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BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Feb. 22, 2017) - Matt Hagan started off the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season perfectly at the NHRA Winternationals 10 days ago by earning the No. 1 qualifying position and racing to victory with the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T.

The team led by crew chief Dickie Venables and assistant Michael Knudsen will try to do the same this weekend at the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park near Phoenix but with a new color scheme of longtime Don Schumacher Racing partner Sandvik Coromant on board.

Sandvik Coromant is a global leading supplier of cutting tools, tooling solutions and know-how to the metalworking industry. Sandvik Coromant has over 8,000 employees and is represented in 130 countries. 

"Sandvik will be primary on a car for a few races this season and we hope to park them in the winner's circle," Hagan said. "We got off to such a strong start there in Pomona and we just have to keep up the good work."

Hagan feels that the team Powered by Pennzoil with Venables set the tone at the season opener in Pomona.

Matt with crew chief Dickie Venables and assistant Michael Knudsen got the pole on the last run of the night with an astonishing elapsed time of 3.822 seconds at 335.57 mph that matches the NHRA world records the team set last year.

It is the second time in the past five Mello Yello events - dating to the event in Reading, Pa. last October - that Pritchett and Hagan started race day in the No. 1 qualifying position.

"We got a new guy strapping me in the car so I've been getting in with the first pair of Funny Cars to make sure we had time for me to get comfortable," he said of not anticipating a lengthy delay for track clean-up. "I probably sat in there a good hour and I was like, 'Oh my goodness, let's go!' My legs were falling asleep and everything else. I was trying not to fall asleep in there.

"It was worth the wait obviously. We went out there and just laid down a great number. That just speaks tons for Dickie Venables. He rolled it out of the box here and we've been pretty much low about every session."

"I'm just super pumped that Dickie's got a lot of confidence rolling into the first race. Tomorrow is race day and anything can happen. Even having a great racecar, you've still got to stay very humble. Anything can happen on race day."

Hagan, a two-time Funny Car world champion, also tied his national records for elapsed time (3.822 seconds) and speed (335.57 mph) with crew chief Dickie Venables and assistant Michael Knudsen.

Hagan with crew chief Dickie Venables and assistant Michael Knudsen got the pole on the last run of the night with an astonishing elapsed time of 3.822 seconds at 335.57 mph that matches the NHRA world records the team set last year.

It is the second time in the past five Mello Yello events - dating to the event in Reading, Pa. last October - that Pritchett and Hagan started race day in the No. 1 qualifying position.

"We got a new guy strapping me in the car so I've been getting in with the first pair of Funny Cars to make sure we had time for me to get comfortable," he said of not anticipating a lengthy delay for track clean-up. "I probably sat in there a good hour and I was like, 'Oh my goodness, let's go!' My legs were falling asleep and everything else. I was trying not to fall asleep in there.

"It was worth the wait obviously. We went out there and just laid down a great number. That just speaks tons for Dickie Venables. He rolled it out of the box here and we've been pretty much low about every session."

"I'm just super pumped that Dickie's got a lot of confidence rolling into the first race. Tomorrow is race day and anything can happen. Even having a great racecar, you've still got to stay very humble. Anything can happen on race day."

Hagan, a two-time Funny Car world champion, also tied his national records for elapsed time (3.822 seconds) and speed (335.57 mph) with crew chief Dickie Venables and assistant Michael Knudsen.

Matt Hagan 2017

BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Feb. 7, 2017) - Matt Hagan has his sights set on a big year for himself and the Mopar Express Lane 2017 Dodge Charger R/T team. The two-time Funny Car champion and Virginia cattle farmer is embracing all aspects of life after the unexpected death of his younger brother, Kyle Hagan, last month.

"He was 33 years old and he's gone. You've got to take life and really realize how special every moment is. So I think that when I'm crawling into the racecar this year I'm not going to take anything for granted and not just go through the motions. It just means a lot more to me now knowing that it can be gone tomorrow."

Hagan will pay tribute to his brother each time he puts on his Impact Racing helmet with a portrait of his brother painted by Polen Designs.

"I wanted to do something special on my lid this year to honor my brother and all of the memories we made together. Polen Designs did a wonderful job and I was at a loss for words when I saw it."

Hagan and the Mopar team powered by Pennzoil has won one of its four titles at Pomona in the Winternationals.

"2017 is going to be a big year I think for all of us, especially here at DSR," Hagan said. "I have a lot of goals that I've set for myself. With my brother Kyle passing it put some stuff in perspective for me, treating every day and every lap and every race as it could be your last.

