MOPAR EXPRESS LANE TEAM LOOKS TO DEFEND FOUR-WIDE EVENT TITLE AT HAGAN’S HOME RACETRACK NEAR CHARLOTTE
BROWNSBURG, Ind. (April 8, 2014) – There’s just something about zMAX Dragway that puts a smile on Matt Hagan’s face.
It could be that it is near his Christiansburg, Va., home and his family and friends are able to attend. It could be that he has two event titles from the Charlotte facility. It could be the memories of clocking the first sub-four second run in NHRA Drag Racing history in the second lane at zMAX Dragway, now named 3.995 Hagan’s Way.
Whatever it is, Matt and the Mopar Express Lane Funny Car team enter the 5th annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals with increased confidence despite three consecutive first-round losses in the 2014 Mello Yello season.
And it helps that he returns to the unique Four-Wide event as the defending winner.
The Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX, the world’s only four-lane dragstrip, features heats of four drivers in two pair of lanes separated by a center dividing wall. Four drivers contend in each of four qualifying sessions beginning Friday for the chance to race in Sunday’s 16-car elimination bracket in four-car heats with the first two crossing the finish line advancing to the next round.
“I’m not sure our season has started off exactly the way we planned but we are definitely learning from it,” Matt said. “That’s what you have to do out here. Even though we lost first round in Vegas we actually learned a lot and had a good outing, especially in qualifying.”
“We’ll take what we learned and apply it to Charlotte. We have some pretty good data from there anyway and I can count on Dickie to give me a great race car. The car usually runs well there. It’s great to have my family and friends come out and it’s definitely a busy weekend for me.”
Since 2009 Hagan has two event wins, a runner-up and a No. 1 qualifier spot from the track known as “the Bellagio of drag strips.”
“All in all, Charlotte has been pretty kind to me. I’ve had a few rough days there,” Hagan said of his 2012 explosion caused by a mechanical failure that went viral online and earned more than 30 million views.
Hagan, Mopar Express Lane team ousted early in eliminations after solid qualifying effort at Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS (March 30, 2014) – There are many highs and lows in the roller coaster ride that is the Mello Yello NHRA Drag Racing Series.
Matt Hagan, the 2011 NHRA Funny Car champion who won five titles last year and has 10 in his six-year career at Don Schumacher Racing, has experienced the highest of highs.
But he’s also seen the lows the sport provides. Going winless in 2012 and missing Countdown to the Championship layoff are examples.
Now the Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots team is stuck in a low with three consecutive first-round losses.
Not since NHRA events near Chicago, Norwalk, Ohio, and near Denver in the 2012 season has Hagan experienced three first-round losses in a row.
But he and crew chief Dickie Venables don’t see this streak lasting any longer. They have answers and know the changes they need to make.
“With our run last night in qualifying, smoking the tires, Dickie got to see some changes that he wanted to make for race day,” Matt said. “He made some changes this morning and it just didn’t respond to what he was wanting it to do.
“We’re going to stay and test tomorrow and make a few laps and sort everything out. We know what’s going on with the race car, it’s not like it’s something that hasn’t shown its face yet. We’ll make some more adjustments, fine tune it some more and make some more laps.”
The next NHRA Mello Yello event takes place near Charlotte, a track that Matt has had plenty of success at in his young career. He is the defending Four-Wide event winner, won the title at zMAX Dragway in the 2011 fall event and is where he produced the first sub-four-second run in Funny Car history.
“We will get it figured out. Charlotte is good to us. We’ll be ready to come out swinging there.”