CONCORD, N.C. (Sept. 18, 2016) – The Countdown to the Championship is off and running and the Freightliner Trucks Dodge Charger R/T team rebounded in a big way after showing some struggles in NHRA Carolina Nationals qualifying.
Hagan and crew chief Dickie Venables opened the day with a 3.975-second, 323-mph lap to take out higher-seeded Courtney Force on a hot and muggy afternoon at zMAX Dragway near Charlotte. Hagan then lost a close race to Don Schumacher Racing teammate eventual event runner-up Tommy Johnson Jr.
“They just did a great job over there in the right lane,” said Hagan, whose team had choice of lanes against Johnson. “We stuck them over there, and they hadn't been down that lane at all. He still left on me some and they outran us. At the end of the day, you have to go over there and shake their hands.
“They just did a good job. We don't leave here empty handed though. Charlotte, it either loves you or it hates you – if you're me, anyway. We at least got a few points after qualifying was a little rough but we learn from it and move on to St. Louis. We have five more races to make this thing happen. A lot can happen in five races, so we'll just keep digging.”
The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series heads to Gateway Motorsports Park near St. Louis next weekend for the 5th annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals, the second of three consecutive Countdown events
“It's tough, but we know it going into it. It's the same way every year pretty much, and you just have to be prepared for it, mentally and physically, and have enough parts to do it all. St. Louis is a little bit closer to the shop, so we'll go back there and do what they have to do, stock up on some stuff.
“One thing about Dickie, this is something he doesn't take lightly. It's his livelihood, his bread and butter, he's not going back home and farming – this is it. He'll get after it, make the changes needed, and make sure we are where we need to be come St. Louis.”
Hagan leaves the Carolina Nationals fifth in Funny Car points standings, 72 behind DSR teammate Ron Capps in first.
Event Winner: John Force (John Force Racing)
No. 1 qualifier: Tommy Johnson Jr. (Don Schumacher Racing) 3.876 sec.-track record, 323.43 mph
MATT HAGAN, Freightliner Trucks Dodge Charger R/T
Qualifying position: No. 9
First round: HAGAN (3.975, 323.89) def. Courtney Force (4.024, 308.85)
Second round: Tommy Johnson Jr. (3.970, 320.74) def. HAGAN (3.992, 322.11)
FRIDAY: 3.940 sec., 323.81 mph, (Session 1); 3.962, 279.12, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 4.604, 178.59, (Session 3); 4.278, 208.52, (Session 4)
NHRA MELLO YELLO COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS STANDINGS
(Official after Charlotte, first of six Countdown events)
1. RON CAPPS (5) 2194 -----
2. Del Worsham (1) 2152 -42
3. John Force (3) 2144 -50
4. TOMMY JOHNSON JR. (1) 2132 -62
5. MATT HAGAN (3) 2122 -72
6. Courtney Force (1) 2094 -100
7. Robert Hight (1) 2093 -101
8. JACK BECKMAN (1) 2084 -110
9. Tim Wilkerson (2) 2067 -127
10. Alexis DeJoria (1) 2036 -158
Matt Hagan raced to the final round win over Del Worsham to take home the win at the 2016 Chevrolet Performance Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. This is Hagan's first win at this historic race.
1. Ron Capps (2194)
2. Del Worsham (2152)
3. John Force (2144)
4. Tommy Johnson Jr. (2132)
5. Matt Hagan (2122)
6. Courtney Force (2094)
7. Robert Hight (2093)
8. Jack Beckman (2084)
9. Tim Wilkerson (2067)
10. Alexis DeJoria (2036)