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In Funny Car, the DSR Dodge Charger R/T teams Powered by Pennzoil also produced a solid effort with all four drivers qualifying in the top half of the 16-car field for eliminations in which each will have lane choice in the first round.
 
The biggest turnaround was by two-time world champion Matt Hagan and the 80th Anniversary Mopar/Express Lane team led by crew chief Dickie Venables and assistant Michael Knudsen.
 
After a disappointing two events to open the Western Swing with second- and first-round losses, Hagan moved into the No. 2 spot at Pacific Raceways with a 3.930 (328.54) on Saturday's first run then closed the day with a 3.950 (327.90).
 
Hagan's best elapsed time matched the run by teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. (Terry Chandler's Make-A-Wish Dodge) on Friday night but Hagan's faster speed leapfrogged Johnson, who qualified third.
 
"We've had four good runs here and everything is jivin' and clickin'," Hagan said. "The car's gone down the racetrack every time and we have something we can race with tomorrow."
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SONOMA, Calif. (July 30, 2017) - Matt Hagan and the 80th Anniversary Mopar/Express Lane Funny Car team had opportunities the last two races to take big chunks out of Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps led in the championship race.
 
Capps lost in the first round Sunday in the NHRA Sonoma Nationals near San Francisco as his team did the previous week at Denver.
 
But at Denver, Hagan lost in the first round at Sonoma on Sunday and in the second round at Denver.
 
With three NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events remaining before points are reset to start the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoff, Hagan continues ranked No. 2 but trails Capps by 183 points.
 
"Just a rough couple of weekends," said Hagan, the two-time world champion who has won three times in 15 races this year. "The Western Swing has not been treating us kindly. We need to focus on Seattle."
 
The Western Swings includes three races in three weeks and it concludes next weekend at Seattle.
 
"Unfortunately, we smoked the tires on four out of the five times that we were up there on the starting line and that's just not common for (crew chief) Dickie Venables and our guys to miss it that bad that often" said Hagan, whose only full pass was in Friday's first session was in 3.904 seconds at 330.39 mph that held up for the No. 6 qualifying position.
 
Hagan's car appeared to suffer a minor fuel leak on the prerace burnout before running Del Worsham, who also lost traction but his 5.142-second run at 210.87 mph was more than enough to top Hagan's 10.951 after he smoked his tires right at the start.
 
"Doing the burnout I was trying to talk to the guys (about the fuel leak) over the radio with one hand and back it up one-handed. I don't know if we really ended up staged where we needed to be.
 
"I probably should have slapped (the throttle) knowing that he clicked it off in two seconds. But when you smoke the tires at the hit like that you just kind of feel like it's over. The end result is we didn't turn the win light on, and It is what it is, man, we'll just roll into Seattle and hope for the best."
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SONOMA, Calif. (July 26, 2017) - For people who visit the mile-high city of Denver, leaving the mountain could be a much-needed boost for their lungs that have been deprived of oxygen.
 
But for an 11,000-horsepower Dodge Charger R/T, it'll be a return to normalcy and everyone on the 80th Anniversary Mopar/Express Lane Funny Car will be breathing easier. To say that the Mopar Mile-High Nationals was a challenge for two-time Funny Car champion Hagan and the Mopar team would be an understatement.
 
"Well, we went to the mountain and the mountain did not agree with us," Hagan said bluntly. "It was just a struggle from the moment we unloaded there. We had a pretty decent boomer there in the first round of qualifying and we just struggled all weekend after that. We hurt a lot of stuff, a lot of parts and we hate that. That's not like us, that's not what we do."
 
But this weekend's NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma Raceway in the wine country near San Francisco will be a breath of fresh sea-level air for crew chief Dickie Venables, assistant Michael Knudsen and the Mopar team.
 
"The great thing is, Denver is a one-off race. We won't see those conditions until next year. So we switched everything back over to what we normally have on the car and we'll go to Sonoma and have all the confidence in the world that we'll be just fine this weekend."
 
Hagan is seeking his first career win at Sonoma but was runner-up in 2012 and has two poles from the track that is known for quick elapsed times. The team has three event titles in four final round appearances through 14 of 24 Mello Yello events this season.
 
"We're ready to see what we can do in Sonoma," he said. "It's just a relief to return to what we know and we're ready to get after it this weekend. It's a beautiful place to go and they just pack the fans in there. So we'll do our best to try and put on a show for everyone... but not the kind of show we put on last weekend with all of those boomers."

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With their first-round victories at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals, Matt Hagan and Greg Anderson clinched their spots in the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship. Hagan became the second Funny Car driver to lock up a spot in the postseason, joining teammate and reigning world champ Ron Capps, and Anderson joined teammate Bo Butner in Pro Stock. In qualifying, L.E. Tonglet became the first Pro Stock Motorcycle rider to secure his spot.

Steve Torrence, Leah Pritchett, and Antron Brown in Top Fuel, also all clinched their berths in the Countdown following the Fallen Patriots NHRA Route 66 Nationals presented by K&N Filters in Chicago

Just four events –-  Sonoma, Seattle, Brainerd and Indianapolis -- remain for drivers to earn positions in the top 10 standings of their respective classes. 

The Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis over Labor Day weekend is the last place for drivers to earn points. After that event, the points will be reset and only the top 10 drivers in each class will be eligible to compete for NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series championships in the Countdown.

The six-race Countdown to the Championship begins Sept. 15 with the NHRA Carolina Nationals in Charlotte and comes to a climactic conclusion Nov. 9-12 at the Auto Club NHRA Finals in Pomona.

The following drivers have clinched their spots in the 2017 Countdown to the Championship:

TOP FUEL
Steve Torrence
Leah Pritchett
Antron Brown

FUNNY CAR
Ron Capps
Matt Hagan

PRO STOCK
Bo Butner
Greg Anderson

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE
None

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Next NHRA Event 2018

FC Mello Yello Points

Funny Car (Unofficial)

1. Robert Hight (2548)
2. Ron Capps (2533)
3. Courtney Force (2423)
4. Jack Beckman (2396)
5. Matt Hagan (2387)
6. John Force (2306)
7. Tommy Johnson Jr. (2276)
8. Tim Wilkerson (2237)
9. J.R. Todd (2233)
10. Cruz Pedregon (2163)