“The matchup with Johnny, that’s pressure,” Hagan said. “He was the points leader, won three races this season. It’s been a big battle between me, Johnny and Cruz (Pedregon). It’s just a dogfight out here. It felt like someone handed me the ball and we got to slam dunk it.”
In the final round, Hagan was paired with DSR’s defending NHRA world champion Jack Beckman, who reached the final round for the first time this season. Crew chief Dickie Venables and assistant Michael Knudsen produced a time of 4.112 seconds at 308.00 mph to edge past Beckman’s time of 4.182 at 303.98.
“Even though Johnny and Jack are teammates you get to poke them in the chest a little bit. It’s bragging rights. They have the same stuff we do. Dickie is the kind of guy to step up and not be afraid to be too aggressive.”
The team has been consistent despite not having a test session to date. Venables joined DSR just weeks before the season opener in Pomona, Calif., and hasn’t missed a beat.
“Dickie Venables puts a car underneath me that’s just phenomenal,” Hagan said. “When you can have a team of this caliber that does everything right, makes the right calls on the racetrack it just makes my job that much easier. I just kind of sit back and grin and hold onto the steering wheel.”
Hagan is also enjoying watching his team members grow in the sport.
“We have a young assistant crew chief,” Hagan said of Knudsen. “It’s the first time he’s stepped up and been in that position. He’s up there making calls on the racetrack, where to line up, how much grip there is, clutch weight, that kind of stuff. For Newt (Knudsen) to do that, I’m really, really proud of that guy.”
It was fourth time in nine events that the Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar/Rocky Boots team reached a championship round.
“That’s our fourth final of the season and it’s still a young season. All of these guys didn’t know if they’d have jobs this year. They toughed it out. To come back and be this strong blows me away. It’s just an awesome feeling to see those win lights turn on every time. It’s something that you can’t buy out here.”