HAGAN, MOPAR EXPRESS LANE TEAM SEE POSITIVES AT BRAINERD, CLINCH COUNTDOWN SPOT AND LOOK FORWARD TO PROGRESS AT U.S. NATIONALS
BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 17, 2014) – Matt Hagan knows to stay level-headed in the sport of NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing. To keep the emotional peaks and valleys at a minimum is crucial to long-term success in the ruthless sport.
Having won a NHRA Funny Car championship (2011), and twice coming up just short to John Force (2010, ’13), Hagan knows the straight-line sport can humble a racer as Clayton Kershaw does Major League hitters.
Hagan’s Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T put in another solid performance during the 33rd annual NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway. The 11-time NHRA winner qualified his Dodge flopper in the No. 3 position for the second straight race as Hagan collected his 170th career NHRA round win over Chad Head in round one on Sunday. The Mopar Dodge posted the second quickest pass of the round at 4.018-seconds. The great elapsed time did not earn Hagan lane choice in round two against Alexis DeJoria after the two-time 2014 winner clocked a lap of 4.010-seconds.
Hagan used a round two starting line advantage to race the Mopar Dodge to the lead and a lap of 4.056, 318.77, but it wasn’t enough to overcome DeJoria’s stellar track-record pass of 3.998, 315.93. It was the 29th three-second elapsed time in NHRA history and first at Brainerd.
“We’re going to test next week and we have a lot to still sort out,” Hagan said after the close loss. “We had a great lap first round with that 4.01 and that’s something that this Mopar team can build on and work on when we get good conditions again in the Countdown like at Reading (Pa.).
“Obviously, we’d like to be going rounds and move up a few spots in the points standings, but on the flip side, we qualified in the top half at No. 3, ran really good first round and we missed it a little bit in the second round. That’s part of it. You put nitro in the tank, sometimes you don’t know what you’re going to get. We’ll role into Indy test and try to figure some more things out, but we tip our caps to Tommy (DeLago), Alexis (DeJoria) and that Patron team. That was a phenomenal lap.”
The Mopar team will head home to the team’s DSR shop in Brownsburg, Ind. tomorrow before two days of testing at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis on Aug. 20-21. The NHRA teams will then compete at the 60th annual U.S. Nationals over Labor Day weekend at the historic Brownsburg facility.
Traxxas Funny Car Shootout Voting
Voting for the coveted eighth and final spot in the third annual Traxxas Funny Car Shootout at Indianapolis on Aug. 31 went live on NHRA’s Facebook page on Aug. 17. Fans can vote for Hagan at https://www.facebook.com/NHRA/app_201730886505500. Hagan will need fan support in NHRA’s online fan vote and lottery drawing on Aug. 27 in downtown Indianapolis to name the final driver to compete in the 2014 Traxxas Shootout on Aug. 31.
CALM, CONFIDENT HAGAN LOOKS FORWARD TO SOLID RACE DAY AT BRAINERD, WILL START IN NO. 3 POSITION WITH MOPAR EXPRESS LANE TEAM
BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 16, 2014) – Matt Hagan seems at ease this weekend at Brainerd International Raceway.
The driver of the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T may be calmly relaxed after a few days in the serenity of central Minnesota, but more likely Hagan has a quiet confidence that his team is reaching championship-form at the right time of the year. Hagan will secure one of the 10 coveted positions in the Countdown for the Championship by advancing to the second round of eliminations on Sunday at Brainerd.
Hagan qualified his Mopar-backed flopper in the No. 3 position on Saturday afternoon during the 33rd annual NHRA Nationals, but he had to wait to move up from sixth to third in the 16-car order. Mother Nature did the Funny Car teams a favor and an 80-minute rain delay let the crew chiefs lick their chops to throw more horsepower at the Hemi engines for their last attempt during qualifying.
Hagan’s veteran champion tuner Dickie Venables used that Mopar power to push Hagan to his best lap of the weekend at 4.068 at 311.99 as he will start third for the second straight race.
“Dickie (Venables) and Knute (assistant crew chief Mike Knudsen) are doing a great job,” Hagan said after the team’s solid qualifying performance at Brainerd. “We’re peaking at the right time and I just have a ton of confidence in my guys. I’m really excited for race day here in Brainerd and to keep that momentum going into Indy and the Countdown.”
Hagan, the 2011 NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car world champion, knows the importance of having a strong tune-up at the right time of the year. He enters the penultimate race in NHRA’s regular season ranked seventh, but only 40 points, or two rounds of racing, behind his DSR teammate Ron Capps. With solid performances at Brainerd on Sunday and the prestigious U.S. Nationals in two weeks, the Mopar team could be starting the six-race playoff from the No. 3 spot and sit just 40 points behind the points-leader.
“I think we’re making the boss man happy every lap and hopefully we can go some rounds for him tomorrow and move up a spot or two in the Countdown (to the Championship) standings,” Hagan said.