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Pomona, California (February 10, 2018) – Matt Hagan will start the first race of the 2018 NHRA season from the No. 1 spot after powering his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T to a blistering 3.822-second at 336.32-mph pass on Saturday evening. 
 
The run not only earned him the coveted green ‘No. 1 hat,’ but also reset the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona speed record.
 
Before running low E.T. and top speed of the weekend in Q4, Hagan and the team, powered by Pennzoil, also made bonus point-worthy runs in the previous three qualifying sessions, including running quickest of the session in Q3.
 
“My guys are just killing it,” said Hagan, who entered the 2018 NHRA Winternationals as the defending event champion.
 
“I can’t say enough about [my crew chief] Dickie Venables. We’re so blessed and lucky to have him in our corner. He’s worth his weight in gold. I get to crawl in that hot rod he tunes, put my mouthpiece in and hang on. It’s always a fun ride.”
 
In 2017, Hagan started the Winternationals from the No. 1 spot and went on to win the event. He is confident in Venables’ abilities to repeat history on Sunday.
 
“Dickie has a gut instinct for how the track is, and what decisions are going to be made. He’s been doing that since he was my age so he has a lot of experience and that’s just stuff you can’t get overnight.”
 
“Race day is always race day; you never know what’s going to happen, but so far so good.”
 
Hagan will have lane choice over No. 16 qualifier Jim Campbell in round one on Sunday.
 
Qualified: No. 1 (E1 lane choice)
 
The Competition: No. 16 Jim Campbell
 
The Results:
Q1: 3.917 E.T. at 328.94 MPH (One bonus point for third quickest run of the session)
Q2: 3.877 E.T. at 329.99 MPH (Two bonus points for second quickest run of the session)
Q3: 3.859 E.T. at 331.20 MPH (Three bonus points for quickest run of the session)
Q4: 3.822 E.T. at 336.32 MPH (Three bonus points for quickest run of the session)Bonus Points: Nine

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Two-time Funny Car champion Matt Hagan won the first two events of the 2017 season, and will look to do the same to open the 2018 campaign as the NHRA Drag Racing season begins at the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com.

That typical early-season excitement turned into something even more special for Matt Hagan in 2017. The Funny Car standout won the first two events of the year for the second time in his career, and the two-time world champion is looking for another hot start to open the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series campaign.

It begins with its annual iconic opener, the 58th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com, Feb. 8-11 at historic Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, and Hagan who has two wins at the season-opening event, knows what a third win in his 10,000-horsepower Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T at the race would mean when it comes to setting the tone for the new season.

“We won the first two races last year and that just puts you on such a high,” said Hagan, who has 26 career wins. “It’s a clean slate to start the year and you kick it off with all the opportunity in the world. You start fresh and everyone even, but getting that win, it’s a huge confidence-builder. We had a lot of changes last year and that win told us we’re going to be alright.” Full Story on NHRA

BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Nov. 7, 2017) - Matt Hagan is headed to one of his best tracks to close out the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Series season, and he's headed there with some momentum.
 
The Mopar Express Lane team led by crew chief Dickie Venables with assistant Michael Knudsen scored the event title at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway two weeks to send the team to the NHRA Finals on a winning streak.
 
The six-race Countdown to the Championship didn't exactly pan out how the team had hoped, but another win this weekend would be its fifth event title of the season.
 
"We rebounded at Las Vegas, got things in order and got the win," said the two-time Funny Car world champion. "We won't be going after the championship but we've had so much success there that maybe we can finish the season the way we started."
 
The Mopar team Powered by Pennzoil started the season with back-to-back wins at Pomona and Phoenix. With four event titles in five final round appearances, the team is ranked fifth in Funny Car standings with an opportunity to move up this weekend at the NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
 
"(Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron) Capps and (Robert) Hight really ran away with those top two spots, but third is very much within reach for us and that would mean a lot to us to be top-three. We've had a good season, had some struggles here and there but to finish strong would really mean a lot to this team."
 
This weekend's NHRA Finals features a unique points system where each round win is worth 30 points instead of the standard 20.
 