Hagan is thrilled to be a part of Mopar's 80th anniversary in 2017 by again flying the colors of Mopar Express Lane in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series with the team led by crew chief Dickie Venables and assistant Michael Knudsen.

"Eighty years of Mopar, that's just 80 years of horsepower. It's pretty cool that everybody's so brand-loyal and supported the cause and allowed Mopar to be out here and be able to demonstrate the horsepower like they do on the racetrack. I think that we have to have a big year for them. We've got to go out here and win a bunch of races and win this championship and make it all happen."

The team participated in the Nitro Spring Training preseason test last week at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park near Phoenix.

"It's always good to get back in the car, knock the dust off before we roll into Pomona," Hagan said. "I feel like we had a really good test session. We learned some things that worked, some that didn't. The thing with Dickie (Venables) is when you pull up to the line with him on your side as your crew chief, you know you're going to have a winning race car."

MATT HAGAN: Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T Last event (Nov. 11-13, 2016, at Pomona): Qualified No. 7, lost in first round to Jeff Arend 2016 Pomona 1: Qualified No. 10, lost in first round to Chad Head Career at Pomona 1: Wins 1 (2015); Runner-ups 2 (2011, 2014); Poles 0 Career at Pomona: Wins 4; Runner-ups 2; Poles 1

Pts Events Wins Rup Semi Qtr 1st rd Poles DNQ W/L 2016 3rd 24 4 2 5 7 5 5 0 40-20 CAREER 192 22 20 28 62 56 26 4 265-166 Best Time, Speed: 3.822 sec.-quickest ever (2016, Brainerd); 335.57 mph-fastest ever (2016, Topeka)

NHRA Winternationals Event Schedule (All times PT) Friday: 1, 4 p.m., nitro qualifying Saturday: 1, 4 p.m., nitro qualifying Sunday: 11 a.m., championship eliminations

ON FS1/FOX Friday: 7-8 p.m. ET, qualifying Saturday: 1-2 p.m. ET, live qualifying on FS1 Sunday: 4-7 p.m. ET, live eliminations on FOX

Matt Hagan

POMONA, Calif., (Nov. 13, 2016) – For the first time in 11 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events, Matt Hagan and the Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots team suffered an opening-round loss to close the 2016 season.

Hagan’s 10,000-horsepower Dodge Charger R/T tuned by crew chief Dickie Venables with assistant Michael Knudsen hazed the tires in the opening round on a warm, sunny day at the NHRA Finals at Pomona, Calif.

“We’ve been pushing that line all weekend and we just went too far there in the first round,” Hagan said. “It’s unfortunate to end your season like that. It’s not what we wanted to do. We’re better than that but we just didn’t show it today.”

Hagan ends the season with four event titles in six final round appearances. Highlights from the Mello Yello season are clocking the national speed record at 335.57 mph in Topeka where they scored the event title. He also holds the national elapsed time record of 3.822 set in August at Brainerd, Minn.

The Mopar/Rocky Boots team finishes third in Funny Car points standings, giving Don Schumacher Racing a clean sweep of the top-three in points.

“You have to look back and think about all of the good things we did this year,” he said. “You can’t hang your head on one day. I’m proud of Dickie and this entire team. He pushes it, that’s how we get better.”

Another bright spot was when Hagan and the Mopar team scored the coveted U.S. Nationals event title at Indianapolis over Labor Day weekend.

“You look back at some of our race wins this year and winning Indy is huge,” the two-time Funny Car champion said. “There’s guys that would trade a pile of wins just for one Indy win and we did that.

“That’s what we’ll look at from this year. It’s tough to end your season on a first round loss but that’ll just make us hungrier for next year.”

FUNNY CAR Event winner: Tommy Johnson Jr. (Don Schumacher Racing) No. 1 qualifier: Jack Beckman (Don Schumacher Racing), 3.825 sec.-track record, 332.84 mph-track record

MATT HAGAN, Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T Crew chief: Dickie Venables; assistant: Michael Knudsen Qualified: No. 7 SUNDAY ELIMINATIONS First round: Jeff Arend (3.971, 314.97) def. HAGAN (6.367, 118.41) QUALIFYING FRIDAY: 6.397 sec., 109.08 mph, (Session 1); 3.894, 329.83, (Session 2) SATURDAY: 5.292, 136.41, (Session 3); 3.908, 330.72, (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)