads are going to be stellar each and every time, and you saw it even in that final round. There was a lot of really good reaction times a lot of really good E.T.s and it made for some close racing.”

Kalitta, the No. 1 qualifier, finished third in the final quad with a 3.725 at 326.00.

In Pro Stock, No. 1 qualifier Greg Anderson added another impressive Charlotte victory to his resumé, driving past a loaded final-round quad with a standout pass of 6.502 at 210.77 in his HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro. Anderson ousted KB Titan Racing teammate Dallas Glenn, Aaron Stanfield and Cristian Cuadra to pick up his second victory of the season and the 105th in his career, extending his all-time lead in the category.

It’s been a banner season thus far for Anderson, who won both quads leading into the final round and making the quickest pass each round. He was also .011 on the starting line to advance to the finals and then chased down runner-up Stanfield and Glenn, who were both .011 in the final round, to pick up another meaningful victory. It’s the fifth Charlotte win for Anderson, who won the fall race last year but had not won the four-wide race at zMAX Dragway since 2012 – until Sunday. Anderson also took over the points lead in the class.

“This feels fantastic,” Anderson said. “There is so much talent out here and I’m so proud to be a part of it. We’re in a spot where anyone can win so you’ve got to dig deep to find it and I had it today. We didn’t back into it and it feels good to win a race at zMAX Dragway. It’s my home track and I love it here.

“You have to find a way to get your heart beating and get those butterflies in your stomach and get your nerves going. You can’t artificially create that. I can’t properly explain what it means to win a race for (Rick Hendrick). I met Mr. H 20 years ago and we’ve stayed in touch and he obviously know a thing or two about winning and he knows how to motivate people. It’s just an honor to have those colors on my race car.”

Stanfield finished second, going 6.551 at 209.75 and Glenn was third after his 6.551 at 209.75.

A prolonged break did nothing to slow down the dominant defending world champion in Pro Stock Motorcycle, as Gaige Herrera rolled to his second straight win this season on his RevZilla/Mission Foods/Vance & Hines Suzuki with a run of 6.684 at 202.73 in the final round. Dating back to last season, Herrera has now posted seven consecutive victories, putting together another incredible weekend in Charlotte.

Herrera qualified No. 1, setting the track E.T. record, picked up the victory in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge on Saturday and then made the quickest pass of each session on Sunday, defeating John Hall, LE Tonglet and Richard Gadson in the finals to earn his 13th career victory and extend his points lead in the process. Herrera also defended his four-wide win from a season ago at zMAX Dragway.

“After Q1 and Q2 I was a bit worried. On the first run we had a malfunction in our wiring, and then after the second run, Matt [Smith] held on to the top spot and that’s because of the rule change,” said Herrera, referring to a recent NHRA rules revision that mandated the same fuel type for both V-twin and inline four-cylinder bikes. “It has created parity and made for better racing. We still had three Vance & Hines bikes in the final (quad).

“In the end, me and [crew chief] Andrew Hines and the bike bond so well. We’re a hard combo to beat. This is just the beginning. It’s all the haters that make us push that much harder and we’re out there to prove them all wrong. I hear people say it’s the bike and that I can’t cut a light, and today my worst light was a .021, so I was here to prove a point. We had three fast bikes and almost everyone is running the same.”

Hall’s 6.758 at 202.12 gave him the runner-up finish, while Gadson was third with a 6.767 at 198.41.

The NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series returns to action May 17-19 with the 24th annual Gerber Collision & Glass NHRA Route 66 Nationals presented by PEAK Performance at Route 66 Raceway in Chicago.

Final Round Results

Sunday’s final results from the 14th annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway. The race is the fifth of 20 in the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series:

Top Fuel — Justin Ashley, 3.710 seconds, 328.06 mph def. Clay Millican, 3.722 seconds, 337.92 mph and Doug Kalitta, 3.725 seconds, 326.00 mph and Antron Brown, 4.780 seconds, 163.31 mph;

Funny Car — Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 3.946, 332.34 def. Daniel Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.923, 327.59 and J.R. Todd, Toyota GR Supra, 3.978, 320.36 and John Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.960, 329.75;

Pro Stock — Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.502, 210.77 def. Aaron Stanfield, Camaro, 6.551, 209.75 and Dallas Glenn, Camaro, 6.561, 208.68 and Cristian Cuadra, Ford Mustang, 6.549, 210.54;

Pro Stock Motorcycle — Gaige Herrera, Suzuki, 6.684, 202.73 def. John Hall, Beull, 6.758, 202.12 and Richard Gadson, Suzuki, 6.767, 198.41 and LE Tonglet, Suzuki, foul;

Top Alcohol Dragster — Mike Coughlin, 5.280, 268.65 def. Julie Nataas, 5.289, 267.48 and Megan Smith, 5.967, 191.92 and Hunter Green, 5.266, 268.81;

Top Alcohol Funny Car — Sean Bellemeur, Chevy Camaro, 5.428, 268.12 def. DJ Cox Jr., Camaro, 5.445, 267.91 and Bob McCosh, Camaro, 5.465, 266.00 and Matt Gill, Camaro, 5.466, 267.37;

Competition Eliminator — Rickie Smith, Ford Mustang, 5.781, 249.21 def. Joel Warren, Pontiac G5, 8.617, 154.51.

Super Stock — Don Shuford, Chevy Camaro, 10.274, 129.44 def. Allen Wilson, Pontiac Firebird, Foul – Red Light.

Stock Eliminator — Brett Candies, Ford Mustang, 9.186, 147.10 def. Joshua Decker, Chevy Corvette, Foul – Red Light.

Super Comp — Colby Fuller, Dragster, 8.908, 179.11 def. Michael Handras, Dragster, 8.930, 166.99.

Super Gas — Billy Upton, Chevy Corvette, 9.886, 162.29 def. Bob Locke, Corvette, 9.882, 158.76.

Super Street — Brad Plourd, Chevy II, 10.912, 120.72 def. William Morgan, Chevy Monte Carlo, Foul – Red Light.

Top Sportsman — James Hinkle, Pontiac Grand Am, 7.272, 189.02 def. Calvin Snow, Chevy Cobalt, 7.054, 194.27.

Top Dragster — Holden Laris, Dragster, 6.568, 168.39 def. Chad Taylor, Dragster, 7.409, 132.30.

Factory X — Aaron Stanfield, Chevy Camaro, 7.086, 193.85 def. Jesse Alexandra, Camaro, 7.450, 186.07.

Mountain Motor Pro Stock — Bo Butner, Chevy Camaro, 6.230, 225.26 def. Johnny Pluchino, Ford Mustang, 6.294, 224.14.

Junior Dragster Shootout — Waylon Bennett, Bos, 8.921, 71.72 def. Savannah Highhouse, 7.894, 82.75.

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