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NHRA.com Matt Hagan completed a dominant season of Funny Car competition for Don Schumacher Racing by clinching his third NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series championship at the season-ending Dodge NHRA Finals presented by Pennzoil.

In a year dominated by DRS’s Funny Car four drivers who monopolized all the wins throughout the 11-race season, Hagan won the final slugfest at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway buy outlasting teammates Tommy Johnson Jr. and Jack Beckman.

Beckman was upset in round one by Paul Lee and Johnson was knocked off in the semifinals by their other teammate, low qualifier Ron Capps, in the semifinals. Even though the title was decided before Hagan’s semifinal run, Hagan added an exclamation point by reaching the final round, which would have clinched the title no matter what Johnson did.

“It’s been a dogfight the whole time; this championship was for my brother that I lost three years ago,” said an emotional Hagan. “Dickie Venables and the guys … I can’t say how proud I am of each and every one of my guys. They bust their damn asses each and every day and I try to drive the wheels off of this thing. I can’t say enough about everyone who’s been a part of this and our NHRA fans who support our sponsors.”

Although Hagan and crew chief Dickie Venables looked like champions from the start of the season, qualifying No. 1 at both the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals and the NHRA Arizona Nationals, he went winless at the first two events. His loss at the Arizona Nationals was especially galling in that he crossed the centerline while beating Jeff Diehl.

The second hardest part of that loss was that racing was halted not long after due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving Hagan to chew on his bitter pill of defeat for four months until racing resumed with four straight events at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.

Hagan and Venables came back with a vengeance, defeating Phoenix winner Johnson in the final to win the first Indy event and Winternationals champ Beckman at the second event.

A second-round loss to Bob Tasca III at the third Indy event was the last time this season that he wouldn’t reach the semifinals. He reached the final four at both the U.S. Nationals and Gatornationals, then went to the final in St. Louis. Although he lost the trophy dash to Johnson, Hagan had his first points lead of the year.

Hagan added another runner-up, this time behind Beckman in Dallas and reached the semifinals in Houston before falling to eventual winner Johnson to set up the final showdown in Las Vegas.

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Qualified: No. 2 (33.907 E.T. at 327.74 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 4.286 E.T. at 301.00 MPH defeated Dave Richards 4.421 E.T. at 212.86 MPH
E2: 3.914 E.T. at 328.78 MPH defeated Blake Alexander 13.014 E.T. at 54.58 MPH
E3: 3.981 E.T. at 321.12 MPH defeated by Tommy Johnson Jr. 3.941 E.T. at 321.96 MPH

Race Recap:
Matt Hagan entered his sponsor’s race armed with the Funny Car point lead. By blasting the Pennzoil Synthetics Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat to the quickest run of the opening qualifying session, Hagan captured three valuable bonus points and earned the No. 2 starting position.
 
Hagan began his race day with an ugly round win, pedaling to victory when his machine shook, rattled, and smoked the tires early into the run. His opponent, Dave Richards, also encountered issues but Hagan’s mastery behind the wheel enabled him to claim the win over his competitor.
 
Hagan and teammate Jack Beckman have been taking turns sitting atop the Funny Car championship leaderboard for the past two months, and after learning Beckman had bowed out early in round one, Hagan knew he had to capitalize on the opportunity to stack up as many points as possible. It was ‘mission accomplished’ in round two when Hagan navigated the Pennzoil Dodge to a smooth 3.914 E.T. to defeat Blake Alexander who smoked the tires right at the hit of the throttle. The semifinal round showdown between Hagan and teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. was a critical round for both championship-contending drivers. Both drivers made solid runs in their Dodge Hellcats with Johnson coming out on top.
 
A semifinal appearance coupled with a strong qualifying performance allowed Hagan to maintain the point lead heading into the final race of the season. He will carry a 42-point lead over Johnson, and a 43-point lead over Beckman.

