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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.

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Unofficial NHRA Championship Standings

Funny Car

1 Matt Hagan 1020
2 Tommy Johnson Jr 915
3 Jack Beckman 848
4 Ron Capps 828
5 Bob Tasca III 679
6 J.R. Todd 663
7 Tim Wilkerson 615
8 Alexis DeJoria 605
9 Paul Lee 464
10 Cruz Pedregon 436