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ROANOKE - The Virginia NHRA Nationals returns to Virginia Motorsports Park in Richmond this weekend. The NHRA hasn't had a national event at the track since 2009. Two-time Funny Car World Champion Matt Hagan will look for his 28th career win. The Christiansburg native is off to a strong start, with one victory and two runner-up finishes.

"I think it's going to be new for everybody. Basically you got to go down there and make the first lap and see what happens and how the car responds to the race track. I'm sure the Virginia Motorsports Park has done a phenomenal job getting ready for this event. It's going to bring a lot of money into the area it's going to drive a lot of folks in this way from hours away. So we're excited about it. Really pumped up to go out here and put on a show for everybody at the end of the day, that's what we do. Everyone spends their hard-earned money to come out and we want to put on a good show for them," said Hagan

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Qualified: No. 1 (3.917 E.T. at 326.79 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 4.017 E.T. at 320.74 MPH defeated Jonnie Lindberg 4.442 E.T. at 246.57 MPH
E2: 4.149 E.T. at 282.95 MPH defeated by Bob Tasca III 4.084 E.T. at 307.86 MPH

Race Recap:
Matt Hagan spearheaded the dominant DSR 1-2-3 qualifying performance at Joliet, racing his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car to the No. 1 spot. The two-time Funny Car World champ had the early advantage over Jonnie Lindberg in round one and never looked back with a winning 4.017-second at 320.74-mph run that earned him lane choice over Bob Tasca III in the quarterfinals.

Hagan, a three-time winner at Route 66 Raceway, and Tasca both left the starting with identical .074 marks. The two were locked together neck-and-neck for much of the race, but Tasca began to slowly edge ahead and was able to outrun Hagan’s 4.149-sec pass.

Quotable:
“Unfortunately, not what we wanted out of race day. Went out there and (the car) just kind of came loose, it was looping the tires. We’re having to make bigger wholesale changes during race day, and I feel like our Mopar Dodge is responding to the changes. All in all, I feel like we’re closing the gap on a lot of things, and we’re making it happen. We have some momentum going into these next three races coming up.”

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JOLIET, Illinois (June 2, 2018) – Don Schumacher Racing dominated the Funny Car field during qualifying at the JEGS Route 66 NHRA Nationals, clinching the top three spots. Matt Hagan leads the class, with Ron Capps and Jack Beckman holding court in the second and third qualifying positions. The top three seeded drivers blasted to the front of the pack in their Mopar-powered Dodge machines during Friday’s second qualifying session.
 
Hagan, a three-time Route 66 Nationals Funny Car champion, raced his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T to a pass of 3.917-seconds at 326.79 mph to qualify for the preliminary pole and bank three bonus points, after opening qualifying with a 4.027 mark that ranked him fifth. He held the top spot through the final two qualifying sessions on Saturday, ending with a solid 3.991 run.
 
This is the two-time Funny Car world champion’s second No. 1 qualifier of the 2018 season, second at Route 66 Raceway, and 32nd of his career.
 
Hagan, who claimed the No. 1 spot at the 2018 season-opener before going on to race to victory, feels confident in his team’s ability to trade in their green No. 1 qualifier hats for yellow winner’s circle hats on Sunday.
 
“Our Mopar Express Lane Dodge is running strong,” he said. “We can go down there and throw down a good number. The confidence has definitely grown. We have all of the power that we need.
 
“We’ve changed everything. To start the year off we had a whole different track prep than we do now, so we had to regroup and make big changes to this Mopar Funny Car. Obviously, it’s taken a few runs, and taken a few races to get there, but I feel like we’ve closed the gap on (points leader) Courtney (Force) now.
 
“Blessed to have that No. 1 spot right now. Everyone thinks these Chevys are running up front, but we’ve got these Mopars going again. Just give (crew chief) Dickie (Venables) enough time and he’ll figure it out. I like him being in our corner and knowing that we’re going to get there, it’s just a matter of runs.”
 
Hagan begins his campaign for his 28th career victory with a round one matchup against No. 16 qualifier Jonnie Lindberg. Hagan and the Mopar team will have the advantage of lane choice to start the day.

Qualified: No. 1 (lane choice)

The Competition: No. 16 Jonnie Lindberg

The Results:
Q1:4.027 E.T. at 317.49 MPH
Q2: 3.917 E.T. at 326.79 MPH (Three bonus points for quickest run of the session)
Q3: 4.861 E.T. at 161.59 MPH
Q4: 3.991 E.T. at 317.12 MPH

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NHRA Chicago Event Highlights: 

  • Three-time event champion (2010, 2013, 2014) 
  • 2015 runner-up 
  • 2016 No. 1 qualifier 

 
2017 Chicago Recap:
Qualified fourth; Semifinal finish (defeated Del Worsham in E1, Alexis DeJoria in E2; defeated by Ron Capps in E3)
 
Last event (Topeka):
Qualified eighth; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Tim Wilkerson in E1; defeated by Courtney Force in E2)

2018 Season Statistics:
13 round wins; ranked third in points
 
Career Statistics:
224 races; 27 wins; 31 No. 1 qualifiers
  
Quotable:
"I think we're closing the gap on Courtney Force. They've had quite a bit on everyone. We went to Topeka, and even though we went out second round, we're running right there with her now. With (crew chief Dickie Venables) knowledge, and the way our car runs, we ought to be very, very competitive now."

"Chicago has been kind to me. Set some world records there, and won that race a couple of times. Hopefully one of these races will pay off. Eventually the win lights will come on, but I think our crew is headed in the right direction with their tuning thought process. Our setup is moving in the right direction, just still trying to find more traction and downforce for this new track prep. I feel good about rolling into Chicago with the gains we made in Topeka. We're running right there with the best of them."

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Qualified: No. 8 (4.028 E.T. at 315.78 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.942 E.T. at 326.79 MPH defeated Tim Wilkerson 4.024 E.T. at 314.31 MPH
E2: 3.936 E.T. at 328.94 MPH defeated by Courtney Force 3.934 E.T. at 328.54 MPH

Race Recap:
Matt Hagan qualified his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T in the top half of the field at No. 8 and drew Tim Wilkerson in his opening-round battle. Both drivers recorded solid runs, but only Hagan dipped into the three-second range with a winning 3.942-second pass.

The 2017 runner-up and 2016 winner at Topeka had lane choice over Courtney Force in the quarterfinals. In the end, just a tick over 12 feet separated Hagan from the round win in a nail biter of a finish. His 3.936 E.T. was edged out at the stripe by Force’s 3.934.

Quotable:
“I want to say that I'm just really proud of my guys. They did a great job on Sunday. We had a 55-minute turn and they did a great job making the turn with three guys in new positions, just really thrashing hard and trying to get things done.

“All in all, a pretty good race day, even though we only went to the second round. It’s just one of those things where you have to put it in perspective. Courtney Force and those guys have had a tenth on the field and we just went nose-to-nose and basically ran an identical run with them. When you put that in perspective, it really shows how much we've stepped it up right now, being able to throw down with those guys when everybody else is still kind of running 4.0's out there."

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Next NHRA Event 2018

FC Mello Yello Points

Funny Car (Unofficial)

1. Robert Hight (2445)
2. J.R. Todd (2434)
3. Ron Capps (2336)
4. Tim Wilkerson (2334)
5. Tommy Johnson Jr. (2296)
6. Courtney Force (2264)
7. Matt Hagan (2241)
8. Jack Beckman (2229)
9. John Force (2204)
10. Shawn Langdon (2152)