Quotable:
“A really good weekend here in Houston with the Pennzoil colors again. We’d have liked to have been in the final round, but we picked up some points this weekend. It was a close race with TJ (Tommy Johnson, Jr.) in the semis, and I have all the confidence in the world in my crew and Dickie Venables rolling into Vegas. I’m confident we’re going to do what we need to do and win this thing. I’ve been on both sides of it. I’ve led, and I’ve chased, and I’d rather lead than be chasing going into Vegas. It’s a hard task trying to make up points. I’m proud of my guys to put ourselves in the position to make some ground this weekend and extend the lead.”

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Qualified: No. 1 (3.860 E.T. at 328.54 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.885 E.T. at 330.63 MPH defeated Todd Simpson 6.845 E.T. at 100.28 MPH
E2: 3.928 E.T. at 326.63 MPH defeated J.R. Todd 3.987 E.T. at 326.00 MPH
E3: 3.907 E.T. at 326.08 MPH defeated Ron Capps 3.958 E.T. at 318.84 MPH
E4: 3.943 E.T. at 324.20 MPH defeated by Jack Beckman 3.908 E.T. at 328.46 MPH

Race Recap:
On race day, the 35-time NHRA Funny Car winner clocked the second-quickest pass of the opening round of eliminations to advance past Todd Simpson, setting up a monster match-up with former champion J.R. Todd. In a battle of the yellow rides, Hagan’s Pennzoil flopper moved along with a 3.928 to Todd’s 3.987 E.T., pitting Hagan against teammate Ron Capps for the third straight event. Hagan got the better of the 2016 NHRA champion as his 3.907 was enough to outdistance Capps’ 3.958 to advance to his 64th career final round. Squaring off against another DSR Dodge teammate in the money round, Hagan faced U.S. Nationals winner and second-place driver Jack Beckman to see who would win a category-best third win of the season as all four DSR flopper pilots had two 2020 wins each. The champion shoes used nearly identical reaction times, but Beckman’s machine was slightly quicker at 3.908 to better Hagan’s 3.943 E.T.
  
Hagan, who sits six round wins shy of 400, will look to extend his narrow four-point lead over Beckman and his DSR teammates next weekend when qualifying for the 33rd annual Mopar Express Lane Nationals presented by Pennzoil kicks off Saturday afternoon.

Quotable:
“All-and-all another really good day here at Dallas for this Pennzoil/Mopar team. Jack Beckman just had a little better day. They have a great race car, but we have a great race car too. We’ve been keeping pace and we’re going to keep doing our thing for the next two races and see how this thing plays out. I’m super excited we get to do it again in a few days at Houston next weekend. We have a lot of momentum. The team is working great. The guys are doing a great job. We just have a little more work to do.”

ENNIS, Texas (October 17, 2020) – Starting from the pole position for the 40th time in his career, Funny Car point leader Matt Hagan has his sights set on securing his second consecutive Texas Motorplex victory on Sunday at the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals.
 
At the 2019 Dallas event, Hagan raced his 11,000-horsepower machine to the winner’s circle, kicking off what would become an 11-event undefeated streak for the Don Schumacher Racing Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car program, and he is hoping history repeats itself on Sunday. Hagan entered the 35th running of the Dallas event with a 16-point lead over his No. 2 ranked teammate Jack Beckman and a 34-point lead over No. 3 ranked DSR Dodge pilot Tommy Johnson Jr. With only three race days remaining in the 2020 season and the points battle heating up, Hagan knows a win at the Motorplex will be critical in helping to achieve his goal of locking-up a third Funny Car world championship. 
 
Hagan’s No. 1 qualifier, his fourth of the season, was achieved when he rocketed the Pennzoil Synthetics Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat to a blistering 3.860-second pass during Saturday’s second and final qualifying session. Earlier in the afternoon, Hagan and the Dickie Venables-led team unloaded with an impressive 3.890-second run in Q1, the second-quickest of the session. The Pennzoil team’s strong qualifying performance allowed them to bank five bonus points for their efforts.
 
“We made two great runs with this Pennzoil Dodge,” said Hagan, a three-time Texas Motorplex champion. “It was a bit of a cluster up there for the second run. We were trying to make a clutch call and Dickie was trying to put a timing map in, and I was like ‘take a deep breath, it’s going to be alright.’ And it was. I have a great race car under me and I’m trying to drive the wheels off of it and it’s amazing to see all these fans here at the Texas Motorplex and it sort of feels normal and I love it. We’ll try to make four good laps tomorrow and stay in the championship hunt for Pennzoil and Dodge and Mopar and all those who support us.”
 
