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BROWNSBURG, Ind. (April 26, 2017) - There's nothing like going home after a disappointing trip so it's perfect timing for NHRA Mello Yello Series Funny Car points leader Matt Hagan to be racing this weekend near Charlotte in the eighth annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals this weekend near Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Hagan opened this year by winning the first two events on the Mello Yello tour but Sunday near Houston in the fifth event of season the two-time NHRA world champion was eliminating in the opening round to Don Schumacher Racing teammate Jack Beckman after qualifying 11th, the worst of the year for Hagan's Mopar Express Lane 2017 Dodge Charger R/T.

"You have to be able to go out there and put a good number on the board during qualifying so we don't have to race a DSR teammate in the first or second round on Sunday," Hagan said. "That makes a big difference. The Funny Car competition is tough but the toughest ones out there are the DSR guys pitted next to us.

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"A lot of racing still left and we're going to my home track at Charlotte where my entire family will be. I'm pretty pumped about that and we're just going to roll on with it."

Hagan will be racing about 165 miles from his cattle farm in Christiansburg, Va., and most of his family and friends will make the short drive to zMAX Dragway next to Charlotte Motor Speedway to provided added support when racing begins on Friday with qualifying of the most unique event in drag racing.

The Four-Wide Nationals is contested on the only four-lane dragstrip in the world that pits four nitro racecars on the track at the same time in four qualifying sessions with the top-16 advancing to Sunday's eliminations when the top two in the heats of four advance to the next round.

Hagan with crew chief Dickie Venables and assistant Michael Knudsen won the Four-Wide Nationals in 2013 and have won at the track two other times in a total of five final round appearances.

And the Charlotte track is where he became the first Funny Car driver to crack the 4-second barrier with a time of in 3.995 in 2011 that led to the lane being named his honor.

"Man, that sure seems like a long time ago," said Hagan, who set the Funny Car time (3.822 seconds) and speed (335.57 mph) records last year and duplicated those numbers at this  year's season-opener at Pomona, Calif.

He set the Charlotte track speed mark at 323.50 last year which is one of 16 NHRA track time and speed records he currently holds.

The Four-Wide race is the second of three on successive weekends for the Mello Yello tour that races near Atlanta next weekend.

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MATT HAGAN, Mopar Express Lane  2017 Dodge Charger R/T

Crew chief: Dickie Venables; assistant: Michael Knudsen

QUALIFIED: No. 11

SUNDAY ELIMINATIONS

First round: Jack Beckman

QUALIFYING

  • Q1: 4.862 sec., 167.76 mph
  • Q2: 5.491, 134.44 mph
  • Q3: 3.974, 322.19
  • Q4: 5.274, 137.64

Last event at Las Vegas (March 31-April 2): Qualified No. 2, lost in quarterfinals to John Force

A year ago at Houston: Qualified No. 9, lost in second round to Tim Wilkerson

Career at Houston: Wins 1 (2010); Runner-ups 0; Poles 0

 

Matt Hagan

LAS VEGAS (April 2, 2017) - Two-time NHRA world champion Matt Hagan can count himself among the millions if not billions who haven't won in Las Vegas.

While Don Schumacher Racing's driver of the 2017 Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car left The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday with the points lead in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, a national event trophy continued to remain unclaimed.

Hagan, who qualified No. 2 with crew chief Dickie Venables and assistant Michael Knudsen, lost in the second round to John Force at the Las Vegas Nationals. Although Hagan owns 24 NHRA Wally trophies none have "Las Vegas" etched on them.

"I've been to the finals before (three times) but still can't get to the winner's circle," he said. "The track is tricky and because of the altitude here there isn't as much air as Dickie likes to make the power we're used to.

"Las Vegas never shown me much love, but we leave with the points lead and points always matter.

"It is what it is. We'll move forward to Houston (April 21-23) and try to win our third trophy this year for Mopar, Dodge, Pennzoil and Sandvik Coromant."

The Mello Yello Series is off for two weeks before returning for the 30th annual NHRA SpringNationals near Houston. Then continuing near Charlotte and Atlanta for the first three race swing on the 2017 Mello Yello Series schedule.

RESULTS FROM LAS VEGAS

FUNNY CAR

Winner: Tommy Johnson Jr. (Don Schumacher Racing)

No. 1 qualifier: Courtney Force (John Force Racing), 3.867 sec.-track record, 327.66 mph

MATT HAGAN, Mopar Express Lane 2017 Dodge Charger R/T

Crew chief: Dickie Venables; assistant: Michael Knudsen

Qualified: No. 2

SUNDAY ELIMINATIONS                                                                                                    

First round: HAGAN (3.970 sec., 330.63 mph) def. Del Worsham (6.251, 118.97)

Second round: John Force (3.987, 321.81) def. HAGAN (4.043, 318.24)

Hagan, who opened the season by winning the first two titles, continues to pace DSR Dodge Charger R/T Funny Cars with his qualifying run from Friday (3.868, 330.63) when his was the only car to make a full pull. After a tire-smoking run to start Saturday, Venables rallied for a run of 3.922 at 330.96.

"Our last run today was the most important because it really sets us up for Sunday," said Hagan, who is looking for his first trophy from Las Vegas.

"We really hadn't been out there on conditions like this so far this year and seen a track that hot. Dickie learned a lot out there today being able to pull it back and get the numbers we got on that run. It was a very productive day for our Mopar team and we just need to make that pay off on race day."

MATT HAGAN, Mopar Express Lane 2017 Dodge Charger R/T
Crew chief: Dickie Venables; assistant: Michael Knudsen
Qualified: No. 2
SUNDAY ELIMINATIONS
First round: Del Worsham
QUALIFYING
FRIDAY: 10.804 sec., 78.27 mph, (Session 1); 3.868, 330.63, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 10.423, 77.81, (Session 3); 3.922, 330.96, (Session 4)

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Next NHRA Event 2017

Mello Yello Points

Funny Car (Unofficial)

1. Matt Hagan (400)
2. Ron Capps (398)
3. John Force (371)
4. Tommy Johnson Jr. (357)
5. Robert Hight (301)
5. Courtney Force (301)
7. Jack Beckman (282)
8. Jonnie Lindberg (235)
9. J.R. Todd (222)
10. Jim Campbell (211)