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Qualified: No. 9 (3.926 E.T. at 330.88 MPH)
 
The Results: 
E1: 3.910 E.T. at 331.85 MPH defeated J.R. Todd 4.017 E.T. at 320.66 MPH
E2: 4.480 E.T. at 192.19 MPH defeated by Courtney Force 3.965 E.T. at 319.14 MPH
 
Race Recap:
Hagan entered the NHRA Arizona Nationals as the most recent Funny Car event champion, and 2017 Phoenix winner.
 
The points leader struggled throughout qualifying, making only one full pull, but felt confident in the team’s abilities to turn the car around and have a successful showing on race day.
 
Hagan powered the Dickie Venables-tuned Sandvik Coromant Dodge Charger R/T to a 3.910-second run in the first round of eliminations, easily defeating opponent J.R. Todd. The run, which held up to be second best of the round, earned Hagan the advantage of lane choice in round two.
 
Hagan drew eventual event champion Courtney Force, and he believes delays during the second Funny Car session were a factor in the team’s round two woes.
 
The Sandvik Charger put a hole out early into the pass. Shortly after, Hagan suffered an explosion just past halftrack and Force was able to drive into the semifinals.
 
Quotable: 
“We came in and tested in Phoenix and had a really nice session. We got here and the weather changed and we changed up some blower combos and some things like that, kind of making some more horsepower than we expected. We started trying to pull some of that back and then obviously, when you start doing that, it affects everything. You change one thing and it changes ten.
 
“All-in-all we went through first round and I was really impressed with Dickie Venables. In the first round there were guys smoking the tires and rattling up the tree and just couldn’t get down the track. He made some really big wholesale changes to get us where we went 91 [3.91 seconds] and ended up having lane choice out there for second round, but with the delays we already had our tune-up set up. Conditions changed and there just wasn’t a lot we could do. We’re going to roll to Gainesville next and do our thing.”
 
NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Points Standing:
179 points, ranked No. 1
Leads second ranked Courtney Force by 19 points

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The season-opening event of the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series concluded Sunday at the 58th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals presented byProtectTheHarvest.com at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.

Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel) and Bo Butner (Pro Stock) were victorious in their respective categories at the first of 24 events during the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.

Matt Hagan took home the Funny Car victory with a 3.823-second pass at 335.90 mph in his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T to defeat defending world champion Robert Hight in the final round. Hagan defends his Winternationals crown after winning the season-opening event last season en route to a four-win campaign, as he now increases his career win total to 27.

“Keeping our team upbeat, confident and starting the year up on a positive note is good for our team to set goals, no matter how hard they may be to obtain,” Hagan said. “Everything was clicking this weekend and even more than the parts and pieces it’s about having the right guys to use what we have. So far we’ve done it well.”

After qualifying in the top position, Hagan took down Jim Campbell, Cruz Pedregon, and Ron Capps on the road to victory.

Hight qualified second and defeated Jeff Diehl, J.R. Todd and Jack Beckman as he recorded his 24th career runner-up finish.

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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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Next NHRA Event 2018

FC Mello Yello Points

Funny Car (Unofficial)

1. Courtney Force (1197)
2. Ron Capps (1032)
3. Robert Hight (1024)
4. Matt Hagan (1001)
5. Jack Beckman (967)
6. J.R. Todd (863)
7. Tommy Johnson Jr. (819)
8. John Force (807)
9. Shawn Langdon (680)
10. Bob Tasca III (656)