BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 23, 2015) – Matt Hagan’s name will be etched in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series history books once again.
Along with two world championships and being the first driver to eclipse the four-second barrier when he ran 3.995 seconds near Charlotte in 2011, Matt once again made history on Sunday at the NHRA Nationals held at Brainerd International Raceway.
In the first round of eliminations, Matt and the Rocky Boots/Mopar team posted a 3.879-second pass at a record 329.58 mph. It was the first time a Funny Car posted a 3.8-second lap.
“It was definitely covering some ground,” Matt said. “I had to drive it there at the big end. I just can’t say enough about (crew chief) Dickie Venables. (DSR teammate Jack Beckman’s crew chief) Jimmy Prock and those guys are running strong but you can’t count out this team. We’re digging, we have our nose down. We just have to stay humble. For Rocky Boots, for Mopar and everyone supporting us, that was a pretty cool run.”
The two quickest Dodge Charger R/T’s in NHRA history faced off in the second round of eliminations under overcast skies and temperatures in the upper 50s after rain delayed the start of racing by nearly three hours.
The second-round race again made NHRA history by being the first time two Funny Cars clocked 3-second laps side-by-side in eliminations.
Matt’s 3.947 at 327 was lost to Beckman’s 3.903 at 326.
“We have a great racecar and a great team but we still have a lot of work ahead of us,” Matt said. “I never would have guessed that we would run our second best time ever and be on the trailer. It’s good to run those numbers but we just have to keep digging.
We have to work hard and at the end of the year hopefully we’ll get it done. Jimmy Prock and those boys are running strong and pushing everyone to do better.”
Matt and the Rocky Boots team will head into the regular season finale over Labor Day weekend second to Beckman in points. They had held the first spot since the Englishtown event in June.
The U.S. Nationals event near Don Schumacher Racing headquarters outside Indianapolis will use a unique points-and-a-half eliminations payoff that means each round win will be worth 30 points instead of the standard 20.
Event winner: Robert Hight (John Force Racing)
No. 1 qualifier: Jack Beckman (Don Schumacher Racing), 3.901 sec., 325.69 mph
MATT HAGAN, Rocky Boots/Mopar 2015 Dodge Charger R/T
Qualifying position: No. 9
First round: HAGAN (3.879 quickest ever, 329.58 speed record) def. Worsham (5.663, 142.69)
Second round: Beckman (3.903, 326.63) def. HAGAN (3.947, 327.19)
By Jeremy Millsop If the trend continues, Matt Hagan will win the Funny Car Class Sunday at Brainerd International Raceway.
The defending season champion and current points leader has never won the Lucas Oil Nationals at BIR. But then he had never won at Bristol, TN, before until this year.
It took a victory over teammate Ron Capps, but Hagan got the monkey off his back at his home track. Will it be a year of many firsts for Hagan and his Mopar/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger? He hopes so.
"Absolutely. Sometimes there are tracks that just don't throw you a bone," said Hagan. "It's no different than Bristol here. It's my home track and I haven't won Bristol before and my friends and family are there and sometimes you just want it so bad you kind of push it away. You try too hard.
"We were able to win Bristol this year and to me that was like winning Indy. It was such a special race for me. That's because it was a homecoming. You do have to dig a little deeper and when you get those opportunities you have to make sure you capitalize on them and not make mistakes. Full Story
KENT, Wash. (August 9, 2015) – The saying “keep your friends close and your enemies closer” fits Matt Hagan and the Mopar Express Lane team recently in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
The past four times Matt and the defending series champions have lost a round it has been to one of his Don Schumacher Racing stablemates.
The most recent loss came on Sunday in the Northwest NHRA Nationals opening round to DSR teammate Ron Capps. Matt was defeated by Tommy Johnson Jr. in the final round at Chicago and the second round at Sonoma. Jack Beckman ousted Matt in the second round at Denver at the start of the three-race Western Swing that ended on Sunday near Seattle.
“It’s been a tricky Western Swing for this Mopar/Rocky Boots team,” said Hagan. “It certainly wasn’t the results we were hoping for these last three races. We’re going to go to Norwalk (Ohio) next weekend and have fun at the Night Under Fire match race, but we’re also going to do some test runs and learn from there.”
The Night Under Fire is an annual event at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park featuring Funny Car match races. The team will use it as a test run to gather more data before the Countdown to the Championship begins next month.
“Those boys across our camp with (Jack) Beckman’s car really have some stuff figured out. It’s been impressive. We have to press hard to run with them, but we also have to run what we know and race our car.
“We know what works. We’ve had a lot of success and we’ll have more. We lost some momentum and some ground in the points, but we’ll dig our way back. This thing is very cyclical out here and we’ll win more races this season.
“There’s no reason we can’t do well at Brainerd and Indy and grab that No. 1 spot for the Countdown. We have a great team and I have tons of confidence in Dickie (Venables) and Knute (Michael Knudsen).”
Matt carries a five-point lead over Beckman into the Aug. 21-23 event in Brainerd, Minn. The NHRA Mello Yello series will take a weekend off after three consecutive weeks of racing.
Event winner: Tommy Johnson Jr. (Don Schumacher Racing)
No. 1 qualifier: Jack Beckman (Don Schumacher Racing), 3.912*, 322.88*, * TRACK RECORDS
MATT HAGAN, Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots 2015 Dodge Charger R/T
Qualifying position: No. 9
First round: Capps (4.091, 303.78) def. HAGAN (4.356, 225.70)
Funny Car (Unofficial)
1. Jack Beckman (1279)
2. Matt Hagan (1229)
3. Tommy Johnson Jr. (1178)
4. John Force (1084)
5. Del Worsham (1037)
6. Ron Capps (1020)
7. Tim Wilkerson (962)
8. Robert Hight (915)
9. Cruz Pedregon (884)
10. Alexis DeJoria (856)
Assistant Crew Chief