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There might not be a single NHRA competitor who wants to get back on the track more than Christiansburg’s Matt Hagan.

It’s not that he’s bored, exactly. With his sport temporarily shut down and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s stay-at-home order in effect, Hagan has plenty of work to occupy him on his 2,700-acre cattle farm and 100-acre hemp farm in the New River Valley. Spending extra time with his wife, Rachel, and four children is a rare gift for the 37-year-old driver this time of year, too.

But his Funny Car team had something special going in 2020. Hagan knows it. And he can’t wait for the opportunity to get back out there and prove it.

Full Story

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Qualified: No. 1 (3.859 E.T. at 331.61 MPH)

The Results:
E1: Foul (made contact with a timing block), defeated by Jeff Diehl 

Race Recap:
By earning the No. 1 starting position for the third consecutive event, Matt Hagan and the Mopar team put themselves in prime position to defend their 2019 NHRA Arizona Nationals title. Hagan began Sunday morning by lining up opposite No. 16 qualifier Jeff Diehl in round one, and it was clear crew chief Dickie Venables wasn’t taking their first opponent lightly. The Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat was on a tremendous run but charging hard to the left toward the centerline. Hagan did his best to muscle it back over, but narrowly brushed a timing block just before the finish line, which caused his opponent to claim the automatic round win by default.

Quotable:
“My guys did a heck of a job today; the car was on a really good run. It was just one of those deals where it got inside on me, and I couldn’t get it back. I thought I lifted soon enough not to hit anything, but a header brushed a timing block, and that DQ’d us. But, a heck of a job for this Mopar team to run such a good number like that on race day. We were No. 1 qualifier, have such a good race car, and I hate that I let my team down like that. It’s race day; I was just trying to get to the finish line first. All in all, we’ve got a great car, things are going in the right direction, the guys are working hard, the parts and pieces are working well, and it’s all coming together.”

Matt Hagan earned the 38th pole position of his career on the strength of the run he made during the second qualifying session of the NHRA Arizona Nationals. Hagan ran a 3.859-second pass at 331.61-mph, putting his Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat at the top of the Funny Car qualifying sheet.

Hagan will race Jeff Diehl in the first round of the NHRA Arizona Nationals, the second of 24 stops on the Mello Yello NHRA Drag Racing Series tour. The Don Schumacher Racing driver also earned pole position at the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com, which opened the season, and the Auto Club NHRA Finals, which concluded the 2019 season. 

John Force came in .002-second behind Hagan with a slightly quicker speed of 331.94 and will race Terry Haddock in the first round at 11 a.m. Mountain Time. Force is hunting his 152nd career victory as the winningest driver in NHRA history. His most recent victory came at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis in 2019. 

2019 Funny Car champion Robert Hight powered his Auto Club Chevy Camaro to the No. 3 qualifying position with a 3.867-second hit at 3330.55. The John Force Racing driver will race Jim Campbell in the first round as he looks for his first victory of the 2020 season and first final since the final race of the 2019 campaign. 

Blake Alexander, in his first race of the 2020 season, qualified in the No. 12 position in his Pronto Auto Service / Head Racing Ford Mustang. That booked him a matchup against fellow Ford Mustang driver Bob Tasca III, who took his Mike Neff-tuned Ford Motorcraft machine to the No. 5 machine behind a 3.883-second pass. 

Jack Beckman, who has won back-to-back events thanks to excellent performance at Auto Club Raceway, will start race day from the No. 6 position. He ran a 3.889 and earned a matchup against former Funny Car world champion Cruz Pedregon. Pedregon is racing with crew chief Eric Lane in his Snap-On Dodge Charger and qualified No. 11 with a 3.962. 

The first round of Mello Yello NHRA Drag Racing is scheduled for 11 a.m. at Wild Horse Motorsports Park. You can get tickets here or catch all the action on NHRA.tv. 

Next NHRA Event

FC Mello Yello Points

Unofficial NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship Standings:

Funny Car

1 Tommy Johnson Jr 416
2 Jack Beckman 403
3 Matt Hagan 388
4 Ron Capps 314
5 Bob Tasca III 303
6 J.R. Todd 292
7 Tim Wilkerson 270
8 Alexis DeJoria 217
9 Cruz Pedregon 202
10 Paul Lee 193