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By NHRA - Two-time Funny Car champion Matt Hagan hopes to get his first win both in his new Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car body and at a track known for great performances as the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing tour moves to the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals.
Matt Hagan

Since debuting a new Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat body three races ago, Matt Hagan has made steady progress, including a No. 1 qualifier at the most recent NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event in Seattle. Heading into this weekend’s Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway, the two-time Funny Car world champion wants to grab even more momentum, which would mean getting his first career victory at the fan-favorite track.

Currently fourth in points, Hagan has been impressive at times this season in his 10,000-horsepower Mopar Express Lane Funny Car, winning back-to-back races earlier this summer in Norwalk and Epping. The goal is to regain that consistency in the new body approaching the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship, putting extra importance on running well this weekend.

“We’re still learning with the new body but it’s going to be better, that’s for sure,” said Hagan, who has 29 career wins. “It’s just a matter of learning what the car wants and it’s taken a few races to get there. Brainerd has always been a fast track and there should be some fast racing. For us, it’s about understanding more with the new body and pushing a little harder. It’s coming around. Between Brainerd and then Indy, I think we’ll be good.”

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Qualified: No. 1 (3.913 E.T. at 324.75 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 4.045 E.T. at 316.52 MPH defeated Cruz Pedregon 4.854 E.T. at 166.11 MPH
E2: 4.032 E.T. at 311.27 MPH defeated by Ron Capps 3.998 E.T. at 320.43 MPH

Race Recap:
With his first Pacific Raceways No. 1 qualifier, Matt Hagan earned the advantage of lane choice to start Sunday versus his first-round opponent, Cruz Pedregon. In his Sandvik Coromant Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, Hagan eclipsed Pedregon at the 60-foot block and charged down the track for the decisive win.

In round two, the 2013 event champ faced teammate Ron Capps. It was a very close race between the two Pennzoil-powered Dodges, but Capps was able to set off the win light, ending Hagan’s chances at picking up his fourth victory of the season.

“Great qualifying position with this new Mopar Hellcat body. There’s a lot of tough draws out here, we had Cruz (Pedregon) first-round, (Ron) Capps second-round, and none of them are easy. Capps and the Pennzoil/NAPA team have had our number for the last few races. They ran strong beside us, he had a good light, and that’s just a hard combo to beat right now. Their car is running well; our car is running well too. It was a good drag race; we just happened to be on the back side of it. We’ll move on to the next one and hopefully do big things at (the next event in) Brainerd.”

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Qualified: No. 4 (3.956 E.T. at 319.98 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.958 E.T. at 320.89 MPH defeated Jim Campbell 4.115 E.T. at 310.13 MPH 
E2: 4.512 E.T. at 190.59 MPH defeated by Ron Capps 3.969 E.T. at 322.65 MPH

Race Recap:
With a new sponsor on-board, Matt Hagan blasted to a session-best 3.958-second pass in his Southwind Builders Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat in the first round against Jim Campbell.

After running low E.T. of the round, Hagan found himself in the unfortunate situation of having to face teammate Ron Capps in the quarterfinals. Capps and the NAPA team had been near-perfect throughout the entire race weekend, and round two was no exception. Capps ran a 3.969-second pass, defeating Hagan’s 4.512 effort. Hagan leaves Sonoma having clinched a berth in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship.

“Had a really good opening lap but it got a little loose in the second round. It was great to have a new sponsor on the car, Southwind Builders. Obviously with the fires and all the folks who have lost their homes out here, it's really unfortunate. I think if you're drag racing and you support what we do and these guys are supporting what we do, definitely hit them up and give them a call if you're in the area. They're a great group of people and work really hard so we're proud to have them on as a sponsor this weekend.
“We need to move onto Seattle. We've done well there a time or so and always seem to qualify pretty well there, so let's focus on that. This [race] is behind us now. (Ron) Capps went around us in points but it's going to be battle down to the end no matter what."


“It was nice to shake the new Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat body down some more. Obviously, the mountain has been brutal to us. It doesn’t show us much love up here but it’s one race out of the whole series, and it’s totally different from any of the other conditions we see. We come up here and we try some new things every year, some of it works, some of it doesn’t. We still have a phenomenal race car. We’re coming up at a point where things are starting to click at the right time. I don’t think this race is a reflection of what we’re capable of.
“We’ll get back down to sea level where we’ve been running good and strong. I’m excited for these next two races on the swing. Should be having a brand-new baby when I get home. We’re going to induce my wife on Monday night if she doesn’t have it before then, so it’s going to be a super exciting week for me. I’m looking forward to holding the baby for a little bit before we head back out. Things are just really good right now.”


Dodge enthusiasts and National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) fans are invited to compete in the “Drag Strip Showdown,” a head-to-head competition behind the wheel of the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon simulators for a chance to attend the Dodge//SRT Bondurant Drag Racing School.

The top four drivers with the best race times will be paired with either Mopar Dodge Top Fuel driver Leah Pritchett or Mopar Dodge Charger Funny Car driver Matt Hagan and be coached for the final competition taking place at Bondurant in the 840-horsepower Dodge Challenger SRT Demon.

If you’ve never been in one, the Dodge Demon Simulator offers quite the experience. Racing fans can test their skills in the Dodge Demon simulators and enter “Drag Strip Showdown” contest at these events:

Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals Powered by Mopar Morrison, CO July 19-22
Roadkill Nights Pontiac, MI August 11
NHRA Lucas Oil Nationals Brainerd, MN August 17-19
NHRA U.S. Nationals Indianapolis, IN August 30-September 3
NHRA Dodge Nationals Mohnton, PA September 13-16
NHRA Midwest Nationals Madison, IL September 21-23
NHRA Fall Nationals Dallas, TX October 5-7
NHRA Carolina Nationals Concord, NC October 12-14
NHRA Nationals – Las Vegas Las Vegas, NV October 26-28
SEMA Las Vegas, NV October 30-November 2
NHRA Finals Pomona, CA November 9-11



Next NHRA Event

FC Mello Yello Points

Unofficial NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship Standings:

Funny Car

1 Robert Hight 1159
2 Tommy Johnson Jr 1010
3 John Force 958
4 Ron Capps 927
5 Jack Beckman 904
6 Bob Tasca III 865
7 J.R. Todd 857
8 Matt Hagan 794
9 Shawn Langdon 727
10 Tim Wilkerson 724