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Qualified: No. 6 (3.941 E.T. at 328.22 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.976 E.T. at 328.38 MPH defeated Tim Wilkerson 7.821 E.T. at 131.27 MPH
E2: 4.027 E.T. at 291.26 MPH defeated Robert Hight 4.067 E.T. at 265.53 MPH
E3: 4.056 E.T. at 310.91 MPH defeated Ron Capps 9.134 E.T. at 81.86 MPH
E4: 4.034 E.T. at 322.04 MPH defeated by Jack Beckman 4.035 E.T. at 323.58 MPH

Race Recap:
Hagan’s run to the final round in his Mopar Express Lane Dodge included a first-round win over Tim Wilkerson and then a wild, fiery ride against Robert Hight in the quarterfinals. Hight’s engine exploded near the 660-ft mark, with his Funny Car body flying apart. As Hagan raced by in the right lane his engine did the same, sending the car body flying high in the air, but Hagan was able to cross the line at 4.027/291.26 to earn a hard-fought round win.

The Mopar Express Lane Dodge team and crew chief Dickie Venables thrashed and dug deep to get a backup car ready for Hagan to face DSR teammate and Mopar-powered Dodge Charger R/T driver Ron Capps in the semifinals. The hard work paid off as Hagan posted a solid 4.056/310.91 to advance to his 49thcareer final round and reach a remarkable milestone, his 500th career round of racing.

Quotable:
“We had a pretty great race day, to be honest. I've never been to the finals in Gainesville. We kind of started off with a whole new game plan from qualifying and the track conditions were pretty good. We obviously had a huge blow up in the second round. Then to watch these guys pull the other car back out and put it together in the amount of time they had, and to turn a win light on against Capps then to be able to go to a final, it was huge and it speaks for itself.

"These guys put a great race car together. We ran a really close race out there. It was within one [thousandths of a second] but it was one of those deals where I just got left on by Jack Beckman. It's one of those deals were you put that in the bank there and you don't forget it. You have to go home and work on that and not let these guys down who worked all day long to get you there. We'll take these next few weeks and revaluate and focus and move forward.”

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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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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)