"Dickie has been working really hard to get this car turned around he's proven what I've been saying. He has worked non-stop to give us a strong running race car and that's what we have to finish out the season. I can't say enough about how good of a job he does.
 
"We have a car that can go out and win any weekend and that's what we're going to do this weekend to end the season on a high note."

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By Patrick Rall Oct 30 2017 - 12:39pm - Matt Hagan drove his Dodge Charger funny car to win #4 on the season this past weekend in Vegas, beating Courtney Force in the final round at the Toyota Nationals, but with a first round loss to John Force, Ron Capps slipped from the top spot in the championship race with just one event remaining. 

The NHRA Toyota Nationals were held this past weekend in Las Vegas and while Don Schumacher Racing’s Matt Hagan and his Dodge Charger won the funny car finals – giving DSR its 15th win 23 races – Ron Capps’ early exit coupled with Robert Hight’s strong run caused Capps to fall from the top spot in the championship.

Qualifying
Coming into the NHRA Toyota Nationals, Ron Capps and his Don Schumacher Racing Dodge Charger held a narrow lead over Robert Hight and his John Force Racing Chevrolet Camaro. Capps and his DSR Dodge-driving teammates had hoped to use the stop in Las Vegas to continue their dominance of the funny car class, and they got off to a great start.

Ron Capps came off of the trailer fast, laying down a 3.916 at 325mph to claim the top spot in the first round of qualifying while championship rival Robert Hight sat 14th. Meanwhile, the other Don Schumacher and John Force Racing funny cars to turn in strong first-round runs included Matt Hagan (4th quickest) and John Force (5th), but Jack Beckman, Tommy Johnson Jr, Courtney Force and Hight all turned in disappointing first qualifying runs.

That all changed in the second round, as Jack Beckman ran a 3.867 to take the top spot, Courtney Force ran a 3.878 to grab second and Hight ran a 3.880 to move into third. Capps slid to sixth, Hagan to eighth and John Force dropped to 12th.
The order of the top three wouldn’t change during the final two rounds of qualifying, but Hagan was able to move into fourth and Capps held onto sixth. 

Eliminations

In the first round of eliminations, only one driver from Don Schumacher Racing or John Force Racing failed to advance to the second round, and that was Ron Capps. In what could prove to be a devastating blow to his championship run, Capps lost to John Force when his Dodge Charger ran into problems around half track. Beckman beat Jim Campbell, Tommy Johnson Jr beat Jonnie Lindberg, Hagan beat Gary Densham, and Courtney Force beat Jeff Arend – but Ron Capps lost.

In the second round, Beckman beat teammate Johnson in a battle of DSR Dodge Charger funny cars, Hagan beat Del Worsham, Courtney Force beat Alexis DeJoria and Robert Hight beat John Force in a battle of JFR Camaro funny cars. This set up a semifinal round pitting two DSR Chargers head-to-head and two JFR Camaros head-to-head.

In the semis, Jack Beckman held the starting line advantage, but when he ran into problems, Hagan took the win while Courtney Force destroyed teammate Robert Hight to advance to the finals.

In the final round, Matt Hagan pulled the holeshot advantage and never looked back – beating Force’s Camaro with his Dodge Charger for his fourth win of the year.

The Championship Race

Coming into Las Vegas, Ron Capps held a 24 point lead over Robert Hight. By losing in the first round while Hight lost in the third round, Capps fell to second in the championship race as Hight took a 15-point lead.

This means that at the NHRA Auto Club Finals in Pomona, California, Capps needs to go to the late rounds and he needs to hope for Hight to lose early. Should Capps win the final event, he should win the title, but the 2017 NHRA Funny Car Title is likely going to come down to which of those two drivers finishes better in the final event.

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Next NHRA Event 2018

FC Mello Yello Points

Funny Car (Unofficial)

1. Courtney Force (546)
2. Jack Beckman (538)
3. Matt Hagan (487)
4. Tommy Johnson Jr. (436)
5. J.R. Todd (428)
6. Robert Hight (421)
7. Ron Capps (404)
8. Cruz Pedregon (357)
9. Shawn Langdon (301)
10. Tim Wilkerson (293)