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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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Two-time Funny Car champion Matt Hagan won the first two events of the 2017 season, and will look to do the same to open the 2018 campaign as the NHRA Drag Racing season begins at the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com.

That typical early-season excitement turned into something even more special for Matt Hagan in 2017. The Funny Car standout won the first two events of the year for the second time in his career, and the two-time world champion is looking for another hot start to open the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series campaign.

It begins with its annual iconic opener, the 58th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com, Feb. 8-11 at historic Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, and Hagan who has two wins at the season-opening event, knows what a third win in his 10,000-horsepower Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T at the race would mean when it comes to setting the tone for the new season.

“We won the first two races last year and that just puts you on such a high,” said Hagan, who has 26 career wins. “It’s a clean slate to start the year and you kick it off with all the opportunity in the world. You start fresh and everyone even, but getting that win, it’s a huge confidence-builder. We had a lot of changes last year and that win told us we’re going to be alright.” Full Story on NHRA

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Next NHRA Event 2018

FC Mello Yello Points

Funny Car (Unofficial)

1. J.R. Todd (2553)
2. Robert Hight (2479)
3. Ron Capps (2388)
4. Tim Wilkerson (2367)
5. Tommy Johnson Jr. (2362)
6. Courtney Force (2324)
7. Matt Hagan (2321)
8. Jack Beckman (2283)
9. John Force (2277)
10. Shawn Langdon (2204)