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SONOMA, Calif. (July 30, 2017) - Matt Hagan and the 80th Anniversary Mopar/Express Lane Funny Car team had opportunities the last two races to take big chunks out of Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps led in the championship race.
 
Capps lost in the first round Sunday in the NHRA Sonoma Nationals near San Francisco as his team did the previous week at Denver.
 
But at Denver, Hagan lost in the first round at Sonoma on Sunday and in the second round at Denver.
 
With three NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events remaining before points are reset to start the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoff, Hagan continues ranked No. 2 but trails Capps by 183 points.
 
"Just a rough couple of weekends," said Hagan, the two-time world champion who has won three times in 15 races this year. "The Western Swing has not been treating us kindly. We need to focus on Seattle."
 
The Western Swings includes three races in three weeks and it concludes next weekend at Seattle.
 
"Unfortunately, we smoked the tires on four out of the five times that we were up there on the starting line and that's just not common for (crew chief) Dickie Venables and our guys to miss it that bad that often" said Hagan, whose only full pass was in Friday's first session was in 3.904 seconds at 330.39 mph that held up for the No. 6 qualifying position.
 
Hagan's car appeared to suffer a minor fuel leak on the prerace burnout before running Del Worsham, who also lost traction but his 5.142-second run at 210.87 mph was more than enough to top Hagan's 10.951 after he smoked his tires right at the start.
 
"Doing the burnout I was trying to talk to the guys (about the fuel leak) over the radio with one hand and back it up one-handed. I don't know if we really ended up staged where we needed to be.
 
"I probably should have slapped (the throttle) knowing that he clicked it off in two seconds. But when you smoke the tires at the hit like that you just kind of feel like it's over. The end result is we didn't turn the win light on, and It is what it is, man, we'll just roll into Seattle and hope for the best."
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SONOMA, Calif. (July 26, 2017) - For people who visit the mile-high city of Denver, leaving the mountain could be a much-needed boost for their lungs that have been deprived of oxygen.
 
But for an 11,000-horsepower Dodge Charger R/T, it'll be a return to normalcy and everyone on the 80th Anniversary Mopar/Express Lane Funny Car will be breathing easier. To say that the Mopar Mile-High Nationals was a challenge for two-time Funny Car champion Hagan and the Mopar team would be an understatement.
 
"Well, we went to the mountain and the mountain did not agree with us," Hagan said bluntly. "It was just a struggle from the moment we unloaded there. We had a pretty decent boomer there in the first round of qualifying and we just struggled all weekend after that. We hurt a lot of stuff, a lot of parts and we hate that. That's not like us, that's not what we do."
 
But this weekend's NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma Raceway in the wine country near San Francisco will be a breath of fresh sea-level air for crew chief Dickie Venables, assistant Michael Knudsen and the Mopar team.
 
"The great thing is, Denver is a one-off race. We won't see those conditions until next year. So we switched everything back over to what we normally have on the car and we'll go to Sonoma and have all the confidence in the world that we'll be just fine this weekend."
 
Hagan is seeking his first career win at Sonoma but was runner-up in 2012 and has two poles from the track that is known for quick elapsed times. The team has three event titles in four final round appearances through 14 of 24 Mello Yello events this season.
 
"We're ready to see what we can do in Sonoma," he said. "It's just a relief to return to what we know and we're ready to get after it this weekend. It's a beautiful place to go and they just pack the fans in there. So we'll do our best to try and put on a show for everyone... but not the kind of show we put on last weekend with all of those boomers."

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With their first-round victories at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals, Matt Hagan and Greg Anderson clinched their spots in the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship. Hagan became the second Funny Car driver to lock up a spot in the postseason, joining teammate and reigning world champ Ron Capps, and Anderson joined teammate Bo Butner in Pro Stock. In qualifying, L.E. Tonglet became the first Pro Stock Motorcycle rider to secure his spot.

Steve Torrence, Leah Pritchett, and Antron Brown in Top Fuel, also all clinched their berths in the Countdown following the Fallen Patriots NHRA Route 66 Nationals presented by K&N Filters in Chicago

Just four events –-  Sonoma, Seattle, Brainerd and Indianapolis -- remain for drivers to earn positions in the top 10 standings of their respective classes. 

The Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis over Labor Day weekend is the last place for drivers to earn points. After that event, the points will be reset and only the top 10 drivers in each class will be eligible to compete for NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series championships in the Countdown.

The six-race Countdown to the Championship begins Sept. 15 with the NHRA Carolina Nationals in Charlotte and comes to a climactic conclusion Nov. 9-12 at the Auto Club NHRA Finals in Pomona.

