Hagan, Mopar Express Lane team will face DSR teammate Beckman in first round after qualifying No. 11 at Wild Horse Pass near Phoenix
CHANDLER, Ariz. (Feb. 22, 2014) – Matt Hagan is hoping to start Sunday on a high note the way he did in the first qualifying session on Friday at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park near Phoenix.
In the opening session on Friday, the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T clocked a 4.091-second pass at 309 mph. It was the best elapsed time of the session and his best run of the weekend after struggling to make a full pull in the crucial Friday night session and the two qualifying sessions on Saturday.
“Qualifying has been very tough this weekend,” said Matt. “We definitely have a better car than what we have shown this weekend. I know Dickie (Venables) is going to get in his black book tonight and we’ll go figure something out and have a game plan for tomorrow.”
Crew chief Venables and assistant Mike Knudsen will need a strong game plan when they line up against No. 6 qualifier and Don Schumacher Racing teammate Jack Beckman in the first round of Sunday’s eliminations, which begin at 11 a.m. (MST).
Hagan hopeful for fast start at renovated Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park with Mopar Express Lane Funny Car team
BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Feb. 18, 2014) - Matt Hagan is coming off of a runner-up finish at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season-opener two weeks ago in Pomona, Calif., and is returning to the site of one of his four runner-up finishes from the 2013 season.
Although Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, formerly Firebird International Raceway, has changed most of its track surface and made other renovations, Hagan is confident that his Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots Funny Car tuned by crew chief Dickie Venables will adjust to the new track.
"You know, we don't really know quite yet what we're getting into there with the new track surface," Matt said. "It's going to be interesting, for sure. We'll just have to go up there with what Dickie thinks is best for the first lap and I know he and (Mike) Knudsen, will work on it from there."
After a No. 10 qualifying effort at Pomona, Hagan is looking to improve in qualifying and start Sunday's eliminations in the top half of the 16-car field.
"It's important to go out and make a good lap and get qualified solidly in the show so you can build on momentum throughout the weekend and take that into race day. It would be great to get a win under our belt here early in the season."
The revamped Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park
Hagan is excited to get to the track near Phoenix to see the changes for himself. Facility owners have replaced more than 600 feet of the track surface with concrete installed a new timing system, scoreboards and a new PA system.
"Anytime a facility sinks money back into a track it makes the racers happy," he said. "We go to a lot of great tracks, but it is great when the owners of the facility put money back into the track to make it better. I'm looking for good things here; I've never won there, and I would like to put a win on the board there."
Hagan drives Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T to championship round of NHRA season opener at Pomona
POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 9, 2014) – If the Circle K NHRA Winternationals serves as a preview for what’s to come during the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season then Matt Hagan likes it.
Although the Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots Funny Car came up short in the final round on Sunday, he is pleased with the opening act for his team. Coming off the 2013 season where they won five event titles and finished second in Funny Car standings, the team picked up right where they left off.
They opened Sunday’s eliminations with a 4.036-second pass, which was better than their qualifying time of 4.077 seconds. They improved their numbers in the next two rounds with a 4.035 and their best of the weekend, a 4.030 in the semifinal round.
But they knew they needed more for the final round against No. 1 qualifier John Force, who had been running in the 3-second range all weekend.
“We were just pushing hard,” Hagan said after his Dodge Charger R/T went up in tire smoke in the final round.
“Force had been running 3.90s all weekend long. We knew we had to bring our A-game. He’s got a great hot rod right now but we’ve got a pretty good one too. It’s going to be a great season this year and I can’t wait to battle it out and turn on some more win lights.”
Hagan was also just happy to have his crew chief Dickie Venables back in the lounge and making the calls on the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T. Venables missed the final race of the 2013 season because of a surgery and was unable to celebrate the team’s win at the finale.
“It’s great to have Dickie back. He’s a knowledgeable leader and he’s so great for this team. We really missed him last time we were here and I’m just happy to have him back on this car.”