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MATT HAGAN, Mopar Express Lane  2017 Dodge Charger R/T

Crew chief: Dickie Venables; assistant: Michael Knudsen



First round: Jack Beckman


  • Q1: 4.862 sec., 167.76 mph
  • Q2: 5.491, 134.44 mph
  • Q3: 3.974, 322.19
  • Q4: 5.274, 137.64

Last event at Las Vegas (March 31-April 2): Qualified No. 2, lost in quarterfinals to John Force

A year ago at Houston: Qualified No. 9, lost in second round to Tim Wilkerson

Career at Houston: Wins 1 (2010); Runner-ups 0; Poles 0


Matt Hagan

LAS VEGAS (April 2, 2017) - Two-time NHRA world champion Matt Hagan can count himself among the millions if not billions who haven't won in Las Vegas.

While Don Schumacher Racing's driver of the 2017 Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car left The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday with the points lead in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, a national event trophy continued to remain unclaimed.

Hagan, who qualified No. 2 with crew chief Dickie Venables and assistant Michael Knudsen, lost in the second round to John Force at the Las Vegas Nationals. Although Hagan owns 24 NHRA Wally trophies none have "Las Vegas" etched on them.

"I've been to the finals before (three times) but still can't get to the winner's circle," he said. "The track is tricky and because of the altitude here there isn't as much air as Dickie likes to make the power we're used to.

"Las Vegas never shown me much love, but we leave with the points lead and points always matter.

"It is what it is. We'll move forward to Houston (April 21-23) and try to win our third trophy this year for Mopar, Dodge, Pennzoil and Sandvik Coromant."

The Mello Yello Series is off for two weeks before returning for the 30th annual NHRA SpringNationals near Houston. Then continuing near Charlotte and Atlanta for the first three race swing on the 2017 Mello Yello Series schedule.



Winner: Tommy Johnson Jr. (Don Schumacher Racing)

No. 1 qualifier: Courtney Force (John Force Racing), 3.867 sec.-track record, 327.66 mph

MATT HAGAN, Mopar Express Lane 2017 Dodge Charger R/T

Crew chief: Dickie Venables; assistant: Michael Knudsen

Qualified: No. 2

SUNDAY ELIMINATIONS                                                                                                    

First round: HAGAN (3.970 sec., 330.63 mph) def. Del Worsham (6.251, 118.97)

Second round: John Force (3.987, 321.81) def. HAGAN (4.043, 318.24)

Hagan, who opened the season by winning the first two titles, continues to pace DSR Dodge Charger R/T Funny Cars with his qualifying run from Friday (3.868, 330.63) when his was the only car to make a full pull. After a tire-smoking run to start Saturday, Venables rallied for a run of 3.922 at 330.96.

"Our last run today was the most important because it really sets us up for Sunday," said Hagan, who is looking for his first trophy from Las Vegas.

"We really hadn't been out there on conditions like this so far this year and seen a track that hot. Dickie learned a lot out there today being able to pull it back and get the numbers we got on that run. It was a very productive day for our Mopar team and we just need to make that pay off on race day."

MATT HAGAN, Mopar Express Lane 2017 Dodge Charger R/T
Crew chief: Dickie Venables; assistant: Michael Knudsen
Qualified: No. 2
First round: Del Worsham
FRIDAY: 10.804 sec., 78.27 mph, (Session 1); 3.868, 330.63, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 10.423, 77.81, (Session 3); 3.922, 330.96, (Session 4)

Matt benefitted from the wizardry of crew chief Dickie Venables and assistant Michael Knudsen that tuned his Dodge to a 3.868 (330.63).

"I can't say enough about how good Dickie is with racing the racetrack," said Hagan, the two-time world champion who limped down the track on his first try in nearly 11 seconds.

"Dickie and our guys knew what needed to be done and they did it. That was a wild ride. We got a little close to the wall past the finish line but close doesn't count. I think this Mopar Dodge can get the pole tomorrow."

To put those runs into perspective, the next closest to Hagan's performance was DSR teammate Jack Beckman in Terry Chandler's Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge that had a subpar time of 4.351 at 223.28. The closest to Schumacher in the second session had a time of 3.901 (234.25).

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 19, 2017) - Matt Hagan and the Mopar Express Lane team got a lucky break in the second round but they could have used a little in the semifinals.

The Dodge Charger R/T team led by crew chief Dickie Venables and assistant Michael Knudsen and the crew ran into a snag in the pits after winning the first round with an impressive 3.898-second run at 331.94 mph that prevented them from starting the car in preparation for the second round.

In that round, the Mopar Dodge immediately lost traction and smoked the tires that seemed to hand the win over to Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps, who raced out to an overwhelming lead. But just before the finish line, Capps car veered abruptly into Hagan's lane and when it crossed the centerline the win was handed to Hagan.

But because Capps car ran into the timing cones, neither team received a time and that gave lane choice in the semifinals to rookie Jonnie Lindberg, who selected the much-preferred left lane. Hagan lost traction and Lindberg advanced to the final round where he lost to John Force.

"We just got stuck over in the right lane, and we had to keep backing it down and backing it down to make sure we got down the racetrack," said Hagan, who opened the season with two wins and was able to maintain his points lead. "It's just one of those things where it's a one-lane racetrack, and that's really tough when you don't have lane choice.

"This Mopar car has been running strong. We've won two races and went to the semis and got some separation in our points lead. All in all, a pretty good day, but obviously we would have wanted to hold the Wally (trophy) at the end. But it didn't happen.

"We'll focus on Vegas in two weeks. We've got a weekend off, and we're going to regroup and rest a little bit, do some farm work (at his cattle ranch), and then roll back into Vegas and try to get it done out there."



Next NHRA Event 2018

FC Mello Yello Points

Funny Car (Unofficial)

1. Matt Hagan (268)
2. Jack Beckman (247)
3. Courtney Force (219)
4. Ron Capps (218)
5. Robert Hight (185)
6. Tommy Johnson Jr. (182)
7. Shawn Langdon (174)
8. J.R. Todd (117)
8. Jonnie Lindberg (117)
10. Del Worsham (116)