The following drivers have clinched their spots in the 2017 Countdown to the Championship:

TOP FUEL
Steve Torrence
Leah Pritchett
Antron Brown

FUNNY CAR
Ron Capps
Matt Hagan

PRO STOCK
Bo Butner
Greg Anderson

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE
None

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  • Mopar continues brand's 80th celebration in 2017 with special anniversary graphics for Matt Hagan's Dodge Charger R/T NHRA Funny Car 
  • Mopar has evolved from its start in 1937, as name of a line of antifreeze products, to represent excellence on the drag strip, as well as global service, parts and customer care 
  • Hagan to feature Mopar 80th/Express Lane as primary colors on his Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car in at least five events 
  • Mopar 80th anniversary logo also highlights Hagan's firesuit, team shirts 
  • NHRA Top Fuel driver Leah Pritchett to carry Mopar 80th logo on dragster and uniform at Mopar Mile-High Nationals and Dodge NHRA Nationals

Two-time NHRA Funny Car champion Matt Hagan will help wish the Mopar brand a happy 80th birthday in nitro HEMI®-engine fueled fashion, starting this weekend at the 38th annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals near Denver. The Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) driver and Mopar teamed up today to reveal special Mopar 80th anniversary graphics that Hagan will campaign on his Dodge Charger R/T in at least five NHRA National events during the remainder of the season.

Hagan will also debut a new firesuit featuring unique Mopar 80th anniversary branding, which will carry over to the team shirts for he and his crew. Hagan's DSR teammate Leah Pritchett will also sport Mopar 80th logos on her Papa John's Pizza/Mopar Pennzoil Top Fuel dragster and firesuit at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals and the Dodge NHRA Nationals in Pennsylvania in late September.

"Matt Hagan and Leah Pritchett are great ambassadors to help us celebrate 80 years of our brand," said Pietro Gorlier, Head of Parts and Service (Mopar), FCA – Global. "Matt brought home NHRA World championships in 2011 and 2014 and has collected numerous wins and records in his career, while Leah has won multiple times this season and set the national elapsed-time record in the Top Fuel category utilizing HEMI power. It's already been an amazing year for Mopar-powered drivers and it's just going to get better as we cheer on Matt and Leah in special Mopar anniversary graphics." Full Story

JOLIET, Ill. (July 9, 2017) - After a semifinal exit at the 20th annual Route 66 Nationals near Chicago, Matt Hagan and the Hagan and the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T Powered by Pennzoil team set their sights on Denver and later the Countdown to the Championship.
 
On Sunday, Hagan entered race day at the Route 66 Nationals as the No. 4 qualifier with his time of 3.895 seconds at 332.10 mph from the second qualifying session on Friday.
 
The team, led by crew chief Dickie Venables and assistant Mike Knudsen, lined up for round one against former nitro champion Del Worsham. Hagan clocked a time of 4.162 (251.95) to give him the win light over Worsham's tire smoking 5.718 (133.68).
 
In the second round, Hagan matched up with Alexis DeJoria of Kalitta Motorsports. Hagan ran a 4.006 (319.60) to win over DeJoria's 4.399.
 
Hagan then moved onto the semifinals to face his Don Schumacher Racing teammate and NHRA points leader, Ron Capps.
 
The Mopar Express Lane car left the starting line first but Capps got to the finish line first to with a time of 4.038 (318.84) over Hagan's 4.088 (313.58).
 
"We learned some stuff in the clutch department in the seat on a hot racetrack," Hagan said. "Obviously we would do a few little things different than what we did in the semis, but went to the semis.
 
"We're trying to catch Capps and he's just kind of pulling away a little bit with stuff. But that's why they have the Countdown nowadays."
 
The Countdown to the Championship is the NHRA's playoffs. After the U.S. Nationals during Labor Day weekend, the NHRA points are reset as the circuit runs its six final races of the season.
 
"We're just going to keep working on it. I wouldn't trade Dickie Venables or Mike Knudsen for anybody out here, man. I know when things cool down a little bit nobody can touch our race car so I'm really looking forward to the Countdown and the last six races."
 
In two weeks, the NHRA circuit travels to Denver for the 38th annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals to kick off the annual Western Swing, a three week swing through Colorado, northern California and Washington.
 
"Denver is huge event for Mopar. We'll be doing stuff non-stop. I'm going to have my son there with me. It's going to be a big event. It's got a new feel to it so we'll start it off right and hopefully win that race for our sponsor."

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Next NHRA Event 2018

FC Mello Yello Points

Funny Car (Unofficial)

1. Robert Hight (2445)
2. J.R. Todd (2434)
3. Ron Capps (2336)
4. Tim Wilkerson (2334)
5. Tommy Johnson Jr. (2296)
6. Courtney Force (2264)
7. Matt Hagan (2241)
8. Jack Beckman (2229)
9. John Force (2204)
10. Shawn Langdon (2152)