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Matt Hagan
Qualified: No. 8 (3.974 E.T. at 325.30 MPH)
The Results: E1: 3.922 E.T. at 329.67 MPH defeated by Bob Tasca III 3.920 E.T. at 330.47 MPH
Race Recap:
Matt Hagan began his title defense at one of the few remaining venues on the NHRA tour where a victory has eluded him. Hagan, who was presented with his 2020 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series Funny Car championship ring on Saturday during qualifying at the NHRA Gatornationals, has come close to a Gainesville Raceway triumph, finishing as the runner-up in 2018, but had yet to seal-the-deal. He was hoping his luck would change on Sunday at the 2021 season-opener, but once again he felt a Gatornationals victory slip through his fingers as he found himself on the wrong side of a really close drag race.
Hagan qualified the Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye eighth to draw Bob Tasca III in round one. Hagan and Tasca were nearly even leaving the starting line with Hagan clocking a .072 reaction time to Tasca’s .074, and both drivers posted nearly identical E.T.s, (Hagan, 3.922, Tasca, 3.920), but Tasca narrowly claimed the upset win with a 0.0001-second margin of victory, ending the champ’s day early.
“We had a good test session in West Palm Beach to kick off the year and we were on the bad side of a really, really good drag race today to (Bob) Tasca. I wouldn’t be surprised if Tasca goes out and wins it. That’s a good car. It’s tough out there and we were on the tough side of the ladder. We would have had (Ron) Capps, our teammate, in the second round. It was going to be a dog fight all day. I have to say a lot about (my crew chief) Dickie Venables and (assistant crew chief) Mike Knudsen and this Dodge Mopar team and their leadership. The guys worked late working through some gremlins and put a really good race car under me. We’ll be back out here for the next one and will get back after it.”


As a guy who rides a tractor when he’s not wheeling his 11,000-hp Mopar Funny Car, the farmer in Matt Hagan is very familiar with the old encouragement to “Make hay while the sun shines.” So, when the two-race-old NHRA racing season resumed in July after a four-month hiatus due to the pandemic, with no idea how much racing would comprise a season that seemed at risk with every new developing COVID-19 headline, Hagan took the old saw to heart.

“You never knew when the season was going to stop, so you had to hustle at every race,” he said. “You had to show up every round and get every point, and you knew that if you lost a race it could be the difference between winning the championship or not, and there was going to be no restart, no do-overs.”

Hagan’s advantage was crew chief Dickie Venables, who had spent the offseason developing a new combination that some of his rival crew chiefs under the Don Schumacher Racing umbrella said would never work. But when they opened the season with a pair of No. 1 qualifying efforts in Pomona and Phoenix, and later showed uncanny consistency, the proof was there as plain as the three Wallys he won in the 11-race season and the third career championship trophy that Hagan hoisted at the season finale in Las Vegas.

Read At NHRA

Matt Hagan joins Brian Lohnes on this week's episode of the NHRA Insider podcast and talks about his 2020 NHRA Camping World Funny Car championship season: The ups, the downs, the motivating factors, and the ultimate victory in Las Vegas. Lohnes also talks about some of the most interesting numbers from the 2020 Top Fuel season as well. A fun listen!


Matt Hagan knew the enormity of the situation headed into race day.

Hagan was one of three drivers with a strong chance to win the 2020 NHRA Funny Car championship, and the Christiansburg, Va.-based competitor was in the driver's seat to score it all.

Hagan needed this championship.

He didn't need this title for the prestige or to pad his resume. Nor did he need it for job security.

Hagan needed to win this one for his brother Kyle and gain a measure of closure in losing his younger sibling.

Kyle, 32, passed away on January 8, 2016, suddenly in his sleep. Since then, Hagan has tried to win a championship in memory of Kyle, who was going through a very rough patch in his life; one that the Funny Car champion didn't know how to help his sibling fight through.

Matt and Kyle"Growing up, we fought like cats and dogs, as most brothers do," Hagan said. "I had always been playing sports and some different things like that, and he'd always tried to, but he had scoliosis. He had almost a 90-degree curvature of his spine, which basically makes your head feel like it's six pounds heavier than normal. And it just makes things more challenging to get around and do stuff. He lived more of a reserved life than I did."

"He still tried. He wanted to play but was really challenged to do that, so we got into cars together and started drag racing a little bit here and there. My fondest memories with him were going to Elk Creek drag strip and being able to race with him.

"But as he got a little older, it got even more challenging just to even drag race. He had a hard time just kind of sitting up and sleeping and moving around and stuff. So racing or any type of physical activity or something that's stressful on your body became challenging for him."

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FC Points

Unofficial NHRA Championship Standings

Funny Car

1 J.R. Todd 114
2 Robert Hight 95
3 Cruz Pedregon 73
4 Bob Tasca III 72
5 Ron Capps 64
6 Alexis DeJoria 60
7 Tim Wilkerson 57
8 John Force 56
9 Matt Hagan 34
10 Chad Green 32
10 Paul Lee 32
10 Blake Alexander 32



Hagan Cattle Co