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Matt Hagan

SONOMA, Calif. (July 31, 2016) - Matt Hagan's Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car hazed the tires for the first time since arriving at Sonoma Raceway on Sunday afternoon during the second round of the NHRA Sonoma Nationals.

It came against Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps who went on to a runner-up finish in the event.

"When you're pushing, and that's what you have to do out here and especially against your DSR teammates, that will happen," Hagan said.

The Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots team led by crew chief Dickie Venables with assistant Michael Knudsen produced low elapsed time of Sunday's eliminations in the opening round of competition with a 3.909-second pass at 328 mph to dispose of John Hale.

"That first run today and all of our qualifying runs really gives us a lot of confidence in our tune-up and everything Dickie (Venables) has been working for," Hagan said. "This has been just a tough racetrack for us to conquer and we still haven't done that. We'll move on to the next one.

"That's the good part of this Western Swing, you don't have to wait long to get back after it. We have a great team. They're working hard and we really feel confident with this racecar, it's just a matter of making it happen. We're heading up to Seattle next weekend where we have had some success so we are ready to get there."

The annual three-race Western Swing concludes next weekend near Seattle with the 29th annual NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways. Hagan sits sixth in Funny Car points standings.

FUNNY CAR
Winner: John Force (John Force Racing)
No. 1 qualifier: Del Worsham (Kalitta Motorsports), 3.868 sec.-track record, 327.43 mph

MATT HAGAN, Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots Charger R/T
Qualified: No. 4
SUNDAY CHAMPIONSHIP ELIMINATIONS
First round: HAGAN (3.909 sec., 328.70) def. John Hale (4.456, 199.35)
Second round: Ron Capps (3.961, 322.96) def. HAGAN (5.229, 203.40)
QUALIFYING
FRIDAY: 3.971 sec., 320.36, (Session 1); 3.875, 330.15-track record, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 3.942, 325.85, (Session 3); 3.930, 328.30, (Session 4)

SONOMA, Calif. (July 30, 2016) – It seems that Matt Hagan and the Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots team have found what they’ve been looking for this weekend at the 29th annual NHRA Sonoma Nationals.

They’ve been seeking consistency with their 10,000-horsepower Dodge Charger R/T on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series tour and a trip down to sea level has provided that on stop two of the annual three-race Western Swing that last raced in mile-high altitude near Denver last weekend.

The Mopar/Rocky Boots team led by crew chief Dickie Venables with assistant Michael Knudsen produced four runs throughout qualifying from 3.875 seconds that seeded them fourth for Sunday’s eliminations to 3.971.

Two of their most impressive runs came during the heat of the day on Saturday when they clocked 3.94 and 3.93 with their Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car powered by Pennzoil.

“This Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots Dodge is really running great,” Hagan said. “It has been down the racetrack every time. It seems like coming back down to sea level has really helped this racecar a lot. It’s been running very consistent. We ran two different very good laps today in the heat of the day. It’s going down the racetrack and that’s huge. That’s not an easy thing to do and it doesn’t happen that often so that’s very, very positive.”

Hagan was the best qualified DSR flopper and will start fourth for Sunday’s eliminations that will air live on FOX national broadcast network beginning at 4 p.m. (ET)

“I think we have a lot to look forward to tomorrow on race day,” Hagan said. “We have a lot of data to build off of, a lot of momentum rolling and hopefully we can just roll it into four win lights tomorrow to go with our four good runs in qualifying. This is just one of these races that we haven’t won yet so we might as well go on and win it.”

FUNNY CAR
No. 1 qualifier: Del Worsham (Kalitta Motorsports), 3.868 sec.-track record, 327.43 mph

MATT HAGAN, Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots Charger R/T
Provisional qualifying position: No. 4
QUALIFYING
FRIDAY: 3.971 sec., 320.36, (Session 1); 3.875, 330.15-track record, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 3.942, 325.85, (Session 3); 3.930, 328.30, (Session 4)

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BROWNSBURG, Ind. (July 27, 2016) – The second stop on the three-race NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series’ annual Western Swing is this weekend at the 29th annual NHRA Sonoma Nationals near San Francisco, and getting back to sea level will be welcomed by Matt Hagan and the Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots team.

The Swing started last weekend near Denver at the Mopar Mile-High Nationals where Hagan and the Dickie Venables-led Mopar/Rocky Boots team finished in the quarterfinals at one of the most challenging events of the season.

“That’s a tough one and we’re glad it’s behind us,” Hagan said. “You change so much to race there and now the guys have to change everything back before driving 1,000-miles to the next one. It’s a pretty tough stretch for everyone.”

This weekend the series heads farther west to Sonoma Raceway where Hagan has one runner-up finish in his Funny Car career that includes two world championships.

“Going to Sonoma is always something that we look forward to,” Hagan said. “It’s a very nice facility and the track produces some great runs because of the weather. We haven’t been able to pull down a win there just yet but I have all the confidence in the world in Dickie and this team that we can pick up a trophy there.”

Only four races remain before the six-race NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoff that begins in September near Charlotte. Hagan and the Mopar Express Lane team have scored two event titles and two poles this season and are currently ranked fourth in Mello Yello standings.

“We’re looking for consistency right now,” Hagan said. “That’s key. If you have a consistent racecar it gives you confidence. We’ve got a few more races to get this beast figured out before it’s on for the championship. Dickie has a game plan and I have a lot of confidence in him. He’s making the right calls, making the right decisions and with a little bit of luck on our side we will be turning on win lights.”

