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After stumbling in the first two rounds of the Countdown to the championship, winning just one round, the Mopar team of driver Matt Hagan and tuner Dickie Venables have come alive and inserted themselves right back into the points battle with his second straight win. In front of a packed house that included executives from both of his primary sponsors, Dodge and Pennzoil, Hagan defeated upset-minded Jonnie Lindberg in the final, 3.87 to 3.94, to climb to third in points.

After early outs in Reading and St. Louis, the DSR Dodge Charger Hellcat Widebody entry came alive in Charlotte with a semifinal finish then won all four rounds two weeks ago in Dallas to keep themselves in the title fight.

Hagan carved his way to the final the same way he did in Dallas with a steady string of runs: 3.90 to beat Paul Lee, 3.86 to defeat Tommy Johnson Jr., and a 3.881 to put the brakes on Bob Tasca III’s hopes to continue to climb the points ladder. The final round was the 64th of Hagan’s career.

Hagan took advantage of the early outs by the top two drivers in points, Jack Beckman and Robert Hight, to pull to within 56 points.

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Qualified: No. 7 (lane choice)

The Competition: No. 10 Paul Lee

The Results:
Q1: 3.915 E.T. at 330.31 MPH
Q2: 3.921 E.T. at 326.00 MPH
Q3: 4.166 E.T. at 225.30 MPH
Q4: 3.872 E.T. at 332.34 MPH

Quotable:
“Tomorrow is a big day, obviously. We wanted lane choice, and we accomplished that by the end of the day. We have a good car, and we need to make things happen tomorrow. It’s the most important race of the entire year for this MOPAR team. We have a real opportunity to go some rounds, and we’ve got to do it this weekend.”

Matt Hagan and crew chief Dickie Venables put together a string of four 3.90-second runs separated by just nine-thousandths of a second to win their third race of the season and boost their bid for a late-season championship run. At the wheel of the Western Technical College Dodge Charger Hellcat, Hagan used a final-round 3.909 to defeat Bob Tasca III.

"We had a great racecar today," said Hagan. "That's the thing about Dickie. Once he starts building confidence, he becomes deadly. When he gets his feet under him and the parts and pieces are working like they're supposed to, I'd put him up against anyone, and that builds confidence in me and the team. He told me that he knew he had it for the final round; I was actually in a little deep in the final so it probably ran .87 or .88, but it's been a long time since we've won and I really wanted to dig deep, rise to the occasion, and drive my ass off."

Tasca, who scored two wins earlier this season, in Bristol and Norwalk, and Hagan, who had a pair of wins, in Phoenix and Epping, both boosted their championship chases by reaching the final, but it was Hagan who got the win light for his third win, matching his 2018 total.

With the top four drivers in front of them being stopped in the semi’s and before, both drivers moved up in the points battle. Hagan now sits fourth, 112 points out of the lead, with Tasca in fifth, just 10 more points back.

"I don't know about the championship," he admitted. "I mean, we can hope and dream, but we just have to go out there and keep doing our job and control what we can control," he added. "We just need to keep digging."

Matt Hagan ran back-to-back 3.903 passes in the opening rounds to defeat Blake Alexander and J.R. Todd, the latter by just .003-second. Points leader Robert Hight benefitted from the early exits of fourth-place Ron Capps (round one) and second-ranked Jack Beckman (second round) but then inexplicably red-lighted against Hagan in the semifinals with a -.199 reaction time, his first foul in more than a year (Reading 2018).

After qualifying fourth, Tasca had low e.t. of the opening round with a 6.873 in besting tire-smoking Jonnie Lindberg, then took down second-place Jack Beckman with a 6.93 in round two. Tasca then eliminated another driver in front of him in points, low qualifier John Force, with a 3.92 to reach the title round.


Miss the Final? Watch it Here

 

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Qualified: No. 6 (lane choice)

The Competition: No. 11 Blake Alexander

The Results:
Q1: 4.068 E.T. at 267.96 MPH
Q2: 3.890 E.T. at 310.77 MPH
Q3: 4.122 E.T. at 245.27 MPH
Q4: 3.950 E.T. at 317.49 MPH

Quotable:
“We struggled a little bit in that right lane, so hopefully we can keep lane choice tomorrow and stay over in the left lane. All in all, we are really proud to have Western Tech and the MOPAR CAP program along for the ride with us this weekend here in Dallas. This Dodge Charger SRT Widebody Hellcat Funny Car has been running really good. We just need to go out and win a race. It’s time to get it done tomorrow.”

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Qualified: No. 3 (3.880 E.T. at 331.69 MPH)
 
The Results:
E1: 3.937 E.T. at 330.55 MPH defeated Dave Richards 7.801 E.T. at 86.00 MPH
E2: 3.922 E.T. at 331.53 MPH defeated Bob Tasca III 3.915 E.T. at 328.86 MPH
E3: 3.947 E.T. at 327.35 MPH defeated by Robert Hight 3.912 E.T. at 328.78 MPH
 
Race Recap:
Matt Hagan and his MOPAR Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody Funny Car continued getting better as the race weekend progressed. Hagan qualified third with his final qualifying run of 3.880 seconds, and was quick and consistent in defeating Dave Richards in Monday’s opening round with his lap of 3.937 seconds. The two-time Funny Car world champion made it three straight wins over Bob Tasca III in the second round with a holeshot victory to reach his seventh semifinal of 2019. Hagan had the opportunity to take out point leader Robert Hight and took the starting line advantage with a .066-second reaction time, but couldn’t hold him off for the win with his 3.947 E.T. versus Hight’s 3.912.
 
Quotable:
“I know we didn’t win the race today, but getting to the semifinals gives me a lot of confidence. I know our car has gotten a lot more consistent this weekend, and (crew chief) Dickie (Venables) continues to make it more tunable. I think by us making six consecutive full runs this weekend, that showed we have a strong race car. This Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car is driving good. I’ve been good on the (timing) tree. We know we are up against it now as far as the championship goes, but I’m looking forward to getting to Dallas. We’ll just try and make up as much ground as we can in qualifying with those small points and see if we can close the gap.” 

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FC Points

Unofficial NHRA Championship Standings

Funny Car

1 Matt Hagan 1020
2 Tommy Johnson Jr 915
3 Jack Beckman 848
4 Ron Capps 828
5 Bob Tasca III 679
6 J.R. Todd 663
7 Tim Wilkerson 615
8 Alexis DeJoria 605
9 Paul Lee 464
10 Cruz Pedregon 436