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Qualified: No. 6 (3.916 E.T. at 318.47 MPH)

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The Results:
E1: 3.946 E.T. at 318.62 MPH defeated Tommy Johnson Jr. 4.807 E.T. at 166.87 MPH
E2: 3.948 E.T. at 312.93 MPH defeated Blake Alexander 4.011 E.T. at 306.40 MPH
E3: 4.613 E.T. at 255.79 MPH defeated Ron Capps 7.818 E.T. at 98.67 MPH
E4: 3.966 E.T. at 311.70 MPH defeated by Robert Hight 3.941 E.T. at 310.84 MPH

Race Recap:
Two-time Funny Car world champion Matt Hagan had visualized what the perfect outcome for this weekend’s MOPAR Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals at Houston Raceway Park Powered by Pennzoil would be. It was parking the Pennzoil Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car in the winner’s circle for the second time in 2019.  

Up first on Sunday for Hagan and his Dickie Venables-led team was a matchup with fellow Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat driver Tommy Johnson Jr. Hagan’s lap of 3.946 seconds knocked out Johnson and advanced the 2010 SpringNationals winner into the second round. Hagan dismissed Blake Alexander with another consistent run of 3.948 to setup a semifinal showdown with another DSR teammate, Ron Capps. Hagan legged his way to a victory over Capps after losing traction near halftrack, ultimately crossing the finish line with a run of 4.613 to reach his 56th career final and first in Houston since 2010 when he won his first career Funny Car Wally.

In the final, Hagan lost the starting line advantage to Robert Hight, a .076 reaction time to a .056, and was never able to catch up. His run of 3.966 trailed Hight’s winning pass of 3.941. The run to the final moved Hagan from fifth to second in the championship standings through five of 24 events. 

Quotable:
“I had a great weekend here in Houston. I’ve got a great race car. Dickie Venables is doing an amazing job with this car. The result today falls on me. I was putting down some numbers that were unacceptable and I didn’t leave the way I needed to. We ran just as good as they did, maybe a little better. I put that weight on me. I should have been better (on the starting line). I should have been in the 40s (reaction time) and we would have won this race today. Sometimes you need things like this to make you dig deeper. I felt really good about my lights all weekend. In qualifying, I was where I needed to be and today the first three rounds I was there. In the final, I had a really long tree. I went inside my head and almost double-stepped the car, but I pulled it back. As soon as I’m pulling back the light is dropping. You just know to yourself that you are dead late. I would have loved to have won it for Pennzoil this weekend. Driving the chrome Pennzoil car right here in Houston with so many Pennzoil and MOPAR people out here to root us on was amazing. I couldn’t be happier with the car and team I have surrounding me. We’re ready to keep things going in Charlotte.”

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After an early-season victory during the 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season and a string of solid runs last weekend in Las Vegas, Matt Hagan sees the confidence level in his team continuing to build. It’s an ideal place to be for the two-time Funny Car champion, especially as he heads to an important early-season race this weekend. 

Racing at his sponsor’s track, Houston Raceway Park powered by Pennzoil, for his sponsor’s race, the 32nd annual Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals presented by Pennzoil, makes this a massive weekend for Hagan and his 10,000-horsepower Pennzoil Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat. Hagan knows that brings a bigger spotlight and extra pressure, but he’s ready to embrace it as he seeks to win his second race of 2019 and second overall in Houston.

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Qualified: No. 5

The Competition: 
No. 4 J.R. Todd
No. 13 Gary Densham
No. 12 James Campbell

The Results: 
Q1: 4.013 E.T. at 320.05 MPH
Q2: 3.924 E.T. at 327.03 MPH (One bonus point for third fastest lap of the session.)
Q3: 3.975 E.T. at 320.26 MPH
Q4: 3.937 E.T. at 325.92 MPH (One bonus point for third fastest lap of the session.)

Bonus Points: Two

Quotable:
“We’ve got a great race this weekend at the Four Wide in (Las) Vegas. We’ve been down the track every run and Dickie (Venables) has a great handle on things. This Pennzoil Dodge is running strong. Race day is up for grabs, but I’m confident it can be our day.”

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Qualified: No. 5 (3.900 E.T. at 325.85 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.941 E.T. at 322.58 MPH defeated Jonnie Lindberg 3.950 E.T. at 324.44 MPH
E2: 9.028 E.T. at 77.04 MPH defeated by John Force 4.471 E.T. at 185.95 MPH

Race Recap:
As the most recent Funny Car winner on tour and 2018 Gatornationals runner-up, Matt Hagan looked prime to capture his first Gainesville Raceway Wally trophy on Sunday at the 50th running of the event.
 
Against his first-round opponent Jonnie Lindberg, Hagan wheeled his MOPAR Express Lane Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat to a 3.941 second run to claim the round win and setup a quarterfinal matchup with John Force. In round two, Hagan was first on the throttle but went up in smoke early into the run and was forced to watch his competitor drive away with the round win, dashing the Virginia native’s chances at his first Gainesville winner’s circle celebration.

Quotable:
“We had to have a blower swap right there (ahead of round two) and it had way too much power, knocked it off at the starting line, but now at least we know we’ve got a really good blower. At the end of the day, I really wanted to win this race. It’s the 50th anniversary, it’s the GatorNats. We didn’t win the 50th but we’d like to try and come back and win the 51st. But all in all, we’ve got a good car. I feel good rolling into Vegas. (Crew chief) Dickie Venables has a good handle on this combo that we’re running.”

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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