The NHRA Sonoma Nationals kicks off with nitro qualifying at 5:15 p.m. Friday and Sunday’s championship eliminations will be broadcast live on FOX national network on Sunday beginning at 4 p.m. ET.

MATT HAGAN: Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T
Last event Denver, July 22-24: Qualified No. 7, lost in second round to John Force
A year ago at Sonoma: Qualified No. 2, lost in second round to Tommy Johnson Jr.
Career at Sonoma: Wins 0; Runner-ups 1 (2012); Poles 2 (2009, 2013)

DENVER (July 23, 2016) – Racing on the mountain proved to be difficult for Matt Hagan and the Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots team at the 37th annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals.

After qualifying seventh for Sunday’s Mello Yello Drag Racing Series eliminations, Hagan and the Mopar team led by crew chief Dickie Venables picked up the opening round win on a bye run when opponent Tim Wilkerson was unable to make the call after his car was damaged in a Saturday qualifying session.

Hagan then faced John Force in the second round of eliminations but came up short to Force’s 4.038-second pass as Force went on to win the event title.

“It’s tough, there’s no way around it,” Hagan said of the unique event that sits a mile above sea level. “It’s one and done. We’ll put this behind us and come back next year.”

The team led by crew chief Dickie Venables carried momentum into Sunday’s eliminations from their 4.010-second pass at 316 mph that placed them seventh in qualifying on what their first full pass down the track. On race day, Venables was able to tune Hagan’s 10,000-horsepower nitro machine powered by Mopar and lubricated with Pennzoil to two full pulls that resulted in 4.03- and 4.05-second passes.

“Dickie really turned it around for race day and we made it down the track which we fought in qualifying. We got it together today but we are glad to be leaving here. We will go back to what’s normal and what we’ve been working hard on to prepare us for the rest of the year. We’re getting close to when the Countdown situations come into play and we have a couple more races left to fine tune our stuff. Obviously we wanted to win this for Mopar but this is a tricky one to win.”

Only four Mello Yello events remain before points standings are reset for the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoff. Hagan and the Mopar team are ranked fourth in points standings heading into next weekend’s 29th annual NHRA Sonoma Nationals in Sonoma, Calif.

But before he heads even further west on the Western Swing, Hagan will take a couple days to enjoy what Denver has to offer.

“I don’t often get a break, usually it’s going home to work so I’ll get a little R&R and have a couple days to recoup since I’m staying out here,” he said. “Obviously I miss the family, miss the kids but I’ll make the best of being out here on the Swing and do a little relaxing but also get focused on the next one in Sonoma.”

FUNNY CAR
Event winner: John Force (John Force Racing)
No. 1 qualifier: Courtney Force (John Force Racing), 3.917 sec.-track record, 318.39 mph

MATT HAGAN, Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots Charger R/T
Qualifying position: No. 7
First round opponent: Tim Wilkerson
QUALIFYING
FRIDAY: 4.444 sec., 198.90 mph, (Session 1); 11.422, 71.23, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 4.899, 163.99, (Session 3); 4.010, 316.67 (Session 4)

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Matt Hagan will compete in one of the year's most important races to him when he arrives at Bandimere Speedway near Denver for this weekend's 37th annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals.

For one, the race is sponsored by Mopar Express Lane, the primary supporter of his Don Schumacher Racing Dodge Charger R/T powered by Pennzoil.

It also is one of the tracks on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series tour that he has yet to conquer.

It's appropriate that Bandimere is carved into the side of a mountain, one mile above sea level, so being in excellent physical condition, Hagan won't be affected much by the thin air.

The same, however, can't be said about his 10,000-horsepower engine that thrives on oxygen and nitromethane. That's when thin air gives crew chief Dickie Venables and assistant Michael Knudsen headaches.

"These crew chiefs have to change so much to make the cars run up there," said Hagan, who has won two of his 20 NHRA event titles this year and is ranked fourth in championship points. "Honestly, if the car sounded like that at any sea-level track you'd shut it off because it just sounds crazy."

A crazy sounding Hemi isn't something Hagan has heard often through the first 13 races on the 24-event Mello Yello tour.

After a sluggish start while Venables was adjusting to some new parts and a tune-up for his Dodge, Hagan was ranked 10th in points after fourth race and had not advanced past the second round.

But over the last nine races, Hagan and the Mopar/Rocky Boots team have moved up to fourth in points with two event wins and one runner-up finish. During that span, he set NHRA world records for elapsed time (3.862 seconds) and speed (335.57 mph).

At the last race on July 12 near Chicago, Hagan qualified No. 1 and advanced to the semifinals where he lost to points leader and teammate Ron Capps. His pole-winning time of 3.882 is the third track time record he has set this year along with four speed records.

"We've learned. What we thought we needed to do, we learned we need to do more. I feel good going into the Western Swing and I'm really looking forward to it."

The Mopar Mile-High Nationals officially kicks off from 6 to 10 p.m. Thursday on the streets of downtown Golden, Colo., with the 15th annual Mopar Block Party at which Hagan and other Mopar drivers will sign autographs.

The Denver race starts the three-race Western Swing and includes stops in Sonoma, Calif., and near Seattle.

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Mello Yello Points

Funny Car (Unofficial)

1. Matt Hagan (308)
2. John Force (238)
3. Ron Capps (235)
4. Tommy Johnson Jr (209)
5. Courtney Force (177)
6. Robert Hight (150)
7. Jim Campbell (148)
8. Jack Beckman (144)
9. J.R. Todd (138)
10. Robert Hight (117)
12. Alexis DeJoria (101)