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Photo by Nastase - Matt Hagan collected his third win of the 2017 season when he outlasted Courtney Force to win the NHRA New England Nationals. It was Hagan’s first win in Epping and the 25th of his career. That breaks a tie with teammate Jack Beckman for ninth on the all-time Funny Car wins list. Hagan saved his best race-day run for last, powering to a 3.897 to defeat Courtney Force, who slowed to a 3.92 after running low e.t. of eliminations in the semifinals.

The best ending was when two-time Funny Car world champion Matt Hagan and the Mopar Express Lane 2017 Dodge Charger R/T team led by Dickie Venables stopped a losing streak to John Force in the opening round. Hagan then went on to win the New England title by beating Force's daughter, Courtney Force, in the final round of eliminations at Epping, N.H., for his third event title of the season. J. Force had beaten Hagan in their last four meetings.
 
Hagan powered to the 25th victory of his career and third of the season with a 3.897 pass at 332.59 in his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger Funny Car to defeat C. Force who ran a 3.927 at 332.34.  
 
"I knew we had a great racecar today and the conditions were great so we knew we would be better than our qualifying times," Hagan said. "Everything went the way it should have today, and things seemed to fall in place for us." 
 
"Obviously, you have to race the racetrack, but you race the racer as well. People say they don't think about who is beside you. But I think that's crap. Everybody does. Their cadence and tendencies and what they're going to do and different things like that."
 
Hagan's team stumbled on both qualifying runs Friday but rallied on Saturday to qualify fourth.
 
"We didn't go down the racetrack (Friday) and you're thinking, 'oh man, what do we do?' But Dickie was like, 'man we're better than that.' So, he reeled it back in and made two really nice laps on Saturday and built a lot of confidence coming into Sunday."

#4 Matt qualifies 4th and will face #13 John Force first round.

The Results:
Q1: 4.789 E.T. at 162.78 MPH
Q2: 11.371 E.T. at 57.45 MPH
Q3: 3.877 E.T. at 333.66 MPH
Q4: 3.874 E.T. at 333.00 MPH

Matt HaganMatt Hagan, the cattle farmer from Christiansburg, VA, no longer wears the high speed badge of 335 mph.

He wears a faster badge.

When fellow Funny Car racer Robert Hight upped Hagan’s signature showcase speed to 337 mph during qualifying at Heartland Park Topeka last week, the cowboy hat and boot wearing two-time world champion hit an even more impressive stride.

Hagan raced down the runway of high horsepower fashion with the fastest run in drag racing history, 338.85 mph.

Equally impressive, Hagan also garnered the quickest elapsed time in NHRA Funny Car history with a 3.802-second time pass.

Hagan admitted, “This one actually had a lot of really fast shaft early and almost didn’t make it. It was fast early and then Dickie had the timing coming out of it. It settled down and then the clutch came to it and then it got back up on the tire and was floating around, like it let loose. Loose is fast, but it was definitely one of those floating feelings. It just felt fast.”

Hagan quickly learned what his crew chief Dickie Venable had referenced time and time again, about “truly getting all of it.” Hagan, who once tried his hand unsuccessfully at circle track racing, likened the experience to a dirt track car gliding along the top of the racing surface.

Unlike his signature 335-mph record from 2016, where his Mopar-sponsored Dodge Charger dropped two cylinders in the last 200 feet and lost 13-degrees of timing, this time Venables kept all of the candles lit all the way until the last 50 feet of the run.

“We had a crosswind, and then it put a cylinder out down there because it hit the rev limiter, so it was still a handful down there on the big end because of what was going on,” Hagan revealed. While the cynical critics of modern-day fuel racing are already declaring a change to the 8,250 NHRA imposed rev-limiter will go even lower, Hagan believes such a move would be detrimental to a big picture which is already facing many challenges.

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Next NHRA Event 2017

FC Mello Yello Points

Funny Car (Unofficial)

1. Ron Capps (2273)
2. Robert Hight (2265)
3. Courtney Force (2234)
4. Matt Hagan (2183)
5. Jack Beckman (2173)
6. Tommy Johnson Jr. (2159)
7. J.R. Todd (2135)
8. John Force (2116)
9. Tim Wilkerson (2098)
10. Cruz Pedregon (2065)