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bdtonline.com - BRISTOL, Tenn. — Racing at Bristol Dragway is more than enough to get Matt Hagan excited to race. But having the 19th annual NHRA Thunder Nationals take place on Father’s Day Weekend just two hours from his Christiansburg, Va. home makes it one of the most anticipated weekends of the 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season for the two-time Funny Car world champ.

Hagan has one career victory at his home track, and will aim to make it a second in Thunder Valley in his 11,000-horsepower MOPAR Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat. He was able to share his previous win at Bristol in 2015 with his father, as well as plenty of family and friends, and it’s a moment Hagan won’t forget. But it’s also a moment the 30-time event winner would like to recreate in 2019.

“Bristol is one of the most important races all season to me,” said Hagan, who is currently sixth in the Funny Car points standings. “It’s my home track, my family is there, my dad is there. When I won that race, I broke down crying. It was such a big moment for me and it was really special. That place carries a lot of passion for me. When you’re surrounded by all the people you love, have all those people supporting you and watching you, it’s just a really spewcial weekend.”

 

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Qualified: No. 7 (3.936 E.T. at 323.97 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.954 E.T. at 328.46 MPH defeated Bob Tasca III 4.014 E.T. at 320.28 MPH
E2: 4.071 E.T. at 274.16 MPH defeated by Tommy Johnson Jr. 3.941 E.T. at 323.81 MPH

Race Recap:
Matt Hagan used the final qualifying session on Saturday to jump his MOPAR Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car into the top half of the field at No. 7, and he carried that momentum into Sunday with a winning 3.954 at 328.46-mph first-round pass against Bob Tasca III. The three-time Chicago event winner was trailing in a close battle with teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. in the quarterfinals when a dropped cylinder down track ended any hopes of yet another Route 66 Raceway victory by Hagan.

Quotable:
“We struggled a little bit in qualifying, but we found the problems and addressed those issues and ended up having a really good race car on race day. I got through round one and didn’t have lane choice. I just let it get a little inside, and it got sucked in and kind of pulled the tires loose. Once you get these things inside, it’s hard to get them back. Just a little combination of everything. This one falls on me this weekend, so I’ll have to do better in Topeka for my team. We’re looking forward to racing the next couple of weekends in a row. We’ve got a lot of data to accumulate and a lot of different racetracks to hit. Ready to do a little work at home, and then get back here and get busy again.”    

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Qualified: No. 7 (lane choice)

The Competition: No. 10 Bob Tasca III

The Results: 
Q1: 4.004 E.T. at 318.24 MPH
Q2: 7.540 E.T. at 87.38 MPH
Q3: 6.708 E.T. at 101.48 MPH
Q4: 3.936 E.T. at 323.97 MPH

Quotable:
“We finally got our race car back that last lap. We were struggling with some power issues a little bit earlier, but we got that problem figured out. Anytime you have some issues come up, it kind of puts you a little behind the eight-ball, but honestly, the confidence I have in Dickie (Venables) and Mike (Knudsen), I know we’re going to have a great car on Sunday. It’ll be a good race against Bob Tasca. He’s got a good car over there. But, at the end of the day, I feel like we can turn the win lights on.”

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Qualified: No. 7 (3.991 E.T. at 321.27 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 5.115 E.T. at 225.41 MPH defeated by Jack Beckman 4.649 E.T. at 251.44 MPH

Race Recap:
Two-time NHRA Funny Car world champion Matt Hagan was looking for his second triumph of 2019 this weekend in his home state of Virginia. After qualifying the Shelor Motor Mile Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat seventh in the field, he matched up with fellow Hellcat Funny Car pilot Jack Beckman in round one. Hagan took the starting line advantage but lost traction in a big way near the 800-foot mark. Beckman lost traction in his run as well, and the two veteran drivers were quick to get back on the throttle, but Hagan wasn’t able to gather his machine back in time to capture the win. The two are now tied with 22 victories versus one another in their 44 career meetings.

Quotable:
“It was a really hot, greasy weekend here in Richmond. We were hoping to get us a home state win here in Virginia, but we just could not get our Shelor Motor Mile Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat down the track clean in that race with Jack. He had some trouble too, but not as much as we did. It’s usually a little muggy out here and the humidity is crazy. Thanks to all of our fans that came out all weekend and especially today for the show everyone in NHRA puts on for them. Really looking forward to getting to Chicago. I’ve had a lot of success there. We have won that race several times and set some world records there. And we are just going to keep digging and do everything we can to put this MOPAR Funny Car in the winner’s circle very soon.” 

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Qualified: No. 7 (lane choice)

The Competition: No. 10 Jack Beckman

The Results: 
Q1: 4.074 E.T. at 313.44 MPH
Q2: 4.001 E.T. at 320.51 MPH
Q3: 4.045 E.T. at 315.64 MPH (One bonus point for third quickest run of the session)
Q4: 3.991 E.T. at 321.27 MPH

Bonus Points: One

Quotable:
“We’ve got a really good, consistent race car. We had some issues with the fuel pump seizing up and had a lever break, but (crew chief) Dickie (Venables) has gotten that under control. Our Shelor Motor Mile Hellcat is going down the race track. It’s smooth in both lanes, they’re pretty even. I’m excited about tomorrow; it’s going to be a good race day.”

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FC Mello Yello Points

Unofficial NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship Standings:

Funny Car

1 Robert Hight 1159
2 Tommy Johnson Jr 1010
3 John Force 958
4 Ron Capps 927
5 Jack Beckman 904
6 Bob Tasca III 865
7 J.R. Todd 857
8 Matt Hagan 794
9 Shawn Langdon 727
10 Tim Wilkerson 724