Hagan ran a track elapsed time record 3.872-second pass at 329.18 mph in his Mopar Express Lane / Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T for the qualifying lead at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Currently third in points, Hagan has raced to five No. 1 qualifiers this season.
“I think today was pretty cool because we had cloud cover,” Hagan said. “The track was tight, it was good out there. The groove is very narrow so you have to watch what you’re doing. All-in-all we had a good day and tomorrow is another day so we come back out tomorrow and fight hard again and just try to scoop up as much points as we can.”
ENNIS, Texas (Oct. 16, 2016) – Two-time Funny Car champion Matt Hagan was powered by Pennzoil to his fourth win in six final round appearances this season on Sunday at the AAA Texas NHRA Fallnationals at Texas Motorplex near Dallas.
The Pennzoil/Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T defeated John Bojec, Courtney Force, Robert Hight and current Funny Car points leader and Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps in the final round to earn his 22nd career win.
“That’s a huge (final) round,” Hagan said. “Unfortunately we faced him (Capps) late in the race. In Reading, we had him in the semis and he left on me and spanked me on the tree. This time I got to leave on him and get a little payback. He’s a great guy, great individual and one of those guys that took me under his wing when I first came out here. I have lots of respect for him and I know he’s digging deep and working hard but we have a job to do for Pennzoil, Mopar, Freightliner, Rocky and all those folks that support us.”
Hagan with crew chief Dickie Venables and assistant Michael Knudsen got back into the championship hunt with an outstanding weekend.
The first seven runs by the Pennzoil/Mopar Dodge were in the 3.8-second range. The only run it missed the magic bracket was in his final race against Capps when Hagan’s quicker reaction time won on a holeshot to beat Capps quicker Dodge.
“We race heads up and that’s the way it’s going to be. When you earn a championship that’s what makes you feel good, that you earned it. We’re just keeping the old boy honest. I love him (Capps) to death and it was cool to see him in the final but I was glad to see that win light come on in our lane. We’ve had to get through some pretty tough cars today and had a little bit of luck go our way.”
Hagan and the Pennzoil team moved into third in Funny Car points standings with two Countdown to the Championship events remaining in 2016. With their win, they pulled within 88 of leader Capps and 22 of DSR teammate Tommy Johnson Jr.
DSR holds the top-four spots in Funny Car standings with Jack Beckman in fourth.
It was Hagan’s second title from the Motorplex facility near Dallas.
“It’s a great race track,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of success out here. This track has shown me some love, I love all these Texas folks. Hopefully we can keep this ball rolling in the Countdown. It’s the fiercest competition that I’ve ever seen out here. You have to bring it every time. It takes everybody to do what we’re supposed to do. We are very, very blessed to be out here. You don’t take it for granted and you work hard for it every day.”
Hagan pushed his Pennzoil Dodge Charger R/T to a 3.913 at 327.03 to beat points leader Ron Capps’ 3.906 at 322.19 in his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T on a holeshot in the Funny Car final round. Hagan, who won in Dallas in 2010, claimed his fourth victory of the year and 22nd of his career. The Virginia cattle rancher moved to third in points, trailing Capps by 88 and second-place Tommy Johnson Jr. by 24. He defeated John Bojec, Houston winner Courtney Force, and No. 1 qualifier Robert Hight in the earlier rounds.
“That was a huge round,” said Hagan, a two-time world champion. “It’s just unfortunate that we’re facing [Ron Capps] so late in rounds. In Reading, I had him in the semi’s, and he spanked me on the Tree, and this time, I was able to get a little payback. I actually try to minimize everything out of my control and just focus on leaving on time, keeping it in the groove, and turning on the win light and let the rest take care of itself. We can’t worry about who might mess up or how many rounds someone might go; we just need to do the best job we can and turn on as many win lights as we can.” Full Race coverage
Hagan’s Pennzoil Dodge has been the most consistent of the weekend with four runs ranging between 3.851 and 3.896, including his final pass of 3.864 that was quickest in the fourth session.
“We’ve got a fast racetrack out here this weekend even in the heat,” he said.
“Dickie (Venables) was really pleased with that last run and that puts us in a good position heading into tomorrow. We were able to pick up some bonus points in qualifying and that was the goal.
“Now we just need to go out and get the job done on Sunday for all the folks at Pennzoil who are out here supporting us. The Countdown is winding down and we need to turn on as many win lights as we can tomorrow and at the last two races. We made it down the track all four laps this weekend and that says a lot about the hard work that Dickie and these guys are putting in.”
READING, Pa. (Oct. 2, 2016) – On a weekend where rain showers left a lot of free time for NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series competitors, Matt Hagan was one of the busiest.
After two sessions of qualifying were rained out on Friday at the 32nd annual NHRA Dodge Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway, Hagan and the Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots team led by crew chief Dickie Venables and assistant Michael Knudsen earned the No. 1 qualifying spot, their fifth of the season, with a 3.873-second pass at 333.90 mph in the one and only qualifying session on Saturday.
After securing the No. 1 qualifying spot for Sunday’s eliminations, Hagan returned to Christiansburg, Va., to be with his wife, Rachel, for the arrival of the couple’s third child that entered the world on Sunday morning roughly six hours before the opening round of eliminations.
“My wife, God bless her. She had a baby then we get back out here and I was just glad to be able to make it back out here in time. Just blessed to be out here doing what I do, loving what I do,” Hagan said.
Hagan opened eliminations by pedaling to a win over Jim Campbell and a 3.869-second, 332.75-mph win over John Bojec in the quarterfinals before facing Don Schumacher Racing teammate and Mello Yello points leader Ron Capps in the semifinal round.
Both Hagan and Capps posted 3.893 times but the win went to Capps who got the starting line advantage.
“Identical ETs – he just left on me, and when you get left on like that, you own it,” Hagan said. “There's just no way around it. He just did a little bit better job in the wheelhouse than I did, and you can't make excuses. Those are make-or-break moments.”
The Mopar Express Lane team moved to fourth in Mello Yello Funny Car points standings with three racing remaining in the Countdown to the Championship.
“This was a huge race for us,” he said of his semifinals round against Capps. “We needed to dig deep there and for a 40-point swing. I feel like I let the team down there. It's not cool. That's not something I take lightly. It's one of those things where he just did a better job at the end of the day. We'll get back in this deal at Dallas, work hard and see what we can do.”
The Mello Yello Series takes a weekend off before resuming the Countdown at the Texas Motorplex near Dallas on Oct. 14-16.
FUNNY CAR Winner: Tommy Johnson Jr. (Don Schumacher Racing) No. 1 qualifier: Matt Hagan (Don Schumacher Racing) 3.873 sec., 333.90 mph
MATT HAGAN, Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T Qualified: No. 1
First round: HAGAN (4.112 sec., 325.22 mph) def. Jim Campbell (16.036, 28.69)
Second round: HAGAN (3.869, 332.75) def. John Bojec (4.174, 289.51)
Semifinals: Ron Capps (3.893, 327.66) def. HAGAN (3.893, 333.58)
QUALIFYING FRIDAY: Sessions 1 and 2 rained out SATURDAY: 3.873 sec., 333.90 mph, (Session 3); Session 4, rained out
Funny Car (Unofficial)
1. Matt Hagan (400)
2. Ron Capps (398)
3. John Force (371)
4. Tommy Johnson Jr. (357)
5. Robert Hight (301)
5. Courtney Force (301)
7. Jack Beckman (282)
8. Jonnie Lindberg (235)
9. J.R. Todd (222)
10. Jim Campbell (211)