Hagan’s quest to pick up the 12th consecutive Funny Car triumph for DSR will begin with a round one match-up versus No. 16 qualifier Todd Simpson. Hagan will have lane choice over his opponent as he kicks off his campaign for a 36th Funny Car trophy, and the chance to keep DSR’s undefeated streak alive. Hagan is a two-time winner in 2020 and finished as the event runner-up at the previous race in St. Louis. Eliminations for the 35th annual NHRA FallNationals start at 10:00 a.m. CT on Sunday.

Qualified:
 No. 1 (lane choice)The Competition: No. 16 Todd Simpson

The Results:
Q1: 3.890 E.T. at 323.97 MPH (Two bonus points for second-quickest run of the session)
Q2: 3.860 E.T. at 328.54 MPH (Three bonus points for quickest run of the session)

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Qualified: No. 6 (5.105 E.T. at 148.15 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.959 E.T. at 319.98 MPH defeated Bob Bode 4.080 E.T. at 266.21 MPH
E2: 4.085 E.T. at 249.58 MPH defeated Ron Capps 5.182 E.T. at 113.44 MPH
E3: 3.935 E.T. at 328.62 MPH defeated Alexis DeJoria 8.043 E.T. at 87.47 MPH 
E4: 3.886 E.T. at 330.0 MPH defeated by Tommy Johnson Jr. 3.884 E.T. at 326.08 MPH

Race Recap:
Matt Hagan, a two-time 2020 event champion, had advanced to the semifinals or beyond in five of the first seven races of the season and knew a strong performance at the NHRA Midwest Nationals would yield him the opportunity to take over the Funny Car point lead.

Hagan began his weekend by qualifying the Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat sixth to open up his elimination round march against Bob Bode. The Virginia native clocked a winning 3.959 E.T. to defeat his opponent and earn a spot in the quarterfinals where he was set to go toe-to-toe with teammate and fellow championship contender, Ron Capps. Against Capps, Hagan nabbed the starting line advantage and despite hazing the tires near the top end, held on for the win over his teammate who suffered a mechanical malfunction. In the semifinals, the two-time Funny Car world champion faced Alexis DeJoria where he clocked a 3.935 E.T. versus his opponent who rattled the tires early into her run. With the semifinal victory, Hagan moved into the points lead, surpassing Jack Beckman, who bowed out in the semifinals.

The final round featured an all-DSR Dodge showdown, and the chance to claim DSR’s 11th consecutive Funny Car victory. Hagan piloted his Mopar machine to an impressive 3.886-second at 333.0-mph pass, but Tommy Johnson Jr. captured the win with his 3.844 E.T. to deliver win No. 353 for Don Schumacher.

Hagan carries a 16-point lead over Beckman heading into the third-to-last race of the season. 

Quotable:
“As tough as it is to lose a close final like that, we gained ground and took the points lead. We had a good weekend and it’s hard to complain when you make a final round. That was the bad side of a really good drag race for our Mopar team. It’s a Mopar-sponsored event and we wanted to win for Mopar and Express Lane, but at least another DSR Dodge Hellcat won again with Tommy (Johnson). I just can’t say enough about my guy working so hard with no mistakes. (Crew chief) Dickie Venables is really tuning a mean race car. We’ve had such a fast car all season long. We’re making ground and that’s what matters. We’re used to this thing being tight and most of these championships are won on the final day of the season by one or two points. I’m extremely proud of my guys. It was a good day and weekend at St. Louis.”

Next NHRA Event

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FC Points

Camping World Funny Car Top Ten

1 Bob Tasca III 307
2 J.R. Todd 247
3 John Force 210
4 Matt Hagan 207
5 Ron Capps 195
6 Robert Hight 184
7 Tim Wilkerson 183
8 Alexis DeJoria 148
9 Cruz Pedregon 142
10 Blake Alexander 118

 

 

Hagan Cattle Co

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